During a team meeting in the middle of the week, Teaff also told a story about two Eskimos fishing through the ice. One was getting results and the other wasn't. When fisherman No. 2 asked his partner what his secret was, No. 1 took a slimy something from his mouth and replied, "You've got to keep the worms warm." The tale gave Teaff an idea.
On Saturday morning he bought a box of worms, took one out, "and believe me, I washed him from one end to the other. Before the game I could see the players were keyed up and tight, so I said to 'em, 'The game is yours, but there's one thing I'll do for you; I'll keep the worms warm.' Then I took him out of my pocket, dropped him into my mouth, gave him three bites and dropped him into the trash can. It was so foreign to anything I'd ever done, it gave them a shock. It was a big, fun thing that relaxed them. They went out giggling." Needless to say, Baylor upset Texas 38-14.
Former Rice coach Al Conover was an even bigger showman than Teaff. In 1974 he sparked the Owls to a surprising 10-10 tie with LSU by throwing a pack of lighted firecrackers into the locker room before the game. Conover also rode a pony to practice before his team was to play the SMU Mustangs. Once after a loss he drove a hearse onto the practice field, pulled out a coffin and "buried all the mistakes." But Conover's greatest moment of motivation came when he threw a chair through a dressing-room window before the 1972 Arkansas game in Little Rock. The Owls beat the Hogs on the road for the first time since 1958, but War Memorial Stadium billed Conover for the damages.
•No. 3: Call the Audibles
Before facing Michigan in 1960, Ohio State coach Woody Hayes asked one of his co-captains to prepare some pregame remarks, which he did. The speech was cliché-ridden, along the lines of, "When I was growing up in my hometown of Newark, Ohio, I lived for the day that I would wear this scarlet jersey...."
"Don't give me that——!" blurted Woody. "Get out there and get 'em!" The Buckeyes did, 7-0.
Three years ago, Penn coach Jerry Berndt asked two players to speak before the Quakers' opener against Dartmouth. The second player never got his chance, because Mike Christiani, a linebacker, stood up and said, "Cut the——. Cut the pep talks. There's been too much talking at this university and not enough playing." Penn won 21-0 and went on to have its best season in 23 years.
•No. 4: The Best-Laid Schemes....
Before Missouri's 1967 game against Nebraska, Dan Devine decided to make the Tigers sick to death of There Is No Place Like Nebraska, which they had heard often during a 35-0 loss to the Huskers the previous year. After playing the song in the locker room all week, Devine told the team on Friday evening that he never wanted to hear the song again. He then grabbed the record and threw it on the cement. It bounced. He tried again; again it survived. He tried to crush it with his hands. The record bent but didn't break. "I was humiliated," says Devine, who threw the disc out a window and retreated in shame. Despite his performance, the Tigers won 10-7.
In 1968 Bud Carson felt that his Georgia Tech squad was intimidated by Georgia, so he tried to inspire his players with bravado. They're not so tough, said Carson, who declared that he might just visit the Dawgs' dressing room and whip not only head coach Vince Dooley but also defensive coordinator Erk Russell. That was quite a boast considering the fearsome reputation of Russell, who used to butt his bald head against his players' helmets in warmups. After a pause, one of the Tech players yelled out, "You better just fight Vince, Coach." The Wreck went out flat and lost 47-8.