From Richt to Smart to Chubb

I’m not sure if this makes me a Richtophobe or a Richtophile, but Nick Chubb’s comparison of his two head football coaches leaves as many questions for me as answers.

From Richt, he learned how to set priorities, and that “being a great man is more important” than being a great football player.

“He definitely was a strong man of faith,” Chubb said. “That rubbed off on us, how he approached every day and lived his life. Definitely a great man to look up to.”

But the culture under Richt — at least near the end of his tenure — was apparently not conducive to strong leadership among players. Chubb said the biggest difference with Smart was that he lets the team leaders call the shots.

“It was just more of a player-led team,” Chubb said. “Guys were finally fed up with losing so we kinda just took it over ourselves. Coach Smart was there and supported us and kind of led us in the right direction with doing that.”

Those leadership moments included calling players-only meetings and taking control at practices, per Chubb.

“Coaches didn’t have to get on anybody,” he said. “We’d get on them ourselves and hold everybody accountable.”

So Richt was a figure of admiration, but didn’t inspire the players to lead themselves, while Smart, who’s a notorious control freak (and in this context, I mean that as a compliment), let team leaders call the shots.  Um, sure.  There’s no doubt Smart got better results out of this team than late vintage Richt did, but I’m having a hard time seeing the grounds for it in Chubb’s explanation.  What am I missing here?

47 Comments

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47 responses to “From Richt to Smart to Chubb

  1. Derek

    I think we’ve seen Kirby talk about some of this anyway. I don’t find it that surprising. The idea it seems is to identify your leaders and give them the incentive and room to lead. He’s pushing the guys he thinks ought to be taking that role, like LeCounte.

    A lot of Monty Rice’s post g-day interview was talking about his role in being a leader and making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.

    It sounds similar to what I heard years ago about Bear. He’s coaching his assistant coaches more than the players. The assistants coach the players and the leaders coach the guys who are behind them.

    Sounds very similar to our recently departed R. Lee Ermey’s approach as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman when he finds the jelly donut. Sometimes you gotta leave it up to the platoon. But for the murder suicide it seemed to work out well.

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    • Otto

      I was thinking of the USMC example. They produce leaders but to the naive eye they just see the Instructor grinding people down.

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      • ChiliDawg

        It’s not just a USMC trait, it’s the military across the board, and any organization with strong leadership culture. Building a team requires you to identify the leaders, give them the tools they need and then let them lead. You can see this in corporate America as well. The best companies are the ones with leaders who identify and bring on people who can be part of a team and then give those people the tools to lead and do the same. The bad ones have leaders who treat everyone as an underling and micromanage everything. I don’t think it’s at odds with what we know about Kirby to think that while he’s a freak about attention to detail that he also lets his team leaders take ownership of their respective groups.

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    • Greg

      Seems plausible to me. Whatever it is, looks to be working so far.

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      • 86BONE

        I just think “it is what it is” and we are all blessed to have these two great men lead our football team.
        Why does one have to “up” the other……
        Let’s just go whip Auburn’s & Florida’s ASSES next year and call it a draw!

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    • Dolly Llama

      “But for the murder suicide …”

      “So other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Aladawg

    You are seeing class Nick Chubb speaking of and focusing on positive items leaving the negatives behind Both coaches have shone great strengths and some obvious weaknesses and both have climbed “almost” to the summit but not quite there yet!

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    • Mayor

      You make a good point Al. CMR came really close in 2012, 5 yards, to beating Bama in the SECCG and the Dawgs undoubtedly would have done to ND exactly what Bama did to the Irish in the BCSNCG if the Dawgs had played in it. CMR also got really close in 2007 (finished #2 in the final poll) because the Dawgs didn’t get to play in the BCSNCG due to intense lobbying against Georgia by ESPN talking heads from rival schools, i.e. Lou Holtz (former South Carolina HC whose teams got bludgeoned repeatedly by the Dawgs), Kirk Herbstreit (who got knocked silly by the Dawgs in a bowl tOSU lost to UGA), Jesse Palmer (Gator–need I say more?) and Charles Davis (former UT DB who is no longer at ESPN). The truth is in 2007 UGA was the best team in the nation at the end of the season but didn’t get to play for the championship. That’s 3 times in 11 years the Dawgs came close to a nattie but didn’t win it.

