Finding the Best Leaders for the Leaders and Best

Submitted by michelin on October 8th, 2014 at 4:59 PM

IMO, since Bo left, UM has often looked not at the strength of its leaders but their weaknesses.  So, it has often chosen opposite, new leaders who lack these weaknesses, but who often also lack the strengths of their predecessors.  And that has led to serious problems.

Consider first coaching.  UM went from the defensively-principled, tough-as-nails Bo to the offensively-minded Moeller.  But Moeller was perceived to have an alcohol problem, which he reportedly refused to get help for.  So (regardless of the truth or falsity of this perception), UM turned to a man they perceived as more principled and intelligent Carr.  Yet, when Carr’s record began to plateau, he was called too old and predictable.  So, UM turned to the inventive spread-coach, RR.  But his defensive incompetence then made UM go the opposite way.  So, now UM is back to a defensive-minded but offensively disorganized Hoke. 

In choosing its AD, UM also has seemed to choose each succeeding leader as the opposite of his predecessor.  For example, under the cloud of scandal, the aggressive fund-raiser, Roberson was replaced as AD by his opposite: the less profit-minded, more flamboyant and humanistic Goss.  Then, after Goss led the UM AD to the brink of financial ruin, UM chose the opposite once again: a quiet, out-of-touch financier named Martin.  Ill-equipped for the myriad public relations disasters during the hiring and demise of RR, however, Martin himself was then also was replaced by a dramatically different type of AD: the publicity-seeking brand-maker Brandon.  His public relations campaign seemed to work wonders at first.  But the obsession with publicity and profit ended up making UM look far worse.

So what can we learn from the past forty years of UM’s athletic leadership choices?  Most clearly they have taught us what not to do—that is, just choose the opposite type of leader from the one you have now.  It does not work for very long.  Why?  When you choose a leader, he fills his program or department with one type of student or employee.  But if you then fire him and choose just the opposite type of leader, there is no growth in the program.  It is like putting matter together with anti-matter.  If they collide, what do you get?  They annihilate each other in a violent explosion.  In an organization, that means turnover, disorganization, and chaos.

So, no matter how angry we feel sometimes, we should learn from past experience.  We should recognize not just the bad in our past leaders and seek their opposites. We should also recognize the good in our past leaders, then search for new ones with their best characteristics.  The toughness of Bo, the fire of Moeller, the inventiveness of RR, the intellect of Carr, the likeability of Hoke.  The decision about whom we should choose now I leave to others, who are far more knowledgeable than me.

But IMO, only if we seek to see the Best in our own past Leaders can we hope to find the new Leaders and Best.



October 8th, 2014 at 6:29 PM ^

Keep Hoke but get him some help, Hoke is good with kids/parents a great recruiter he's more of a Team manager than a coach, off the field he's the best and how far will this team fall back if we fire Hoke, so here's my take on how we build on what we've got, we have a good foundation to build on we just need builders (getting a savior like a Harbough would be a miracle and or is a pipe dream) we all want Michigan football to remain Michigan football, so here's how we get there, we bring in assistant coaches then can teach Michigan football, let me throw out some names (guys that have either said they support Brady Hoke or would love to coach at Michigan) Marcas Ray, Jarred Irons, Jerame Tuman, Jon Jansen, Braylon Edwards, Tyrone Wheatley and this is just to name a few, not only should this help Michigan on the feild but also off especially in the recruiting.

Crazy w Cheese Whiz

October 9th, 2014 at 3:32 PM ^

This is already happening.  Hoke is not exactly involved in the minute to minute play-calling during games (the lack of hem), and he primairly let's Mattison and Nussmeier run their respective sides of the ball.  

There's something deeper when your HC has done a good job recruiting, let's the coaches run their side of the ball and the team gets worse and worse.


