Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
I have been holding off on this one since I don’t know Dave personally, but having worked with large Leveraged Buyout Firms who have competed with or partnered with Bain Capital in addition to advising their portfolio firms, I figured it was worthwhile to paint a snapshot of what it is like being the CEO of a company (Dominos) held by a large LBO firm like Bain since I am sure it would have influence the way Dave operates. Not sure if the board is interested by this type of stuff.
First, when a LBO firm buys a company, they typically change the CEO, CFO or both. The reason is to bring in “their” management that will be unencumbered by previous operating norms who can hit aggressive targets. This was how Brandon jumped from Valassis to Dominos, with a considerable amount of diligence completed regarding his ability.
Second, Brandon would be offered a less than industry pay package that would be skewed towards large incentive bonuses to be realized at exit (sale or IPO) and an average career length that is shorter than a NFL running back’s. Since LBO firms typically hold portfolio companies for a 4-6 year window to monetize the exit to increase the return of their fund, an underperforming CEO is often replaced at the 2-3 year mark. Also, tying compensation to performance ensures strict alignment of goals unlike CEOs of public companies that can be paid very, very well while their company falters. It is an incredible amount of pressure that pays off handsomely in the end for those that make to exit.
Third, unlike a public company, he would have been evaluated on a monthly basis by ownership. The first task after acquisition is the distribution of the new financial reporting package. I have seen some finance groups take over two weeks just to prepare the monthly reports. Progress is closely monitored, part of this is due to the need to ready the company for exit and partly to stay within any debt covenants since it was a leveraged buyout. Surprises are not suggested during reviews with ownership.
Last, as the new CEO, you would be given very aggressive profitability targets to meet. This would be achieved via cost cutting and revenue expansion. Forming your “go-to” team of individuals is crucial for success since you may need to deploy some very unpopular strategies in a short amount of time. Being a great communicator and consensus builder is paramount to moving the company with new, aggressive targets.
What does this all mean? It means Brandon spent 1999 through 2004 (IPO) under the management of Bain Capital. He survived the gauntlet and remained the CEO post-IPO for another 6 years. He would be a person that believes in:
- Pay for performance
- Strict monitoring of progress
- Taking chances by changing the status quo in order to achieve results
- No surprises
Take all of the above for what it is worth, just a thumbnail based on my previous experience. I will let you read into it what you may, if anything at all. I only wanted to give you window into the man who is calling the shots.
1) RR’s own previous assertion (while still the coach of UWV) that Pat White had an unusual ability to make split second reads in the offense along with other posters correctly noting RR’s W/L increased dramatically with White at the QB.
2) An offense that is 70% installed (last RR quote) with counters to counters to counters to that defensive counter (as noted by Brian’s post after ND) which should always find some defensive mismatch.
3) A freshman QB that is 10 months into a system and arguably the most college ready QB (based on his personal training before college) that we have ever seen or will likely see. (He is a far cry from some kid showing up in the fall for practice).
Now take this all together and combine it with a comment Norm Parker, the Iowa DC, made which was recanted during the IA/MSU game “Ferentz is similar to Dantonio in that the system is not about them, it is about the players” (shortened paraphrase where my initial reaction when the comment started was "wow, KF likes to drink puppy tears" disappointed with the rest of the quote).
The reason this is more interesting is watching some of the offensive struggles we have had lately and really an inability to really adjust mid-game (thinking the dline twisting at Iowa in the second half that kept killing up) that is really confusing. We have 70% of an offense, we possess counters for most schemes, we have an offense (minus the signal caller) that has been in the system for a year now and I wonder when it all begins to click. I make the comment about Tate being “college ready”, but yes, the kid is being thrown into it and will undoubtedly struggle. However, with his abilities, why aren’t we getting a bit more production though? He has a number of strengths and definitely no slouch, B10 coaches would kill to have him on their teams. Is the offense too complicated for a younger guy or a backup to run? When White went out at Pitt, his backup was terrible and he should have been a groomed player in the system. Have we created a system that can really run with only a very special type of player? Why does it seem that we are unable to exploit our current strengths better to take advantage of our talents?
This not an indictment on the program or the system, just a conversation. It simply seems curious why, with the adaptability in the scheme why we have not been able to find a bit more consistency or more regularly exploit some gaps in a defense. We continue to come back to needing to execute, one and a half years into it, I had hoped to at least see some continual progress regarding execution. It is simply more of a head scratcher when you watch it not have some steady foundation where you say "we need 3 yards and will run x play, because dammit it will work".
