Coaches get praise heaped on them. They should. They’re the ones held accountable when it comes to wins and losses and their employment hinges on those results.

At the college level, coaches become lionized figures. In part, this stems from the built-in dynamic that players rotate through campus every few years while the coach, if he wins enough, remains. Coaches who last long enough become institutions, NCAA deities. There are coaches who seize this opportunity, write a how-to-lead book, and hit the motivational speaker circuit. Just don’t expect Wisconsin head football coach Paul Chryst to fill his offseason schedule with banquet speaker gigs at business conventions.

Coaches roles are such a big deal that even the most minuscule detail gets noticed. At a press conference earlier this season Chryst was asked about his particular style of entering the field at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium. Some coaches lead the charge with their teams. Others wait, making sure they are the last one to enter, walking solo behind their sprinting squad. Not Chryst, he is nonchalant. Walking off to the side and up the sideline as the Badgers storm the field.

“The thing I love about game day is that the players are the ones between the lines,” Chryst said. ”That day is about them.”

Chryst knows a coach still has an important job during games. He’s not abdicating his role. He’s putting the focus on the players, the ones who have to deliver the results on the field.

An underlying point to Chryst’s redirecting attention to the players is about preparation. By the time game day arrives a coach’s work is nearly complete. Players need to be so prepared that they can execute when it matters most.

Without the prep work, the attention headed a coach’s way will be all about his replacement.


Listen To The Season

For its combination of sports, leadership and business sense, there is no better podcast for you to listen to than The Season. Ilya Marritz, a business reporter for WNYC, a New York public radio station, is following the Columbia University football team. The main storyline is whether or not the team’s coach can build a winner at a place with a pervasive history of losing. Columbia’s new head coach Al Bagnoli comes to the job as the winner of nine Ivy League titles at the University of Pennsylvania. Bagnoli is the latest CEO charged with what has been an insurmountable task for those who have come before him.

Even though this is an Ivy League school, The Season takes on the internal politics and challenges that also appear in major college football, while at the same time sprinkling in the wow factors of how Robert Kraft and Steve Jobs are connected to Columbia football.

New episodes comes out on Thursdays and you can listen to all of them here.

Read What Tom Brady Reads 

I’m late on this, but it’s worth a mention. Since the start of this century I have given one book as a gift more than any other. It is the The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. Turns out it is the same book Tom Brady read while dealing with the mountain of criticism coming from the Deflategate controversy.

During a radio interview earlier this season with WEEI, Brady said he had first read the book years ago.

“It’s a quick read. It’s really good,” Brady said on the Dennis and Callahan show. “For me, I guess it hit me at the right time. It was very relevant at that point in my life. I kind of read it once a year, just to reflect and gain a little perspective. It’s served me pretty well.”

The book has been out for nearly 20 years and its simple and effective messages about being your word, taking nothing personally, not making assumptions and always doing your best keep it selling and have one of the most successful football players of all-time leaning on it.