October 8th, 2014 at 7:39 PM ^

It's time to strip the power from the inbred Michgan coaching tree.  What we refer to as "Michigan football" is a relic of a bygone era.  It's time to stop living in the past and start living in the present when it comes to schemes on both sides of the ball.  It's time to hire modern coaches and establish a new tradition.  

The word "anachronistic" has nothing to do with being "Leaders and Best."  ti's about time we have another AD who realizes that.  If it's Bates or Manuel, great.  But the team needs a 21st century head coach, not a paleolithic one.


October 8th, 2014 at 9:37 PM ^

speaks volumes.  If you knew why he acted out the way he did that night you might also realize why Les Miles won't be here unless they completely ignore Lloyd's wishes, the sanctimonious, hypocritcal sob.  I only say that because he was the one that first asked RR to consider the job then did everything he could to undermine him with every chance he got.

And wouldn't you think for as long as Bo knew Gary that he would have instructed him to take care of this matter or lose his job if, indeed, your claims of him being a lush are correct. Actually the addition of which doesn't even add enough to make it good reading at any level.


October 9th, 2014 at 11:43 AM ^

I have changed the wording.   But you seem to agree with the post's main point: that we've had knee-jerk reactions when we become disillusioned with one coach, and then choose someone very different.

Regarding the specifics of what happened to Mo, I have not been deaf to the incendiary rumors about the role of Les Miles.  But most of us do not really know for sure why Mo blew up that night. 

I'm not sure that the reason would matter when a decision was made about whether he could have continued coaching UM.  Many parents do not want to send their kids to learn from somebody they suspect as having an alcohol problem.  In fact, even if he had a problem and went to a 12-step program, the stigma would remain.

Is that fair?  No, it is not. I was sick when we lost Mo.   I really liked him as a person and as a coach.  Also, he later acquitted himself just fine in the pros.  But he never again coached college ball after that drunken disorderly conduct incident.  Maybe he was just sick of coaching with narrow-minded colleagues in college.  But maybe his image had been too badly damaged to get a top collegiate job.


October 9th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

Although I was arguing against blind knee-jerk tendencies to choose an opposite type of leader, the choice of a modern leader, well versed in the new technology of sports would not necessarily lead to massive turnover in the players or the loss of recruits.  Also,, technnology is about to revolutionize football.  We talk a lot on this site about the use of sabermetrics.  That is very important but there is so much more.  Technology is starting already to revolutionize football.

Soon, NFL players will be using a new digital photo system that could eventually replace the league's decades-old method of studying opponents from the sidelines….For years, teams have used printed photographs to learn how their opponents lined up before the ball was snapped. The photos are organized in three-ring binders for players to study between offensive or defensive series. But while printed black-and-whites take 20 to 30 seconds to get to the field, the new digital Sideline Viewing System can transmit color pictures to the tablets in four to five seconds…players can enlarge the photo, compare up to four images on one screen, and use a stylus to draw passing routes or highlight missed blocking assignments. Players and coaches can also bookmark plays to refer to them later in the game.

When the regular season starts, Microsoft's Xbox Live network will offer services that include video feeds of game highlights.…. The referees and players will also wear chips in their clothing to track their locations on the field… Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, transmitters in the shoulder pads of players will enable us to know, “has Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski lost a step since his knee injury?  Does Darrelle Revis really cover opposing wide receivers tighter than any other defensive back?  .Some NFL teams already use GPS chips in practice, to monitor workloads for players returning from injuries.



October 9th, 2014 at 12:40 PM ^

Helmet radio technologies, which can encrypt messages between coaches and players.  These will undoubltedly will be the subject of regulations, so as not to give any one team too much advantage.  However, other technologies are now in wispread use.  Pro teams are using iPads as official playbooks and as instruction devices. ..Players can make notes about plays directly into the program and even choose video links for more research. Using iPads..makes it more likely players will invest in watching the instructional clips. The iPads also serve as a way to stay connected. The Ravens, for example, use it to post strength and conditioning updates, sync practice schedules and meeting calendars, and share team correspondence.”

