I have no disdain for Brad Childress as a person. I don’t know him, never talked to him, and I’ve never talked about him in that regards. He probably hosts a nice Thanks Giving dinner, enjoys long walks on the beach and good movies, just like you and me. He might even think South Park is intelligent humor, who knows? But to be a head coach of an NFL Football team is not about how you are as a person, but how people respond to you. For Brad, that’s never been his strong suit, and in the end that got him.
Childress has always dealt with players poorly. The Vikings have often under-achieved. Talent under-achieving is a tale-tell sign that a coach struggles to get the best out of his players, obviously. It’s leadership that garners respect. It was only last season, when the Vikings rallied around a wily old veteran, that the team finally played up to their potential. But even then, there were signs that Brad had a hard time handling people. Despite his knowledge of NFL Offenses, his ability to pick talented players, and how hard he tried to come across as a players coach when wooing Brett into Viking purple, I knew there were problems with Childress when he tried to rip Brett from a game because Favre wasn’t performing up to his liking. Brett had been tossing a perfect season, as far as anybody could hope or tell, and Chilly still thought it was best to give someone else a shot. If a coach only respects his players when they’re winning, it’s really not respect at all.
No matter how smart Childress is (and he does seem to represent some evil genius in that square skull of his), no matter how moist his turkey this Thursday, and how creamy his mashed potatoes are, there was never an example present that showed he was apt in the old people-relations category, a very underrated aspect of being a head coach. Whether it was benching Tarvaris Jackson or “dumbing down” the offense for him (which is always a recipe for failure), never giving Sage Rosenfels a chance, sparring with Percy Harvin (one of the teams’ toughest players), or struggling with Adrian Peterson and his fumblitas – the fact that Childress didn’t instill confidence in the men out their fighting for him was obvious.
A leader accepts fault. A leader works hard to relate to the different personalities on a team – and he makes decisions based on those personalities, always with the team’s best interest in mind. There is no doubt in my mind that Chilly always had the Vikings best interests in tow, but all of that doesn’t matter unless you have the people-skills to lead and direct and garner respect. Childress was always quick to blame, regardless if it was an in-game situation, or a more calculated response to a question in the media. Thought out, or on the fly, Chilly was right there to give a karate kid kick to the ribs when given the chance. But isn’t that often how evil genius goes about its business?
If a player can’t trust his coach, that player has a tough time giving it his all – no matter what a player says about it. That can be cloaked if things happen to fall into place, if a strong and respected player takes on the head-leadership role. If close games become wins, and that egg-shaped ball bounces your way, that lack of people skills can be cloaked. But when it gets down to then nitty-gritty, and it’s time to make that big decision – Childress’s teams get off the pot.
A head coach doesn’t need to be an X’s and O’s genius. He doesn’t need to have a background as a great player or a history of winning Championships. A head coach needs to find a way to make his players play better than they are. Childress can’t do that, and that’s why his Vikings failed this year. That’s why he needed to be fired, four or five games ago.
It may have taken Randy Moss speaking out to get everybody questioning Brad Childress, but inside that organization, it had to be known where the team stood on their head coach. No matter how much people get paid to do something, if they can’t get behind their boss and his decisions, it’s damn near impossible for them to be consistently productive. The season might be impossible to fix, but at least they finally got this one right.
5-6-1 for Week 12’s picks. Not the worst thing that could have happened to my overall record, but a losing week nonetheless. It wasn’t Saturday that got me down, shoot, I was 4-2-1 on College Football Saturday. It was Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that stabbed me where it counts, as I went 1-4 on weekdays – talk about a hole to get out of. I thought I was out of the hole, as OT hit Arkansas and Mississippi State – but it wasn’t to be, and I settled for one game in the red. Here’s the nitty gritty.
Miami Ohio Redhawks @ Akron Zips (+10.5) (Win)
The Zips started my weekend out right, playing the Redhawks tough before losing by 5. From this point forward, there wasn’t much to like before Saturday, but I nearly came out of it on top!
Bowling Green Falcons (+10.5) @ Toledo Rockets (Loss)
The Falcons teased me when they made it 14-26 midway through the 3rd, but all they’d do from there is give up a score and never put another point on the board – they didn’t cover, obviously.
UCLA Bruins (+2.5) @ Washington Huskies (Loss)
The Bruins didn’t do anything well. It was embarrassing. The Huskies just ran the ball all day, and UCLA couldn’t stop it or retaliate. The Pac-10 is weird.
Air Force Falcons (-19) @ UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (Loss)
The Falcons scored late to build their lead, but it wasn’t enough –they won by 15, prolonging my mid-week losing streak.
Fresno State Bulldogs (+31) @ #4 Boise State Broncos (Loss)
After the first quarter the scoreboard said the Bulldogs had a chance, but I wasn’t buying it. What I thought would be a competitive game wasn’t at all –as Boise did what they’ve been doing all season, shutting down opposing offenses like it’s their job.
#7 Wisconsin Badgers (-4) @ Michigan Wolverines (WIN)
The Badgers literally ran away with this one. They were better everywhere. Even though Denard Robinson was impressive yet again, the Badgers showed why they win football games where the Wolverines just flash stats.
North Carolina State Wolfpack @ North Carolina Tar Heels (-2.5) (Loss)
The Heels built a 19-10 lead late in the 3rd quarter, but a late 3rd quarter TD got NC State with-in 2, and they’d end up scoring 17 unanswered points to take an 8 point lead. The Heels scored again with a minute left, but a 2-point conversion failed and the Wolfpack snuck out of UNC with what ended up being a 2-point win.
Mississippi Rebels (+16) @ #5 LSU Tigers (WIN)
The Rebels didn’t win in LSU, but they sure made the Tigers work for it. Masoli turned a mediocre day into a a solid one in a single big pass to give the Rebels a one-point lead with 5 minutes left. But with all the scoring all day, nobody figured that would be the end of it. It wasn’t. RB Steven Ridley scored a TD with 44 seconds left and the Tigers won by a touchdown for the 7 point win – but that was an easy cover for the good guys!
#9 Ohio State Buckeyes (-3) @ #20 Iowa Hawkeyes (Push)
The Buckeyes win in Iowa, but a late touchdown that could have been there wasn’t and a field goal victory was all that was in the cards – a tough Big 10 push for me.
#16 Virginia Tech Hokies (-2.5) @ #24 Miami Hurricanes (WIN)
The Hokies lock up their part of the ACC and work on completing their ultimate comeback from the devistation that was Week 2 of their season.
#13 Arkansas Razorbacks @ #21 Mississippi State Bulldogs (+3.5) (Loss)
The Overtime loss obviously hurts. If the Razorbacks’ kicker had hit his 39 yard field goal in the first overtime to win it, I’d be chatting about how I just slipped out of Mississippi State’s side with a half point to spare. As is, the kick went wide left, the OT went to #2, and the Razorbacks scored the only TD of the 2nd OT to win by 7. Aka, I don’t cover.
#8 Nebraska Cornhuskers @ #19 Texas A&M Aggies (+3) (WIN)
The Aggies win, the Aggies win. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t an offensive onslaught, but the Aggies pulled out of their home game against the higher ranked Cornhuskers with a 9-6 win, relying on their defense to hold on for dear life.