My favorite part of the football season is now, when coaches get hired and fired.? These decisions are far more meaningful and far reaching than?even the decision about?who plays quarterback because the game of football like modern business is all about leadership, vision and being ahead of your competitors.? Add in that sports actually try to prevent the creation of dynasties?through a variety of rules like drafts or salary caps and you can easily understand that leadership skill and organizational design are critical to success in sports because market and technological advantages are blunted by rule.? Even a?bad CEO probably can help but?keep McDonalds on top in its category because the company already has such?built strengths but in sports every year, every team starts even.?
So that is why as a professor of sports business and a lawyer looking at sports contracts, I see so much to interest me during the hiring and firing season which began with the firing of head coach Wade Phillips by the Dallas Cowboys and?got a second casualty when Colorado fired Dan Hawkins. By the time we are done 20 NFL and major college coaches will have moved on and their replacements will be selected.? What always shocks me is how little organizational thought and evaluation goes into these decisions which can have economic consequence in the tens of millions of dollars and even greater organizational impact. Yet the decision to fire a coach is usually an emotional one and the decision to hire a new one is also more often than not an emotional one?born from?by a desire to win the press conference announcing that hire.
Over the next two months, I will share my fascination?about who gets hired, where they get hired, how much it costs and most importantly whether they will succeed or fail, with readers here at Forbes Sports Money.??As the legendary 49ers head coach Bill Walsh said, we aren’t competing with all the teams, we are competing with the eight or nine teams that get it,? and the same is true in the college ranks.? Much will be lost and gained in the decision made in the next two months.? But this year could be very different, with the real threat of an NFL lockout looming, you may see two very clear trends emerge.? The first is NFL teams who fire a head coach may not immediately replace that coach with a big name and may use interim or stop-gap coaches who are willing to work cheap or accept a lockout clause, because owners won’t want to carry salaries during a work stoppage.? Rather than using coaching and scout resources to gain an advantage in scouting or?strategic development?during a work stoppage?many owners have already inserted lockout clause which allows for an immediate reduction in pay and even?termination in the event of a prolonged work stoppage.? It will save money but at what cost.? The second major trend may be a stampede to college football by NFL coaches including coordinators and position coaches to avoid a work stoppage and corresponding pay interruption.
In any case, hang on as it figures to be a bumpy ride until the music stops for coaches and fans alike.
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