Carrie Cecil's Red Zone: On our positive practice, hiring coaches in the AARP and giving back
Carrie Cecil’s Red Zone

Carrie Cecil's Red Zone: On our positive practice, hiring coaches in the AARP and giving back

By focusing on the positives, the Cecil family is able to manage the ups and downs of football life. Even so, the Sun Devils’ fourth-quarter comeback was tough to watch.

After stopping my husband Chuck from beheading our Sun Devils piñata hanging on the porch Saturday night, we lit the logs in the fireplace and tried to remember that football is just a game. For die-hard Wildcats like my sweet hubby, it was the game, and I would be lying if I said his heart was not broken. So, all three dogs, our daughter Charli and I cozied up to Chuck on the sofa and did what the Cecils do to feel better: “Tell me the positive.”

With the flames glowing and the USC vs. Notre Dame game about to start, we each said something positive about the Territorial Cup game. Chuck’s top three were: The players played for each other — brother for brother, and they never quit. He was inspired by their unity and resilience. And lastly, he was proud to see our seniors honored.

“Win or lose, in college athletics our goal is to create tomorrow’s leaders, and we’re doing that,” he said. And then Chuck smiled.

This simple family act of focusing on the good has allowed us to manage the up-and-down emotional rollercoaster of our blessed football life. While we don’t quite have it mastered yet — as the piñata was unmercifully dismantled — it does allow us to find the good in the dark moments. The end of the season wasn’t what any of us wanted, but we pray that the Wildcats are on a path to success for next year.

In the biz

College football has grown into a billion-dollar business with multimillion-dollar coaches overseeing hundreds of staffers, student-athletes, capital campaigns, building projects, community relations and more. It is no wonder ASU’s hire of the 64-year-old Herm Edwards seems to be catching on. This month, two of college football’s most successful head coaches, 65-year-old Les Miles and 67-year-old Mack Brown, have found themselves headed back to the sidelines. Miles is at Kansas, and Brown was introduced Tuesday as the head coach at North Carolina.

While the elder-football-statesmen may not know the hottest GIF to lure recruits, they bring much-needed know-how. They run a football program like a successful CEO runs a Fortune 500 business. These coaches understand the X’s and O’s and have decades of schematics in their back pockets. They have the swagger to snag big-name coordinators, play-callers and position coaches who would love to work for the Hall of Famers. While some are pooh-poohing the moves, I applaud leadership who isn’t afraid to reach into the AARP cookie jar and pull out a seasoned winner.

With all of the headlines surrounding behavioral issues in college athletics, I look forward to a man like Mack Brown breathing experience, integrity and wisdom into the lives of 18-year-old football players.

Tech talk

Last week, I attended a luncheon with a group of professional athletes. While there, I asked them to stack their phones. Stacking is the act of placing your phones at the center of the table, face down, for a digital-free experience. (Whoever picks up their phone first buys lunch.)

Stacking is harder than you might think. The disconnecting from our mobile technology is like yanking a dopamine drip out of our clutches. For me, stacking is just one tool to building good in-person digital etiquette with my folks.

Here are three quick tips for coaching-up positive in-person digital etiquette:

1. Don’t let your phone interrupt you. If you’re actively listening or engaged in a conversation, before you look at a text or answer your phone, try to excuse yourself from the conversation with a real “Excuse me, I need to step away,” or “I’m really enjoying this, but will you give me two minutes?”

2. Recognize other human beings. We are all from the same species, and our species needs real interaction. Be it police officers, cashiers, coaches, teachers, parents, grandparents, the FedEx guy and even your kids — we humans need to look, listen and speak politely to one another. Encourage others to talk vs. text and to share a real smile vs. an emoji.

3. Private moments don’t include electronics. We take our cellphones into the weirdest places. Too many people have lost their common decency boundaries when it comes to their mobile devices. Hand-held technology is making its way into public bathroom stalls, dining rooms and with loved ones in bedrooms. Respect the sanctity of human privacy, conversation and intimacy. Try to teach others to preserve the private moments in their lives and refrain from phoning and flushing!

Feeling good

Giving Tuesday kicked off the Christmas and holiday season. This amazing tradition usually follows Thanksgiving and has grown into a beautiful social media campaign and international movement with the hashtag #GivingTuesday.

If you’re looking for a local and sporty way to give, the UA has special 501c(3) — the UA Foundation — to help student-athletes achieve excellence in the classroom and in competition. Want to learn more about how to give to the UA Foundation or join the Wildcat Club? Visit

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