Know Your Role: Quarterbacks and Centers

By Leadership Consultant Christopher Brenton (N.C. State)

If you were watching last year’s national championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame you probably noticed the apparent quarrel between Alabama’s quarterback and center late in the 4th quarter. The disagreement that played out on national television proved to be just a look inside the often challenging relationship between the two positions, an illustration that offers parallels for our chapters’ number one and number two positions: the Commander and Lt. Commander.

“Just so you understand, They’re upset because they’re both making calls and McCarron is trying to overrule Barrett Jones and Barret Jones is saying, I’m making the call up front. They both do so much at the line of scrimmage when it comes to making the checks up there.“ -Kirk Herbstreit

For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of football, the relationship between center and quarterback may not seem significant until you understand the important — but often under-appreciated — role the center plays on the offensive line.

footballA center’s primary responsibility on the offensive line is to snap the ball to the quarterback. However, because the center has the best view of the defensive line prior to the snap, he is often responsible for making the first adjustments on the offensive line. This need to make adjustments prior to the snap requires the center be one of the most intelligent players on the offensive line. But making adjustments prior to the snap is a responsibility shared by the quarterback and center.

A great example of this is the play of Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday while the two played for the Indianapolis Colts. Both Manning and Saturday had equal say in play-calling, making adjustments, and calling audibles.

The relationship between the center and quarterback is similar to that of the Commander and Lt. Commander. The Lt. Commander and Commander are both important in providing the leadership that is needed to effectively run a chapter. The Commander has the greatest field of vision as he sets the overall strategic direction of the chapter and ensures that the officers and members understand the vision and their roles in fulfilling it.football2

The Lt. Commander’s role is pivotal in supporting the vision as he assesses the strengths and weakness of the chapter’s internal officers (his “offensive line”) and trains, makes adjustments, and supports each officer as he carries out his defined responsibilities. Thus the Commander makes sure each officer and member understands “the play,” and the Lt. Commander makes sure that the officers, his “offensive line,” uphold their commitments to the overall game plan.

The Commander and Lt. Commander take ownership of the vision and make sure the vision is executed. Fulfilling this vision takes a lot of work and it can put a lot of stress on the leadership. Tempers can get heated along the way, and when they do just remember to “hug it out” like Barrett Jones and AJ McCarron did after defending their national championship.

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