In 1927, the underdog Minnesota Gophers and their coach, Doc Spears, overheard Rockne's halftime oration to the Irish through the dressing-room walls. When Rock had finished, Spears shouted, "You heard him! Go out and do that to Notre Dame!" The game ended, appropriately enough, in a 7-7 tie.
•No. 5: Refreshments and Reassurance
Despite the popular image of fire-and-brimstone scorchings at halftime, most coaches agree that their time is best spent going over X's and O's and showing confidence in their charges. As Grambling's Robinson says, "At halftime you've got to do so much teaching."
"There's no point in raising hell with them then," Bryant used to say. "If it ain't there, it's too late." The Bear preferred to relieve the pressure at halftime by telling his players that he would take responsibility for their mistakes.
Former Alabama cornerback Don McNeal, now a Miami Dolphin, remembers a game in which the Tide was trailing Tennessee at the half and Bryant said, "You don't have to win. Just go out there and be aggressive and try to have some fun." Another time, with 'Bama down 15-0 to Georgia Tech, Bryant's players had left their helmets on at halftime, because, as Bobby Skelton, a quarterback on that team, puts it, "Coach Bryant had a reputation, but he fooled us."
Bryant began by saying, "Where are the Cokes?" He made sure everyone had one and then clapped his hands. "I'm so happy," he said. "We've got a chance to show the entire country just how good we are." They did, 16-15.
•No. 6: Brevity Is the Soul of Win
Delaware coach Tubby Raymond says the most inspiring speech he ever heard as a player was by Michigan's Fritz Crisler when Crisler strode in late before a Michigan State game and simply said, "Just remember, you're Michigan and they're Michigan State." Before facing Auburn in 1965, Bobby Dodd of Georgia Tech ordered his assistants out of the room and said only, "Men, the odds-makers have Auburn as a six-point favorite over us here on our home field. I think they're right." Tech won 23-14.
While at Miami of Ohio, Ara Parseghian walked into the dressing room at halftime on at least two occasions and said only, "I'm sorry we scheduled this game for today. I didn't know you had something else to do." When Wake Forest trailed No. 14 Auburn 38-20 at intermission in 1979, Deacon coach John Mackovic, who is now coaching the Kansas City Chiefs, invoked a speech that Churchill had given during World War II: "I told them eight words—never, never, never, never, never, never give up." Wake came back to win 42-38.
•No. 7: Pep Comes in Daily Doses