Every Sunday we sit in front of our TV to watch our favorite team compete. Either that, or we hide our iPhones under the dinner table and tune in to our ESPN app for live updates. We all cheer on our teams and hope for the best outcome, a win. That’s what fans do; yell at the television screen when our team is struggling and jump to our feet the instant they score.
The word fan is derived from the word fanatic, after all. When our team starts struggling in too many aspects and winning becomes a rare occurrence, we begin to question why no changes have been made. All of a sudden, we are experts and know exactly what needs to be done to fix our team. We begin to call for a change, which in many cases involves “clearing house” to start off with a clean slate. But what does this really mean? There can’t be anything wrong with a fresh start, right?
Interestingly enough, the statistics don’t back that train of thought. If you look at organizations that historically have winning percentages in the season, let alone post season, you would find a direct correlation between stability and success. There are many examples of this within organizations, two of which being the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.
Previous to Coach Mike Tomlin taking over the Steelers in 2006, Bill Cowher held the reigns. His winning percentage for regular season play over his 15 year run was .623 percent with a post season percentage of .54 percent. Coach Cowher’s predecessor was Chuck Noll, who was the head coach for 23 years (1969-1991), holding very similar percentages of .566/.667 percent respectively. Tomlin has had similar success. I suppose one could argue that he took over a well-established team and that also plays into his success. While this could hold partially true, as long as you win, no one really cares.
Similar models and percentages can be found when you look at Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots and even Tom Coughlin with the New York Giants. When viewed this way, riding out the ups and downs could be the better option. It takes time to build a team and develop talent, but when it doesn’t work immediately, wiping out the staff seems to be the immediate option. This is understandable since after all, the bottom line is winning. But it has to be remembered that it doesn’t mean that every season will be a winning season. Over time, however, one should be able to develop a good team and produce a winning season. I realize that there are many other outside factors that could impact an organization and there are always exceptions.
An example of this opposing model where stability is undervalued might be, dare I say it, the Cleveland Browns. The general manager and head coaching staff resemble the game of musical chairs. Besides arguably the 2014-2015 season, not much good has come from this approach.
As the daughter of a former NFL player and now coach, I do realize that my views are skewed. I cannot be a fan; I am emotionally invested. My dad taught me when I was little that the NFL stood for “not for long” and as a family we understand the high risk/high reward lifestyle. Nonetheless, I love my coach and every move has taught me something new. But just remember that when you call for a change, it might not necessarily bring about the trajectory you were hoping for.