A Five-Point Plan to Win Parents and Influence Recruits

By Jeff Beck on January 17, 2013 at 12:00p
The King's Speech

By now, I’m sure you've heard cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs’ epic recruiting pitch delivered to Ezekiel Elliott and a few other recruits. The clip, courtesy of Elliott's father, Stacy, is Coombs at his best, selling Ohio State hard to the recruits and their families.

On a purely cosmetic level it’s easy to see why. The video gives Buckeye fans a rare glimpse into the life of a blue-chip recruit. Show of hands if you were recruited by a top program to play big-time football. No one? Ok, therein lies the intrigue.

So yes, of course the video is captivating to Buckeye faithful, but I’m here to tell you why it works on a much deeper level. To be frank, it’s just a damn good speech.

To prove it, I’ve analyzed Coombs’ performance through the lens of success put forth by Forbes in their January 19, 2011 article “How to Write a Great Speech: 5 Secrets for Success”.

According to the piece, the keys to an oratory barnburner are as follows:

#1 Great speeches are primarily emotional, not logical
#2 Small shifts in tone make an enormous difference to the audience, so sweat the details
#3 A great speech has a clear voice speaking throughout
#4 A great speech answers a great need
#5 A great speech conveys one idea only, though it can have lots of supporting points

So there’s the measuring stick. Let’s see how Coombs’ speech stacks up.

#1 Great Speeches are Primarily Emotional, not logical.

If there is any “key to a great speech” that is most evident in Coombs’ pitch, it’s this one. Since his hiring last offseason, it was pretty apparent emotion was Coombs’ bread and butter. The man feeds off of it like Hoke to a ham and this performance is no exception.

Even through the grainy footage you can see the vein bulging out of his forehead as he bullies urges these young men to consider the Scarlet and Gray. I can’t be certain, but I’m fairly sure my brow was assailed with "Coombs hype spittle" as I viewed through my screen. It’s that intense.

See for yourself:

Your ears didn’t deceive you. That was Coombs getting juiced about giving equipment to players followed by a “we don’t apologize for it being hard.” What being hard? Getting equipment? Wearing clothes? Does it matter? No, you still want to run through a wall for the guy and that’s the idea. 

Emotional yes. Logical no. Don’t worry about it.

#2 Small Shifts in Tone make an enormous difference to the audience

Coombs was masterful with this aspect as well, realizing his target audience was split between parents and players. Changes in tone and content were needed to speak to both segments and he does it without missing a beat.

Speak to the kids, Kerry:

Now give the parents something to gnaw on:

Don’t forget to mention academics… the 'rents love academics:

Tone shifted flawlessly.

#3 A Great Speech Has a Clear Voice Speaking Throughout

In this case, “speaking” isn’t adequate to describe Coombs’ style. For all intents and purposes, he is yelling for five minutes straight. But contextually the voice works as the volume and delivery exist for one reason and one reason only: to let these kids know they're at the big show.

The voice is bombastic and overwhelming at times, but it’s a perfect metaphor for life as a member of the Scarlet and Gray. Bombastic and overwhelming – welcome to Buckeye football. If you can’t handle it, don’t let the door hit ya.

#4 A Great Speech Answers A Great Need

In this context the speech doesn’t answer a great need, but rather, a great want emanating from both sides of the equation.

Coombs wants these kids to play for Ohio State. These recruits want to be convinced they’re choosing the school that will give them the best shot at becoming a better football player, winning a national championship and making it to the pros.

Player: “But Coach Coombs, will I be the only one working my tail off?"


Game. Set. Match. Needs answered.

#5 A great speech conveys one idea only, though it can have lots of supporting points

Finally, a great speech works itself to a crescendo, an endpoint that ancillary facts have been powering toward all along.

In this case, the supporting points have been covered in great detail. These kids should come to Ohio State to:

  • Win a championship
  • Get a world-class education
  • Have the chance to be surrounded by like-minded players
  • Be coached by a staff that just took a team to the top of the 12-0 mountain
  • Be groomed into a potential NFL draft pick
  • Wear clothes

While all of these points are important, they’re not the main idea.

No, instead, the main drive surfaces with the use of eight simple words:

"What in the world are you waiting for?"

With skills like that, Kerry Coombs may just be Ohio State's most valuable coach right now.


Comments Show All Comments

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Excellent article and spot on. That Coombs speech is so epic!

dean7647's picture

This is a microcosm of why I've never been more excited and optimistic about Buckeye football.

SuperBuckFan08's picture

After watching this video for the ump-teenth time, I'll be taking my talents to THEE Ohio State University. I'm ready to run through a wall coach and do whatever you need to me to. 
I'll be doing my part to represent my University better than those skunk bears up north can and better than those floozies in Crimson can. 