My only real bitch is with the receivers not getting open. I do not buy into the fact we do not have talent. Again referring back to the IA/MSU game, I was seeing IA receivers get open on crossing routes and I would not trade those two WR corps. We have to bring a fresh look to our routes to give these guys a chance or take a look at what Dews is doing from a coaching standpoint.
Not sure how much you have kept up since not playing these guys for 2 years. Thought I would provide some background. I also added a section at the end for those who will be going to the game and staying in Iowa City. Be forewarned that it is homecoming so everything will be busy (yes, we are the homecoming patsy).
Don’t read into Iowa playing down with UNI and Ark St, this is a look ahead team that struggles somewhat with passing spread teams. UNI was before Iowa State who has made Ferentz look average to poor (mostly due to McCarney, possibly even kept them from the NC game in 2002) and Ark St is obviously before us. If there is a shred of hope, remember that we snapped a 22 game home winning streak during our last trip as an underdog and that Iowa is not as tough as the favorite in big games. You could worry about the PSU result, but Ferentz owns JoePa to nearly the extent that Lloyd did and I would take that game with a grain of salt. Not predicting a win here, but you can grasp at a few straws.
While some in Iowa have compared Stanzi to Brady (I almost fainted when I wrote this), I do see a good game manager who throws well on the run. Typical pro set routes, with a particular emphasis on going over the middle to RBs or TEs (really like the TE) with an occasional crossing route from the slot. This is a lousy match up for us. They seem to use RBs and TEs more than most teams in the passing game which is typically set up with the play action. However, Ricky also throws the Stanziball, typically 1-2 a game where you have no idea what he was doing so you get 3 TDs with 2 INTs for most of his games this year. The hope is that we get lucky with a few of those as they seem to come at random times. He seems to be a slow starter so grab an extra beer if he starts hot.
The Oline is big, as usual, no real news there. The return of Bulaga is not good for us as he is being projected as a first round pick and has had one game to work out his timing. Calloway is a very good compliment tackle with a strong interior anchored by Eubanks. I simply dislike the match up with our Dline unless we gamble like crazy. The TEs are much better with Moeaki playing due to his athleticism, but Reisner is pretty solid as well. We will be hating it if we can’t cover these guys coming off the line of scrimmage (I don’t have much confidence that we can due to our LB play, would like to be pleasantly surprised).
The WRs are decent, Johnson-Koulianos started the season on track to break a few all-time Iowa records and is the best receiving threat IMO. However, Marvin McNutt does not have a ton of catches yet, but scares the hell out of me since he is a converted QB that stands 6’4” and creates match up issues for our CBs. I really doubt we lose by getting hit deep with these guys with more of a death by converting on 2nd or 3rd and 10s, but watch me end up eating my words on the long ball.
RBs took a hit losing Hampton at the beginning of the year, but got a surprise with Robinson (smaller bowling ball) and Wegher (smaller slasher). Wegher seems to be more elusive with a fast start who would actually be pretty good on our team. Both guys can get lost behind the line and then pop out. Robinson may be the better receiver out of the backfield who will not go down with an arm tackle once he gets some steam. Neither guy has played before this year with Wegher being a true freshman. Look out if they give Brinson a try as he is a big power back, as he actually may be the most talented back they have. Fortunately, he has also been slow to pick up the offense which has limited his PT.
News flash- it will be a 4-3 or just look at the year before or the year before…. Norm Parker does not make substitutions for the most part with the exceptions of a few down and distance situations. I don’t know how, but he rolls the same guys regardless of the offensive style. However, they play very good assignment football and tackle well. Many Iowa fans agree that this is a reason for their success since it minimizes thinking by not relying on exotic schemes which helps the players play faster. On the flip side there is always concern when a spread offense comes to town since there is an assumption that the base defensive alignment will get exposed at some point. The unnatural ability of Chad Greenway to cover slot guys has made a permanent mark on Norm so he continues to roll the same way.
On the Dline, Clayborn and Binns on the ends will create headaches and rush the outside hard to funnel things to the middle. Clayborn is more athletic and simply a big, bad dude. The DTs are decent and big (one is aptly named Klug), but not spectacular. There is has not been the big drop off from losing last year’s starting DT tandem. The Dline likes to run twists to create confusion.
Angerer leads the LB group and is a tackling machine along with Edds who is also pretty solid. You may remember the recruitment of Jeremiha Hunter who we chased at one point, but did not go to the good guys. There are more athletic LB units, but this group seems to be constantly around the ball and I would hope we can spread them out to minimize their effectiveness. With all of them in the 230-245lb range they would not have the S. Brown type of speed, but seem to work through that for the most part.
