I like to think of football staffs the same way I think of a representative monarchy. In the monarchy, we have a representative dictator, which is usually some form of royalty; a king, a duke, a prince, etc. This representative is simply an ornament. They serve no realistic role whatsoever. They are a symbol of past ways and tradition, and are a fancy distraction to the populous, while the real work (or lack therof) is being done behind the scenes by the government, Prime Ministers…what have you.
Perhaps an extreme way to consider football staffs…and I might be a bit off in my evaluation but here are the facts:
1. Football is football. X’s and O’s are exactly what they are. I had four different OC’s while I played at UCLA. Each coordinator would come to UCLA preaching a new vision…a new offensive culture. However, when it came time to draw up the X’s and O’s…the only thing that changed was the terminology. Once I got to rookie minicamp in the NFL…alas! The same offense…just termed differently.
My point being this: The HC is not going to develop some miraculous new scheme that’s going to take a talentless team and make them championship contenders. In fact, the higher the level of play…the more vanilla the schemes get. Look at the NFL…inside zone, play action, with an occasional shotgun set. Players make the plays. A coach is a leader…not a miracle worker.
2. There is no need to bring a “great recruiter” to UCLA. It would be like hiring a used car salesman to sell Ferrari’s at Kia prices. No need for the middle man…show the people the cars at discount prices…they will buy. Show the kids the university…the NEW facilities…the ROSE bowl….the female co-eds on a spring day when its 80 degrees without a pant leg in a 25 mile radius…they will be interested. The University sells itself. (it sold me…more so than Miami and Florida’s National Championships)
3. There is no hidden secret formula to win. Like most things in this life…it’s a quite simple concept….however difficult to apply and keep consistent. Inspire discipline, industriousness, confidence, trust…in a nutshell…read a book by John Wooden…or just glance at the Pyramid Of Success.
When it comes down to it…what goes on behind the scenes is what matters. The athletic administration can either make or break its athletic programs. A team needs full financial and administrative support.
I am extremely excited about Jim Mora Jr. as the new UCLA HC. But I am even more excited that UCLA has decided to pay him 12 million over the next 5 years.
2007: Karl Dorrell – 600k
2011: Rick Neuheisel – 1.2m
2012: Mora Jr. – 2.6m
Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. You cant cheapskate your way around and cut corners. There is such a thing as wasting your money…but there is also such a thing as investing. With investment comes risk, but there is no reward without risk. Church!
(and I’m not saying UCLA has been cheap! I thoroughly enjoyed my entire experience as a Bruin. But shoot! I was thrilled to get a new pair of socks every game, to have clean laundry every practice. Once we got the deal with Muscle Milk and I didn’t have to buy the stuff anymore – please…I couldn’t find a reason to complain if you paid me. However…some players require less maintenance than others. And unfortunately…this generation of football player has moved away from core values like red meat, real beer, large biceps, the movie “Over The Top” starring Sylvester Stallone, names like Brutus and Axle, Bruce Springsteen. Back in the day, a football player would need a bar, some weights, athletic tape, and some salt pills. Now a days…they need state of the art facilities (with flat panel LCD TV’s to watch themselves workout), 3 different types of Gatorade, money, money, and more money. I mean…the toughest player in the NFL is a Head and Shoulders hair product model. “The times…they are a’ changin’”)
A football program is an intricate system. It has a lot of moving parts that work in harmony to achieve balance and success. Although the Head Coach is not necessarily responsible for everything, he is certainly held accountable…and will receive the guillotine faster than Louis the 16th!!!
Perhaps comparing a football staff to a modern monarchy is a bit over the top. The coaches on the staff work their asses off, while the king’s and queen’s wave to crowds and kiss babies. But the point is this…all coaching staffs are going to work their asses off and bring everything they have to the table. You don’t think Rick Neuheisel did? Karl Dorrell? These two guys not only had their livelihoods on the table…but were also working for more than financial incentives. They were working for the dream; a chance to bring their alma mater back to the top.
But they failed, sadly. Why?
Was it Dorrell’s stoic presence? Neuheisel’s relentless optimism? The Curse of Spaulding?
Who knows. I have been around long enough and witnessed enough eerie things to give full accountability to a curse. Perhaps some witch doctor has made a Joe Bruin Voodoo Doll…pricking needles in it carelessly.
But I do know this…upon each exit, both Dorrell and Neuheisel cited that there needs to be a change in administrative and financial support of the football program.
From the resounding “CHA-CHING” caused by Mora’s contract, facility renovations, etc…I think its safe to say….“A Change is Gon’ Come!”
Follow me on twitter: @EkbataniESPN