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Midweek Roundtable: What's the Best Pregame Speech?

12:28 PM, Oct. 17, 2012 EDT

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QUESTION: What's the best pregame speech you've heard?

Jim Halley, Reporter

University of Miami (Ohio) football coach Lance Guidry's pre-game talk before his team's 35-21 defeat of Middle Tennessee State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl last season is a classic. He starts a little slowly, talking about the tradition of the team's helmet, but builds to a great climax, "Let's go get our damn trophy," that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. I just played it again and am ready to pump out a few more stories. There's no YouTube clip of Team USA hockey coach Herb Brooks' pre-game speech before his team played the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics, but actor Kurt Russell's movie version in Miracle is pretty good and supposed to be pretty close: "If we play 'em 10 times, they might win nine. But NOT this game. …. Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world."

Jason Jordan, Reporter

This one’s easy for me; it was in Karate Kid, the speech the Cobra Kai Sensei gave during the practice. Oh man that thing gets me extra hype when I hear it. “Defeat does not exist in this dojo, does it? (No Sensei!) A man confronts you, he is the enemy and the enemy deserves no mercy!” Yeah I know the whole thing word for word. That should tell you all you need to know. A close second for me is the speech the President gave in Independence Day before they were making their last stand against the aliens. That was epic!

Sarah Gearhart, Reporter

OK, two words: Morgan Freeman. The man is a born talker who makes pretty much every word he speaks sound intense, important and smart. So, naturally, he's awesome when directing a pep talk. I really like him as Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris in Million Dollar Baby. This isn't quite a pregame speech, but I like the scene where the tables turn and he serves Frankie (Clint Eastwood) major words of encouragement after Maggie (Hillary Swank) dies. His words are about being knocked on your feet, but getting up and still taking a shot. It's simple and direct with no-fluff.

Scott Allen, Content Producer

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis stopped in the Stanford men's basketball team's locker room before last season's NIT final against Minnesota and delivered a speech that was worthy of the NCAA title game. Lewis' message? Don't accept mediocrity. Get pissed off for greatness. Leave your legacy. "Wins and losses come a dime a dozen, but effort? Nobody can judge effort. Effort is between you and you." Watch the speech and you'll be bobbing your head right along with the Cardinal players, who blew out the Golden Gophers, 75-51. Any coach would be well served to channel this speech before a big game.

David Scott, Content Manager

Al Pacino's "Game of Inches" speech in Any Given Sunday. Enough said. I know, I know, it’s a movie and it’s scripted, but so is a coach’s speech in the locker room. There are a few pre-game speeches from real coaches that I like, but this one captures everything. You can’t tell me that there is one football coach out there that hasn’t seen this movie and taken some piece of the speech and used it themselves. Whether it’s the style, a line, or format.


Kent Perkins, Football, Lake Highlands (Dallas)

The greatest pregame speaker I’ve ever heard is on YouTube, it’s a guy named Eric Thomas and he talks to a bunch of NFL and NBA teams before games. It will get you so hype. I saw the one where he talks about ‘What’s your why?’ Basically talking about why are you about to go out there and try to win. You need a ‘why.’ It’s great.

Kyle Bosch, Football, St. Francis (Wheaton, Ill.)

The best pregame speech that I’ve ever heard would have to be Al Pacino’s speech in Any Given Sunday. The one he gave at halftime. Hearing that just makes me want to run through a wall or something. That gets me jacked and ready to play.

Dominique Williams, Basketball, St. Mary's, (Phoeniz, Ariz.)

Coach (Curtis) Ekmark told us a story from when he was traveling with his friend playing golf. They played doubles against really good players, and his friends said nine times out of 10, they would win, but not here, not tonight. He [translated] the story in basketball terms. He said we are playing a good team, they aren't going to win, not here, not tonight. I never forgot it. Although it's simple, it just struck me that anyone can win on any given day. But you have to have the "not here, not not tonight" mentality no matter where you're playing.

Sam Wyche, former NFL, college and high school coach and Pickens County (S.C.) Councilman

I don't remember one standing out above another. I can't even remember what George Allen said before the Super Bowl (VII in 1973). His speeches were very short. He didn't mess around. I would say the same thing before every game, almost so my players could recite it with me. No. 1, be physical, hit harder than the other team. No. 2, keep your poise. Good things are going to happen to the other team. You can't lose your poise. No. 3 is finish everything, not just the fourth quarter. You can't expect to win if you haven't played for four quarters.

Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) football coach Bob Milloy

I don't give really good pre-game talks. My pre-game talks start on Monday. I remember, one time, three years ago when we were playing DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) for the (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference) championship. They had beaten us earlier in the regular season. I had just finished talking to the players when one of them, a big kid who was austistic, asked if he could talk with the team. Everybody was shocked because he hardly ever said a word, just yes or no. He's a college freshman now. He was the nicest kid, but he hardly ever spoke. He stood up and said, 'We're going to beat DeMatha because we should have beaten them last time. Let's go.' And the team nearly tore the door down.

Vernon Hargreaves, assistant football coach at South Florida

I'm usually up in the box, so I don't get to hear them. As coaches, we're always talking and sometimes you forget what you've heard and you repeat stuff. After a while, you send the same message. There might have been some occasions you try to find bulletin board stuff. Those are the type of things that get teams fired up, especially when the other team brings you in for their homecoming.



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