The Detroit Lions are keeping Jim Caldwell as head coach after a 9-7 season which includes the team’s second playoff berth in his three years with the franchise. Many fans are angry with General Manager Bob Quinn, a rookie GM, and believe the team is making a huge mistake in keeping Caldwell.
While I’m not a big Caldwell advocate, his record does speak for itself. If you are indeed what your record says you are, he’s the best coach the Lions have had in the Super Bowl era. Many players, notably Matthew Stafford, Darius Slay, Travis Swanson and Theo Riddick, have blossomed to unprecedented success and significantly grown their games and league-wide reputations under his tutelage.
Yet the masses are teeming with vitriolic anger, aghast that Caldwell is coming back. Here’s one very important reason why…
Let’s say you are an experienced manager of a retail store and you’re looking for a fresh gig. You land an interview with a store that doesn’t have the greatest reputation but seems like a decent place, and it’s getting better business and a growing prestige recently.
One of the questions you ask (as you should in every job interview) is, “why is this job open?”
The response, from a relatively inexperienced General Manager who would be your boss working under a geriatric owner, is something to this effect…
The last guy did a really good job. Despite years of being unsuccessful, he improved the store’s profitability. He dramatically improved several key positions and unexpectedly helped a lot of employees become much better at their jobs. The store outperformed sales and satisfaction expectations twice in three years even with several main employees repeatedly calling in sick or quitting.
You’re taken aback. “So he must have moved on to a bigger and better job, that’s a pretty impressive performance.”
The fresh-faced man who would be your boss, the guy in his first-ever management position where he’s responsible for personnel decisions responds, “No, actually we fired him.”
You uncomfortably ask why.
“Well, a lot of people who never liked him to begin with continued to dislike him. In fact, most of those people who complained never really like shopping here anyway and they want us to be something we’ve never been. What’s weird is, when we tell them we’ve got exciting new product lines and some pretty good salespeople to market them, and a nice expansion to help customers out and make it far more likely to garner higher profits, they tell us our products are still inferior and they don’t want them.”
Now your head is spinning a bit. The position you’re applying for is open because the previous guy did a commendable job, leading the store to outperform expectation and improving the working conditions and overall environment. He hired good people under him to help the employees get a lot better.
And they still fired him because that wasn’t good enough for parts of the customer base who don’t really like shopping there anyway?
That, ladies and gentlemen, would be the Detroit Lions had they fired Jim Caldwell.
If you honestly believe any coach with any real chance of being better than Jim Caldwell is going to look at that situation and think that’s a recipe for long-term success, I’ve got a warehouse full of fresh snow in Costa Rica to sell you.