It is not the staff, but the leader

An army of rabbits led by a lion
is superior to an army of lions led by a rabbit.—Napoleon

It is one my favorite quotes because it is true, and nowhere is that clearer than in the leadership style of Nick Saban. Saban is difficult to work for because he holds his staff accountable. That isn’t always palatable for the gigantic egos known as football coaches. Has anyone met a football coach not convinced his way was the best way? When fans on talk radio ask why top coaches like Kevin Steele or Lance Thompson might look for other opportunities, you don’t have to look beyond the stress of being held accountable. If workers in the cubicle down the hall don’t like someone looking over their shoulder, does anyone think a respected coach would?

It gets old. Is that what forced Steele and Thompson out or was it the lure of more money? I’d say working for Saban would take its toll.

But that isn’t a bad thing. If you don’t push people then you aren’t doing your job. Anyone worth working for is going to push subordinates. Everyone loved working for Tommy Tuberville; however, Tuberville ended up being fired due to poor management.

Regardless of what chattering talk radio hosts say, Alabama fans aren’t worried about the loss of Thompson or Steele. Thompson is no doubt a larger loss due to his heavy involvement in recruiting this year (Steele’s involvement this year seemed substantially less than the 2008 class.) Long term the loss of Steele is probably the biggest loss. However, you can’t fully judge the extent of the loss until the posts are filled. Does anyone think the loss of Major Applewhite was bad after the improved offense in 2008?

But the loss isn’t enormous because Nick Saban has lost staff members before, and he’ll no doubt lose staff members again in the future. Why should it concern Crimson Tide fans? This happens in football. It might help create a controversy and give hope to Tennessee and Auburn fans, but in the end, assistant coaches aren’t determinative.

Does anyone think Kyle Whittingham staying at Utah kept Urban Meyer from being successful at Florida? No. Does anyone think Dan Mullen heading to Mississippi State will keep Florida from making a strong run at the national title in 2009?

Does anyone think Lance Thompson can make up for Lane Kiffin’s inexperience? Does anyone think Thompson can somehow compensate for Ed Orgeron’s incompetence?

it is clear that Tennessee and Auburn are responding to their respective fears of Nick Saban. The belief is Saban is only a good coach because he is a good recruiter. That is part of the reason Saban succeeds. But Orgeron was a good recruiter and he failed at Ole Miss. Recruiting is part of the equation, but not the only part. You can’t forget leadership.

Good leadership is holding people accountable and pushing them to perform beyond their own expectations. Doing those things won’t make you a popular boss.

There is nothing in the hires of Gene Chizik at Auburn or Lane Kiffin at Tennessee that should worry conference rivals. Chizik could turn things around at Auburn, but there is no evidence in his disastrous record to indicate he is a capable leader. Kiffin is an improvement over the pathetic decline of Phil Fulmer. However, there is nothing in Kiffin’s record or in his personality to indicate he can challenge the likes of Mark Richt, Urban Meyer or Nick Saban for dominance in the conference.

In terms of leadership, the comical Les Miles is superior to Kiffin and Chizik.

And Miles is better at recruiting than Chizik or Kiffin.

If Alabama were going to fear anyone it would be Miles.

However, ask any Alabama fan if they worry about Miles and they’ll laugh in your face.

So, why would Alabama fans be worried about inexperience (Kiffin) and incompetence (Chizik) at its two biggest rivals?

23 Comments

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  1. 1
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    Applewhite didnt quit. He was shaown the door. Saban got the Texas job for him. As far as the loss at Florida. It might or might not hurt them . But I can guaruntee it will help Mississippi St. Im not sold on Chizizk either. But so far hes putting together a decent staff, and held on to some prize recruits. We know he can coach a defense. As far as Bammer being skeered of anyone, heck YALL ARE BAMMER, YALL AINT SKEERED OF NOBODY !!!!!!!!!!!!! Heck, yall could beat the freekin New England Patriots.

    Give me a break. Florida is now yalls daddy. We got sick of being your daddy and let them take over.

  2. 2
    julio

    Geez, Cappy that is unreal. The story about Thompson leaving for the hated Vols barely broke an hour ago and you’re already in spin meister mode. Even brought out the Napoleon quote to make it seem irrelevant. And you have the audacity…no the BALLS…to call Phillip Marshall an Auburn Spin Doctor?? I guess you’d have us believe that asst. coaches are completely irrelevant and are nothing more than warm bodies that blow whistles and scream at players. Funny, I could have sworn I heard you and several other bammers screaming all year about what a dramatic improvement the offense made with the addition of McElwain. Is McElwain irrelevant now, too??

  3. 4
    capstonereport

    Like I said before, despite the copyright violation Mr. Crapstone, I am flattered you’d try to make money by putting the Google ad onto my website you load in an iframe. 🙂

    As for Julio’s comments, I don’t think assistant coaches are irrelevant. I think fans who point to assistant coaches are covering up for problems with their leader.

    There is no doubt good assistants are important. I’d rather have quality coaches instead of poor coaches, but I’d rather have a great leader than a staff of good or excellent assistants.

    I remember sitting in college and arguing with Captain Morgan about the importance of the general compared to the staff. He said there was no substitute for a quality staff. I said there was no substitute for the right leader to mold the staff into an effective organization.

