Nightly News   |  September 26, 2013

Utah football coach takes a stand, disciplines entire team

After some players got poor grades, and rumors percolated about cyber bullying, Coach Matt Labrum decided to teach the team a lesson about sportsmanship -- both on and off the field. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.

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>>> now to a story about a high school football coach who captured national attention because he shut down the football team and issued a challenge to his players concerning life off the field. that's when something remarkable then happened. we get the story tonight from joe fryer in roosevelt, utah.

>> reporter: when high school football players rise before the sun, it's rarely seen as a re ward. but for coach matt laborman, the cougars, this early morning practice is the dawn of a new era.

>> just felt we wanted to take a stand, a leadership role and be the leaders in our school and say we're going to do something different.

>> reporter: the coach was facing a number of issues. some players were missing class. others were getting poor grades. there were rumors of cyber bullying , so the coach knew after last week's game -- win or lose -- he was going to take action. he told his players to hand over their jerseys.

>> it was hard. it was like taking a piece of me.

>> it's like ripping your heart out.

>> reporter: to get them back they'd need to practice a new set of skills. all centered around service projects for their families and community. football mom jennifer rook called it a good life lesson.

>> it is an honor to put the jersey on. you are held to a higher standard and your behavior better be up to snuff.

>> reporter: last night the team huddled together with their jerseys in the balance. the checklist to earn them back -- be on time to class. no f's or discipline problems. finish those service projects. most players emerged wearing symbols of their success.

>> it felt so good to get our jersey back and wear it again.

>> reporter: as the cougars turned attention to this friday's homecoming game, victory is now redefined.

>> they are all teaching more than football. they're teaching us how to be men.

>> reporter: what they are practicing is life. joe fryer, nbc news, roosevelt, utah.