Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lessons from SI's expose on UCLA

If you haven't read's feature on UCLA basketball, check it out. There's a lot in there (much of it is pretty standard college stuff) but my biggest takeaway was how hard it is to maintain success in college sports. UCLA had the right coach in the right program, but as they seemingly moved forward with even better talent, the whole thing unraveled. There are a lot of lessons in their for BC fans, coaches and ADs.

Success breads confidence but also an arrogance. That arrogance leads some to believe that they are always right and "they" are the reason for success. When in reality success in college sports is usually multiple things coming together at once. While football gets the most attention, UCLA's issues can be applied to basketball, football, hockey, etc.

1. Team chemistry matters. I don't think you need a team full of Boy Scouts, but I do think you need some leaders and the guys have to like playing with each other. Too often BC coaches use character as a crutch to excuse mediocre recruiting. Instead of a crutch it should be a guide and a reminder. If you have motivated, hard working leaders, they will raise the effort of the whole team.

2. Personality only gets noticed when you lose. Howland was a genius Xs and Os guy when UCLA was winning. Now that they are losing, he's considered a cold bully. When we talk about head coaches, we all want them to have the personality of Jerry York. The truth is that the head coach's demeanor, interview skills and charm go unnoticed when things are going well. When BC looks for its next coach in any sport, his or her plan for building a champion should be more important than how he or she is at a cocktail party.

3. Things can turn quickly. UCLA went to three-straight Final Fours and then followed that by landing the best recruiting class in the country. Now they are a mess. I don't know if they will fire Howland, but the decline hasn't been managed well. As we watch the football team struggle, we have to acknowledge that things can unravel nearly overnight. Therefore BC's leaders need to be ready to act. You can't let a slide last for three or four years.

No comments: