Don’t Mess With Happy

The first rule of coaches should be, “Don’t mess with happy.”  Jim Valvano once said that and it is one of the truest things he ever uttered.  Why do coaches forget that?  Coaches will have a job where they have started to build something special.  They are beloved in the community and happy in their job.  Yet, they all think, “I’ll have a better chance to win there.  They have better facilities, better fan support, and more money.  I can win there.”

There are two things wrong with that mindset.  Most of the places with all the stuff people think make it easier to win had to be built by someone who decided to stay.  Some coach at some point in that program’s history made it a place where you can win.  It was hard work and he probably turned down more money and better opportunities at places where it was easier to win.   But, he stayed and he built it and that is the only way it has become a place where you win.

Couple that with coaches who in their arrogance forget the other central tenant of coaching, “You are hired to be fired” and you get the perfect storm lots of coaches being paid to not coach. That place where it is easier to win also has the expectations of winning, and usually winning in a certain way.

“Mo money, mo problems.”  The easier it is to win there and the more money they give you to win, means you have to win, and when you don’t you will be fired.

Take the two coaches from last night’s Sugar Bowl.  Florida is a place where you can win.  It has the facilities, support, and all the things coaches say they want.  Will Muschamp looks like a man with the weight of the world on top of him and always seems ready to literally self-combust on the sideline at all times.  Charlie Strong (here is a great article about him) came to Louisville after being passed over for job after job for reasons that are unfortunately too apparent when you see the color of his skin. He went to a school, Louisville, which except for a brief moment in the itinerant career of Bobby Petrino has not been a place where you could win.

He is making it that now.  He is the guy staying to build something.  He turned down Tennessee earlier this month to stay at a place that gave him a chance when no one else would.  He is staying with the kids he recruited to do something special.  Here is hoping that he stays for the long term, coaches at Louisville until he is in 60s and leaves a legacy by building a place that gives some new coach a better chance to win there than in other places.

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