All of us have heard of this parable of the boiled frog which turns out isn't true but either way it fits this situation. When things go wrong they prompt immediate change. But slow gradual decline or slow gradual recognition that organizational structures are flawed and toxic is what really ends up killing you.
Texas A&M is currently being held hostage by Jimbo’s contract...and as a result the only way out is to provide Jimbo with additional resources and hope that he 1) recognizes the need for change and 2) implements that change. So the contract is our problem and the program is Jimbo’s.
Does that make any sense at all? And while A&M is in a unique (fun way of putting it!) situation with the crazy pants bananas contract we gave Jimbo...it’s the same position that damn near ever football program in the country is in. Coaches get a ton of money, and as a result become the program. Boosters, fans, supporters alike are just ancillary parts of the conversation...but the program is the coach and the coach is the program.
But almost every coach fails in some way and ends up having to move on. And then they get a huge check and we restart the process all over again by finding a new coach who sells us on their vision of how they’d structure the program, how they’d build from scratch, and how they’d undo everything that was done in the effort of building some sort of utopic organizational culture fit for winning titles.
That seems really silly. This coach-centric model of CFB is just silly. It does nothing in the way of helping the organization itself to grow, learn, and adapt. The shitty thing about this season is in a few years it’s likely that Jimbo will move on but dammit all I’ll still be wearing A&M stuff as i did during the RC, Fran, Sherman, Sumlin eras. The program will be left to pick up the pieces while the coach moves on as a richer person.
IS THERE A BETTER WAY?
I’m gonna flush this out in future pieces but there’s a space for solid organizational development theory to be used in reframing how we look at and manage football. One of the easiest ones is to think about a football program as an organization and attempt to create a Learning Organization. This topic was first created by Peter Senge back in the day but the point is that the organization itself grows and learns to adapt. In fact one of the key things about Learning Organizations is that they avoid siloed thinking...and right now college football programs are nothing but siloed thinking. The coach is in a silo and they reach out for what they want and only let in who they want to let in. All we hear about is meddling boosters when I’d argue that the boosters have more at stake than the coaches do (given current contract structuring models).
I don't know if I think this but I wonder if we need to move away from a coach-centric model to an AD-centric model...to hiring ADs who are more than just coach hirers...to ADs who can look at the organization and figure out what their program needs to do be successful...and part of that is hiring the right coach but that’s not the only thing that they do.
When Jimbo was hired I was excited for him to bring the success he had at FSU to A&M and spent no time listening to what Florida State fans and writers were telling us that...like Jimbo’s gonna bring the other stuff too. I thought that we could just have the good stuff and get rid of the bad.
That’s not the way it works. We asked Jimbo to do his thing and gave him a blank check to do it. And lmao it looks like we’re getting a mirror image of FSU and through that process, we’ve (meaning Texas A&M as a whole) neutered ourselves from being able to make changes that benefit the program, rather we have to have a carrot/stick convo with Jimbo to get things done
And what’s likely is that if this doesn't work, we’ll move on from Jimbo at some point and do it all over again. We’ll put all of our faith in the next guy to get it done.
At some point, we need to recognize that the organization itself, when structured well with the right people inside with the right mentality of openness to change, clear-cut goals, etc...can the organization in a position to succeed, as opposed to all of our hopes resting on a coach somehow figuring out how to be a CEO, change everything, and somehow tell everyone in the organization what they need to do to make sure he succeeds.