An athletic director approaches a coach about a job. It is a dream-type of job with money, facilities, and a rabid fanbase, and it is located in a wonderful place to live. Such a great place to live, in fact, that it is in a state capital with an airport where the mountains or the beach are both only a short drive away.
It seems like an easy sell.
With most life decisions comes at least a bit of due diligence, so more research is in order.
The history of the program is somehow steeped in both excellence and mediocrity. A school with multiple conference and national titles in the trophy case now seems to have a wall that it cannot break through.
More specifically, the program has been to only six NCAA Tournaments in 21 years. During that same span the two other schools in the neighborhood you share, and the ones you will be most often compared to, have won seven national titles.
It bears repeating. The rivals have more national titles over a span of 21 years -- a typical age of college students -- than the program you would be taking over has NCAA Tournament appearances.
Would you take that job?
If the answer is yes then you must get to work. In the first four seasons there are both moments of madness and delirium. Ultimately, each of those teams make the NCAA Tournament. Two of them reach the regional semifinals, which comes after only one Sweet Sixteen appearance in the previous 21 seasons.
In the fifth season there is a gifted point guard, but the team falls short of a postseason berth. In the next campaign the talent level rises but it takes time for the team to gel. Fans, upset that their school is not doing as well as it should in their mind, start calling for the coach to be dismissed.
If you were the head coach who took a school to four NCAA Tournaments in five-plus seasons after the program languished during the previous two decades only to see that many in the fanbase wanted you dismissed midway in the sixth year would you think that was fair?
Life is not fair, so the coach may get fired whether he deserves it or not. That means the athletic director must search for a replacement. The rebuilding angle from years ago is now replaced with a pitch to help the program take the final step. Of course, when a new coach takes over there is often a down patch with the first few seasons before any resurgence can occur.
Having seen what your predecessor went through, particularly as it pertains to the grief he received despite doing things no one had done in 30 years at the school, and knowing there is more than likely going to be a rough patch somewhere along the line, you then think about the situation.
In that scenario would people have your back? The only way to get a genuine perspective would be to see how they have acted in the past, both in good times and bad.
What type of influence would those who clamor for change have? Those who do demand it certainly are within their right to do so, but are they then being fair? Again, the past is the best way to predict the future.
If you did build something of consequence, would you get to see and reap the rewards of your hard labor? That is not guaranteed anywhere.
All things considered, would you take that job or would you wait for one where you are seemingly more likely to not have such fierce neighbors and time to see your vision through?
This is not a quiz but it does require answers that will impact the lives of many people, including the ones the fans most root for--the college student-athlete.
The correct answer is not definitive. The best way to respond is to consider all things and then play devil’s advocate to have some insight into another perspective. There is more than one point of view.
When taking all things into account, consider if you have actually been taking all of these things into account before.
What would you do?