On Identity, Ego, and Execution: Jimbo's OC conundrum

On Identity, Ego, and Execution: Jimbo’s OC conundrum

I’m fascinated by the notion of adaptive leadership in coaching. Coaches are built to create a process, and then trust that process. At Jimbo’s level, the process has led to him being one of the winngest coaches in college football and a national title.

But what happens when the process stops working? What do you do then?

It’s pretty clear that Jimbo needs to hire a play-calling offensive coordinator. Someone who can elevate the talent on this roster and make the offense a strength instead of a liability, which it currently is.

But that’s so much easier said than done for a guy like Jimbo. Let’s talk about the reasons why

IDENTITY

Jimbo has been a play caller for the past 23 years. He got his first head coaching job in 2010 and he’s been the play-calling head coach now for 12 years. When we say “hey Jimbo just hire an OC”…it’s not as simple as that. We’re not just asking him to jettison the offense that has gotten him to where he is, we are asking him to be a completely different person. A completely different head coach. Jimbo is 56 years old and changing who you are (and I firmly believe that a ball coach is not just what Jimbo does, it’s absolutely who he is at his core) is hard to do.

And then…if we do hire an OC, do we do a Joe Brady situation where we have someone who installs an offense and Jimbo calls the plays? Or do we hire a full-time play caller and remove that as part of Jimbo’s responsibilities? Which one is easier to take for Jimbo? Which course of action is easier for him to adapt to?

Please note these are not excuses. This is just what we have to work through with him. I’ll get there in the last bit.

EGO

For a little under a year, I’ve been frustrated by the 2021 Alabama game. As great as it was it showed us what this offense is supposedly capable of doing. The plays are in the dang playbook just waiting to be called. Jimbo is the problem but Jimbo is also the damn solution…it’s just that we need 2020 Florida, 2021 Alabama Jimbo and not 2022 Miss. St. Jimbo.

We feel that and I know he does too. The challenge here is that every coach has an ego that THEY are the only ones who can fix things. It’s how we set these head coaching positions up. His ego is absolutely telling him that he got us into this situation and he’s competent and capable of working his way out of it. After all look at his record over time…moreover, the ego is also saying “It’s unlikely that anyone can do this as well as I can, just give me time.

Again, no excuse. Just what we have to work through

EXECUTION

This quote frustrated the shit out of me when I read it because it seemed like Jimbo was shirking responsibility for his role in yesterday’s debacle

But like…is he wrong? Our performance yesterday was terrible. Let’s look at it:

  1. Missed INT early.
  2. Driving down the field and Achane fumbles at the 6 yardline…that’s 7 points
  3. Stewart drops a pass in the endzone-that’s 4 more points
  4. Blocked field goal returned for a touchdown-7 points

I know that not all of these can go our way sure, but that’s 18 points right there in a game that we lost by…18 points. So Jimbo has a point about execution.

But there are two things about that. We’re 5 games into the season and we’ve been complaining about execution in every single one of the 5. At some point that moves from being a micro issue to a macro one where the blame falls on the coaches and not the players. And secondly, with an offense as complex as Jimbo’s the margin of error is razor thin. Perfection yields tremendous results, but perfection is a unicorn. There’s a space to consider execution as a macro issue and consider the thought that perhaps simplifying and changing how we teach the offense could result in higher rates of execution…instead of looking at execution in a vacuum.

That’s a lot of critical thought that has to funnel through the first two points in this piece.

LASTTHING

I’m the primary caregiver to my son and it’s something that I take very personally. My wife works a ton because we chose to prioritize her career to make our family system work the way we wanted it to and I realize that my son’s care, which includes interacting with schools, is my responsibility.

We had an issue with the school the other day and I thought I had a good plan…but I was unsure of it. So I ran it by my wife and turns out she had a much better solution than I did. We went with her solution and we came out better for it.

I won’t lie to you and say that I’m not second-guessing myself. It’s hard to see someone else be better at something that is part of who you are, even if it’s just one small part of it. The end result is what counts but it’s tough because now I’m considering whether I’m cut out for this in the first place. And that’s my wife—the mother of my children we’re talking about. Like I know deep down inside the end result is that my son gets what he needs but the process of how we get there matters.

Does that mean I’m gonna stop asking for help? Hell no that would be screwing my kid over and I’m not gonna let that happen. His care comes first and foremost above all things.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Long story short, change is hard and especially when it comes to something that’s so deeply rooted in who you are as a person. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen, but it’s hard. Jimbo gets paid 9 million dollars sure, but 9 million works both ways. It’s both what he earns and what we have determined his services are worth. By telling him to change his way of doing things we’re saying that we need you to be who we want you to be when the original thought was we’re paying you to be you.

All that being said, I do think that we’ll see a significant shuffling of the offensive staff this off-season. I think the horse is out of the barn on that one. I feel pretty dang confident that next year we’ll have a different offensive setup than we have right now.

But it’s important to interpret Jimbo’s stubbornness and his commentary about the offense through the lens of the aforementioned bullet points. This isn’t an easy change for him. But it’s a change that’s both necessary and what he needs in order to be the coach we pay him to be.

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