Earlier this month the TCU football program announced the 14 members of the 2006 Leadership Council.The Council began seven years ago, and the current players on the team vote on the members of the Council each year.
The 14 players that were voted onto the 2006 TCU Leadership Council were Chad Andrus (tight end), Jeff Ballard (quarterback), Tommy Blake (defensive line), Brian Bonner (safety), Eric Buchanan (safety), Michael DePriest (wide receiver), David Hawthorne (linebacker), Lonta Hobbs (running back), Chris Manfredini (place kicker), Robert Merrill (running back), Jamison Newby (defensive line), Jason Phillips (linebacker), Mike Salvage (cornerback) and Herb Taylor (offensive line).
Of the 14 members on the Council, 13 are upperclassmen. The lone underclassman is sophomore linebacker Jason Phillips.
“The Leadership Council is the guys that get voted on, and they are the most respected group that the players can go to because they’ve handled problems before,” head coach Gary Patterson said.
The Council is made up of one player from each position that helps coach Patterson make decisions ranging from what uniform to wear to helping younger players get better.
“What the [Council] is for is they are my group that I talk to about decisions that are made on this team when there are decisions to be made,” Patterson said.
Although the council does not make rules, they are integral in giving Patterson advice, which he uses to make the final decisions.
“They make no rules,” Patterson said. “At the beginning of the season we have a policy manual that [the team] reads during Two-a-Days, and they sign it saying they understand how we deal with campus police, Fort Worth police, campus life and the rules and regulations of the weight room, training room and the team.”
During the Frogs spring practice, Patterson met with the Council to discuss what areas they thought needed to be improved.
“We felt like we needed more No. 1 offense verse No.1 defense,” senior quarterback Jeff Ballard said, “.also, we felt like the offensive line needed to see different looks from the defense, and to scrimmage more as a team.”
This is Ballard’s first year on the Council, as Tye Gunn was the representative for the Quarterbacks the last couple of seasons, and he says it is great honor to be chosen by his teammates.
“It’s something that I dreamed of when I came here,” Ballard said. “I saw Sean Stilley and how the guys respected and looked up to him, as well as Tye Gunn, and now that I get my chance to be in that role is an honor.”
For the players, choosing a leadership council is not about picking the most liked player, but about choosing a group that can lead the Frogs to victory, Patterson said.
“On a year-to-year basis, if we have a good leadership group then usually we have a lot of good chemistry, and usually that means we win a lot of ball games,” Patterson said.
If that is the case, then the Frogs must have had a great Council last season, as they went 11-1, and won the Mountain West in only their first season in the new conference.
In addition to giving Patterson advice, the Council helps younger players get better and they make sure that everybody is obeying team rules.
“[The Council] is the group that I go to help raise young guys up because I feel that peer pressure is sometimes stronger than coach’s pressure,” Patterson said. “They’re kind of like the big brothers on the team.”
If there is a disciplinary issue with a player, where a team rule has been broken, then Patterson will discuss with the Council about what should be done.
“I get their input about how they feel about the situation, which a lot of times they are tougher about it than I am, and then I see to it that the punishment fits the crime,” Patterson said.
The quarterback is often times perceived as the leader and voice of a football team, but Ballard does not think himself more important than anybody else.
“Guys do look to me more because I play quarterback, and being a quarterback we’re looked to as the team leader, someone who will do the right thing and be a leader at all times,” Ballard said.
“I am the leader of the offense, but I’m not any more of a leader than Herbert Taylor, Michael DePriest, Quentily Harmon or anybody else that is on the squad,” Ballard said.
When an issue is brought before the Council, whether by Patterson or any member of the coaching staff, the Council alone makes the decision.
“Every decision is our decision,” Ballard said. “The rest of the team’s opinion matters, but they put their trust in us to make the best decision for the team, and we have their best interests at heart.