When the clock ran out at Pate Stadium last Friday and the Scots gathered around in their usual post game circle near the 20-yard line, coach Richard Bailey was not in a celebratory mood. His comments to The Laurinburg Exchange and WLNC about being disappointed about the way the game was played may have seemed overly critical at first glance, but there is something all great teams have in common: They are never satisfied.
Friday’s game against Goldsboro was the last non-conference game for the Scots. From now until Nov. 8, every game counts towards the Southeastern Conference standings. It wasn’t that the Scots looked bad on Friday. They won 35-14 after all, and Goldsboro’s second score came late in the game against a mostly second string defense. But Goldsboro was a Class 2A school and Scotland was expected to put up more points.
Teams with aspirations of winning titles aren’t happy just to win. They want to win well and stay focused. Nick Saban, head coach at Alabama, is infamous for his intensity. Even though he has won three BCS national championships with the Crimson Tide, Saban is rarely seen cracking a smile. He is all business, all the time. Even after winning championships Saban gave off the impression that he was ready to stop celebrating and get back to work to get ready for next year.
Perhaps the closest comparison that can be made to Scotland’s win last week is the situation with the South Carolina football program. When head coach Steve Spurrier took over, a seven or eight win season was considered a great year. Now, the culture around the program has changed. South Carolina is 4-1 this season but you would not know it from the comments of the coach and others. Spurrier’s team has not looked great, as they have just barely gotten by Vanderbilt, Central Florida and Kentucky. A win is a win, but Spurrier knows that the team has their toughest challenges still to come.
Likewise, Bailey recognized that the way the Scots played most of Friday’s game wouldn’t be enough to get them through the upcoming conference schedule unscathed. He has said that the team cannot afford to become complacent. The Scots just had one — slightly — off game. Maybe even one off half, as they put up 21 points in the first quarter. And four of the first five games were not even close. Friday’s game was likely the result of having a week off, playing down to the level of an opponent and the injury to running back Tre Thomas. Whenever players see a teammate leave with an injury it always has an effect on their mental game.
Given the context of the Goldsboro game, Bailey’s comment to his team made sense. With conference play set to begin this Friday and a big game coming up in two weeks against undefeated Pinecrest, Scotland’s attitude will help them out as they march through the schedule.