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Count Zarth
01-09-2009, 07:35 AM
If only Carl had read this 15 years ago!

http://profootball.scout.com/2/828347.html

During the four decades veteran talent scout Tom Marino was involved in the game of professional football, he often wondered what the thought process was for owners of professional football clubs when selecting a head coach. He shares his thoughts on this matter today with the readers at scout.com.

Since only four of the current league owners have in fact amassed their personal fortunes strictly from football; the Mara (Giants), Rooney (Steelers), and Halas families (Bears), along with the Raiders Al Davis, it is no surprise that when faced with the task of to selecting the lifeblood of their football club, the head coach, I believe most of the current team owners are totally out of their element.

Think about it for a moment. What does being a buying real estate, building malls, selling burgers, automobiles, pharmaceutical, insurance, bank services, being involved in high tech, oil and gas or the banking industry have to do with hiring a football coach? Well the answer to this question is "probably nothing".

Because of this fact, owners over the years have resorted to a number of not-so-scientific methods for making one of the most critical football decisions they will make. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.

One of the most popular of these methods is hiring a coach from, “The Old Boy Network.” Nothing is probably safer in the eyes of many of these owners than hiring a recycled coach who has been-there and done-that. Marty Schottenheimer, Dom Capers, Wade Phillips, Norv Turner and Dave Wannstedt are just some of these modern-day coaches that fit this particular profile. Some of these mostly unsuccessful coaches actually repackage themselves in the time between their head coaching gigs as assistants and once again become popular choices.

A second popular method is, “Heir Apparent Hire.” This method is mostly used by owners and GM’s alike when hiring coaches on an interim basis. With two stints, each as an interim head coaches, Rick Venturi (Colts and Saints) and Terry Robiskie (Brown and Redskins) are head and shoulders the champions in this area.

The heir apparent hire is also used to reward the loyal long time assistant; Bill Johnson replacing the great Paul Brown, the late Phil Bengston replacing Vince Lombardi, George Seifert replacing Bill Walsh and perhaps the worst ever heir apparent hire of all times: Allie Sherman replacing Jim Lee Howell with the Giants after the 1960 season.

It wasn’t that the two-time NFL Coach of the Year was a bad football coach - quite the contrary. Rather, the problem was, in hiring Sherman, the Giants bypassed two other loyal assistants by the name of Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi.

The third type of heir apparent hire is more of a modern phenomenon. In this particular case, an assistant coach is hired with the expressed purpose of becoming the clubs’ next head coach. Such was the case with Jim Mora Jr., hired in 2008 to replace Mike Holmgren in 2009 for the Seahawks, Jim Caldwell possibly replacing Tony Dungy with the Colts and Jason Garrett replacing Wade Phillips in Dallas in 2010.

Oh and by the way, if the Cowboys don’t challenge or win next year’s Super Bowl, you can take that last heir apparent hire to the bank!

One of my favorites is the “A plus B equals C hire.” Here’s the premise; said team has won two consecutive Super Bowl championships; their quarterback was named the leagues MVP and their defense was ranked among the leagues best, so therefore their offensive and defense coordinator are without question, the absolute best candidates for open coaching position. I can’t possibly tell you how often owners and GM’s have fallen for this highly unreliable system for selecting a head coach.

The ever popular “Flavor of the Month Hire” or as it is sometimes called, your “Media Darling Hire” is exactly what these names imply. These candidates are usually championed by a television color commentator and their behind the scenes technical accomplices. The scene usually starts with visual shots of the offensive and defensive coordinator communicating with the sidelines from up in the booth or a defensive coach franticly making situational substitutions while signaling in defensive adjustments on the sidelines. This is usually followed by the talking heads up in the booth uttering profound statements that this particular anointed assistant is one of the best young coaches in the business.

Based on what criteria?

Then there’s the popular statement: "He’s one of the hottest names in coaching and they say a certainty to be a head coach in the league next season."

The big question one must ask is; who are they?

It’s almost like hiring an attorney to handle some traffic and parking tickets, being satisfied with the results and than proclaiming him a sure-fire Attorney General!

How many meetings have these pundits attended?

How many practice sessions have they ever viewed?

Have they ever watched him teach or more importantly make a correction?

