Is Rod Marinelli A Terrific Coach? - YES and NO!!

Paul W. ReevesContributor INovember 28, 2008

After studying this issue for far too long and after spending way too much time on it, I have concluded that Rod Marinelli is a terrific football coach. HOWEVER, let me clarify:

Ol' Rod is a terrific football man who has worked well in the trenches with his "Men" on the defensive line. He is the classic prototype football coach who eats-breathes-lives football 24/7. He is also loyal and possesses a terrific work ethic and unquestioned integrity. If I were a head football coach, I would want Rod Marinelli on my staff.

HOWEVER (yes, I know, this is my 2nd HOWEVER!), there is a substantial difference between being a football grunt (assistant coach) in the trenches and being a head coach. The football grunt spends all of his time coaching, teaching, and improving a selected portion of the overall program, while the head coach does not spend a lot of time with individual units. Rather, the head coach, while globally responsible for the whole operation, has to delegate to handpicked assistants who are then responsible for the grunt work.

The skills of an assistant coach and a head coach are substantially different. An assistant coach needs coaching, teaching, and football skills, while the head coach needs more people skills, political skills, organizational skills, and the ability to lead the entire organization and not just a few "Men".

Rod, while succeeding in the trenches as an assistant coach, has failed miserably as a head coach for the following reasons:

1) Poor selection of assistant coaches. When you choose your own son-in-law and a guy who likes to be without clothes when going through the drive-thru at Wendy's (By the way, this “Wendy’s” issue is not funny – but it is a character flaw that one cannot have in a people business),your judgment on selecting assistant coaches is greatly questioned. Also, we can't hold Rod responsible for the selection of Martz (Millen brought in Martz), but Rod's replacement for Martz, Jim Coletto, has failed as an offensive coordinator (do you remember when Jon Kitna yelled at Coletto on the sidelines during a game?).

2) Inability to move from assistant coach in the trenches to the man in charge of global operations. This happens all of the time in sports, business, and life in general (check out the Peter Principle). The skills that made him a terrific defensive coach are completely different from the skills that are needed to be a successful head coach. Rod does not have the necessary skills, doesn't realize that the skill set is different, or was unable to grasp that he is actually in charge of EVERYTHING and that nobody is supposed to blink until they get permission from him.

Can Rod develop into a successful head coach? I would say no, simply because his mindset is too ingrained in the trenches concept with his "Men". There is no shame in being a terrific assistant coach and not being a good head coach. It happens all of the time to folks around the world in all areas of life.

So, in conclusion, is Rod Marinelli a terrific assistant coach? YES he is and I would want him on my staff if I were a head coach. Is Rod Marinelli a terrific head coach? NO, he is not, as he has not developed, or does not possess, the necessary skills to move from "in the trenches" to manager of the overall operation.