Former Florida coach and current ESPN college football analyst Urban Meyer traveled to the Farm to speak with Andrew Luck about leadership, motivation, decision-making, and the sorts of “intangibles” ESPN holds so dear. As you might expect, a whole lot of football cliches go down from the mind behind two national championships, but Luck comes off as articulate (if not clean-shaven) and gets some good national publicity before his 2011 Heisman campaign and presumptive entry into April’s NFL draft.
Below, we break down the game tape:
0:00-0:05: Urban Meyer believes in FOCUS, BELIEF, and DRIVE. Or those are just free-hanging non sequiturs. Who knows? Also, this is not just an interview, but a LEADERSHIP CONVERSATION. Good to know. Another fun fact: apparently Meyer coached before the invention of color photography.
0:05-0:21: Cool highlight reel from the Orange Bowl. Did anyone else miss the temperamental strobe light in Sun Life Stadium during the television broadcast?
0:21-1:15: Luck discusses the attributes of a good quarterback, along with an anecdote about how his high school coach, Eliot Allen, taught him about using work ethic and devotion to compensate for not always being the best athlete on the field.
1:15-1:42: Luck explains that he’s tried to know something about every member of the team, in order to gain their trust and “build up a sense of communication.” That’s 105 people to know something about and keep track of it all throughout the season and the calendar year. He must be a Stanford Man.
1:42-2:15: Meyer touches on Luck’s childhood time in Europe, but doesn’t press enough to get a particularly interesting response. It would have been interesting to hear something about how time spent overseas affected the aspirations of a young man excelling in a sport played almost exclusively in the United States.
2:15-2:32: “What you do is so loud I can’t hear what you say.” It’s a football cliche, but Luck acknowledges it as such. Wait… a football player has infiltrated ESPN’s moralistic rhetoric machine! There’s nothing wrong with simple adages so long as they’re acknowledged as adages, rather than asserted as stand-alone foundations of ethical reasoning (think ESPN talking heads here), so–once again–Luck nails it.
2:32-2:42: We’re back to World War II-era photography! What happened?
Hold on a second… there appears to be some color rather arbitrarily distributed throughout the shot. Oh, all right: this is ESPN trying to be dramatic again.
2:42-3:02: Luck talks through announcing his decision to stay at Stanford via a subtle Athletics Department release rather than opting for an overblown press conference. This is the segment of the video that ESPN executives cannot understand. They literally cannot comprehend: it sounds like Ket to them.
3:02-3:26: Meyer attempts to turn one of Luck’s completely reasonable statements about doing one’s best into one of the aforementioned dogmatic proverbs. Luck humbly makes that impossible by admitting that while he strives to win, he’s not always the best at what he does.
3:26-3:40: Meyer lets the dogmatist inside of him loose: “The ultimate responsibility of a leader is to set that standard and demand others live up to that standard. That was gonna be your challenge this fall, and, ah, I wish you all the best.” Oh, baby. Call in the English teachers. We’ve got ourselves a grammar field day. Never mind that the “that”–kind of a key word here–goes completely unexplained.
In all seriousness, Luck presents himself as Stanford fans have grown accustomed to seeing their starting quarterback: a respectful and articulate guy. And while it’s really easy to make fun of ESPN and a former football coach with less personality than your average internet-capable laptop, the company at least deserves credit for flying Meyer out to Stanford for a sit-down–sorry, LEADERSHIP CONVERSATION–with a college football good guy.