clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Red Herring Alert

I warned you about this kind of garbage just a few days ago, so it's no surprise that the `Pologist is the first nummy to draw a foul. In this lengthy bulletpoint post, `Pologist explains why national title winning coaches may not be good coaches. I don't want to get into other coaches, but I'll take issue with Mack Brown, for obvious reasons. We'll take it from the beginning.

Speaking of Carr, one of the things that people always tell me when I bemoan his underachievemnt is that he won a national title in 1997.

Yes, I am aware of that.

But winning a national title does not mean you are a good coach.

I'm already annoyed. Perhaps he means "elite," but by using "good" as the qualifier, this statement seems absurd. How one could possibly win a national title, and not, at the very least, be considered "good," seems preposterous. We'll read on, though.

First of all, a close friend of mine who has been around coaching a long time once said "There are no great coaches, only good coaches in great situations."

Just a minor quibble here. The `Pologist has a terribly annoying habit of dropping anonymous sources who are supposedly qualified in some way. As in, "My friend works a huge PR firm and told me that Matt Leinart wants everyone to talk about him as though he's a walking VD."

Anyway. Onward.

That's probably an accurate statement and I assume he means that a good coach with a ton of talent at his disposal and some luck can produce great results.

But there are times when I think even an average or bad coach can produce, given the right situations. Look at what Rick Neuheisel did in his early years at Colorado and Washington.

And it even extends to the national title winners.

The alarm bells are going off again. How a coach that wins a national title could be considered "bad" or "average" seems ridiculous. Either this makes no sense, or the `Pologist is up to his old tricks of applying absurd definitions, in this case of "a good football coach."

Bobby Bowden, Lloyd Carr, Phil Fulmer and Mack Brown have all won national titles in the last nine seasons. They all did it at football factories where the talent level is never in question. In fact, they all coach at schools that have top five talent EVERY year. All three won their titles with veteran quarterbacks who came through with big seasons.

This, sir, is bending the truth to fit your story. Mack Brown did not arrive at Texas with perennial top five talent at his fingertips. He brought it here. The only reason he has a job at Texas is because the previous regimes were NOT bringing in anything close to top five talent. If it were that easy, or that sure a thing, I assure you John Mackovic would still be here.

They all did good coaching jobs IN THOSE SEASONS. Congrats to them for a job well done.

But are they good coaches overall because they won those titles? I don't think so. I give them tremendous credit for not screwing up, which is half the battle. But I think that these guys would just be considered average at best if they were in different situations. Would Carr be as successful at Northwestern as Randy Walker has been? Would Fulmer do a better job at Louisville than Bobby Petrino? Now, to some extent this criticism doesn't apply to Mack Brown as much, since he was better known as a program builder before he got to Texas, having turned North Carolina into a power for a brief time. And he has been very successful in the win-loss column in Austin. But there's no doubt that, until this season, his teams had not been able to win the big one and he was seen as somewhat of an underachiever. So he finally won this year--but was it him or was it Vince Young that made the difference? Or maybe it was a great situation--a down year for Oklahoma and the rest of the Big 12.

If he'd stopped at "this criticism doesn't apply to Mack Brown," I would have just shrugged the whole thing off. As such, here we are.

Look, the problem with these kinds of bogus arguments, which I told you were coming (and this won't be the last one; just wait `til Texas loses a game), is that they overrate super hands-on game managers. The head coach who also calls all the plays is sexier than the Godfather type coach who manages the team. Which is retarded.

Think of it this way. Would I urge you to hire Mack Brown as the offensive or defensive coordinator of your football team? Definitely not. Would I urge you to hire him as your head coach? Over my dead body: he's ours and you can't have him.

Head coaches these days have so many responsibilities, the most important of which are raising money, recruiting players, managing a complicated organization, and hiring excellent assistant coaches. The better question to ask might be: are these Xs and Os guys that HP so loves well suited to run a big program? Because that's what makes a great coach these days. Better yet, shouldn't we measure a coach by his ability to bring a program up to a national level, as Mack did with North Carolina?

HP just about answers his own question, then throws in these irrelevant questions about whether Mack won a national title because of Vince Young. Of course he did. But he's a great coach eve if Texas loses that game 38-34 to USC. By whiffing on the definition of a great coach, he's asking the wrong questions.

The lesson, here, is that these kinds of arguments are red herrings, meant only to distract from what counts: winning and losing.  

To paraphrase another favorite saying of my coaching friend: With these guys, it wasn't the X's and O's, it was the Jimmies and the Joes.

To paraphrase a friend of mine: You're a douchebag. It's not the Xs and Os; it's the Ws and Ls.

QED.

--PB--