Do they know if he has the ability to handle game pressures or make adjustments?

Does he have instincts?

Does he have a coaching philosophy?

Does he have organizational skills?

Can he discipline individuals or handle off the field problems?

Does he have the ability to lead upwards of 65 coaches and players into battle for a minimum of 16 weeks during a given NFL regular season?

Aside from you, the person proclaiming his virtues, can he handle the media?

Can he work with management?

Can he put together a creditable staff?

Does he know player personnel? Believe me when I tell you there are a number of top football tacticians that don’t Tom Brady from Marcia Brady.

If you, as an owner or GM, can’t answer affirmatively to each of these questions, I believe you will destined to repeat this process again and again over the next four to five years.

When I hear an owner or GM say that they are looking for an offensive or defensive minded coach, I really question if they have even the slightest idea what they are doing? First of all, a head coach at the professional level is a CEO, first and foremost. His focus is no longer that of a position coach, but rather the program as a whole.

This may surprise you, but in actuality, the perfect candidate for a potential head coaching position is a special teams coach. Unlike a position coach who may coach as many as five individual players (offensive line coach) and as few as one player (quarterback or tight end coaches), the special teams coach is responsible for 66 individual specialized positions both offensively and defensively, is the only coach other than the head coach to conduct an entire team meeting and is entirely responsible for as many as four individual periods during a team practice session.

I’m not going to even comment on the clubs (owners, president’s or GM’s) that resort to outside individuals or head hunters in order to select an individual to lead their football team or for that matter any other executive position. With no exceptions, they should all probably be looking for a new way to make a living.

Count Zarth
01-09-2009, 07:37 AM
This may surprise you, but in actuality, the perfect candidate for a potential head coaching position is a special teams coach.And to that end, Tom writes a glowing recommendation for this guy:

http://profootball.scout.com/2/828664.html

The Very Best Coach Nobody Knows

Tom Marino has worked with some of the best coaches on the game over his career in professional football. Parcells, Belichick, Ditka and Mora all considered some of the most talented individuals to have ever walked the sidelines, but in Buffalo Bills special teams coach Bobby April truly believes he has found their professional equal.

He has been a highly successful coach for seventeen years at the professional level for the Falcons, Saints, Steelers, Rams and Bills, spent thirteen years as a valued assistant at the collegiate level for Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Arizona U and USC and two seasons as a prep coach, but for some reason beyond my comprehension, Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and special team coach extraordinaire Bobby April, has never been given serious consideration for a head coaching position at either the professional and collegiate level.

I was briefly introduced to Bobby for the first time some fifteen years ago while waiting by for an elevator during practice week at the Senior Bowl, but had long before that decided that I didn’t like this intense, animated enthusiastic coach with our division rival Atlanta Falcons. The Saints and Falcons had some classic battles during that period of time, but it always seemed in the Falcons victories that Bobby’s special team units proved to be the difference.

It wasn’t till 1996 when Bobby joined the Saints staff that I came to realize the first impressions are not always accurate. During his four years with the Saints and three years with the Rams, I came to know Bobby as possibly the most intelligent, organized, innovative, loyal, competitive and hard working individuals I have ever met in my thirty-four years in professional football.

I noticed in his first season with the Saints that during our spring scouting meetings that Bobby was not only in attendance during the kickers, punters and return specialists meeting, but I an the rest of the scouts observed him sitting inconspicuously in the back of the meeting room, taking notes on the seemingly endless parade of prospects and suspects. At times I would observe Bobby working on special team projects, but during our breaks I was amazed with his note taking and the excellent questions he posed to the scouting staff.

Although Bobby is widely recognized by most of his fellow coaches within the NFL as the top special teams coach in professional football, you wouldn’t know it by his easy going nature and friendly demeanor. He’s got a great sense of humor, communicates extremely well, but when the whistle blows, the proud father of five is all business.

I’ve observed him in meetings, interacting with his fellow coaches, in practice sessions and most importantly with the game on the line and I have never seen him waiver, not for a single second.

As much as I tried, I’m probably never going to completely understand why a experienced proven professional like Bobby April has never been given the opportunity to compete as a head coach in the ultimate of all football leagues, but I hope for his sake and the good of the game that his time is yet to come.