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      • Mayor

        *the Dawgs under CMR

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        • We have no way of knowing we would have beat ND in 2012, especially with Richt’s famous propensity for the face plant. I get tired of everyone claiming it would have been a gimme just because Bama plowed them. Every team matches up differently with every other team. There….I said it.

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          • Derek

            It was a gimme.

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          • Mayor

            In the history of college football there likely has never been a team more over-rated than the 2012 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Six teams from the SEC that year (Bama, LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina) each would have waxed ND in that bowl. There….I said it.

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          • Greg

            Money in the bank….a gimme.

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        • Jim

          I’ve always thought that in 2007 we screwed ourselves by losing two games we had no business losing – one in especially horrid fashion – as opposed to this idea that the WWL screwed us.

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          • Brandon

            The two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. Yes, we did screw ourselves and yes we did also face an intense lobbying effort against us to enforce the Herbstreit Doctrine which had never been adhered to in before or since.

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          • Jeff Sanchez

            This argument irks me whenever it comes up; everyone had two losses that season. LSU, the eventual NC, lost their last game in double OT to Arkansas.

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      • Gaskilldawg

        Your third time reference must be to 2002. We were 12-1 after we won the SEC championship game by about four touchdowns but there were two quality undefeated teams available for the two BCS slots.
        UF twice got into the BCS championship game with the same record as our 2002 team due to there being no more than one undefeated team.
        As with 2007, I will go to my grave believing th3 2002 team ended the year as the best team in the country.

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      • PTC DAWG

        Richt wasn’t playing horseshoes….no SEC title since 2005…close doesn’t count.

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      This is correct – most will not say a bad word about CMR, especially on the record. Off the record or after a few drinks, the narrative quickly changes. In essence, he’s greatly respected as a man, but not as much as a coach; particularly during the later years at the helm.

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  3. Otto

    Players taking leadership to push other players to win is normal culture under Saban. Saban spends time and money with organizational psychiatrists to determine how to most effectively push the players the most. Employees who feel that they are empowered are said to produce more. I am not at all surprised that the players perceive that they have more leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Granthams replacement

      ^^^This. My perception is Kirby does a better job at setting expectations, really high expectations that revolve around constant competition

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  4. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    Sounds like Nick is smart enough to appreciate the best of both coaches and took a lesson from each.

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  5. Bright Idea

    Smart is smart. He had a great group of leaders in guys like Chubb, Michel and others who were older. He was able to create the perception within the team that they were in charge because it was their team. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t in control. He may have to handle the next team differently.

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  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    Wonderful thing, delegation.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ASEF

    The devil is in the details. Richt doesn’t sweat them. Smart obsesses over them.

    Smart’s obsession for detail sets the boundaries and goals – and in that context he can give his players freedom to be self-directed. Because the context funnels and directs that energy.

    Richt’s teams never displayed that level of coherency. His Miami squads show some similarities in that respect.

    Coaching is sort of like parenting. The more room you can give kids to figure things out for themselves – without letting things go off the rails – the better the result. It’s being hyperinvolved enough to be aware of everything going on – but only so you can step in at a crucial moment, not every moment.

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    • Greg

      “The devil is in the details. Richt doesn’t sweat them. Smart obsesses over them.

      The little things take care of the big things.

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  8. Bulldawg Bill

    The most telling quote from Richt was “Rings gather dust.”

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  9. TXBaller

    I don’t think there is anything to miss. Allow me to break it down.
    Chubb: “Guys were finally fed up with losing”
    Chubb: “We took it over ourselves”
    Chubb: “Coach Smart was there”
    Chubb: “(CKS) Supported us and led us in the right direction”
    It’s not like the “inmates were/are running the asylum” (relax, it’s a figure of speech)….Kirby leads…influences…supports…provides autonomy…what a real CEO does! Right or wrong, Richt used the position as a pulpit first…..coach second.

