As August wanes and autumn draws near, only days remain until the start of the college football season. Regular readers of this blog know my story. In the early 1970’s as a freshman at Auburn University, I was part of a small army of non-scholarship players, better known as “walk-ons,” kids armed only with the dream of earning the right to wear the orange and blue, and perhaps even win a scholarship.
Too, all of us wanted to play for the legendary Auburn coach, Ralph “Shug” Jordan. It was hard business, walking on. It’s like the old scriptural adage, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Earning the dream demanded faith and work, hard work. The hardest I’ve ever done.
Fortunately, I was one of the chosen, walking on and earning a scholarship. My dream of playing for the coach we called “The Man” came true.
Coach Jordan, it seems to me, always had a soft spot for walk-ons, at least judging from the number of stories across his era who came with only a dream and earned a spot on the Tiger roster.
Maybe it’s because Coach Jordan knew about hard times. He went to college at Auburn in the teeth of the Great Depression. Years later, when fascism set the world aflame in World War II, Coach was one of a relatively small number of soldiers, sailors and Marines who fought in every major theater of the war: Europe, North Africa and the Pacific and he was part of the Normandy Invasion where he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Even later, in the middle of his coaching career at Auburn, Coach fought an even tougher, equally deadly enemy – Cancer. He survived that, too.
Because I was one of those privileged to play for Coach Jordan, a hall of fame member who won 175 games, won a national title and coached a Heisman winner, All-Americans and all conference players, he’s never been far from my mind and heart.
But as fall and football near, Coach Jordan seems closer. I can still see the fatherly face and hear the voice I listened to in victory and defeat, good times and bad and in anger and affirmation.
In 2016, my alma mater unveiled a video that brings his voice to a new generation who weren’t even born when Coach was at Auburn.
In the high-powered world of college sports marketing, the tools are called “hype” videos, short films aimed at energizing the fan base and alumni, building the brand across the college football world. But honestly, I wonder how Coach would react to being part of a “hype “video. Anything can be hyped, from pizzas to pop stars. I prefer to think of it as a “values video,” a better fit for a man who wasn’t an ad campaign, but a rock-solid collection of unwavering ethics – hard work, honor, commitment, integrity.
Coach Jordan’s face is never seen in the less than 60-second film. But that unmistakable, strong voice laced with a South Alabama drawl is a fitting backdrop for images of young men striving straining and sweating in the August heat to avoid the trials, toils and snares of September, October, November, December and January.
Read the words:
“We all do funny things under pressure. And we all do funny things with just plain trying. Hustling. Being devoted. Only the people that get out and try and work like a dog and go out on a limb for something they believe in, only the very fit mentally and physically are going to survive.”
What do my beloved coach’s words have to do with marketing your community bank? Put simply, it’s the power of tradition. Surely, at your institution you have a beloved employee, perhaps a veteran teller or a retired CEO, who is beloved and respected in your community, like Coach Jordan among the Auburn family.
Just as Coach Jordan shared the values that endure at Auburn long after his passing – hustle, devotion, mental and physical toughness, hard work and commitment to a cause bigger than an individual, your beloved bankers can share the values that make your bank a community institution.
It’s not about hype. It’s about rock-solid values. For your current and potential customers, those values matter. After all, after faith, family and country, their finances are important. And if people hear and see your bank’s values in people who they’ve known down through the years, you’ll win their business.
It’s not hype. It’s about values and the power of tradition.
Please share how your bank is promoting its values to your community.