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ACTION’S BOOKCLUB: ABOVE THE LINE, BY URBAN MEYER

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“LESSONS AND LEADERSHIP AND LIFE FROM A CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON” IS THE ACTUAL SUBTITLE THIS GUY HAD THE NERVE TO PUT ON HIS BOOK

Last week, we kicked off a series reviewing books “written” by college football head coaches with Lou Holtz’s Wins, Losses and Lessons. Somehow, that wasn’t bad enough, so this week, we’re going even deeper.

Above The Line: Lessons In Leadership and Life From A Championship Season is something that former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had the audacity to title a book, and for you, because I care - I read* that book.

*spent 25 minutes leafing through while eating lunch in my car

After doing so, I’ve come to two possible conclusions about this book:

The first possible conclusion: Urban Meyer is a huckster who lent his name to a hastily ghostwritten seed-bell of Successories-level pablum meant to nourish the emotional needs of people who put motivational quotes like “the harder I work, the luckier I get - Abe Lincoln” in their work email signatures, and he did so as a quick cash-in immediately after Ohio State won the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship.

That seems harsh.

Oh, I’m sorry, did you just spend your lunch break reading a book in which Urban Meyer put his name on the following passage?

If you try to ignore a problem, or run from it — whether it’s poor punt coverage, an underperforming employee or department in your company, or a growing disconnect in your marriage — it is only going to get worse.

[fumes for a minute, hits rewind, hits play again]

ignore a problem, or run from it

[fast-forwards unnecessarily]

an underperforming employee or department in your company

[fast-forwards again, cranks up volume]

IT IS ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE

Right. I see. So what you’re saying is that, perhaps throughout his career, but definitely in the three years since this book was released, Urban Meyer has demonstrated that he is probably not the ideal messenger for advice on how you shouldn’t ignore problems.

Yes, this is what I am saying.

So, why do you think he wrote this book, then?

Well, as I said, a cash grab. He knows that this is pure catnip for that certain class of people - generally speaking, middle-management suburban men - who worship the Idea Of Success and spend all day thinking about How To Achieve Success Like The Successful People Who Succeeded. It doesn’t even need to be coherent! You can just drop a bunch of casual references to successful things. Watch:

That’s where leadership comes in. I go back to the way companies like Apple and Nike operate-

Exploitative labor practices? I guess that does actually have a parallel to college football.

Players such as (John) Simons have drawing power, and I’m sure it’s no different with guys like LeBron James, Mike Trout and Sidney Crosby. Elite performers in businesses and other organizations have this same effect.

You know, those guys? Who I have no personal connection to, but you instantly recognize as successful? Remember them? Be like them. (He also devotes an entire page elsewhere to talking about Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run, which to my knowledge Urban Meyer was also not in any way involved in.)

Hey, speaking of LeBron James-

I invited Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, to speak to our team. One of the many lessons I learned from him that day was-

how to sell subprime mortgages?

“Thinking about problems, challenges, new ways of doing things and creativity is one of the hardest things you will ever do. It also brings you the finest results.”

Dan Gilbert, you may recall, oversaw a team with the greatest basketball player of his era to one championship in eleven years and pissed him off so thoroughly that he left his hometown twice. This is the guy you’re quoting? Give me something better.

Give me that good shit the Success Fans crave, Urban.

A public opinion poll is no substitute for thought” - Warren Buffett

Ohh yeah. Now we’re talking. Back to the A-Team of B-school idols. But hey, you should also probably pepper in some references to the military, in case the tax attorneys who go to a gym where they pretend to be special operations soldiers start to fall asleep.

An article by U.S. Army Major Robert J. Reilly spells it out clearly. “The strongest motivation for enduring combat, especially for U.S. soldiers, is the bond formed among members of a squad or platoon.”

More. Give me more. I’m not an Operations Manager, I’m an Operator Manager.

The trust we seek to build at Ohio State goes deeper than that. It is the kind of trust that the Navy SEALs have for each other-

Hell yeah! I relate to this! [does eight kipping pull-ups in the break room] This is going to be the best Toyotathon ever, guys! Let’s get out there and sell these Avalons! [rucks toward salesfloor]

Okay, but you said you had another theory, too?

Yes, well. Urban definitely did rush this book out in a hurry to make a quick buck, banking on the scientific fact that Ohio State fans will buy literally anything related to the team —especially right after a championship season. But how did he get this book out so quickly? Even references to LeBron James and Apple and the Navy SEALs and Warren Buffett will only get you 100, 150 pages, tops. How do you fill out the rest of a book?

Who can help you do it, and quickly?

My friend Tim Kight came into my life, and his leadership advice is an important part of the story of the 2014 season and beyond

It is a Tim Kight teaching point

Tim Kight drew a diagram on the board, with Above The Line Behavior on top

I was searching for a way to enhance our training when I met Tim Kight

Tim Kight introduced the Performance Pathway to me in the spring of 2013

I had a deep conversation with Tim Kight

Every week for six weeks, we met as a team, heard briefly from Tim Kight,

Tim Kight

My second conclusion is thus: Urban Meyer is being groomed to be the Tom Cruise-esque public face of something I will term “Scientology For Regional Sales Managers”.

Urban. If you’re reading this, we can rescue you. Just blink three times on camera and we’ll send people to get you. You can come back and coach Notre Dame. No one will hurt you there.

Wow, okay. So I think you didn’t like this book.

I did not!

But give us something to go out on here.

Sure, sure.

In the course of reading this, I happened to flip to the index, to see if a certain disgraced former position coach was mentioned. (He was not listed in the index, but he is thanked in the acknowledgments).

That’s where I found this, hand-scrawled in the my local public library’s copy of this book.

I love the fact that someone read this entire book and was yet so mad they added a comment section.

“I liked the part where you taught us concepts like “E+R=0” and “the 10-80-10 Principle” and “Our Purpose Is Clear: Nine Units Strong”, BUT WHY DIDN’T YOU TALK MORE ABOUT COACHING RILEY COOPER AND AARON HERNANDEZ!?”

SAD.