What Would Coach Think?
by: Byrd Baggett
“Self-justification is the beginning of self-destruction.”
I was fortunate to earn a full scholarship to participate in track and field at the University of Texas in Austin. During my career, I was a four-year letterman, was on two Southwest Conference Championship teams, was elected captain my junior and senior years, and was an All American. Even though I am proud of these accomplishments, what I am most grateful for is the leadership lesson that I learned from my head coach, Jack Patterson.
Coach Patterson recruited me and was the head coach during my freshman year at UT. Even though it was many years ago – 1968 to be exact – I can distinctly remember the day Coach Pat visited my home in Pasadena, Texas to offer me a scholarship. My parents were not home at the time but my grandmother, who was living with us, was present during Coach’s visit. After he left, my grandmother, a tough and wise lady from East Texas, turned to me and stated, “Bubba, that’s a good man and you better sign that scholarship offer!”
If you talk to any athlete who was fortunate to have been on one of his teams at Merkel High School, San Angelo High School, the University of Houston, Baylor, and Texas, I’m confident that the majority, if not all, would say that he was a man of integrity who never compromised his core principles. He was a true man of God and, without proselytizing, lived his life accordingly. When Coach was recruiting athletes, integrity of character always came before talent.
After my freshman year, Coach Patterson went back to Baylor where he served as the Director of Athletics from 1971 until his retirement in 1980. In his first year, he hired Grant Teaff, another man of impeccable integrity, as head football coach and, three years later, Baylor won its first SWC football title in 50 years. For his many accomplishments as a coach and administrator, Coach Pat was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, as well as the Baylor University and Rice University Athletics Halls of Fame. In my opinion, his greatest accomplishment was that he never placed winning above integrity and would be so saddened at what a wholesale lack of integrity has done to the reputation of his beloved Baylor University.
I’m confident that none of this would have happened if Coach Pat was at the helm, as he would NEVER allow his staff, coaches and athletes to place winning above integrity – his conscience would not have allowed such. The following words, from one of the world’s most admired leaders, speak to Jack Patterson’s legacy:
“When you lose your wealth, you lose nothing.
When you lose your health, you lose something.
When you lose your character, you lose everything.” – Billy Graham
True Growth Takeaway:
Integrity is a choice. It is consistently choosing the purity of truth over popularity.
True Growth Journal Question:
Is there any part of your life where you are compromising your integrity? If so, what do you need to do to fix this part of your character?
About the author: Byrd Baggett is a best-selling author and popular motivational speaker. He has been helping organizations develop authentic leaders and passionately engaged teams since 1990. His corporate experience includes sales and management careers with two Fortune 500 companies. He is a Member of LWM III Consulting LLC and creator of the True Growth® brand.