In a previous rant, I said that I agreed with the decisions made by Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey to sit out second-tier bowl games and focus on getting ready to be drafted into the NFL. I characterized it as an economic decision made by the players in response to the economic decisions by the schools and networks and cities to have so many less-than-important college football bowl games. I stand by those remarks. Now I want to add to them…
Another way to look at decision making is to consider the dichotomy often presented by idealism and pragmatism. Ideally, I can wish for the non-existence of world hunger; pragmatically, there are too many people living in areas where growing food is nigh on to impossible. Taking the life-and-death element out of my example, McCaffrey and Fournette had a similar dichotomy to resolve. Ideally, they would have been with their teammates – their comrades-in-arms so to speak – for one final attempt at winning for dear old alma mater. Pragmatically, they risked serious injury which might cost them millions of dollars as a pro football player – or even the chance ever to become a pro football player. They chose pragmatism. Once again, I agree with their decision. Moreover, Christian McCaffrey can look to one of his comrades-in-arms for affirmation.
Stanford QB, Keller Chryst tore up his knee in the Sun Bowl game. Stop 10 people randomly on the street and ask them to answer the following questions without resorting to Google on their cell phones:
- Where is the Sun Bowl game played? [El Paso, TX]
- Who won the Sun Bowl last year? [Washington St. beat Miami (FL)]
- What team has been to the Sun Bowl the most times? [Texas Tech]
Your random person will not know these answers indicating to you that the Sun Bowl – old as it may be – is not a critically important fixture on the landscape of college football. Keller Chryst – like Christian McCaffrey – aspires to play in the NFL; he suffered a significant injury in a meaningless contest. Give me pragmatism every time…
Reasoning one’s way through a set of circumstances to arrive at a conclusion or a decision is something adults do all the time. Some decisions are easy; it is a bad idea to take your life savings plus your kids’ college funds and lay the total on the line for one spin of the roulette wheel. One’s reasoning faculties need not be honed to a fine edge for that one. Simplistic reasoning – the kind that often leads to baffling decisions – abounds in the human experience and there is probably no place where it exists and flourishes to a greater degree than in sports radio “discussions”. What continues to amaze me is the degree of simplistic reasoning that seems to exist and flourish in the upper echelons of NFL franchises.
A team needs to pep up its offense so the idea is to fire the current coach despite whatever circumstances have led to the feeling of displeasure with team performance lately and go out and hire an “offensive guru”. That sounds so simple – and indeed it is simplistic as evidenced by the fact that sometimes it works (Adam Gase in Miami) and sometimes it does not (Chip Kelly in SF). The obverse is also true; hiring a “defensive guru” sometimes works (Dan Quinn in Atlanta) and sometimes does not (Rex Ryan in Buffalo). I mentioned earlier this week that the Bills’ opening was the least desirable one for coaching candidates due to the QB situation there and the franchise location itself. I would like to add to the reasons that the Bills’ job is not a job for hot prospects to salivate over.
According to reports this week, the firing of Rex Ryan and the search for a new coach in Buffalo will be more than a tad unusual. In a press conference this week, the Bills’ GM – who is presumably staying on with the team – told his audience that he had not been part of the discussion between the owner and Ryan that led to Ryan’s firing with one week to play in the season. Doug Whaley said he was “not privy to the details” from the Bills’ owner, Terry Pegula, regarding the reason that Ryan was fired. When asked if he agreed with the decision or not, Whaley responded, “I haven’t even thought about it.” Seriously? Not once over the past couple of weeks? Haven’t you spoken with the owner even once over that period of time?
Right after the firing was announced, owner, Pegula, said that GM, Whaley, would conduct the search for a new coach – – which is pretty much standard procedure when a GM stays on after a coach has been let go. This week, Whaley left that up in the air saying that Pegula would make the final decision on the new coach. Maybe that is only a nuance in the sense that the owner signs all the checks and therefore indeed makes all the final decisions. However, there was another troubling comment from Whaley. He also said that details such as who would have control over the makeup of the 53-man roster would be part of the search process and the final negotiations with the new coach. Can that possibly mean that the coaching search will start out with no firm organizational concept for how the team will function outside the lines on Sundays? If so, WOW!
Do not misinterpret; I am not surprised that Rex Ryan got fired in Buffalo nor do I think his firing was a bad idea. Ryan took over a team that was 9-7 with a dominating defense that appeared poised to be in the playoffs on the strength of that defense. In 2014, the Bills led the NFL in sacks and were 4th in the league in points allowed. In two years under Ryan, the defense has sagged significantly to the point where it is 28th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. I doubt that any coach on the planet could have won 10 or 11 games with this Bills’ team. I wonder if the owner and/or the GM recognize the significance and/or the scope of the shortcomings there.
The only thing that can make simplistic reasoning worse than it is intrinsically would be to add three elements to it:
- Ignorance of the basics of the field in which reasoning and decisions must exist.
- Ignorance of one’s own fundamental ignorance therein.
Purely reading reports on this matter and having exactly no direct insight here, I smell some of each of these elements in the air in Buffalo. Or, maybe someone just passed gas…
Finally, Greg Cote had this comment in the Miami Herald several weeks ago:
“Tickets went on sale this week for sailing’s 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda. God I hope I’m not too late!!”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………