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No Magic Formula for a Head Coach

Mike Vaccaro takes on the notion head coaching success is based on a particular style in today's Post.

Parcells wasn't successful because he was a dictator, because he liked to get in his players' grills, because he was short-tempered and ill-mannered and willing to call someone a dog when he played like a dog. It's because he was a football coach, a good one, able to read his locker room as easily as the Xs and Os in a playbook, smart enough to make adjustments, able to motivate just as easily (if not as publicly) with positive reinforcement as with bluster.

There is this belief circulating, in Cleveland and elsewhere, that the reason why Mangini fell out of favor around here is because of his personality, because his prickliness and his paranoia forced writers and fans and players to turn on him, that he was sent packing for reasons other than the fact that he seemed way over his head as a head coach in the NFL.

Which is silly, of course, and after about six games, the people who watch the Browns closely will see how silly that really is. Look, coaching football really isn't brain surgery, and it really isn't splitting the atom, but in its own world, in its own context, it is a highly skilled, highly evolved and very difficult profession, same as coaching basketball, same as managing a baseball team.

That's why so few people do it so well. And why you can take a handful of the most accomplished men in sports -- Phil Jackson, Tony La Russa, Parcells, Tony Dungy, Belichick, Joe Torre, Roy Williams -- and throw them in a room and realize, after five minutes, that a lot of them have almost nothing in common.

I think Vaccaro really hits the nail on the head with this article. Tom Coughlin is the example that sticks out most to me. As the Giants were collapsing in 2006, there was a lot of talk about how he was too abrasive and couldn't relate to today's player. A year later, he took the same team to a championship.

There were a lot of complaints about how Mangini was too stoic on the sidelines during the end of the Jets' 2008 campaign, but that might miss the bigger picture. The problems with the coaching had a lot to do with the schemes. Personality can become a bit overrated. There are definitely times when the composition of a team requires a certain kind of coach to deliver a message, but it seems like a lot of analysts use it as a crutch to explain a team struggling. When Mangini took the Jets to the Playoffs in 2006, he was a disciplinarian. When 2007 and 2008 did not go as well, he had no personality.

What do you think?