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Lincoln Logs #6: Player Leadership

Leadership is not needed when things are going well; it's needed when they are going wrong, and things have been going very wrong for the Illini.

Andy Lyons

Lincoln Logs is an 11-part series from The Champaign Room's Brandon Birkhead explaining how the University of Illinois can go about building a winning football program.

A leader is a dealer in hope. -Napoleon Bonaparte

Last season, the Illini showed something many teams in their unfortunate situation show. They showed quit.

I can take losing. Considering the talent that was on the team last season, one could even accept the situation. But giving up cannot be accepted, and there were many players that gave up. This shows there was a failure of leadership for the Illini football team in 2012.

It's pointless for me to go through names of specific players. Last season is over. Nothing can be gained by reviewing last season's negatives. The team and us fans, need to move on.

Leadership is most needed when things are going poorly. It takes special people, and special leaders to turn the ship around. Leaders must remain positive and keep the hope alive that the team can reach their goals.

Many point to the coaching staff to be the ones to bear the weight of leadership, and it's true they play a large role, but ask yourself, who do the players interact with the most?

Who do the players spend the majority of their time with?

The other players.

It's on the players to be the leaders of the football team. They are the ones who lift the weights, practices for hours on end, and they are the ones who have the biggest impact on the team's successes and failures.

The players must lead the team.

Seniors are the ones who usually take on that responsibility. They have been around longer, and have more experience, so it makes perfect sense that they would be put in that role. Corey Lewis, Nathan Scheelhaase and Tim Kynard were the players who were brought to the Big Ten Media Days. These are the players who are the "official player leaders."

What's important to keep in mind is being a good follower is also a form of leadership. Buying in and doing your job to the best of your abilities is leadership. Leadership cannot be left to the figureheads. Leadership belongs to every player on the football team.

Leadership failed last season, as players were allowed to quit when things went tough. That's on the leadership, and thus every single player is at fault. That can not happen again.

It's time all of our players buy in, and be leaders.

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