Ralph Friedgen isnt in coaching right now, but he sure doesnt sound like it.
Hes as passionate and energetic and ready to go while on what he hopes is a temporary career sabbatical as when he stalked sidelines in college and the NFL.
And hell always be blunt, as he was throughout his talk Monday night as the guest speaker at the Macon Touchdown Clubs annual year-end jamboree at the Methodist Home for Children and Youth.
He used his experiences as a successful assistant and head coach to offer advice to the Clubs all-state Super Seven as well as the local high school football players on hand.
Listen to me, he said after one funny story about how to get on a teachers good side. Im tellin you how to be successful.
The talented athletes in front of him may have had trouble picturing Friedgen as having been in their shoes, but he cleared that up.
I was a typical 18-year-old when I went to college, said Friedgen, who played at Maryland. When I was in high school, I liked athletics, I liked women. I dont think academics was even third.
Friedgen was entertaining and insightful, and he clearly took seriously the chance to advise the highly recruited group in front of him.
A question from Corey Moore, a Georgia-bound defensive back from Griffin and Super Seven pick, got him going again.
What is the biggest transition he and his co-honorees will face as freshmen?
Everything goes to another level, he said. Academics are at a higher level, footballs at a higher level, your social life is at a higher level.
You have to make decisions now, OK? And you have to understand that everything has consequences. You make a poor decision, youre going to pay the price for it. Everythings a lot tougher.
He said that there were three keys to success: attitude, being a competitor and perseverance.
Friedgen remembered being in high school and not getting much playing time, so he wanted to transfer. His coach agreed to offer a good recommendation, and Friedgen called his father with the news.
He said, But you know, when you come home, that key you gots not gonna fit, Friedgen said. Whaddaya mean, the keys not gonna fit?
His father was blunt, a trait his son still carries.
Quitters dont live in my house, Friedgen said was his dads response. So many parents I talk to when this situation comes up and they say, Well, its his life, he can do what he wants.
My father never took it that way. I got real upset, and I ripped the phone -- at that time, we had phones on the wall.
Friedgen returned to his school, rededicated himself and was off. He said that learning from and coming back from failure is an increasing problem.
Ive found that a lot of kids today have real issues with that, he said. I dont know if its the Internet, because every time youre playing a video game and you run into problems, you dont work your way through it.
What do you do? You hit reset and the thing starts all over.
Friedgens résumé made him an expert. He played at Maryland, coached on every Division I level as an assistant, was an elite offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, went to the Super Bowl as an assistant and was a successful head coach at Maryland before being eased out despite going 9-4 in 2010.
Listen to what Im telling you, he said. There are many other qualities that will help you be successful.
If you can go in there and listen to what Im telling you, youve got a chance to really make a difference in your life.
And thats what its all about. Its not just about playing football, its an opportunity to change your life.