Posts Tagged ‘uh coaching search’

UH Enigma: What is Loyalty in 2011?

December 14, 2011

What does “loyalty” mean in the year 2011?

I loyalty something eternal and unchangeable in its true meaning? Or is it something that shrinks or expands, based upon the values of a given culture at a particular moment in time? Let’s consider our American cultural commitment to marriage as a good place to explore the issue of loyalty. Were Americans who married in the church in 1946 more committed to marital fidelity as a special form of loyalty than couples in 2011 who are getting married in civil ceremonies? Does one size fit all? Does church vs. civil ceremony bear any importance? Does it simply depend on the character and values of the people getting married – at any point in time. Or were people who grew up under the influence of our post World War II social climate more likely to practice loyalty in marriage than their 2011 contemporaries?

Take it on out from the marriage and family sphere to everyday business and our relationships with others? How many examples of late can you think of in which someone took a better paying or more prestigious job elsewhere to the detriment of the shared cause they left behind for the perceived opportunity of their own faster personal gain elsewhere?  SInce I’m really on that subject anyway today, let’s take a brief look at loyalty in organized athletics. In sports, the many examples run like a never-ending bottom of the screen “streamer screamer:” … Kevin Sumlin leaves Houston for Texas A&M … Albert Pujols leaves St. Louis for LA Angels. …”

Each time it happens, that some sports figure cashes in loyalty to a particular school or organization for more money or “better terms,” it’s almost always written about as an “opportunity” he or she could not pass up, and as  “nothing personal” toward the people and entities left behind.

My apologies. I’m still recovering from the Kevin Sumlin abandonment of UH. It happened so fast. Did he run out and buy that maroon rep tie he wore to his first Aggie press conference? Or did he have it in his wardrobe all along? If its the latter, he probably needs to burn the bright red and burnt orange ones.

I just can’t get over how easily some people accept what Sumlin did. Maybe its their disinterest – or their world-wiser ways with money and the way things are. I was never too smart (or driven) by the big money angle. I was always more concerned with what I was doing – and why I was doing it. If it was right for me, the money just seemed to follow. And if it wasn’t, it didn’t.

What are we saying here?

Are we saying by our rather cool acceptance of this pattern as “business as usual” that loyalty doesn’t matter if something “better” comes up for one cog in the wheel along the way? And does that also mean that contracts are only binding to those who want to keep them in effect? And that it’s OK to just bolt from  a deal, or pay the penalty fee, when “opportunity knocks” and a “better deal screams out “forget them and follow me.”

I’m serious. If you own a smaller company, do you want people running things for you who are going to get picked off like ripe cherries by larger competitors if they succeed while you get to keep only the dull or incompetent ones? I didn’t think so.

Call it loyalty, or maybe even just chalk it up to the fact there are people in this world who prefer the challenge of the underdog battle or the uphill climb to equal footing with others. These people understand that their job is about the larger program goals they are being employed to fulfill – and not – how can I make myself good so that someone bigger, with more political muscle, will hire me away.

UH Athletic Director Mack Rhoades knows what I’m talking about. He described in this morning’s Chronicle when he spoke of page C(4) about what he’s looking for in a new Cougar football coach:

“(I’m looking for) a person who understands that it’s about the program,” Rhoades said. “Somebody with great integrity. I want someone that is a great mentor and role model for our student athletes. I think a head football coach has to be a CEO. It’s huge operation.”

Rhoades’ words say that he understands exactly the importance of loyalty. It isn’t available from everyone, but it is in some. And these are the rare persons whose talents come wrapped in integrity, a capacity for bonding, and a willing ability to commit to a cause that is larger than their needs for person gain through the first external opportunity that comes along as a result of their base efforts in the place they now abandon..

That person was not Kevin Sumlin and that’s OK. Better to find him out now than later.

The next guy, however …. the next guy needs to be the man – the kind of man who, at least, bears within him a capacity for choosing loyalty to the cause over betrayal to personal opportunity. Meanwhile, as UH rebuilds and goes beyond anything else its ever done, it should continue to sweeten the coaching salary and benefits pot in a way that makes it even easier for its coaches to choose internal loyalty over external opportunity.