The Difference Between a Motivated Team and a Team In Need of Motivation

By Patrick Maks on August 5, 2014 at 8:15a
Wide receiver drills at the first practice of Ohio State's fall camp.

If he really wanted to, Urban Meyer could find enough bulletin board material to enrage his Ohio State football team in the worst way.

After all, that’s what happens when you string together 24-straight wins against largely inferior competition before crumbling when it matters most.

For two seasons, critics chirped how the Buckeyes were overrated. Big-stage losses to Michigan State and Clemson, fair or not, legitimized and perpetuated such a notion.

“You control what you can control. We didn’t finish strong,” Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days last week. “Played two top-five teams and some stuff happened.”

That’s a gentle way for describing how two years worth of pent-up Big Ten and national championship aspirations evaporated on an anticlimactic and cold December night in Indianapolis. But you don’t need a reminder of what happened. Neither does Ohio State.

“That’s been long gone for a long time,” he said Monday after the team’s first practice of fall camp. “If we have to utilize motivation, I’ve said this before, it’s probably not a very good team.”

It’s why Meyer, who’s known for his ability to push buttons, won’t do so here. He’s urging the Buckeyes to move on from a pair of losses that ruined their season. He won't point to them as a painful reminder. He doesn’t want them to be looking back. 

“We’ll use (motivation if we have to),” he said, “but you’re looking at a bad team probably.”

In and of itself, it’s an interesting concept that seems to go against the grain of traditional thinking when it comes to sports. Ohio State fits into the whole unfinished business, redemption narrative nicely this season. Since when is motivation such a bad thing?

“Last year, I think, is in everybody’s minds. I don’t mind it being there,” Meyer said. “But we just gotta get better. We gotta work out. think those are all good storylines. But if we do have to use stuff to motivate a team  and we’ve had to  that’s a bad team usually.”

Because a good team's already motivated. A good team doesn’t need to be tricked into getting pumped up for what's already the obvious. A good team doesn’t care about what happened the year before. A good team doesn’t need extra motivation to be a good. But a bad team does.

“Every coach’s dream is to coach a hungry, angry team. I think every coach here would say that,” Meyer said last week.

And here, for all intents and purposes, a hungry team is a motivated team. A motivated team's intrinsically driven toward success. A motivated team doesn't need a reminder of why it should be motivated in the first place. 

On the flip side, Meyer’s comments suggest a team in need of extra motivation at this point in the preseason is a team already destined for mediocrity. 

Ohio State has all the motivation in the world to put on for the college football world next season. There’s a problem, then, if Meyer and his staff have to start pushing extra and unnecessary buttons to remind the Buckeyes of something so obvious.


Comments Show All Comments

VarsityClubMD's picture

“If we have to utilize motivation, I’ve said this before, it’s probably not a very good team.”

Wait.  Is this motivation right here?  Well played, UFM, well played.

Dot this

+4 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

I think you mean "HONGRY."

Hongry & Motivated...or Grown & Sexy. 

+6 HS
sharks's picture

Grown & Sexy is going to be a thing here for a long time, as well it should be. I wonder if it has reopened....

A man got to have a code...

Chief B1G Dump's picture

We need to make some OSU Grown & Sexy teeshirts.

+3 HS
Tater_Schroeder's picture

Urban employs the monopoly on motivation.

Exhibit A:



+3 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

This one would've been a better choice, Tater! He's motivatin' our BUCKS here!


“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+1 HS
apack614's picture

What does he mean by "it's not a very good team" exactly who is he refering to?

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.

VarsityClubMD's picture

He said, "If you have to use motivation, then it's probably not a very good team."  

I think in this case he was speaking both about Ohio State in particular and any team in general.

Dot this

+1 HS
apack614's picture

Okay, that makes sense. Thanks for the help

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.

buckeyeradar's picture

I'll let my players do the talking. They have unfinished business.

I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but I'm one of the most colorful.

Squirrel Master's picture

I find it funny that we look back on those two loses as games that we were thoroughly handled in. I think back on those games as games we should have won if we didn't beat ourselves. We had the game in hand against MSU COUGH COUGH always run Hyde in short yardage COUGH COUGH. Had the lead against Clemson, but some sloppy play in the second half (muffed punt by Philly) caused that loss.

I'm not saying the OSU was dominating but they certainly were competing in each of those games and could still have gone undefeated.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

+6 HS
avail31678's picture

I would agree.  We fell behind early in both those games, and in the "middle" of each game came roaring back.  I think we scored like 24 unanswered against Sparty - we were stopping them and scoring on them.

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Here's where I look at how the national perception on OSU football and social media is to the advantage of the program.

I think there's enough there to remind the veterans/educate the rookies on what it is they're gunning for - in alignment with team goals/objectives. UFM and staff know the drill, understand the standards, and build upon the past to progress.

I'm sure there's a Woody quote for it (please forgive me for not memorizing them all) - paralyze resistance with persistence?

I believe in the program, they know exactly what it is they want to achieve. Time to go to work (I should probably do the same...)

+1 HS
OSUFlash's picture

Ohio State will remain the whipping post for the media all season long regardless of our record. That is just a fact of life. It will take an act of God for the Buckeyes to make the playoffs.


-2 HS
Oyster's picture

That's ok, because I believe in God.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

+8 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

Well I believe in God, but the only thing I am afraid of is Urban 'Soze' Meyer

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+1 HS
BoFuquel's picture

Urban Meyer Knows. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

hodge's picture

If I recall correctly, didn't Meyer mention that last year's squad had issues with motivation?  I seem to recall him making similar comments about how motivation wasn't an issue with the 2012 team, but that the 2013 squad didn't share that same mentality (personified, in my opinion, by Roby's buyer's remorse and subsequent regression).

Gotta hope that those last two losses lit a fire under the team's ass, and that they're as pissed as they were in Meyer's first year.

+2 HS
Nick_Satan's picture

I'm so ready for football season 

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture
As long as #97 is pissed off on Defense, we're good.
OSUFlash's picture

I'm not bashing the team I'm just stating a fact that it's us against the world and the sports media will not give us the benefit of the doubt. We will need to play lights out all season and win every game impressively to get the monkey off our back. Look at last year, the 24 game win streak means nothing because all the they talk about is when we finally faced some competition we folded like a cheap tent in their eyes.