The Importance of Attention To Detail and The Little Things To Coaches Winning Football Games – #4 Hot Seat Head Coach, Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

 

Before we get to the #4 Coach on the Coaches Hot Seat Rankings heading into the 2017 college football season…

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

…we first must relate the findings of some research we have been doing into great coaches in all sports which has produced a data point on something we have thought to be true for years, but was confirmed with hard data in the last month or so.

Coaches Hot Seat is now heading towards its 11 th year of covering the Great Game of College Football, and during the last ten seasons and for years beforehand a few of us at CHS have been collecting quotes, antidotes, stories and other information about great coaches in sport over the past 100 years plus in America. We have all of this data within Microsoft Word in 1,000-plus files and last December we started going through all that data and organizing it so we could begin to run keyword searches to see if we could pull-out commonalities among great coaches in the past and present.

Well, we have our first fascinating data point to pass along about what makes great coaches so GREAT and this particular thing is something we have seen over and over again and for some of us, we know of it totally, since it was drilled into our heads from our very first day in the US Navy 25+ years ago.

The first fascinating data point that is common across all GREAT coaches in sport both past and present is:

Attention To Detail!

Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant term for Attention To Detail was attention to “the Little Things” and is summed-up in the below great quote and video from the Bear:

“If you want to coach you have three rules to follow to win. One, surround yourself with people who can’t live without football. I’ve had a lot of them. Two, be able to recognize winners. They come in all forms. And, three, have a plan for everything. A plan for practice, a plan for the game. A plan for being ahead, and a plan for being behind 20-0 at half, with your quarterback hurt and the phones dead, with it raining cats and dogs and no rain gear because the equipment man left it at home.”

John Wooden, who in our minds is with Paul Bryant one of the five greatest coaches in American collegiate sports history had this quote about “Attention to Detail!”

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

In the advertising world that several of the founders of Coaches Hot Seat now working the original Mad Man advertising icon David Ogilvy had the below quote about “Attention To Detail!”:

“Leaders grasp nettles.”

What does “nettles” mean exactly from the British born David Ogilvy?

“Leaders grasp DETAILS!”

We could go on for quite awhile passing along quotes about the importance of “Attention To Detail” or as Paul Bryant said, “Talking to you about Little Things as long as you are here,” but the important point is that it’s VITAL for head coaches to focus like a laser beam on all the details that surround the coach in their job if they hope to be a consistent Winner and Great Coach….PERIOD!

The obvious question when understanding the importance of “Attention To Detail” and “the Little Things” is why do coaches who are sometimes paid a Helluva lot of money to create winning teams not putting enough emphasis on organizing as much of the details as possible within their team and the obvious answer to that question is:

They Are Lazy As Hell!

It takes HARD WORK to put a broad focus across a sports team or organization on the thousands of small things that once organized and managed on an ongoing basis create the foundation for building a winning team and the honest and pitiful TRUTH is that many coaches just flat-out…

Do Not Want To Do the Hard Work!

Those coaches would rather be fishing, or playing golf, or watching TV or all-manner of other things with the sometimes enormous amounts of money they are paid instead of doing the HARD WORK that flows from making sure every issue, person and possible eventuality is accounted for within your organization which is best exemplified by the Late Great Bill Walsh:

“For me the starting point for everything – before strategy, tactics, theories, managing, organizing, philosophy, methodology, talent, or experience – is work ethic. Without one of significant magnitude you’re dead in the water, finished. I knew the example I set as head coach would be what others in the organization would recognize as the standard they needed to match (at least, most of them would recognize it). If there is such a thing as a trickle-down effect, that’s it. Your staff sees your devotion to work, their people see them, and on through the organization.”

Why are most of the Top 30 coaches on the Coaches Hot Seat Rankings on the Hot Seat today?

In our opinion because they have not been willing to put in the HARD WORK that is necessary to build a winning football program which does not equal the amount of time you spend in the office, but rather means the amount of time a head coach focuses on…

Attention To Detail

…and focusing on…

The Little Things!

