David Cutcliffe, Duke football coach, speaking about Todd Helton at from Tennessee. Great story about the difference a coach can make.
“Todd would come to games, and if it was cold he was near the heater with his jacket on,” Cutcliffe says, laughing. “I would catch him at halftime eating turkey sandwiches paying no attention to what I’m saying. If it was hot, he was in the mister. You couldn’t find him. He just enjoyed being a backup, probably just waiting for baseball to come.”
Cutcliffe made his quarterbacks take tests to reinforce what they needed to know. One night, Helton burst into Cutcliffe’s office and told him the test was ridiculous. He told him he didn’t know anything, and this little test has caused him to miss time better spent at batting practice.
“I do a section called the bonus at the end,” Cutcliffe says. “It’s got different things, advice … this is where the principal in me comes out, the elementary school principal. This particular one had: When you pull up next to a school bus, make sure you smile and wave to the children. They will love it. That’s the advice. I give them tidbits of worthless advice. I call myself Cliff Clavin, if you’ve ever seen ‘Cheers.’
“Todd Helton, when I’m dead and gone, hopefully will be doing well. I know he’ll be driving a pickup truck, for that’s what Todd is, but he’s going to pull up next to a red light and I can promise you Todd will not remember anything I told him about a five-step drop. He won’t remember the name of the play or a cadence, but when a school bus pulls up next to him and those kids smile and look at him, he will remember his dead coach, he will smile and he will wave.
“If you think coaches don’t make a difference, think about what I just said. You will make a difference in their lives. It won’t have anything to do with football.”