Friday, May 24, 2013

Sentimentality Doesn't Win Ball Games

In February of 1989, Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys--and in his first officials act, fired head coach Tom Landry.  There was much outrage among fans of America's Team--as Landry had been coach of the Cowboys for 28-years, had won two Super Bowls, played in five Super Bowls and had made the NFL/NFC Championship Game 12 TIMES.  Many 'Boys fans thought Landry had earned the right to decide when he was done coaching--and should have been allowed to announce his own retirement and put in at least one more season on the sidelines.

But that wasn't the way Jerry Jones saw it.  He saw a franchise that had become stale and old-fashioned--and that the rest of the league had passed it by.  Landry hadn't taken the team to the playoffs in three straight seasons and had gone 3-13 in 1998.  I'm guessing there was a meeting where Jones asked Landry to hang up the fedora--but the old ball coach thought he still had the goods and refused--forcing Jerry to drop the axe.

I'm guessing that many of those Cowboys fans who vilified Jones in the wake of Landry firing felt pretty good the next year--when Dallas won just 1 game--but evenutally new coach Jimmy Johnson would lay the foundation for a team that won three Super Bowls in four years.  And those who cried over the firing of Landry were weeping tears of joy as Dallas returned to their rightful place atop the NFL in the early 2000's.

That's the way I see the firing last week of UW Oshkosh Baseball Coach Tom Lechnir.  Thirty years on the job doesn't guarantee you the right to decide when your own sunset is going to be--especially if the results on the field don't measure up to what you achieved for the many years before it.  A new man is in charge of UWO Athletics, and he is entitled to have "his coaches" in place--for all of the programs.  That is the nature of sports, there is no "tenure" to protect those who hold positions--no matter how long they have been with the school.

And I understand the outrage from former players like Jarrod Washburn--who came back for a press conference this week to basically give UWO the middle finger.  There were likely players who felt the same way when Bobby Knight was fired at Indiana, and Woody Hayes was fired at Ohio State, and Paul Brown was fired by the Cleveland Browns (imagine being fired from the team you used to own--and who is named for you!!).  But that feeling should pass quickly--especially if they really do buy in to the belief that the name on the FRONT of the jersey is more important that the name on the BACK of the jersey.

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