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The Inexact Science of Finding A Coach

The coaching carousel is at full tilt this time of year.  The sports world is a vicious cycle of hirings and firings.  Now, the college basketball carousel is spinning fastest, but soon the NBA will pick up speed, followed by the NHL, college football, the NFL, and round and round we go.

At this very moment there are high profile basketball vacancies at Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, and Utah just to name a few.  Athletic Directors are faced with the delicate task of finding not just a good coach, but a coach who is the right fit within the program and within the university.  Choosing a coach wisely means wins, money, fan support, national prestige, and more TV time.  Making a poor choice means losses, fans in retreat, revenues in the red, and the possibility of setting the program back for years to come.  Not to mention how bad it makes the Athletic Director look when the guy he hired turns out to be a bust.

The process of finding the right man for the job is at best, an inexact science.  There is no secret formula, no perfect path to follow when on the hunt for someone who is going to become not only a head coach, but a very well compensated representative of your university.  So many factors can go into a coaching search, but here are the very basics when narrowing down that long list of possibilities.

Even with Pearl gone, Tennessee may continue to suffer the consequences of his actions. (courtesy marioncountymessenger.com)

1.     CHARACTER AND INTEGRITY

Some might say winning is the most important thing and even trumps character.  However, the “win at all costs” mentality can be great for a while, but in the long run it can have devastating effects on a program.  Schools can overcome a couple of down years, but it takes much longer to overcome the public relations disaster brought on by a coach involved in a legal, sexual, or recruiting scandal.  Even if a coach avoids the police, the courtroom, and manages to keep himself out of incriminating Facebook photos, he can still take down a program by violating NCAA rules.  Just ask Indiana.  The once prolific Hoosiers aren’t competitive thanks to Kelvin Sampson’s NCAA transgressions.  Even though Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl, the Vols could be facing serious consequences thanks to Pearl’s lies and poor judgment.  Look at all the instances in the past where the coach had to deal with adversity.  How did he handle players who violated team policy?  Did he stick to his principles or did he lower his own standards in the name of winning?  Listen Athletic Directors of America, save yourself the embarrassment later by doing your research now.  Look at a coach’s past, examine his family life, check and triple check references, and make sure you have all the details on any and all run-ins with the NCAA.   Know what kind of man you’re getting from the very beginning and you limit the chances of an unpleasant surprise down the road.

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