Not Good Enough
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be”— John Wooden.
While finishing my MBA in 2017, I left my job for one of the leading solar satellite companies in the world, and began work as a student assistant for a Division 1 football program. In my time at the program I got a snapshot of everything from play design and recruitment, to meeting NFL scouts and getting into their headspace. By the end of my one year with the program, I was fascinated by the incompetence, nepotism, and lack of business acumen in the world of football.
I had seen prosperous organizations, and this entire operation could simply be defined as dysfunctional. It didn’t matter if you were, “the smartest person in the room”, if you didn’t have the right last name or background, there was no place for your voice. Our game is still medieval in it’s thinking in many ways. Coaches, front offices and owners take unnecessary risks, and usually end up losing their jobs because of it. But unlike other professions, these coaches are recycled back into the system, and things don’t change on a scalable level.
There is a reason that some franchises in the NFL are just better than others, and that is because they are the smartest. The Patriots are just the best example of this. They run their organization like a true business. They don’t overpay, they value emotional and football IQ (see Matthew Slater), and they do not tie themselves to players (see Antonio Brown). Even though they have not drafted exceptionally well over the last few years, it is this concept of business that has driven me to write about football through this lens.
There is a hole in the most popular sport in America, and it is competence. There are a select few organizations and individuals who have this business acumen and basic understanding, and they are the winners. I failed in changing the minds of people in the building of the D1 program I was a part of, and that is not fatal, but football organizations are not doing good enough for their fan bases. This is my mission, to not give into media bullshit, but to instead inform from a CEO level of competence.