Before he was the defensive line coach at Texas, or Alabama, or Clemson, or the linebackers coach at Memphis, or the defensive backs coach at South Carolina State, Chris Rumph was a 25 year-old head coach at Calhoun County High School in St. Matthews, South Carolina. Rumph lasted five years as the head coach of the Saints but, as he looked back at those years on Wednesday, Rumph speaks of them with regret.
There is a popular saying among coaches right now known as "you're either coaching it, or you're allowing it to happen." (Perhaps a close second was "yes, I would like another beer.") Nearly every one of those times, it was used in reference to a player. If a player is loafing, you're either coaching it or you're allowing it to happen. If a wide receiver runs a nine-yard route instead of seven, you're either coaching it or you're allowing it to happen.
During Rumph's time as a head coach, he allowed it to happen. Not with his players, but with his assistant coaches.
They were good coaches, and they were his friends, Rumph said. So he allowed them to slip. He let them get away with stuff they shouldn't have. Again, they were his friends.
"At the end of the day, I cheated myself, I cheated them, and I cheated the players," Rumph said. Rumph is a guy with a warm personality that runs in overdrive. He's one of those guys that makes you feel welcome even if the two of you have never met before; I know this because I'm speaking from experience. He spoke for close to an hour on Wednesday evening at the Angelo Football Clinic with humor sprinkled in throughout. But, on this subject, Rumph was earnest and serious.
"If they're not doing what you're asking them to do," Rumph said, "I hate to say it, but they've got to go. At the end of the day, those L's and W's are on your name. If you don't cut it out, it'll be you going out the door with them."
A few more notes on Rumph:
- I loved this quote, on encouraging players to play from a stance that's comfortable to them: "The last thing I want to do is screw up a great player because I'm some great coach. I didn't get this job because of what's between my ears."
- Rumph said his group has improved this summer thanks to two new measures. First, the NCAA now allows coaches to review one hour a week of film with players. Watching practice film gives him a chance to correct things he didn't see in practice. Second, allowing Texas players to work camps has given them a new perspective and appreciation for what he does. They'd complain about the general knuckleheaded-ness of 8 to 10-year olds, and then he'd remind them they do the same thing. A brief pause followed by an "Oh" was the common response.
- Rumph says he's "not afraid" to hug his players and tell them he loves them. "You'd be surprised how often you are the first male to tell them they love them," he said.