Coach Talks Game Plan

Former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards delights the crowd with a lecture on success, planning and opportunity.


By Laura Kneski

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2013) – As a head coach in the NFL, Herm Edwards always had a game plan ready. Wednesday night at the University of South Florida’s Marshall Student Center, Edwards brought his “A” game.


The speech by the former New York Jets coach and ESPN analyst, part of the University Lecture Series, energized the crowd as he centered his presentation on the importance of having a “game plan about your life.”


By setting your own expectations, Edwards said, a person can start to find a purpose and set goals. This is called “The Game Plan,” and it can apply just as much to college students as it does to rookie players. Obstacles may occur, but Edwards said that while he strives to treat everyone with fairness, life does not always go by the same rules.


“Life’s not fair. Life’s about opportunity. That’s the fairness of life, so be ready for that opportunity,” said Edwards.


He continued by emphasizing self-awareness as a vital aspect of success, touching upon the memory of his childhood Saturday chore of sweeping the backyard. When his father – an army man – checked his work on his first attempt, Edwards was reminded that he hadn’t swept the corners. Nervous, eight year-old Edwards told his father that no one would know because no one usually checked the corners. His father looked him dead in the eye, and delivered a life lesson with these words: “You know. You know.”


Student Adrianne Bradshaw arrived early to attend the event. As an aspiring sports journalist, she was eager to observe the ways in which Edwards conducts himself, seeing as he is a successful public figure.


“I think that any time you have the opportunity to listen and to see someone who is so successful, it is motivation. I hear him all the time when he’s on Sports Center on ESPN, but to be able to see that person in action is really special,” said Bradshaw.


Edwards’s lecture was broken into subheadings, including “Game Plan”, “The Huddle”, “Vision”, “Teamwork”, “Commitment”, “Integrity”, “Legacy” and his “Final Thought”. As he explained the bullet points for these categories, Edwards’s voice carried strongly across the room, commanding the crowd’s focus and attention.


Popularly known as the former head coach of the New York Jets, Edwards began his football career playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. During the lecture he even retold the story – upon audience member request -- of the infamous “Fumble” in which he ran the New York Giants’s ball for an Eagles victory. Edwards even mentioned how good it was to be back in Tampa, where he had spent a stint as an assistant head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


His experience both as a student and as a player influenced his success as a public speaker. Everyone has had teachers whom they have preferred over others, simply because some are better at delivering the message. Edwards takes this experience and tells his fellow coaches, “It’s one thing to teach how. You have to teach why.”


Adam Aldridge, third year Political Science major, was pleasantly surprised by Edwards. He had expected passion and enthusiasm to come from the man so many fondly addressed as “Coach”, but he hadn’t foreseen him going into as much detail as he had about his athletic career. Edwards’s advice on success, though, was what Aldridge is going to take home and apply to his own life.


“The biggest piece of advice that I saw was that, if you have a goal, you need to set a plan for it and not just wish you can get to that goal. So it’s really about making sure you take the correct steps now in order to make sure you make your life, in the long run, a success,” said Aldridge.


Edwards’s “Final Thought” was a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that he continues to hold dear to his heart:


“The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.”


Edwards joked about the notion of people wanting success without sacrifice. His example pertained to the large number of people who would probably volunteer to go to a Heaven where every utopian aspect existed, including a fully-paid mortgage. But, many would soon drop those volunteering hands when recalling that death is required in order to pass on.


“Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.”


The ULS will be featuring Ben&Jerry’s’ ice cream entrepreneur Jerry Greenfield on Monday, March 4th. The following month, Grammy award winning musician John Legend will be coming on Tuesday, April 9th, to speak on the importance of education.


The University Lecture Series website can be located at and on Facebook at