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  10. W Cobb Dawg

    If “being a strong man of faith” won football championships CMR would far exceed saban’s accomplishments. I’m more inclined to believe the guy who leaves no detail to chance and won’t be outworked is going to enjoy greater success.

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  11. Kinda sounds like Kirby is up on Total Quality Management, which puts emphasis on employee empowerment (or in this case player), but what do I know.

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  12. Trbodawg

    Just my take, but he seemed to be saying that Richt was holding on too tightly and trying to control the players (perhaps he was feeling the heat to FIX IT NOW) and not allowing the players to lead organically. Whereas Kirby was more about setting the expectation and putting the responsibility on the players themselves to achieve. Of course, I have no idea what reality is anymore, I still think we DID land on the moon.

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  13. Mayor

    Not wanting to hijack the thread but what became of Sam Vaughn? I think he still has at least one year of eligibility left. I know he was playing baseball but I always thought: (1) he had a lot of skills as a passer; and (2) he was a natural leader. A shame to waste talent like that.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      My guess is he has not been able to beat out the guys in front of him on the QB depth chart. Vaughn undoubtedly has skills as a passer, but the guys in front of him are better.

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  14. Uglydawg

    Nick and Sony returning for their senior year was the push that made the difference. I’m at least a little bit worried that they will be missed more than we imagine. The talent is still rich, but that kind of leadership doesn’t show up every year. Fromm might very well posses it, I think he does. And Baker on the defense..But the drivenness ( I might have invented that word) of Sony, Chubb and Roquan are going to be hard to replicate. I don’t remember ever seeing a team with three more determined players than those. I’m not saying it won’t be that way, just that it might have been the perfect storm. CKS is a good coach, but those guys were the stuff.

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    • dawgtired

      I would agree that the leadership will be missed more than the talent. The above article suggests that player leadership had much to do with the success of the season. What happens if we have equal talent without that same level of leadership? Each team, each season will vary in talent AND leadership. We’ll see what this year holds.

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  15. Jt (the other one)

    Jimmy Johnson. I watched the 30 for 30 on Miami. The first one. The players talked about Jimmy Johnson and how he could control the team without saying anything. JJ had total control and the players were under that umbrella…I think Kirbo is the same in that regard.

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  16. Matt in Australia

    I agree that this is a puzzling article. Also, I agree that Chubb would never say anything bad about either coach. Now–could Chubb still be feeling that unreasonable sense of euphoria we as fans feel after a cool season…that still ended without the Natty? Perhaps. Until the Dawgs show some long-term improvement and / or win the Natty, it’s foolish to say that that Smart is a better coach than Richt, given the 2-3 really cool seasons Richt had that came this close. So far, Smart has 1 really cool season and a turd of a season. It’s tough to get over the good vibes form last season, but we might have to eventually.

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  17. South FL Dawg

    To me it seems players on the 2017 team had more maturity than past teams. And let’s not forget how few injuries we endured. Kirby was wise to let them call their shots.

    I keep coming back to the first 2 years under Kirby seem similar to 2001-02 which were Richt’s first 2 years. What’s going to set Kirby apart is the long term. I like his chances but only time will tell.

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  18. Pingback: Self-motivation is a wonderful thing. | Get The Picture

  19. MDDawg

    I spend a good bit of time reading up on Miami and I’ve heard/read comments from several of the coaches (especially Thomas Brown) talking about the need for a player-led team. That makes Chubb’s comments even more interesting to me.

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  20. Jared S.

    Takeaway for me: boy, do I love me some Nick Chubb.

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  21. Erk's Forehead

    Maybe Chubb is referring to the meeting he & Michel had with Jim Chaney. After all, he did say, they were tired of losing and Smart helped them navigate how to address the issue. 2016 Chaney was a disaster of epic (no pun intended) proportions. And 2017 wasn’t the magical season because of Chaney’s wizardly playcalling.

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