Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Missing the Point on Randy Bernard’s Closing Comments

During the final seasons of his decorated coaching career at Purdue Gene Keady’s teams began to slip.  From top three conference finishes throughout most the late 80’s and 90’s, by the early 2000’s Purdue basketball began to slip into the middle and bottom of the Big Ten basketball standings.  Many thought that Gene’s time had to move on had come, he had lost the ability to coach, the game had passed him by. 
Truth is that at the end of his reign, Keady was all the coach he had been before just without the results, the difference?  The recruiting sharks were out and he had less talent to work with.  With Keady nearing retirement, all a rival recruiting coach had to say to a recruit was “Do you think Keady will be at Purdue to see you graduate?”  With that the devastating seed of doubt had been planted.  Why would a young star commit, if there seemed to be a real chance that the coach who brought him to Purdue might not be the coach when he left.  Uncertainty and instability are situations that people with big plans try to avoid.
By the time he retired, even after a year spent coaching in tandem with his hand picked replacement, when Keady left, the sharks had taken their share and the cupboard was bare, the program dwelled in the bottom of the Big ten standings.
Over the past 2 years, for all that Randy Bernard had done for good or for bad with IndyCar there were rumors and doubts.  After early successful reviews, there were rumblings and suggestions that perhaps he was the guy that could right nascar’s leaky ship.  After the end of last season there were rumors, he wasn’t up to taking responsibility for racing at Vegas or that he couldn’t bear the loss of Dan Wheldon to continue.  Internet trolls lit Track Forum on fire, media properties owned by News Corp (who may still be interested in purchasing F1) unloaded on IndyCar through places as distinguished as The Wall Street Journal, dissenting characters "in racing circles" posting under false handles filled the IndyCar blog sites with rumors of disfavor with Randy within the HG family.
The sharks out to get Keady in his final years had found a new target.  In racing, sponsorship and manufacturer partnerships are much like recruits in collegiate sports.  Instead of talent on a team, they provide funding that makes racing possible.  Like collegiate athletes trying to get to the next level, these partners are looking to the sports entities they sponsor to help their companies get to the next level.  Rumors of instability or of changed leadership are poison to building those relationships.
So when Randy Spoke out Monday, most focused on his comments about the negative naysayers about IndyCar failing.  What seemingly went less noticed were his comments about his future with IndyCar.  Gone were the comments about a five year contract that was to be fulfilled, replaced by the open ended proclamation that he would be with IndyCar as long as the HG family wanted him there.  Sponsors and Partners please listen – I am here to stay, your investment in IndyCar is a sound one and I will be here long enough to see that it fulfills your expectations of return. 
That was the message he was sending.
In collegiate sports, universities counter the undercutting in recruiting by extending coaches contracts out beyond the recruiting horizon.  Tom Crean at IU is extended out to the 2087 season.  Perhaps the HG family could answer Randy’s proclamation with a statement of their own.  An extension beyond the current three remaining years.  Not for Randy’s sake, but for the sake of their sport.

1 comment:

  1. I think you hit the nail right on the head with this one, JP.

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