Sports are not hard to figure out. While little nuances can make a big difference, for the most part, fans simply need to look at trends to get a good picture of what’s going on. Right now, its the coaches/managers. For a while in some sports the trend was to hire young, up and coming coaches with potential. In some cases it has worked just fine. Dan Bylsma in the NHL jumps out. In other cases is has failed miserably. See the St. Louis Rams with Steve Spagnoulo and Scott Linehan. The trend though is changing. Teams have started going back to some grizzled experience with their bench bosses and they are finding success.
The Blues hired Ken Hitchcock and finished the regular season with the 3rd best record in the NHL. The LA Kings hire Darryl Sutter and won the Stanley Cup. In baseball, The Washington Nationals are winning under Davey Johnson and Baltimore has caught the Yankees under Buck Showalter. The current NFL Champion is a 66 year old coach in Tom Coughlin. The Calgary Flames hired Bob Hartley to try and turn things around.
It’s an intriguing trend in sports. Can and older coach with old school ways be effective? Will younger players respond? Can the more experienced coach relate to today’s athlete? Which coach is best fit for where the organization sits in the building/winning process?
Yes some teams are finding success with the younger or less experienced route. Robin Ventura is having a great season. Mike Matheny has the Cardinals in the playoff picture. Jim Harbaugh was spectacular last season for the 49ers. And Erik Spoelstra (not a rookie but still young) won a championship with the Heat.
Bobby Valentine is flopping in Boston, but a trend still seems to be leaning towards more experience and even the credibility of a championship resume. Does it mean that despite all the changes in technology and attitudes, that the basics of the sports are still the important factor? Could Vince Lombardi still coach today? Is there doubt in anyone’s mind that Scotty Bowman could still win as a coach in the NHL? Do you think Jim Hanifan could still help an offensive line? Some may not be real comfortable running an Ipad, but they can still coach.
Trends in sports are telling and it’s a copy cat business. The more success teams have hiring the experienced coach, the more other teams will follow suit. Here in St. Louis, look no further than the Rams. After the worst five year stretch in NFL history under Linehan and Spagnuolo, they have turned to Jeff Fisher. As they kick off their new season on Sunday, we’ll see it the trend continues.