Tag Archives: ed oregeron

Coach O, LSU and Job Matching

Coach O is the walking, Cajun talking, living example of what it means to have the right person, in the right job, at the right place, at the right time.  He is the definition of Job Matching.  Ed Oergeron led LSU to the College Football National Championship, and along the way has demonstrated leadership, fortitude, wisdom, drive, passion and spirit, but above all, the critical aspect of “fit”.  People and organizations achieve the most when there are synergies, when there is the right fit; when the job matches the person and the person the job.

College football has always sort of been my guilty television vice.  It is the only sport I actually make a point to follow, and the only games that sometimes I will schedule around, that I will actually sit down and watch.  As for going to games on campus – anytime, anywhere.  I love game day on a campus.  LOVE IT.  Living around the country, it has been the constant lens into regional culture.  How the sport is consumed and the passion around it tells you a lot about the region.

I was very attuned to USC football and Coach Oregeron during their tumultuous 2013 season.  He was promoted from Defensive Coordinator to interim head coach midway through the year.  It was wildly clear from the outside that the players and students loved him, but it was equally clear that he was not the “right fit” for USC.  There is so much more than “the X’s and O’s, Jimmy and Joe’s” that goes with being a college football head coach, especially at a major program.  It is literally running a multi million, if not billion, dollar business.  The coach builds a staff, runs an operational program, recruits and trains his players and coaches, and above all sells his program.  He literally has to raise money and sell tickets.  Boosters, alumni, television, radio, youtube videos, all of it.  The head football coach is the face, and voice, of the football program, and more often than not, the athletic department, if not the university.  Coach Oregeron was many things, but the optimi of USC was not one of them.  He was not retained.  He was without a job, again.

Coach Oregeron had been a head coach before, and it did not go well.  He took a relative demotion to be the Defensive Coordinator at USC, and earned the chance to be an interim head coach in 2013.  He did well.  However, it was not the right fit.  The job did not match the man, nor the man the job.  Coach Oregeron elected to take a demotion, and certainly less income, to go to LSU as their Defensive Line Coach in 2015.  The man knew LSU was the right place – the job was a match, and potential future opportunities and promotions would come if he performed.  Clearly they did.

Above all else, the story of Coach O is also about learning from failure.  His path to the National Championship was paved with challenges and setbacks, failures, firings, being passed over, parodied and some could say mocked.  He took demotions to keep working.  He moved for opportunity.  He hired people who were smarter than him; experts in their fields, and then gave them the freedom to execute.  He led with heart and emotion, energy and passion.  He put others over self.  He did not let his ego get in the way.  But above all, he never gave up.  When he earned the chance, that one opportunity to get the perfect job, at the perfect place, at the perfect time, he took it.  He was never shy about saying LSU was the job he wanted, and today LSU, Louisiana and Cajuns everywhere are better for embracing Coach O.

Dare I say we are all just a bit better for knowing of Coach O.

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Filed under Current affairs, Hiring and Interviewing, leadership, Sports

The Promotion Principal – Go With the “Tell”

Peter. Dilbert. Katie, Putt’s Law.  All well-known Principals when it comes to promotion. Well, maybe not the Katie Principle. Regardless, all good satire is based in reality, and these principals and theories of promotion and advancement point out the all too common mistake of placing the wrong person, in the wrong role, for the wrong reasons.  Hiring, promotions and advancement should be based on what the person can do at the next level, not what they have been doing at the current level.

When one looks at some the best college football head coaches, the Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops types, the one’s who have enjoyed long-term, lasting success, there is a common theme. Yes they are smart “football” guys, but much more importantly, they are great leaders and organizers, salesman and relationship managers. If these guys were not at the top of their profession in coaching, they would be running multimillion dollar businesses. Let’s face it, they are running multimillion dollar businesses.  With every one of those guys, you can just tell, they are just that sharp, they have the “it factor”. They are smart, articulate, level-headed, passionate, committed, driven, focused, impressive and above all, natural leaders.

And the universities that hire folks like that, folks who you can just tell “have it”, continue to have success when change comes.  Look no further than Stanford – David Shaw is as sharp as they come; bright, articulate, polished, driven, focused, and clearly a leader.  No surprise Stanford knew how to replace Jim Harbaugh when he went to the NFL.  They are Stanford after all.  Know your organization and culture, what the role you are hiring for requires, and then find someone who fits the role and the organization.

Then there is the classic mistake of assuming someone who was good at one level is ready to make that jump to the next level.  It is the pitfall of head coach hiring:  promoting the assistant coach or coordinator.  Look no further than the Florida Gators and their ongoing struggles with Will Muschamp.  Muschamp was a very highly respected Defensive Coordinator while at Texas when he took over for Urban Meyer at Florida.  Watching him as a head coach at Florida, well you can just tell he is not in the right role.  Being emotional, fiery, and other such things is great as the number two person in an organization, but it is not what one needs in a head coach.  Ed Orgeron at USC is another great example – the perfect Defensive Coordinator, and a phenomenal person to serve as in interim head coach to lead the Trojans through a turbulent transition period, but not a long-term head coach.  Again, you could just tell.

Contrary to Human Resources, Legal and the general PC nature of our world, there are things that just cannot be quantified.  The more senior the role, the greater the scope, the larger the strategic impact, leadership and interpersonal skills become paramount.  The “it factor”, the polish and poise, the organizational skills, the management and leadership skills, the ability to plan and prioritize, and above all, the emotional maturity all trump technical skills or job experience.  More often than not, when it comes to great hiring, if you truly know what you need, you will just be able to tell who is the right fit.  Go with the tell.

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Filed under Business, Coaching, Hiring and Interviewing, Interviewing, leadership, Sports