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Big-time coaches not always smarter than the rest of us

Published 9:45am Monday, February 6, 2012 Updated 11:46am Monday, February 6, 2012

With two of the so-called coaching “geniuses” – New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin – squaring off in tonight’s Super Bowl, I thought I would throw out something that has always bothered me when it comes to professional and major college coaches in general.

What makes them so special, anyway?

After all, these coaches make millions. According to Forbes magazine, Belichick is the highest paid coach around, making $7.5 million a year. Most major college football and basketball coaches make at least a million a year. They are lauded with attention and fame, and treated as if they had just discovered electricity.

I actually understand why professional athletes are paid what they make. There simply are only so many human beings out there who have the size, skill through years of practice, and athletic ability to, say, play left tackle in the National Football League, or center in the National Basketball League, or bat clean-up and play first base in Major League Baseball.

I’m also not taking away the fact that coaching requires skill. As seen by the Timberwolves this year, given the same players, a good coach can turn a bad team into a mediocre one, and a good team into a great one.

But coaches are not actually playing the game. And the skills that they have — an intimate knowledge of the game, and an ability to inspire and motivate people – are possessed by millions of people, most of which are making a fraction of what most professional coaches make.

I asked a local coach the other day, is a 45-year-old man who is coaching in the NBA for 10 years any better coach, say, a 45-year-old man who has been coaching high school basketball successfully for 20 years?

“Probably not,” he said. “The NBA coach just happened to be in the right circles.”

In other words, while most professional and major college coaches have skills, the difference between them and, say, a dedicated high school coach, or a good business manager who has a passion for professional sports?

Connections, a willingness to move, and luck.

Just something to think about as you take in our nation’s spectacle tonight.


• • •


While the ice might be a little soft, it is definitely safe, and with temperatures forecasted to approach 32 degrees today, it should be a great day to bring the kids out to the Sertoma Fishing Derby at 1 p.m. on the south side of Pebble Lake.

For safety reasons, the derby has been moved to a different location, and cars won’t be allowed on the ice. Considering how relatively balmy it will be, it won’t hurt to walk a little anyway, will it?

The bait is free, the holes are drilled for you, and we have plenty of food and beverages available at the concession stand. So come out and enjoy the afternoon on the ice!

Besides, you didn’t really want to watch four hours of Super Bowl pre-game shows, did you?


Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. E-mail him at

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