With a Heavy Heart

It is with a great disappointment that I have resigned this past week as the Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Sacred Heart University due to family concerns.

With the birth of our second child in early June, it was becoming more and more apparent to me that I did not really know our new addition. Like most parents, I was trying to stretch time at both ends – work and home – and I felt that I was failing as a father and did not want to fail as a coach.

I cannot thank Head Coach Jessica Mannetti enough for hiring me and giving me the opportunity to join her staff. Everyone at Sacred Heart was so very welcoming and I truly enjoyed each and every day I went to the office. Coach Mannetti’s friendship, understanding and support during this decision shows her leadership and compassion for her staff despite her desire to keep me on board.

I wanted to make sure this decision was not rash, yet still make a relatively quick decision in order to give Coach Mannetti the utmost time to find my replacement. It is nerve racking to leave a job, when you do not have any other work lined up, especially when you have a family to help support. However, I felt it was the right thing to do given the circumstance.

I would also like to thank the Coach Yolanda Cole, Coach Ali Heller, the SHU student-athletes and support staff. You are all great people who are dedicated to your craft and I will miss working with you.

Not only was this a difficult decision because of my journey to get back on the sidelines this past season, but also because I felt that we had a great chance to win the NEC and move to the NCAA tournament this season. I will surely be cheering the Pioneers on throughout the year.

I have never been anything but all in and know that I cannot change that approach. I think right now, as a division I assistant though there are certain requirements that the job entails, which are necessary in order to assist in running a championship level program. I had to make a value judgement of myself and my priorities and I did not think I could have performed at the level that Coach Mannetti and the student-athletes needed me to, and at the level which I know how to and expect myself to work at, without sacrificing a tremendous amount of time with my family.

This sacrifice was not the right approach for our family at this time unfortunately.

To all of my friends who have called me and offered their support and encouragement, I appreciate you all.

This was a hard decision but it was the right one…And although it was the right decision it is still a very bittersweet one as well.

I have met many great people in the game and know I have positively influenced the lives of so many of my former players and assistant coaches. Some solace for me during this decision is that I know that I can hold my head high and am confident that I have treated all those I worked for, coached with and been a coach for, as best I could and given it 100% all the time.

The wins are great, but the relationships will always last and will always mean the most to me.

Players and coaches, as always, if I can help you with anything, please do not hesitate to ask.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

 

 

 

 

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Lovie’s New Gig and the Rest of the Story

In the coaching world when one person gets a chance, another coach is getting their pink slip.

So was the case at the University of Illinois, who announced that Lovie Smith would be the next Head Football Coach for the Illini (see Shannon Ryan’s article in the Chicago Tribune).

Smith, a well respected NFL Head Coach and great person, himself was done dirty by the brass in Tampa Bay. After just his second year, Smith was surprisingly fired despite his team showing progress with a rookie QB at the helm.

With this in mind, I am ecstatic for Coach Smith to get this opportunity to run his own program again.

Nevertheless, every hire means a fire (or non-renewal). In this case, Bill Cubit was on the chopping block. Several programs within the athletic department were said to be in turmoil, including the football program before Cubit was the interim and then eventual head coach.

What stood out to me was a few things:

  1. A new athletic director and former Illini Tight End, Josh Whitman was hired in mid-February (was D3 AD at Washington University in St. Louis in his prior position).
  2. According to Ryan’s article: “Whitman worked at lightning speed to bring Smith to Champaign. Through a common friend and colleague, former Illini coach and Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner, Whitman connected with Smith shortly after Whitman was named AD in mid-February. The two met at Smith’s home in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, and each was impressed with the other. On his first official day on the job Saturday, Whitman fired coach Bill Cubit, who had been promoted from interim status at the end of last season with a two-year contract. Smith flew to Champaign on Sunday.”
  3. According to an AP article (see article): “I just came in and (Whitman) said, ‘I’m letting you go,'” Cubit told The Associated Press of the meeting on Saturday…The Illini finished 5-7, 2-6 in the Big Ten last season under Cubit, whose son Ryan was also fired as offensive coordinator. The elder Cubit said he wasn’t given a detailed reason for the firing. ‘Everybody told me I had (at least) this year,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot of shock going on. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a funny place.'”
  4. Also, current student-athletes in the football program learned of Cubit’s dismissal through social media.
  5. Whitman had obviously been negotiating talks with Smith while Cubit still had the position and before Whitman’s first official day.

It seems as though, despite a glamour hire by Whitman, Cubit was not the problem and he was not even given the courtesy by Whitman to talk to him, evaluate him and get to know what his culture and philosophy were about.

This hire pulls at me in both directions because Lovie was dismissal by Tampa Bay was just as shameful as Cubit’s by Illinois.

The bottom line is: Great for Lovie. Thoughts go out to Cubit and the former Illini Football staff. Shame on Whitman.

I do understand (see Brian Hamilton’s of Sports Illustrated’s take), but do not agree with Cubit’s abrupt firing, but no matter what Whitman’s decision, it was handled entirely unprofessionally.

Not to mention, why were the student-athletes not afforded the respect to be told before the media was notified? It has to be about the student-athletes. Period.

It begs the question that I always ask myself…”who is evaluating the evaluators?”

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

 

 

 

The Case for…Chip Kelly – Melissa Jacobs

This recent Sports Illustrated article by Melissa Jacobs, makes a case for Chip Kelly being the right hire for the San Francisco 49ers. I think it is at least a logical argument for hiring a coach who seemed to not have the necessary personality to connect with his players during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Although having the necessary tactical skills are very important, nothing is as important as treating players with respect and getting to know them on a personal level, in my opinion. X’s and O’s can be learned, personality and caring can not.

Although the 49ers do need a whole system transformation in order to get the necessary production out of Colin Kaepernick, it will be interesting to see if Kelly can make the changes necessary or if the 49ers should have went with an “Unusual Hire” (see “Taking a (Calculated) Risk in Hiring”) to fill its head coaching vacancy

The Case for…Chip Kelly- Sports Illustrated – Jan. 25, 2016 – Melissa Jacobs

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

 

Taking a (Calculated) Risk in Hiring

“The Unusual Hire” is a recent piece by Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers, concerning the Cleveland Browns hiring of Paul DePodesta, of the New York Mets, as the Chief Strategy Officer (see article: The Unusual Hire – Sports Illustrated – 1-18-16 – L. Jon Wertheim )

The premise is that franchises usually don’t think outside the box when hiring coaches and upper management.

Why? Wertheim and Sommers believe that “conformity feels safer. Stick within the parameters of generally expected behavior, and the consequences of falling short are mitigated.”

Basically, if owner’s/administrators hire the safe person, they don’t risk as much professionally and personally. The “CYB” (Cover Your Butt) leadership style, allows so-called leaders to say “they looked good on paper,” “they were an alumni, I figured they could get everyone on board,” and “they came highly recommended from a good friend.” They essentially have built in excuses and can retain their job in the process.

These are all convenient (and maybe lazy) but surely safe reasons for hiring a candidate. None of these practices however, ensure future success or mean the candidate selected was actually the best fit or most qualified.

I know as a young head coach, I regularly scratched my head when recycled coaches had the benefit of earning their 3rd or 4th jobs with only marginal records and I could barely eek out an interview despite my resume. It can be a very disheartening and frustrating experience for coaches and drives many of them away from pursuing their career goals.

Maybe hires like DePodesta, if successful, will spark some renewed creativity in the interview/hiring process, where hires are based solely on merit and leadership skills.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo