“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Most have heard the saying, but is it true?
Hall of Famer and former UCLA head coach Henry “Red” Sanders coined the term in a 1955 Sports Illustrated article before his team would go on to lose the 1956 Rose Bowl. The game was and still is the highest rated college bowl game of all time, watched by 41.1 percent of all people in the United States with a television.
So was Sanders’ motto something he truly stood by, or was it a publicity stunt to hype the game? I suppose we will never know, but we must decide our own motto to stand by.
Another Hall of Fame coach, the legendary Vince Lombardi, made the saying famous when he said it to his team, the Green Bay Packers, before the 1959 NFL season.
Lombardi would go on to have enormous success throughout the 60s, winning five NFL titles. However, his accomplishments did not stop him from later regretting his statement. He publicly announced he was misquoted when he said, “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is.” I agree with this version a lot more, especially when it applies to collegiate athletics.
The FDU Devils started the season 0-4. Nevertheless, the team still has the will to win and they continue to prepare on and off the field to be winners. The players and coaches could have easily folded, but they persistently train seven days a week to get better. Their constant pursuit of self improvement is an admirable characteristic.
First year coach, Brian Surace, is responsible for implementing this mindset. Coach Surace comes from a football family, to say the least, and brings a vast amount of knowledge to the program. His father, Robert Surace, is a Hall of Fame ex-coach of 25 years at Millville High School. His brother, Bob Surace, coached the Cincinnati Bengals for nine seasons before becoming the Princeton University head coach.
Add in Brian Surace’s own 16 years of coaching experience and it is safe to say he has seen it all.
No matter the outcome of the game, it is imperative to Coach Surace that his team play the game in the right manner, on and off the field.
A player must remain true to his community, his team and himself.
The right manner is something only the individual can control. It is not specific to football; it applies to all aspects of life. Having the will to win does not mean you win every game, it simply means you prepare yourself to the best of your ability so you may have a chance at success. Pride accompanies the will to win.
When you give your all, there is satisfaction in knowing you left nothing behind. A losing record may not produce pride, but the countless hours our team has put in to get better is something to be proud of. Pride is a key component Coach Surace is trying to establish.
Keeping in mind that the will to win is everything, Surace’s final goal for the football program is to “relentlessly pursue a bowl championship.” Whether or not they ever win a championship, it is their pursuit that is commendable.
Senior linebacker Steve Hoverson is an example of a player with pride and the will to win. All-Conference the past two seasons, he is having another fine year chasing down opposing quarterbacks and causing havoc in the backfield. Last year, he ended the season with a sack in each of the last four games.
If he can repeat that this year, he will move into the Top 5 all-time career sacks; he currently has 13. He also ranks high on FDU’s all-time solo tackles in a season (51 in ’10), total tackles in a season (90 in ’10) and total tackles in career (205).
He expressed that the “defining moment” of the season will be how the Devils finish.