This paper will apply Bruce Wayne Tuckman’s development model of group dynamics to the film “Remember the Titans”. Each of the four stages of development as defined by Tuckman will be clearly marked with a start time and a finish time (1965). Within each stage of development the team will also be rated using Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model II (SLMII). The team will be give a developmental level based to the team’s follower readiness. Lastly both coaches style of coaching will also be rated on the SLMII.
The first stage of Tuckman’s model in the film occurs when the black athletes are in the gymnasium ready to meet Coach Herman Boone (11:00). In this interaction the athletes have come together for the first time, they are unsure of their roles on the team, they are unsure of what to expect from each other, and they are unsure of what to expect from their new coach, Herman Boone. The newly formed group’s tentative attitude about roles is shown when Boone questions Thomas “Petey” Jones about whether or not he likes football (11:20).
The uncertainty of roles is also shown when the old head football coach William Yoast disrupts Boone’s meeting with the black athletes by entering in with the white players (13:25). Coach Yoast does not know how this confrontation between him and Coach Boone will play out. The white players in this scene are equally unsure as they come into gym. The end of this phase occurs when the team is shown walking into Gettysburg College for camp (18:10). In this scene the team is shown walking as a group. This is the first time we see them grouped whites and blacks together as a team, which signifies they have finished the forming stage and can now move on to the storming stage.
The team in this phase would be classified as development level 2 (D2) with respect to the SLMII. They have low to some competence in football and low commitment to making this new team work. Many of the players on the team have played football before, but they have not played under the authority of Coach Boone. This is why I would qualify everyone as having low to some competence in football.
Coach Boone approaches the team in the coaching style 1 (S1). He is highly directive and not very supportive in his coaching style. He acknowledges this right away in his first team meeting when he says, “This is no democracy (12:24).” Coach Yoast does not have many speaking parts in this first part of the film, the forming stage, but what little he does do and say puts him in S1 as well. This is shown when he has a private meeting with Boone in the stairwell and attempts to dictate his demands (13:45). Both coaches are in a dictatorial style for the forming stage, which makes sense because as mentioned above the team is in a stage that requires this kind of leadership.
“I am Gerry Bertier, the only All-American you’ve got on this team (14:50).” This is the first thing Bertier says to Coach Boone in an attempt gain some control over his place on the team. This interaction also marks the beginning of the storming phase. After this point there are many other examples of players attempting to gain control by working against each other and the coaching staff. The scene where Julius Campbell and Bertier are roommates and they are arguing about the poster on the wall which erupts into a physical fight between the two teammates is an excellent example (19:00). Another example is when Coach Boone forces the players to practice in the extreme heat and then another fight erupts at the water table (28:54). This phase of development ends when Gerry and Campbell confront each other after a hard practice (29:15). This is the last significan time when these two argue. They also honestly assess each other’s performance on the team up to this point in the film; this knowledge of each other allows them to more clearly define their own roles and lets the team move into the norming stage.
In this stage the team is in D3. They have moderate to high competence but have variable commitment to becoming a team. In the scene when Louie Lastik sits at the all black table he shows that it is possible for the two people from different races to become friends (22:40). However, the rejection of Coach Yoast’s offensive plays (23:25) and the fight between Bertier and Campbell shows that most of the team is not ready to commit to becoming a team.
Coach Boone’s leadership in this stage is still S1. When coach Boone tells the team, “We will be perfect in every aspect of the game” he is not giving them a choice he is dictating how they will practice and perform (20:15). Coach Yoast demonstrates that he has shifted to S3 when he offers his help with offensive plays, however, since Boone is still S1 he does not accept help from Yoast (23:20).
The Titans move into the norming stage when Lastik says, “Man, I don’t have any people, I’m with everybody Julius” and his roommate Jerry Harris sticks up for him (22:15). The relationship between Harris and Lastik is shown in two other scenes; in one of these scenes Harris volunteers to tutor Lastik and in another when they sing the Temptations in front of the team at a meal (24:45). Other scenes that indicate the Titans are finding their niches on the team are when Bertier and Campbell have a bonding moment in front of the team with the “Left side” “strong side” interaction (35:30), the “Bertier’s Mama” interaction (37:43), and the “this is the defensive table” interaction, when Bertier tells his friend Ray Budds to sit at the offensive table (40:45). The norming stage lasts for a good portion of the film and there is an overlap with the storming stage. This stage ends when Bertier asks Coach Boone if he can take his friend from the beginning of the film Budds off the squad, even though Boone expressly says earlier in the film he never cuts anyone from his teams (1:13:32). This is significant because it shows that Bertier is willing to let his friendship suffer for the good of the team. This scene is also important because Budds has represented the largest negative force on the team throughout the film.
The team is in the D1 phase; the Titans are eager to work with their teammates, but do not quite know how to handle certain situations. The film demonstrates the D1 phase by showing the teammates in several situations where they try to work together and fail. The “they like to show off” scene when Campbell asks Bertier what he means by “they” is a good representation of tensions that still exist (52:15). This scene is quickly followed up by a scene where one white player and two black ones go into a restaurant and, to the embarrassment of the black players are refused service (53:35). The culmination of the two aforementioned scenes is another scene where the group of black players and white players argue and go separate ways (54:30).
Boone is S3 during this phase. This is shown when he allows the team to come up with and use their own warm-up (1:07:00). Boone also shares information about the Titans opponents that will help the defense (59:30). He ultimately lets Yoast use the knowledge how he sees fit, which is representative of S3. Yoast also continues to be S3 but there is very little interaction between him directly and the players. A good representation of this is the scene when he meets with Coach Tyrell in the diner and says he wants him to keep coaching but in the end lets Coach Tyrell make his own decision.
The performing phase begins when Jones is put on defense and blocks a pass just as “Superstar” by the Temptations starts playing (51:10). This scene shows that they are starting to perform and work as a team and this blocked pass is a turning point in the game and their playing. In just about every football scene after this they end up doing pretty well. The Titans then go on to win the state championship and after this win they complete the performing stage (1:44:00).
The team in this stage is in D4. This is shown in the scene where they let Coach Boone know that they will be warming-up in a different manner for a game (1:07:00). This shows that the Titans are able and willing to work as a team, comfortable in their ability to produce a new warm-up and willing to perform it together. In the Groveton game the quarterback Harris is injured and the coaches put in the back-up and the team still executes well (1:10:50).
Coach Boone is S4 in this stage. He delegates more responsibility to other coaches and the players. He gives Yoast some of his offensive players to help on defense in their final game (1:39:15). Boone also says in the half time speech in the final game that the team is doing their best and that is all that anyone can ask for, Campbell interrupts him and demands more out of the team (1:38:15). Boone lets him have his say, effectively letting Campbell lead the team at this point. Coach Yoast stays in S3. He asks for Boone’s help because Ed Henry was “kicking his ass” on defense. Yoast also lets Jones go into the game, even though he is supposed to be sitting the bench when a player pleads to be taken out because he knows Jones can have a better impact on the game at this point (1:39:50).