for Superman 11/27/01 (Orginally appeared in the
the time you are reading this, nearly every sports pundit
in the state probably has weighed in on what Vanderbilt
should do in hiring its next football coach. From what we've
seen in the first few days of speculation, opinions range
from insightful to almost wacky.
beauty of a high profile search is that until it's over,
its sometimes hard to tell which idea is insightful and
which one is wacky. What seemed perfectly logical in the
last hire may no longer make good sense today. What was
thought to be absurd before may now be in vogue.
of the early media themes which, when you think about it
seems almost George Carlin-like, was this one: "Vandy Can't
Afford to Make a Mistake".
Name any job hire in your business when you would think
you could afford to make a mistake. Would you hire a kid
to mow your front lawn and tell your spouse, "Well, honey,
if we find out he is undependable, over-priced and mulches
our flower bed that's OK because we can afford to make a
was correctly pointed out that the surprising, early resignation
by Coach Woody Widenhofer gave this administration the gift
of some precious time in looking for his replacement. With
recruiting entering an important phase, every day prior
to the February letter-of-intent signing is important.
as basketball coaching legend Johnny Wooden used to say,
it will be important to "be quick but don't hurry." Vanderbilt
has the proper system in place to accomplish this objective.
are no bulky search committees in this hire. Director of
Athletics Todd Turner is essentially a one-man committee,
although he will obviously seek advice and counsel from
Chancellor Gordon Gee and several other members of the University
under-estimate the importance of this streamlined approach.
couple of years ago, when Florida defensive coordinator
Bob Stoops was a red-hot head coaching prospect, he was
being courted by two leading contenders - Iowa and Oklahoma.
Sooners were represented in the search by their Director
of Athletics, who was empowered by the University President
to speak for the institution. He was able to cut to the
chase quickly with Stoops.
Stoops is an alumnus of Iowa and played for Hayden Fry in
the early 1980's. He had a strong pull toward the Hawks
and story has it he went to Iowa City to talk about returning
to his alma mater. Iowa had a search committee that was
not able to give Stoops a quick answer.
rest is history. Stoops called his agent and told him to
take the Oklahoma offer. Two years later the Sooners were
brings us to another good question. What makes a good coach?
see. A good coach needs to have an incredible knowledge
of the game of football. A good coach must be able the organizational
skills of your basic Chief Executive Officer. A top coach
must know how to inspire men, leading them into each Saturday
that's not enough, a good coach should have excellent public
relations skills to get along with a sometimes-cynical media
or to charm the alumni during public speaking appearances.
let's not forget that a successful coach must have masterful
salesmanship skills to recruit 17-year old high school boys
when over 100 of his coaching peers are trying to sell the
same super star.
top of that, you need to find the right "chemistry" with
your hire. The perfect guy at one school might be a mismatched
failure at another.
no wonder why Turner said, half seriously, that he was looking
for Superman. It takes a super man to fill the shoes.
days you need someone with the energy level of the Energizer
rabbit, the wit of David Letterman, the motivational skills
of George Patton, the gridiron knowledge of Vince Lombardi,
the oratory expertise of Ronald Reagan and the discipline
of a monk.
than that, it's pretty easy. Those people meeting those
qualifications should apply in person to Todd Turner immediately.
stay tuned. Someone coming close to that description will
soon be wearing black and gold and humming "Dynamite" on
his way to work.