Michigan Football: The other 90% The Final Product

ErocWolverineSenior Writer IJune 5, 2008

The Other 90% - The Final Product: Develop the Program, Develop the Athlete

Those who only follow the success of a favorite program and have not actually participated in the development and management of an athletic program hold the assumptions that program development and improvement is straightforward and can be accomplished quickly. This is not so, please note the many big name universities who have struggled for decades to get to the top tier with little success. The coaching names and publicity change, but the results stay the same. There are coaching destinations that successful coaches avoid (applying for jobs) like the plague, while the “hot” new names with recent, but minimal, overall success, readily accept. The payday is bigger, but the task is daunting.

Developing a program that has been at ground zero and remained firmly entrenched in mediocrity, regardless of the temporary custodian, is past challenging. The task is fraught with naysayers who are typically filled with negative expectations, replete with energy and time necessities that can tax even the most vibrant, and is dependent on the patience and perception of others, who can see the progress more so than the struggle.

It is exceptionally difficult to take a program to new heights, but this happens enough times that such an accomplishment is not mistakenly labeled a miracle. This phenomenon of upward success is less common than the recycled failure that continues to surround familiar programs. It is the opinion of the author that rebuilding/developing a program at the major college level is exponentially more difficult than a similar challenge at the high school level, and even slightly more difficult than rebuilding a professional program.

Being difficult does not mean impossible. And so, this final article in the series ties the themes of change, cognitive functions, and success together in a discussion of program development. There are assumptions that must be stated beforehand. First, all facilities and talent are not equal. Second, some institutions have an academic climate historically more hostile to athletics and the associated university programs. Finally, the vision and logical progression of program development must be addressed rapidly upon taking over a program. Perhaps, even as an initial task upon employment.

The above premises are related to the executive functions discussed in article two, cognitive functions. Except this time it is the coaching staff who will be challenged for solutions, not the players. Any coaching staff developing a dead horse program comes in with a vision, but the vision must be implemented. Assuming adequate, not superior, resources, the king of any executive function in developing a program is clearly management. Management is always talked about, but fans assume most coaches have the same approximate level of management. This is patently incorrect. Just like some coaches have more knowledge than their peers, some coaches excel at management. It is nearly impossible to advance the low-lying program without superior management from the very start. The window of opportunity is shorter in such circumstances. Forget on the job training for management that is for the young assistants learning at the hand of the master.

written by Doc4blu