Strange But True: Pep Talk

Coaches use all kinds of psychology to lift the spirits of their players. Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne once refused to sit with his team in the second half of a game. He sat in the stands, and the team was so fired up that it went out on the field and won.

One of the most unusual “pep talks” was delivered by coach Dana X. Bible during the Indiana-Nebraska football game of 1936.

Nebraska was losing, 9-0, at half time. Coach Bible looked scornfully around the dressing room and berated the players unmercifully.

“You don’t have the desire to win!” he thundered. “You don’t have the courage to fight back!” Then he said, “The first eleven players who go out that door will start the second half. The rest of you will sit on the bench.”

Immediately, the fired-up team was on its feet trying to reach the door. But Bible got there first and barred the way.

“That’s not good enough,” he snarled. “You’re not ready to play. You’re not ready to win.”

A slugging match followed. Teammates who really liked each other began to pummel at faces and heads, knocking each other down, then scrambling for the door. It became a free-for-all.

Finally eleven players did manage to squirm through. Bible put them on the field. And they beat Indiana, 14-9.

From The Giant Book of Strange But True Sports Stories by Howard Liss. Illustrations by Joe Mathieu.

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