The most ironic thing is after a lifetime of attending college football games going back to the mid-1970s, playing college football, and being around many of the top college football programs of today over the past decade-plus we can tell within just a few minutes of stepping inside a college athletic complex and watching a team practice if a Head Coach is spending enough time on organizing and managing “the Little Things” because it’s quickly obvious whether some things are being missed or if EVERYTHING is being accounted for from the largest to the smallest issue.

In 2008 a couple of Coaches Hot Seat members were in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for about a week on business and to see Alabama practice in the run-up to Bama’s second Spring Game under Nick Saban. We were with a good friend of ours that played for Paul Bryant in the 1970s, and thus we had as much run of the Alabama athletic complex as anyone could get under what is the Uber-organized Nick Saban and what we saw in those few days was fascinating in that EVERYTHING was accounted for within Saban’s program at Alabama which was best summed up by our friend that played for the Bear:

“Saban may be more organized than Coach Bryant and Coach Bryant was the most organized man I have ever known.”

Attention To Detail and a focus on The Little Things…do that and you as a coach and team will WIN…if you know how to coach the X’s and O’s of the game of football mind you!

Now with the above in mind which was written on this day for a very specific reason Aggie fans let’s move to…

#4 Hot Seat Head Coach, Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Kevin Sumlin has a decent overall record at Texas A&M posting in FIVE seasons on the job in College Station a record of…

44 – 21

….but the REAL problem for Sumlin is his record in SEC Conference play….

21 – 19

….and even more startling at a place like Texas A&M which has EVERYTHING a coach needs to win a Helluva lot of football games is Sumlin’s record against Power Five Conference Schools the last FIVE seasons is…

26 – 21

Oh here’s another important data point in today’s world since teams like Texas A&M have so many cupcakes on their schedule each year….Kevin Sumlin has lost…

21 games

…in FIVE seasons at A&M which works out to an average of…

4.2 losses per season

….but over the past FOUR seasons the Aggies have averaged losing…

4.75 losses per season!

Can you really almost lose 5 games per season and keep your job at Texas A&M?

It seems so and thus why when we think of Texas A&M Athletics the first word that comes to mind is…

AVERAGE!

Oh here’s something else…Texas A&M hasn’t finished the season ranked in the Top 20 the last THREE seasons which leads us to perhaps the most important point of all considering the Aggies went 1 – 4 against the last 5 legitimate football teams it played to end the 2016 season….

Texas A&M Football under Kevin Sumlin has collapsed down the stretch of in each of the past FOUR seasons going….

2013:  3 – 3
2014:  2 – 4
2015:  2 – 4
2016:  1 – 4

Total:  8 – 15

….against the legitimate football in the second-half of the last FOUR years.

What causes the above exactly Aggie Football fans should be asking themselves?

See the introduction to this blog post for an explanation…in our humble opinion!

OK…let’s go to Texas A&M’s 2017 Football Schedule to see if Kevin Sumlin can turn things around in College Station in his SIXTH year on the job which one would think is important since Sumlin is making more than $5 Million Dollars to produce a winning football program and team…

At UCLA
Nicholls
La. Lafayette
Arkansas
South Carolina
Alabama
At Florida
Mississippi State
Auburn
New Mexico
At Ole Miss
At LSU

Our guess is that Texas A&M will finish with a overall record of…

7 – 5

…and a record in SEC play of…

4 – 4

…which if it happened would leave Kevin Sumlin’s record in SEC Conference play after SIX seasons on the job at…

25 – 23

…and if that is acceptable to fans of Aggie Football then as they say in the South…

“God Bless Their Hearts!”

We will leave you with the following….personally we like Kevin Sumlin having talked to the guy a few times over the years and from that it’s our opinion Sumlin is a good guy who works hard at his job, but if we had to put a number on what the level of organization and how close that Sumlin and his coaches pay “Attention To Detail” within the Aggies Football program using the benchmark of Nick Saban and Alabama which is…

100% organized

….we would put Sumlin’s organization of Texas A&M Football at around….

70% organized

….and last time we checked at Texas A&M a grade of 70 in the classroom in College Station is barely passing and frankly that’s not acceptable to us…but it might just be acceptable to…

Aggie Football Fans

“God Bless Their Hearts!”