Davis: Most Coaches Don’t Experience Joy; They Are Competitive, Tortured Souls

Tiki and Tierney
March 06, 2018 - 6:15 pm

CBS Sports college basketball analyst Seth Davis dropped by Tiki and Tierney on Tuesday to discuss his new book, Getting to Us: How Great Coaches Make Great Teams. The book explores the fundamental ingredients of greatness in the coaching sphere, with Urban Meyer, Dabo Swinney, Jim Harbaugh, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim, Brad Stevens, Geno Auriemma and Doc Rivers serving as Davis’ study-worthy specimens.

All of them have at least one thing in common: They’re better coaches than athletes.

“They are competitive freaks,” Davis said. “They are competitive, driven, tortured souls. Where their bodies have physical limitations, they found something in sports. A lot of times when why’re not as good physically in sports, they have to use their mind to get some type of edge. Jim Harbaugh didn’t play all those years in the NFL because he was so physically gifted. He was a competitive freak.”



Which can be a blessing and a curse. Davis has found that elite coaches typically aren’t happy-go-lucky. On the contrary, they’re just the opposite.

“Most coaches that I’ve met don’t experience joy,” Davis said. “I’ve often found it sad. If you get 1,000 coaches in here and you ask them, ‘What do you feel more: the joy of winning or the pain of losing?’ a thousand out of a thousand will tell you the losing. Dabo is the one who evinces the most sheer joy.”

As Davis details in the book, Swinney’s father was an abusive alcoholic, and Dabo was homeless during his senior year of high school. He’s experienced the lowest lows.

So when he experiences the highest highs, he allows himself to feel them.

“Because of what he’s been through, he is very much one to have fun,” Davis said. “And a lot of reason for his motivation for being this way is so his teams will win more. Ultimately, it’s about winning, and he doesn’t want them being tight. He wants them to appreciate things and he will talk and talk and talk.”

Swinney and his father, it is worth noting, ultimately made amends. In fact, Swinney’s father lived with him in the final year of his life. The two had wonderful conversations during that time and became quite close.

“He brings all this to his job,” Davis said of Dabo. “He’s a very inspiring guy.”

This wasn’t Davis’ first time writing about legendary coaches. He is also the author of Wooden: A Coach’s Life.

“It was a lot of fun and very interesting for me to go into these guys and really break them down, how they operate, how they go about their jobs,” he said. “There are a lot of great life lessons. My kids are tired of hearing about it by now because between the John Wooden biography and these guys, I got sayings and quotes and this and that for everything. I hope people enjoy the book because it was fun to write.”