(The Rock Report | Notre Dame Football News) – Seemingly every word out of Kelly’s mouth is about “The Process”. “Trust the process. “ “It’s about the Process”. “We’ve got to avoid the noise and stay disciplined on the process.”
Let’s get this out of consultant-speak for a second (which can be tough for, uh hum, some of us), a process is simply a way of doing something. It is the determined way for achieving ‘X.’ When a coach talks about “The Process” he’s talking, in sum, about how all of these ways of doing X relate to their long-term goals of achieving success.
When a coach says “focus on the process, not wins” some think: “He’s trying to dodge accountability for lack of winning”. And that may be, but I think the way coaches look at it is “this is a change issue and change has to happen at the rate the kids can absorb the process.”
Someone compared me to Baghdad Bob in my stalwart defense of Kelly’s methods and, while BB had some great lines, I don’t think I would have been in Saddam’s camp. The process was, decidedly, not working in his favor. Kelly’s are. Many of which I pointed in out in Fixing Notre Dame Football.
In my mind, Notre Dame, no matter what the “irrelevant” voices say, has to have a coach who gets the minutiae of processes and how they relate to the overall goals of toughness and outworking and out executing the enemy. That’s why I easily weather the Kelly storms. You can see the progress in the process and purple faces mean little next to players like Harrison Smith reaching their potential or seeing problem kids become leaders. Success is usually the result of diligent focus on smaller things that add up the big one, wins.
In the coaching world, it’s not just Kelly, Jimbo Fisher is also talking about process at Florida State:
“If you buy into The Process 100%, The Process will pay dividends in victories, trophies and even in life itself. It will lift this team from ho-hum 7 – 6 seasons (which, ironically, was Saban’s record his first year at Bama) to the promised land.”
It’s part of the “Sabanization of College Football” Sports Illustrated writes (Fisher worked for Saban.)
“Nick Saban has a total-control, detail-oriented, evaluation-to-graduation system. Instead of talking about wins and championships, Saban speaks about the Process. In its most basic form, the Process is Saban’s term for concentrating on the steps to success rather than worrying about the end result. .. Then there’s lunch itself. He has it down to a science — another in a series of small efficiency measures.”
As Fisher said about Saban “the process worked… the question was not if he would turn around, it was just how quick.” The Process ain’t going to be pretty for either coach or player.
The best analogy I can make about the tension between short term performance and long-term good is when a company is trying to make major strategic changes, but Wall Street holds them accountable for short term performance. That focus on the short-term often negates their ability to do anything positive with regard to long-term progress. That’s because the short-term results don’t look good and that focus on that under-performance misses the bigger picture of overall improvement and companies “give in to the street” and juice short-term numbers at the expense of longer term goals.
Success is ultimately the result of commitment, conviction, character and attitude. That comes not from one call on the field, but what happens day to day and week to week. It’s a daily process and commitment to excellence. You need good smart ways of doing things that help lead to a big overall change, rather than getting short term wins at the expense of the long-term. That’s process over results with results as the ultimate goal.
That focus is clear in his answer with respect to Golson’s improvement.
“I’m looking for improvement each week. I’ve got to see tangible improvement from him, and it’s not just on Saturday. It’s in practice, how he goes to meetings, film study, taking care of himself?we’re seeing the kind of improvement that I need to see for him to continue to be the starter.”
Does all this mean I’m 100% sold on Kelly? No. Three wins have me in the exact same place I’ve been since he was hired. He’s going to get this team into the BCS bowls on a consistent basis, but after that, I’m not sure. A 3-0 start means diddily when the goal is Saban and Alabama and I’m not sure Kelly has the chops for that, I think he might, but I’m not sure. He does have the chops to mount a challenge.
One encouraging note in this regard. Lately the team has focused on the words dominate and dominant. While words may seem small, those affirmations are directly from Saban. It’s one of the affirmations they drill into player’s heads. Dominate and dominant are, ultimately, the only words that matter when you want to win a national championship.