Mark M
01-09-2009, 07:54 AM
Preface: I know you just posted it, Claythan. Not aiming this at you.Can he put together a creditable staff?Hmmmm ... creditable = bringing or deserving credit, honor, reputation, or esteem. I'm starting to think this guy can't put together a credible argument.Does he know player personnel? Believe me when I tell you there are a number of top football tacticians that don’t Tom Brady from Marcia Brady.That don't what Tom Brady from Marcia Brady? Oh, and I don't believe him. When I hear an owner or GM say that they are looking for an offensive or defensive minded coach, I really question if they have even the slightest idea what they are doing? That sentence ends with a question mark? Why?
First of all, a head coach at the professional level is a CEO, first and foremost. First of all, this guy is a horrific and redundant writer, first and foremost. This may surprise you, but in actuality ... Not sure about actuality, but in reality that statement makes no sense.... the perfect candidate for a potential head coaching position is a special teams coach. Yes, just ask Frank Ganz.

Dear lord ... is this what people pay for at the Scout network?

If so, P.T. Barnum was wrong—there's one born every second.

MM
~~:shake:

Count Zarth
01-09-2009, 07:59 AM
Tom Marino knows more about professional football than everyone on this board put together. I couldn't care less that he has a few grammatical errors.

Dave Lane
01-09-2009, 08:38 AM
His analysis made perfect sense to me. I definitely want to think outside the box in the coaching search. Same could be said for Al Saunders being a head coach again. Sometimes its more than Xs and Os to get a head coaching gig though.

Dave

Mark M
01-09-2009, 08:57 AM
Tom Marino knows more about professional football than everyone on this board put together. I couldn't care less that he has a few grammatical errors.

I'm not doubting his knowledge of the game, and he's right about how many owners choose a coach, especially the good 'ol boy network. That's something I've never understood.

But the article comes across as just a set up to go on and wax glowingly about his buddy. It's just ... I dunno. It just doesn't sit well with me.

It's also another example of the insanely poor writing found on the Scouts network (or at least most of the stuff I've seen). You may not think so, but outside of message boards and blogs posts, it's hard for some people to take a writer seriously when it's obvious that writer failed to even proofread his work. It shows a laziness toward detail and makes one wonder how much effort was put into the piece.

Or maybe I just have too high of standards and am a pedantic asshat. Those are totally possible.

MM
~~:D

MahiMike
01-09-2009, 10:39 AM
Pretty lame article that jumps around and doesn't dig deeper into each argument. This guy reminds me of most ex-coaches-turned-commentator. They know their stuff but can't express it clearly. As far as this article is concerned, the most I got out of it was the point that a coach is like a CEO. I think that's true now more than ever. Think about how many people are on the staff of a team. It's a small army. The coach has to communicate w/50 subordinates on top of communicating with the players. That's why the coordinators are so important. They act as the project leaders of their groups and report back to the coach. Ross Perot knew the importance of getting the top people around him that he could delegate to.

DaneMcCloud
01-09-2009, 10:44 AM
Well, Jim Harbaugh was the special teams coach for the Eagles but I'm betting he's the exception, not the rule.

jidar
01-09-2009, 11:09 AM
Um.
Coughlin, Dungy, Cowher, Belichick, Belichick, Gruden

ah! Gruden

we only had to go back 6 years to find a superbowl winning coach who wasn't eliminated by this guys reasoning.

Wow.. another really nice sounding argument blown away by a few seconds of critical thought, surprise, surprise.

OnTheWarpath58
01-09-2009, 11:23 AM
Well, Jim Harbaugh was the special teams coach for the Eagles but I'm betting he's the exception, not the rule.

JOHN Harbaugh.

sedated
01-09-2009, 11:29 AM
What does being a buying real estate, building malls, selling burgers, automobiles, pharmaceutical, insurance, bank services, being involved in high tech, oil and gas or the banking industry have to do with hiring a football coach?

I stopped right there.

that whole paragraph is jacked.

Manila-Chief
01-09-2009, 01:15 PM
Well, Jim Harbaugh was the special teams coach for the Eagles but I'm betting he's the exception, not the rule.

And, the Chiefs have already hired a guy who was their excellent special teams coach. Carl had to fire him.