This applies with equal force to college football, but I will put it here.
Clay Travis recently spoke of this and I agree. It is now more apparent than ever that coaching is the most important thing in college athletics. Everybody talks about the Jimmys and Joes, but it begins and ends with who the coach is. The coach has the ability to get the good players, and also has the ability to instill his or her winning methodology with a given program. The historically great schools like Alabama in football and UCLA and Kentucky in basketball would not be anything without great coaches. UCLA does not have a great coach now, so it sucks at basketball. Alabama and Kentucky, however, do have great coaches, so they flourish. It is the coach that matters, winning wise, far more than the players, the institution, or the fan base.
That is what frustrates me with fans who think that Mike should’ve been given an extra year. If one hire can turn you into a great, final four type basketball program — and it can — then it is critical that the trigger be pulled, especially after eight years of non greatness. The greater good needs to be considered, not the hurt feelings of a loyal soldier like Mike.
The most important thing is that Arkansas/HY took the shot. Clearly remains to be seen whether Musselman will be a great coach at the University of Arkansas. However, the shot at greatness has been taken. And it should never be forgotten that coaching is the most important aspect of winning college athletics these days.
Obviously “coaching” is most important, because the coach is ultimately 100% responsible for the final product on the court/field.
But “coaching” involves many, many aspects: recruiting, instilling culture, individual player development, implementing style of play, game management, mentoring, etc. etc. And every coach is stronger in some of these areas, weaker in others. But surely you can recognize that recruiting has proven to be the single most important aspect of coaching. When the talent gap is wide between two teams, the more talented team seems to win a vast majority of the time. Take our basketball team … would Coach K/Self have been able to “coach” us to an Final 4 appearance? How about football … would Nick have been able to “coach” us into the NCAA Playoffs. Probably not. It’s not that they aren’t considered great coaches; the talent gap would have simply been too vast to overcome. When coaches are let go because of poor on-field/court performance, I suspect you’ll find it’s because they couldn’t match “Jimmys and Joes” with the competition, not for a serious lack of the other aspects of coaching.
I will throw you a bone, though…
The narrower the talent gap between two programs, the more important those other coaching aspects become.
The dark side to “some” of the great coaches and coaching and their ability to recruit the best Jimmy’s and Joes’s is the under the table money used to buy recruits even if the coach doesn’t have direct involvement in that.
So add to the original OP, the best coaches are the ones that can do as you stated “honestly” with integrity.
The coach is the face of the program and is a big part of the ultimate success. But it takes the whole group–BOT, AD, fans, support staff, etc all have to be on same page and committed to winning. Any link of that chain not in place and you cannot win long term successfully. Any link not supported with total focus and you cannot win. Hard work and effort 24/7 is what separates those at top from the others–they are also compensated nearly 2 to 1 to the others for that drive to be the best.
I could not agree more, there are literally decades and dozens of programs that bear this out. 2 football cases of recent note in this era. Success at Oregon without the top notch talent under Chip Kelly, and their fall after he left. The demise of Texass with the cream of the crop under Mack Brown/Charlie Strong when Mack started losing his top assistants. Mack Brown was a great recruiter, not a great coach. He was good at hiring assistants as well. Kelly is a pretty decent recruiter, but he was a great coach at the time, he may never achieve what he once did because part of his greatness was the innovation he brought to the game at his time in Oregon. Everybody is doing it now and defending it. The Jimmy and Joes matter, but they don’t matter as much as the coaching/development.
I do agree that the head coach makes a tremendous difference in the success of the team. However, the truly great coaches excel at all aspects of coaching. Nick Saban and Dabo Sweeny are the best football coaches because they direct their top recruiting classes to perform at game time. The same for Coach K and Cal. Let them have several recruiting classes in the high 30’s and their domination will be a distant memory. A great x and o coach can beat a team that is a little better, but when the opponent has much better players, the much more talented will win most of the games. WPS