Murle Greer’s firing is an instance where MCLA teams can learn from another’s mistake, so as not to make the same decision. In American sports culture, it has been a fad the last decade or so to get rid of a coach who couldn’t quite get his team over that last hurdle to a championship.
In his place comes the Hired Gun, a coach with a victory filled resume who commands top dollar and will provide the university with all sorts of instant pleasure. Nick Saban and Bill Parcells are the first ideas that come to mind.
For teams with the money to find proven winners who can step into a situation and win right away, more power to ya. But, 99% of MCLA teams don’t have the resources to do that, and the teams who want to emulate that model should think twice. Growing a club into a winning program takes time and effort, just ask 412 who frequently mentioned decision making not based upon what feels the best now, but for what will feel better 5 and 10 years from now. Plain and simple, at most places stability equals success.
The best programs in the MCLA were the result of the same head man being there for a long period of time: BYU had Jason Lamb for 14 years, Michigan’s had JP for 13 years and counting, and Pete Moosbrugger of University of St. Thomas played for the Tommies and has been their skipper for the past 7 seasons. The best example may be at CSU, where Flip’s had a hand in things since the dinosaurs were dying and current head coach Alex Smith who graduated from CSU in 2003 was an assistant under Flip for several years.
Stability, while not always the best, brings several advantages/opportunities to teams. First, it allows the coach to build relationships with the club sports director, athletic department, and whoever else controls purse strings and field time. Next, it helps in recruiting players to the team—a coach who has been around and plans to stick around is appealing to parents and kids alike. Third, it helps in building an alumni base. I’m more likely to give to the team I played on that’s coached by the guy I was coached by or a guy I played with, than I am to a team led by some newbie who’s liable to get axed any day. Finally, stability in the coaching ranks is good for the growth of the league and it’s conferences. If new coaches are steadily streaming in and out, individual conferences and the MCLA are more likely to repeat the same mistakes. It helps to have a large contingent of guys who have been to more than one rodeo charting a conferences course.
In many areas of the country it is really tough to keep a knowledgeable coach around, but stability can still be attained by having former players involved who developed relationships with the club sports powers that be.
To sum things up, teams should put a lot of thought into their off season coaching moves. While it might feel good to cast off a coach you had a grudge against and bringing in a new guy may help the team win, teams need to stop and think. Before teams axe a coach after a season that fell short of expectations, they need think about all the consequences of fulfilling their search for instant gratification.
About the author: After playing high school ball at Idaho powerhouse Bishop Kelly, Jumbo Jack went on to the University of Utah where he was a 2005 Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference All-Conference pick. From there he moved to Mt. St. Mary’s University in Maryland, where he became the first Idahoan to be on a Division 1 Lacrosse roster. Following a knee injury, he coached and played for the University of Idaho, helping lead the team to their first program wins and earning 2008 Pacific Northwest Lacrosse Conference honors. He is currently attending law school.
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