Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How hiring a coach is like purchasing a home: It's based on a gut instinct

Big thanks to Kent Dernbach, the director of basketball ops at George Mason, for giving me the heads-up on this article about the subjectivity that goes into hiring a coach (or anyone for that matter).

According to Temple AD Bill Bradshaw: "I could give you a lot of objective criterion rationale as to how to hire somebody, whether it's the recommendation from someone who worked with them, how influential they were for recruiting questions. But a lot of it is instinct. It's a gut feeling you have when you're talking to someone."

According to the Washington Post article:

The differences between assistant coach and head coach are significant, and no tangible measurement exists to determine whether an assistant can succeed in a top job. Responsibilities increase from simply the tactical methods of coaching and recruiting to dealing with reporters, satisfying alumni and overseeing an entire program -- from the freshman place kicker to the graduate assistant.

"Until you sit in that chair, you don't know," [Temple coach Al] Golden said (pictured above). "Academic issues. Issues in the community. Behavioral issues. Concerns you may have with the team, like injuries. From that standpoint, it can be overwhelming and exhausting."

From the article, one thing is clear, it's important there's a good "fit" or comfort level, whether that means the candidate is from the area, has ties to the school, or has a relationship with the person doing the hiring.

In the words of Gene DeFilippo, the Boston College AD: "Everybody has to be a head coach for the first time. I think if you know someone, know they're a fit at your school, at your institution, that's a huge factor."

And while understanding the X's and O's is important, it's "only part of a head coach's checklist." According to one former assistant who is now a head coach:

"The head coach has to offer the vision of the program. [Those doing the hiring] don't want a vision of an offense."

Experts say that for lesser-known assistants, even those who are intensely qualified, getting on the radar for that first time is difficult.

"Almost any search I've done, the institution wants to look at a sitting head coach," said Chuck Neinas, a consultant in searches for football coaches and athletic directors. "Then next in line would be an assistant, basically a coordinator from a high-profile program."