Michigan Wolverine Football: Building A Winning Football Program


GBMWolverine Michigan Football TidbitsPosted at 7:00am — 4/12/2015

Michigan Wolverine Football: Building A Winning Football Program

This is Not An Accidental Synthesis of Luck

The typical and fervent college football (and professional) fan is lifted a little off the ground and filled with some artificial, but noticeable, swagger when a chosen team is on a winning tear. Some teams almost always win, and so the fan base of those storied programs swells past the collective alumni and state of residence loyalists, who by common circumstance are simply willing loyal patrons and supporters.

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Programs who have had the fortune of multiple championships through the decades have a fan base affiliation that spreads out beyond local to regional, and indeed throughout the nation. Merchandisers and universities have swept up huge profits from program supporters displaying their choice of favoritism through hats, shirts, sweatshirts, blankets, overpriced cushion seats, and well overpriced pieces of mere thin plastic that serve as rainwear. Trash cans, grills, chairs, and toilet seats are also in abundance for sale, at least in the region of one Big Ten school known nationally.

So, the point is that psychologically the usual fan highly values a winner and suffers from an attachment to a losing team. And so, one’s perception of a program is based on, perhaps too much so, the simple win loss record that goes neatly into the record book at the conclusion of each season.

This simplicity of so defining success is normal, maybe unfortunately so for the true analytical purist. Each program has program objectives put forth that are noble, but become superseded and forgotten by numerical scores and perception of program control. Lose games or lose control and a coach will move on, whether by resignation or non-renewal of contract.

Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines /

Michigan Wolverines

Some of the noble goals and objectives include player development, grade point average, player conduct, coaching conduct, service to the community, and one not emphasized enough: rapport with and treatment of the student athlete, an attribute that best serves the interests of the true stakeholder, the athlete.

Coach Jim Harbaugh is not a win only philosophical type of coach, but he certainly is a win first type. To explain, Coach Harbaugh is not against good treatment, good grades, or good behavior, but his key focus is winning. That is how Mechanists work; there is a central goal with precise end objectives, and an easily identified desired outcome that is not simplistically stated for mere convenience. To make the Mechanist formula work, there must be machine like planning, execution, and the results must match the machine’s intent.

Jim Harbaugh and Brady Hoke are similar in more ways than people may concede. As mentioned on this site previously (see Peppered Football Series in the archive section), Hoke remains a strong Formist who had bottom line underlying beliefs that simply were foundational and as such unchangeable as long as they supported the underpinning belief system. Such belief is good for a Formist, otherwise mass confusion results. Hoke’s underlying belief in the positive and supportive treatment of his players started to come under fire as a negative only as the losses mounted. If Coach Hoke had achieved more wins, then likely the detractors would have lauded Michigan as a model of how players should be treated within a large program.

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  • The mechanistic part of Coach Hoke’s tenure, including management situations on and off the field, did not yield certain needed ingredients for accruing wins. Such a conclusion was obvious and Coach Hoke with dignity and proud of his Formist philosophy and actions exited the leadership of the Michigan program. Hoke should resurface; with lessons learn, with more intensity, but still with his basic belief system intact, one that is honorable and sound, in place. Many successful coaches modify and excel after the darkest hour.

    In contrast, Coach Harbaugh gives quick acknowledgement of underlying Formist concerns and beliefs but has gone straight into the machine work he envisions for winning football games.

    This series about building a winning football program focuses on Jim Harbaugh, newly appointed Head Coach of The University of Michigan. The parts include: (1) Talent- the Bloodline; (2) Execution- the Ingredient Talent Needs, and (3) Extraneous Garbage- What Every Coach Has, But Wishes to Jettison.

    Part One, Talent the Bloodline, is up next.

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    Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

    Go Blue — Wear Maize!