Because I couldn't go for three.   -Woody-

1MechEng's picture

While I was awestruck at what an amazingly powerful and convincing speech that was, I almost wish it had been "swept under the rug" so to speak.
I don't want any other AD's getting the idea that Coombs should be their next head coach. I want - no, NEED - this man to stay at OSU and keep recruiting in #beastmode.

orlando's picture

I love that speech. I would do any thing to put that uniform

buckeyedude's picture

As a coach or a parent, you can yell and scream at your kids/players to try harder and do better.
What separates a coach like Coombs from a coach like Bo Pelini or Brian Kelly?
I think it is intent and attitude. My dad coached my little league baseball team[a couple years ago...;)] and was always jumping up and down and  yelling and praising everyone every time they got a hit or made a good play. Never did he chastise anyone for having done their VERY BEST, even if it fell short. He made playing the game fun.
I have to think that playing for Coach Coombs has to be a blast, as compared to playing for Coach Pelini or Coach Kelly. Glad we have him.
Just my two cents worth.



Goose's picture

I think the key is what a coach considers to be your VERY BEST.  I always told my sons that when you think you're giving your maximum effort, step back and think about it and reach for the level of effort beyond that.  For most kids, there are several levels beyond what they think is their very best.
The key to reaching those levels is to be balanced in your motivational approach.  Criticize AND Celebrate with the same level of enthusiasm.  I love the way Coombs celebrates with his players, but I guarantee you that with his intensity and passion, he wouldn't hesitate to get right in one of the players' faces when they screw up. 

perutony's picture

Playing for Coombs was some of the best parts of my life when he coached at Colerain.  I would still run through a wall for that man.  He is a great motivator and gets every ounce of talaent out of his players.  He is a great pickup for tOSU and I'm happy to have been one of his players.  

Because I couldn't go for three. 

TMac's picture

My only question; Which wall?

ONE Not Done!

Deuces Wild's picture

I am right there with you!!
I swear if he gave that speach to most of us in person I bet we could lift a garbage truck full of SCUM remnats and flip it over that wall!!

Doc's picture

I would need a second to wipe the tears from eyes and blow my nose, but after that the fucking garbage truck would be flipped or I would die trying.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

gobucks5413's picture

Gordon, Gene, and Urban are gonna have to have a free flowing checkbook to keep Mr. Coombs around. No way he's not a D coordinator somewhere in the next couple years.

cinserious's picture

OSU can and damn well better pay whatever it takes to retain its assistants. Urban brought them here for a reason and after next year's NC it will be evident why they are the best group of assistants in the country.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Doc's picture

That dude is "Juiced" 24/7/365.  Holy shit that was fun!

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

daytonbuckeye's picture

Great article and speech by Coombs. The only thing that I noticed that wasn't exactly accurate was the part saying: "The man feeds off of it like Hoke to a ham". Maybe you shortened it to save space because everyone knows that is would have read more like:
The man feeds off of it like Hoke to a ham, 3 chickens, 2 meatloafs, 5 pot pies, 2 bowls of mashed potatoes and 1 entire Ryan's Steakhouse.

3 85 yards and a cloud of dust.

Tengauge's picture

HA! If I could upvote you I would...simply hilarious

Doc's picture

...and a Diet Coke.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

abrahajc's picture

I'm a big fan of how Meyer and the staff don't say stuff like "we dont concern ourselves with other teams" or "we just do what we can do with our team."  I prefer that coaches be completely honest and let the country know that they are gunning for the best team in the country which is without a doubt Alabama.  Love JT but I could never imagine him calling out an SEC school and holding everyone in the program to another school's standards.
Great breakdown of the speech.

VintonCountyBuck's picture

If he had played quarterback at Florida this speech would be hanging on the outside of a building somewhere

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

ODEEZ330's picture

Im manage a claims department for a large insurance company. I have over 60 people who are directly under me. I made them listen to this speech n asked them were you the best claims representative in the nation today? It worked well with some if my agents others thought I was nuts.

stark county football

faux_maestro's picture

Fucking awesome

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

perutony's picture

Even after sixteen years, I would still run through a wall for coach Coombs. 

Because I couldn't go for three. 

Dougger's picture

After this year are they just going to hand him a blank check? or can i hand him a blank check to motivate me? i mean my god, how did everyone not commit on the spot right there? what in the world were they waiting for? freaking love this guy. 

I like football

bukyze's picture

The biggest problem most people have when speaking is having a lot of uhms and ers, keeping their speech from being fluid.  Dude never stopped, never paused.  It was coming straight from his brain/heart out through his mouth.  No pauses, no hesitation.  Flawless.  I wonder if I practiced his speech enough, it would help my kids do more chores around the house.

Killer nuts's picture

I imagine that incoming freshman come into the program and ask what "Juice" is because they hear everyone on the team talking about it. I also imagine that the best and clearest response that anyone can provide is to simply point to Coach Coombs

Killer nuts's picture

And then maybe point to John Simon's biceps

luckynutz's picture

Or just john simon in general.

pjtobin's picture

The more I read and hear about this guy the more I love him. What a great guy to have on staff. I hope he stays on staff for a very long time. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

osubuckeye4life's picture

Walls be damned, I'm running through you all!!!!!!!!
Coach Coombs is awesome!