Family On The Field: Bond Between Gamecock Coach and Player
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Good coaches tend to be father figures for athletes but for one player, that good coach actually is his dad.
After almost three decades of coaching, Bobby Bentley knows a good football player when he sees one. Good players keep their eye on the ball, rely on their teammates, and know hard fought wins deserve to celebrated.
His son Jake has the stats and the heart to prove he's a good player.
"He cares about people. That’s sometimes hard to teach and sometimes hard to instill in a young man but Jake gets it," said Bobby.
Bobby says he and his wife Paulette have talked and believe because Jake cares so much about people that they see him involved in ministry at some point down the road in his future.
For this family, football is everything.
"All of us love it. Even my daughter Emily, she writes Jake these eloquent notes before every game and it’s a big deal to us. Paulette cooks snacks for the running backs. She brings snacks to them on away games and she has homemade snacks for home games. It’s a big deal. Football is a big deal in our family. It always has been and always will. But it’s not just who we are. We try to do more than just talk football," explained Bobby.
In the game of life, one of the biggest lessons Jake has learned from his father is connecting with other people.
"Life is really about relationships that you build. Whether it be on the field or off the field. It’s really about the connection that you have with other people and how you can impact someone else’s life," explained Jake.
It's usually the father teaching everything about life to his son but Bobby has been able to learn a little something from Jake too.
"His resilience. We made him move in the middle of his high school days and it didn’t bother him. He kept right on going," said Bobby.
That move came after Bobby experience a lot of success in the Palmetto State.
Coach Bentley began his coaching career at James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan, SC.Bobby was able to make a name for himself as one of the best coaches in the nation in high school football. From 2002 until 2005, Coach Bentley and the Rebels won four consecutive state titles.
After being named the 2005 Nike National Coach of the Year, he next took the head coaching job at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. After the two year stint, he headed back to Byrnes for another couple of years and help produce Gamecock star athlete Marcus Lattimore.
In 2014, Coach Bentley got the call to move up to the college ranks and work at Auburn as an Offensive Analysts. It was a great move for the Bentley family, but Jake unfortunately didn't have the chance to have his dad coach him in high school like his older brothers before him did.
"Going through high school and when he took the job at Auburn, I really didn't get that experience that my brothers got," explained Jake.
Little did Jake know down the road, he and his father would be on the same team. When Coach Will Muschamp got the head coaching job at South Carolina, Coach Bentley got a call to be the running backs coach for the Gamecocks.
"When Coach Muschamp offered me the job and then we’re on the plane together and T-Rob asked me, ‘You think Jake’s coming? You got Jake coming don’t you?’ I said, ‘Well, I hope I do.’ He said, ‘The least you can do is recruit your son," laughed Bobby.
Jake had a lot of offers on the table but he ended up choosing South Carolina and being on the same team as his dad.
"Just being able to be here and work to achieve the same goal is just a great feeling and just blessed to be a part of it," said Jake.
While Jake experiences success on the field, it's what he does off the field that makes his dad even more proud of him.
"Like any father, you’ve got a great relationship with your son. He takes these pictures of the All-Academic, All-SEC plaque. Getting those type of awards probably gives you a warm feeling inside as much as anything else as him throwing a touchdown or signing an autograph for a little kid. It gives you a good feeling about yourself," said Bobby.
Win or lose, it's an indescribable feeling any time the two can run out onto the field at Williams-Brice Stadium together.
You can catch the father-son duo on the field this Saturday at noon on WLTX when the Gamecocks take on the Florida Gators at Williams-Brice Stadium.