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Amanda R. Laurenceau

Department of Psychology and Sociology
Park University
Thirty-Two Seconds to Go: A Case of Motivation, Locus of Control, and Self-Efficacy 

In the 1983 Big Eight Conference championship football game, Neil Harris deflected a pass with 32 seconds to go in a play that stopped the University of Oklahoma from scoring and clinched Nebraska's perfect 12-0 season, a third consecutive Big Eight conference title, and the Huskers' 22nd-straight victory. This was just one of many victories that Neil enjoyed later in life although his beginnings were humble, prompting him to say "When you come from nothing, there is no way to go except for up." What other factors account for his success? This case study applies the concepts of self-efficacy, locus of control, motivation, and Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Systems theory to Harris' life and experiences to examine this question. This case study was originally developed for a junior-level psychology of sport course as a capstone piece integrating the main concepts of personality factors, motivation, goal-setting, social context, handling adversity/injury, and career termination, but could easily be adapted for a variety of other psychology or sociology courses.