    The loss of Steele and Thompson hurts, but the amount of injury depends on replacements. At the time, I’d have said the loss of Applewhite would be significant. However, in retrospect, the loss of Applewhite was a blessing since Saban replaced him with someone who fit.

    I don’t think it is spin to say the same thing I’ve always said. This leadership thing is what I used to urge the firing of Mike Shula. This is what I’ve said to defend Saban before, and for that matter point to what makes any organization successful.

    It is not spin if it is the truth—and the truth is Saban is more important than whoever composes the staff.

  4. 6
    govols

    you are total idiot do you know that. a complete moron. you guys had ONE good year in the last 15. wow…talk about dominating, you alabama fans have your heads up your own a$$ its unreal. i cant wait for saban to jump ship.
    p.s. your ship sailed with bear’s hat bama. GO VOLS

  5. 7
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    I agree with you cap. A great head coach trumps great assistants. But…..If you had a great head coach aaand great assistants. Well………. Problem is , Saban cant keep an assistant over 3 years. He must be a tyrant.

  6. 8
    capstonereport

    Agreed Ballplay. I think Saban is a tyrant. I think Meyer is probably one too. Bryant was a tyrant in how he held assistant coaches accountable. I’d think most would say Belichik and Parcells are also tyrants. I bet Dye was a tyrant too.

    I think a great staff makes a great coach even better. But, I’d rather have a staff of rabbits who followed orders and did what the lion wanted instead of a staff of lions all pursing their own agenda while the rabbit leader is helpless.

  7. 9
    Donny Brook

    Sabans hysteria on the side lines directed at his own players does not play well on natl.T.V. Don’t know if matters or not to asst.coaches,but he should try to tone it down some.

  8. 13
    Bamaman

    Recruits want to come play for one of the winningest schools in the country and the National Coach of the year not for his assistants. When you go 12-0 in the sec, other programs are going to come after your coaches. Hide and watch once again the best 4 mil a year Bama ever spent on Feb. 4 and the dividends it pays out for years. If Saban had been hired at Aub the same time Cheesewiz was, do you think your recruiting would be about to fall out of the top twenty five regardless who either ones assistants are? I don’t think so. . . .remember they want to play for a National Coach of the year not a National Joke of the year at Aub.

  9. 14
    Bamaman

    Julio, that is about the funniest thing I have ever heard coming from you accusing someone else of being a spin meister, you jackass, are the spin master. Coming from a school that went thru more assistants than any place I know (and still paying for most) while managing to maintain some success, you more than anyone should know that McElwain can easily be replaced by a leader that knows what to look for in a replacement. He is replaceable not irrevalent, that is your spin word. It is Saban not his assistants we would not want to replace, just like the vols goober above said he can’t wait for Saban to leave. . . . yeah, him and a bunch of other sec schools, wonder why?

  10. 18
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    Bamaman..You have a point dude. But the spin IS pretty blatant. That makes 2 quality assistant coaches whove told The Saban “Thanks but no thanks” this year……If Bama has nowhere to go but up, and the bright days are ahead. If yall are gonna be contenders again, why would any coach leave Bama ?

    One reason………………..Nick Saban.

    No way around it man. Im in agreement that the head coach has to be the genius, not the assistants. I also agree that he has to be a tyrant. But The Saban brings it to a whole new level. Hes a jerk in the highest order on the field or anywhere around it. ……….For instace.

    In the Sugar Bowl post game press conference. A reporter asks The Saban what the problem was with the secondary match ups. The Sabans response ” I dont know, why dont you ask Rashaad Johnson”……….Are you kidding me ?

    That is just one example of tem million that are caught on camera. Could you imagine wht the dude acts like behind closed doors ? It seriously looks like the man is gonna blow a gasket sometimes.

  11. 19
    Bamaman

    Ballplay, the majority of those assistants did not even go to Bama, they are not sticking around just to see if we will win an NC. So I don’t agree with your one reason being Saban. I do agree with Thompson’s reason which is leaving for $450K from $225K. I would break the hinges off the door. I will gladly take Saban with all his tirades just like every single non-lying Aub would.

  12. 20
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    No doubt about it. Saban is supposed to be a different person altogether off the field. And I think hes a great coach. I love watching him go off like a roman candle. Its funny. Hes about as high strung and competitve as Ive ever seen.

  13. 22
    OMNIPRESENT

    I do beg to differ without good Captains a GENERAL is just a TYRANT…(Iddy Amin)
    It takes good people surrounding you to make a TRUE team Looks like SABAN’s got more HEAD than he does BODY!

  14. 23
    VA Tide

    I am tired of this Lance Thompson melt down and everyone saying Saban is a monster. Look we dealt with Dubose and Shula and had to depend on the other coaches because they were so weak. We now have a great head coach and yes he demands his coaches to give their best. What is wrong with that? If Lance Thompson wants to go to Tennessee then good luck. He is now an enemy and we need to move on and look to the head man to move us to the next level. I noticed that the other coaches are still on staff. Stop all of the melt downs. Alabama is going to be just fine. Thompson will get good recruits but you still have to coach them. Ray Golf, Ed O, Dubose, they all had great talent but could not coach them. Saban is the deal closer not Thompson. Relax and lets talk about next year and how to fix our basketball problem. Let the Auburnites continue to be obsessed with Bama. I have only one thing to say to them, Gene Chizak. Roll Tide.

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