Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Belichick Follows a Familiar Script to Coaching Greatness

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Belichick Follows a Familiar Script to Coaching Greatness

Article excerpt

HOUSTON - He values the team's overall culture ahead of its individual parts.

He rules his team with an iron fist, and yet, instills that team with a sense of family. He can appear heartless - quick to say "goodbye to those who no longer fit in - and yet, he is deeply loyal.

He has hard-and-fast ideas about how to run his own team, but is never against learning and adding bits of others' expertise to his own repertoire.

Yes, this is a description of New England coach Bill Belichick, who can set himself apart Sunday by winning a record fifth Super Bowl title as a head coach. It's also a description of Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, Nick Saban, Greg Popovich, John Wooden and pretty much every other person who has cemented him or herself on the Mount Rushmore of coaching.

"Xs and Os are the price of admission, says John O'Sullivan, founder of the Changing the Game project, who speaks often about the importance of coaching in society. "But great coaches, the first thing they do is connect. When you connect with people, they'll run through a wall for you.

Belichick, a people person? The same might have been said, or asked, about Noll, Landry, Saban or any of these coaches, whose time facing the public usually involves 5- and 10-minute segments with the media during which their main goal is to not reveal anything important about their game plan - or much about themselves.

The effort - and sometimes, accolades - they get from their players says more.

Terry Bradshaw couldn't stand Noll on their way to winning four Super Bowls. Only years later did the Hall of Fame quarterback concede that he benefited from Noll's coaching. "Did I respect him? Of course I did, Bradshaw said last year. "Like him? No, I didn't like him.

Among the 15 blocks on Wooden's famed pyramid of success is "self- control, an attribute that applies to the players as well as the coaches and general managers choosing them.

In a recent talk he gave to a group of coaches, Popovich spoke of the virtually mandatory requirement to resist talented players who are more focused on themselves than the team.

"That's not easy, he said. "You have to follow through, be good to your principles. That person who's going to be good, who has potential, that's going to get you fired.

A lot has been made this year of New England's decision to part ways with two key cogs in its defense - Chandler Jones in the offseason, then linebacker Jamie Collins, who was (ruthlessly?) traded away to winless Cleveland in October. That defense still allowed the fewest points in the league.

Belichick is hardly the first coach faced with those sorts of choices. In the '70s, Landry spent a season shuffling between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton at quarterback. Eventually, he recognized the Cowboys could only succeed with one of them, and he chose Staubach, while trading Morton to the Giants. …

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