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Root Cause Analysis: It Is About Developing And Promoting People

10/04/2021


The Wisconsin Badger Football team is in trouble, big trouble. Once #13 in the NCAA polls, now deservedly unranked after getting blown out by Notre Dame 41 – 13. Remember, the team was up 13 -10 at the start of the 4th quarter, as their nationally ranked defense kept them in the game. People are quick to point to the players, as it’s on the surface, simple to see, clear, and present—specifically, the QB, Mertz. The offense is a mess, and as the QB, he is the on-the-field general of the offense, fumbles, and INTs. With the new NCAA transfer portal rules, the team had to choose between Jack Coan and Graham Mertz; given their eligibility, one was headed to transfer. The problem is much bigger than the QB.


Great team builders know the problem is bigger than the players. The players are ants in the ant farm. To find the source of the problem - focus on the 12-year-old kid controlling the ant farm. Great team builders focus on the ownership and leadership.  


Let’s collect some facts around the strengths and weaknesses for the Wisconsin Badger Football program:


Strengths:

The offense is known for a pounding running game, perennially one of the top 5 running offenses in the NCAA. A long list of running backs and offensive linemen in the NFL.  

Over the past 5 years, consistently a top 10 defense in the NCAA.

Legendary walk-on program, taking unrated players and 3-star players and over developing them.


Weaknesses:

QB recruiting and development. The program touts Russell Wilson as the only Badger QB to succeed in the NFL in the past 50 years. Russell was a senior transfer from NC State, not a true reflection of the program, but an anomaly.

Offensive play-calling – Head Coach Paul Chryst announced that he was taking over play-calling from the Offensive Coordinator Joe Rudolph after the 2020 implosion. Much of the year’s problems were blamed on COVID, a common cloud around reality.


Assessing the leaders:


Jim Leonhard – Badger and NFL legend on the field as a defensive back. Considered a brilliant defensive strategic thinker and excellent at developing players. Proven history of success developing players – he has had 12 defensive players drafted in the NFL since he came to the program in 2016: 7 players who were unrated in high school, 4 players who came to the program with a 3-star rating, the lowest of high school seniors, and 1 who was 4-star recruit. 2 NFL drafted players per year on average, impressive development achievement considering the shallow recruiting talent pool he started with - 7 unrated players - wow.


Joe Rudolph - Badger offensive guard, tight end, and offensive line coach for Paul Chryst since 2008. Since 2015 when Joe became the Offensive Coordinator when Paul Chryst became Head Coach, he has developed 11 players to be drafted in the NFL. Quality of the talent pool: 9 players came in with 3-star high school rating, 1 earned a 4-star rating, and 1 player was unrated. 2 legendary running backs in Melvin Gordon and Jonathon Taylor, 7 offensive linemen, 1 tight end, and 1 wide receiver. He is respected for recruiting and developing the offensive line as his proven history of success supports. He was the Offensive Coordinator until Aug 2021, when he was demoted to the title of Run Game Coordinator/ Offensive Line Coach, with Head Coach Paul Chryst taking over offensive play calling.  https://madison.com/wsj/sports/college/football/jim-polzin-how-wisconsin-badgers-assistant-joe-rudolph-was-able-to-handle-a-demotion-with/article_07f21fba-cdc3-5b5f-b6b0-748bfe0bdc06.html. Developing quarterbacks and receivers is a weakness, and game time tactics are a blind spot.


Paul Chryst – not a standout Badger player, but an offensive coordinator and QB coach for Barry Alvarez from 2005 -2011. Now Head Coach for the Badgers since 2015. His record against ranked teams is a paltry 10 of 16 in his 5 years as Head Coach. Developing coaches: developed Jon Budmayr to Offensive Coordinator for Colorado State, and Jim Leonhard from DB coach to Defensive Coordinator, good achievements for Paul, 2 coordinator assistant coaches promoted in 5 years.  


Coaching turnover:


Ted Gilmore – Passing Game Coordinator/ WR coach from 2015 – 2020. Left for Michigan State.


John Settle – Running Backs Coach for the Badgers for 11 years, left in 2020 to take a Running Backs and Special Teams Coordinator position.


Jon Budmayr – Quarterbacks Coach left to become the Offensive Coordinator at Colorado State.


Saeed Khalif -Director of Player Personnel (recruiting), left for the same role at Michigan State.


Conclusion:


The Badger Football program does not have an Offensive Coordinator or Quarterbacks Coach and has new receivers and running back coaches. Why would any NCAA Head Coach with several years of experience go into the season without an Offensive Coordinator? Why would a program with a 50-year history of having weak quarterbacks not have a Quarterback coach?


Probable Scenarios:


Paul Chryst over-promoted Joe Rudolph, clearly by demoting him and due to their long-term relationship does not have the heart to hire a solid Offensive Coordinator over Joe?

What are the limitations and glass ceiling on team growth keeping Joe Rudolph as the #1 offensive coach, given his shortcomings?


Paul Chryst, a past Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach, is overconfident in his time, resources, and ability miscalculating he can handle the Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks, and the Head Coaching roles himself?


 The Wisconsin Athletic Dept cut Paul Chryst's coaching budget and he could not afford to replace the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach?


The same story and patterns can be seen throughout the building products industry. Helping smart leaders and owners get off the hamster wheel and develop sustainable talent solutions for their businesses is Misura Group’s core objective.  


Leaders - when assessing the team performance, look first at the quality of the leader responsible for the team. Are you creating a safe place for honest assessments of leaders and miscasting to be identified and corrected? Great leaders attract great talent, poor leaders do not!


What is the leader’s proven ability and desire to train and develop people? Is the leader being given the time and resources to focus on training and developing people? For most companies, it's their #1 Strategic Objective, and few companies are realistic about the resources needed to action their #1 Strategic Objective.  


Measuring leaders by the number of people they have developed and promoted is the #1 step towards building a sustainable business.


Wisconsin vs. Michigan is on Saturday, a big rivalry. Not sure if Ann Arbor was the first streetwalker in Michigan, as most Badger fans chant, but I am sure the University’s Leadership and Paul Chryst have some organizational questions to tackle if they want to build a winning program.   


Hire Smarter™ - Tony Misura  


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