In the secondary, Spievey is considered to be one of Ferentz’s best CBs he has had while at Iowa. Sash is a ball hawking safety who is simply around the ball a lot, by instinct or scheme I do not know. Both Greenwood and Prater are decent at safety and CB respectively. I think Greenwood gets the benefit of playing with Sash which gives him opportunities. Overall, a very (not to overuse the word) solid unit that plays together very well. They don’t seem to make many mistakes.
Yes Kinnick is loud and honestly I am not sure why considering the stadium design. I think the people are simply loud as Iowans don’t have professional teams and pour it all into the college. They will be (have been for a while) foaming at the mouth for the chance to see big, bad Michigan brought down. It will be statement game for sure as many (who may not admit it) chafe at being considered part of the “little 8” for so long. Don’t expect a Columbus-type welcome, but be ready for some chest thumping. I have heard my share “can’t wait to play you guys”. To be fair, I do wear Michigan gear to games, sing “hail” and have never been beat up so +1 for reasonable fans.
Don’t waste time in Coralville, go straight to the Pedestrian Mall down by campus. However if you are stuck there, the Wig and Pen has by far the hottest wait staff in town so there are worse things. The 30+ crowd will be at the Airliner and the <30 crowd everywhere else. You have 2 bars next to the ‘liner and will be on the parade route on Friday so expect a mob scene. If you just walk around a few square block radius and you will pretty much find everything else from a bar perspective. Just don’t rely on prompt taxi service if you are meeting people in any of these places. Also, if you are in the Ped Mall really late, treat yourself to a Gyro at one of the food stands. For other food needs
Inexpensive: Oasis- Mediterranean faster food. Get the whole pita sandwich with extra feta (close to campus)
Mid-priced: Bluebird Diner- Everything on the menu is really good. Looks like a diner, but actually has a real cook. The bonus of being there is that it is next to John’s Grocery which has a great assortment of beers and wine for later.
Higher priced: Linn Street Café- Terrific fine dining (by big city standards) with a great wine list. Would need reservations for this one.
Lastly, if you like chocolates and you see the store or them on a menu, get yourself some Bochner Chocolates. He is a UM grad and does some outstanding work. Not the cheapest, but damn good if you have a sweet tooth.
The Eyeball Test
Pos USC Star UM Star
DE Wes Horton 6-5, 245 4* Brandon Graham 6-2, 263 5*
DE* Everson Griffen 6-3, 265 5* Craig Roh 6-4, 238 4*
NT Christian Tupou 6-2, 280 4* Mike Martin 6-2, 291 4*
DT Jurrell Casey 6-1, 295 4* Ryan Van Bergen 6-6, 261 4*
LB Michael Morgan 6-4, 220 4* Jonas Mouton 6-2, 218 4*
LB Malcolm Smith 6-1, 225 NR Stevie Brown 6-0, 211 4*
LB Chris Galippo 6-2, 255 5* Obi Ezeh 6-2, 243 3*
CB Josh Pinkard 6-2, 210 3* Donovan Warren 6-0, 187 5*
CB Kevin Thomas 6-1, 185 4* Boubacar Cissoko 5-9, 177 4*
S Will Harris 6-1, 200 4* Troy Woolfolk 6-0, 183 3*
S Taylor Mays 6-3, 230 5* Michael Williams 5-11, 190 4*
With a quick scan, we are fairly close with the exception of the entire secondary which just is what it is at this point and Roh who is a LB playing at DE. Some items of note.
- BG really should be playing like Griffen where he is able to stand up. Locking in with a Tackle in a 3/4-pt stance is less terrifying than having him bull rush every play. This is not rocket science, but we were talking about him breaking the sack record this year. However, he cannot move him because of dline depth which necessitates Roh as an early starter before putting on his 20 lbs of growth which gets his body type in the ballpark.
- MM is left pulling double teams due to RVBs lack of size which also puts him as a play making disadvantage. The dude is super athletic and his quickness would benefit from having a space eater next to him instead of having to be a space eater on most plays.
- The kick in the ass is really losing Graves and Jones last year since you needed the extra bodies and can't create a line of DE-Graham, Van Bergen, Banks, Patterson DT- Martin, Sagesse, Campbell. At this point, I wouldn't have minded seeing an attempt at this by moving Patterson down and playing Roh as a pass rusher to add depth. Not sure why this was not tried. We had Big Will for 9 months. I have a theory that is picked up at the end.
- The middle LB is a 5* LB who was a LB instead of a converted LB. Maybe that is trick I am not sure. But Galippo made a pick during the OSU game and I doubt if Obi could cover a elderly, asthmatic lady walking a crossing route. Again, this is addressed later.
Robinson is working with some unmatched parts and he had to take a system gamble with what he was able to determine based on his limited interactions with our players. I am concerned that the current recruiting class does not add the depth we need to make him successful. Maybe we can have the "talk" with a few guys (looking the direction of the slots) so we can add the numbers so our team starts looking physically like a USC lineup (maybe not as talented). The GERG still gets a pass, I see where he is going and understand why we are in this position.
On the other hand, our assistant coaches have had an extra year with the team and are the common pieces from the worst statistical unit and potentially the second worst statistical unit if this pace continues. My concerns are as follows:
Tall- You have an early enrolling DT that was considered by many people to follow football recruiting to be a monster (not just my opinion and yes that is as good a the coach's opinion). You needed to build these guys better to provide different dline options for GERG.
Hopson- You have 2 positions to worry about, both positions look lost. I can't add more than what has been said. I would be surprised if you are still in the same zip code next year.
Gibson- The NFL DB you inherited is playing pretty good. Too bad you are not doing more with the other pieces. Vlad was out a year with a leg, Kovacs was out a year with a leg, but the one who has 3 inches and 20 lbs on the other is on the sideline. I am sure Vlad could have taken a bad angle on the RB as well in the Indy game, maybe he would have made a play elsewhere. Speaking of which, I am sure Brandon Smith can run blitz like Kovacs. Maybe cover like Shazor, but has a better chance of sending a guy off in a stretcher. Gibson, get to work man because that guy is now a LB and you need to show some player development.
Depth/Recruiting- Really this about creating competition at this point. The walk-on program is a defensive feeder and I cannot believe that our guys are getting pushed the way they need to. I like Wilkins being able to come in with his body type, Talbott has a chance if he hangs out with Alex Mitchell all summer and the rest need to grow if you slot them into the prototypical sizes by position which means our recruiting class as it stands will provide little relief and we will be rolling the same D (minus graduation) next year unless we get some other fall surprises.
Unfortunately, I feel we will be outscoring teams even into next year. The one benefit being extra experience in the system and hopefully some assistant coaching turnover. I think GERG can get us there, he will need some tools to do so.
I thought this was the most appropriate since we are playing ND this weekend. It gives you an idea for the keys and rotation. There is considerable discussion for blitzes as well with a jump to the original story. [Emphasis mine]
Mod Edit: Click on the link if you want to read the full description of the plays as they are more interesting. Also, note: don't copy and paste full articles. Everything that's not a quote from here down is in place by the moderator, emphasis still his.
"This is a stop the run first type of defense. We want to outnumber the offense to either side of the ball. [...] The open side of the alignment is the flex side and the tight end side is the strong or solid side. [...]
The defense is the under/flex package used to outnumber the defense on each side of the ball by loading one side with linebackers while the other side gets safety support.
The Mike Linebacker plays the first back out of the back field to the strong side. The Free Safety plays the first back out of the back field to the weak side. [...] If we get a full flow by the backs to the strong side the Mike linebacker takes the first back and the Will linebacker takes the second back out of the backfield. [...]
Obviously the middle/mike is the first to the play, so he'll most likely be met with the blocking back who comes out first. This seems pretty obvious.
If it is a full flow weak side play the Free Safety has the first back and the Will linebacker has the second man to the weak side. [...]
In this case, the FS has the first blocker. Less plays are run to the weak side, which is why the defense is willing to risk the FS being the first attacker rather than a LB who can fight of a block easier and still make a tackle.
If the offense comes out in a different look such as a Twins look to one side, the basic core of the defense stays the same.
So it's easy to stay in base. Huzzah! Thus concludes this moderators attempt to show you how to quote articles.
It is very long and interesting to listen to him discuss base philosophy which is where you draw the parallel to GERG. What was most useful was the types of players needed by position and how they rotate by base set. Is it exact? No, but I found it a good proxy for our team. I don't have a similar detailed talk from GERG to refer to. This is so long I split it into two diaries depending on topic.
Mod Edit: Again with copy/paste. I thought both of these were great links, but you (collective) can't just rip their whole article here. Anything not in quotes from here down was moderator, not OP'er.
"Before we go any further, let’s talk about personnel. You want to get your best players on the field. The open side Defensive End has to be one of your best football players. Size does not matter as much. We want an athletic player who can move around.
That's just on example, but they go through the entire defense in the article, but they do a quick specialization at the end about secondary play.
There's more where that came from, and I highly promote checking that article out (link at top).
If you have a million reads for your secondary you are crazy. They don’t need that even at our level. All they need to know is their primary responsibility and then secondary. At the highest level in the NFL the pass game is as complex as you can imagine. However if a defender can play the post and the seam route then they can learn to play at that level. The thing that kills and breaks down a defense is a ball being thrown over the defender’s head for a touchdown.