The problem is that the technology can be both a boon and a challenge to the “old school” coaches, including some of the most successful ones in NFL history…even those who have been “leaders” in the use of sideline technologies for taping opponents’ signals (lol), like  NE Pats coach, Bill Belichick.  He said that technological advancements have radically changed his teaching methods over the years…Belichick admitted however that he is "overwhelmed” by the advancements in technology." ..and absolutely needs “somebody holding my hand." 

But I hope any new UM AD and coach are forward-looking enough to provide UM coaches with at least some of the help Belichick gets. And I hope the coaching staff is willing to use it. 


October 8th, 2014 at 10:22 PM ^

In light of the abject crap that we see from people (who suffer no consequences) in all kinds of high places not just these days but for the last several decades, the self righteous sanctimonious folks that made the call to whack Mo, to me seem, sorry, but just a tad f-ing petty.  What happened to a "warning and the 10 step program?"   Never mind, I don't want to get hammered (no pun intended) for taking the low road here. Besides I just picked up that "first stone to toss", next time I get the offer.....gotta get loose!

Mr Miggle

October 9th, 2014 at 8:28 AM ^

but not at all accurate. Michigan wasn't looking for a different kind of coach when they hired Mo. He was Bo's hand picked successor. In a similar vein, Carr was promoted because he was the interim and was basically just the next guy in line. He was criticized for being too predictable throughout his tenure. Michigan wasn't looking for a major change in philosphy when they had to replace Carr. They offered Schiano the job before RR. Ferentz might well have been their first choice. He was probably the most Carr-like coach in the country. RR was a hot coach and they accepted the change in style, perhaps only grudgingly, when he fell into their lap.

You're obviously right about the Hoke hire. I suspect you're also going to be right about his replacement. Rather than look for someone equally likeable, we'll focus on competence.

Your narrative about the ADs is spot on. It will be interesting to see how much of a change in direction they will want in Brandon's replacement. DB with a complete personality makeover wouldn't be in danger of losing his job.


October 9th, 2014 at 3:04 PM ^

 You are right that my own portrayal of some events is overly simplifiied and Mo was not a good example, since he was hand picked.  Also, perhaps Carr was just chosen because he was around. Still, I can't help wondering if if he was selected over others in the program, in part, because he seemed to be more stable than his predecessor, Moeller, and less likely to embarass the school.

To the extent that your criticisms are correct through the Carr era, however, they further support for my main argument.  We may have been more successful in those years, in part, because we did not do an abrubt about face during transitions but rather maintained some continuity.  We did not blow up the program every few years.

As for the specifics of what has happened over the years after Carr, my view differs from yours. True, we may have sought Schiano, whose style of play was much closer to Carr.  But even Schiano was very different in personality from Carr---he was brash, demanding and very difficult to get a long with.  Also, not every job "offer" is really an offer.  Do we really know how strongly Schiano was pursued or how good or binding any offer was or whether he faced strong opposition?   During this search there were still loud calls for a major "change" from what some saw as an "anachronistic" coaching style.  People pointed to the way that mobile QBs and a more wide open offense had burned us.  For whatever reasons--and despite unverified speculations about Lloyd Carr's role--those voices eventually got their way--the choice of RR and a major overhall in the program.  But clearly, this overhaul was not about to be implemented as easily as the voices for "change" had believed.  RR noted just yesterday that people in the department were working against the program from the day he arrived.  So, the UM program went into a tailspin of historic proportions, from which it has still not fully recovered.  Why?  One reason is that UM made yet another abrupt turn in selecting another opposite type of coach.  The players that remained now were quite young and had to learn yet another unfamiliar system.



October 9th, 2014 at 5:09 PM ^

Read what Angelique said in her chat (to Fred) – 

“I said the day RR was hired the program would be set back 10 years. Not because I didn't think RR couldn't run a winning offense, but because I didn't think the spread would be successful and then the next coach would prob try to restore what Michigan was...”