Matt Eberflus has revealed the basketball legend guides his coaching style


Whenever we talk about how a new NFL head coach was influenced to reach his position, most of them always refer to obvious football influences. Matt Eberflus is no different. He credited Gary Pinkel and Rod Marinelli as two prominent guides in his rise through the coaching ranks over the past 30 years. Nick Saban too. However, it is important to remember that good training is not exclusive to one sport.

People shouldn’t be surprised that many big names in football, baseball, hockey and more often exhibit remarkably similar styles, both in approach to the game itself and in handling people. Looking back on the many years of top-level athletics, few men were better at both things than John Wooden. The Westwood magician won 10 national championships during his UCLA basketball tenure, earning a reputation as one of the greatest mentors in history. His players respect and revere him to this day.

It seems that Eberflus is also a big fan of Wooden.

This became evident during his last interview with the Bears media. He was asked what he looks for in players in minicamps and OTA practices since the pads aren’t on. His response included a nod to the late college basketball icon.

“Mentally. So mentally what you assess at this time of year is can the guy pick it up? Is he quick mentally? Can he think on his feet? Is he able to make adjustments on the fly? That’s #1. Then #2, physically what you can see is athletic ability. I love seeing athletes that we acquire here, really good athletes who can run and have speed Can they run and be quick but not in a hurry, as Coach Wooden would say.”

Matt Eberflus is a smart man to follow Wooden’s teachings.

Several future head coaches in all major sports have claimed at one time or another that the Bruins legend influenced them. Among them are Bobby Bowden, Joe Torre, Steve Kerr, Tony Dungy, Tom Coughlin and Pat Summit. All champions. Much of Wooden’s success comes from his ability to create structure for his players. One of the ways he did this was through his famous Pyramid of Success, a series of characteristics and traits identified by Wooden that made up successful people.

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His famous “Be quick but don’t hurry” was one of many quotes he picked up from these experiences. Matt Eberflus clearly read books about the man and took a lot of what he said to heart. This can only be a good thing for the Bears. If he incorporates similar lessons into his own coaching style, this team should start winning in the near future.

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