October 26, 2001
Article printed in today's Bloomington Herald-Times
By Andy Graham ,
Herald-Times Sports Writer
Even in defeat, Antwaan Randle El has remained indefatigable.
Anybody who wonders how the Indiana quarterback continues to perform at a high level in the context of adversity could have gained some insight Thursday morning at the Salt Creek Golf Course in Nashville.
Randle El, an IU graduate since August, was a featured speaker at a seminar for the professional staff of IU's School of Education, with a theme of "Pieces of the Puzzle."
It was all about meshing a team, staying positive in tough times, getting leadership from a lot of different people, and being excited about what you do.
Randle El offered up a 10-point talk to the School of Education staffers. In slightly abridged form, culled from his own notes, he told them to:
1. SET TEAM GOALS. Set realistic team goals and reward efforts that move the organization toward those goals. Continually reevaluate and adjust your goals.
2. STAY POSITIVE. Even during tough times, successful teams and organizations do everything they can to put the team in a positive frame of mind. Negativity just makes tough times tougher.
3. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED. Everyone should have a sense of ownership, a proprietary sense, concerning the organization.
4. DO YOUR OWN JOB. Understand everyone's role, in the sense it may help you do your own job, but do your own job.
5. LOOK FOR LEADERSHIP. Look at all levels of the organization. Leaders are there.
6. FOUR WAY TEST for what we think, say and do. 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it in the best interests of the organization? 3. Will it make the organization better? 4. Does it comply with the law?
7. HAVE A PASSION FOR WHAT YOU'RE DOING. If you don't enjoy your job, do something else, either inside or outside the organization. People not enjoying themselves hold back an organization.
8. FOCUS ON THINGS YOU CAN CONTROL. Don't worry about what people, including the media, may be saying about you. Focus on commitment, work ethic, attitude, discipline, preparation and how we care about the people around us.
9. WORK TOGETHER. Understanding and appreciating individual roles, and how to achieve cohesion. Communication.
10. ORGANIZATIONAL PLEDGE: 1. Demand great leadership from each other; 2. Work with great courage and make no excuses; 3. Work with great intensity, give everything I have and never give up; 4. Take responsibility for my actions and inactions; 5. Continually push my co-workers to be at their best at work and in life; 6. Respect and support my co-workers, and trust them like family; 7. Enjoy work and make it fun for everyone.
Randle El is already the poster child for all the above. And he's perhaps never needed to be more than now, as the Hoosiers entered their current bye week saddled by a 1-5 record.
But he's encouraged by how his teammates have stuck together, largely by staying insular in perspective, and not worrying about the sort of criticism and apathy they might found outside the program.
"That's the thing," Randle El said Thursday afternoon. "That's how we've kept it together since the beginning of the year, and it's especially true now. It has to be us, just us, turning this thing around. Nobody outside the program can really help us all that much right now -- it has to be us.
"We've still got five games to play. Our goals are still there. That's the way you have to look at it. We've got to just go out and play winning ball. We have to play well. It's not like we've never played well."
Indeed, the Hoosiers have had their moments, even if they have had a hard time firing on all cylinders in all facets of the game concurrently. But the lone victory showed what could happen if they did. It wasn't so much a light at the end of the tunnel but a supernova as IU went to Wisconsin and buried the Badgers, 63-32, Oct. 6.
"That helps keep us going," Randle El said. "We know what we can do. When we don't make mistakes, and make big plays on defense and offense, we can play. We can play with anybody. Our defense came up with four turnovers up at Wisconsin, and that obviously was big. But when you don't get the big plays you need, and you make mistakes, you don't give yourself a chance.
"I wish we'd played that Wisconsin game at home. The home folks really haven't seen that side of us. We haven't won a home game, yet. When are we going to do it? We have to get it going, and we have to get it going against Northwestern."
Northwestern, the media's preseason pick to win the Big Ten, visits Bloomington for a Nov. 3 game, so the Hoosiers have two weeks to prepare. Asked how he would approach those two weeks, in his leadership role, Randle El said:
"It's not too much of a different approach. Lead by example by working hard. Reassure. Emphasize that these days of practice, right now, are every bit as important as Tuesday and Wednesday next week. We may do all special teams today but, whatever we do, it's going to help us get better.
"Guys know they need to get some rest, and are getting rest. Anybody who was hurting has to get into the training room and get healthy. But the mindset is where it needs to be. It's still positive."
Randle El saw that on the way back from last Saturday's 42-28 loss at Iowa: "On the plane back, we talked about it, and we said, 'We've got five left. If you're not with us, you have to get off. If you stay here, you need to really be with us.' I haven't seen anybody get off the plane yet, so to speak, and I don't think I will.
And judging by the 15 minutes of questions and comments Randle El took after his seminar talk Saturday, he can still get people on board.