Mark Cuban doesn’t pretend to be an NFL expert but the Dallas Mavericks owner follows the cross-town Dallas Cowboys and prides himself on knowing something about managing people toward the goal of winning.
His advice for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? Keep coach Jason Garrett.
“I think Jerry would be quite crazy to fire Jason Garrett,” Cuban said. “The hardest thing to do is hiring (the right) head coach. That’s the hardest thing to do in professional sports, in my opinion.’’
On Sunday, the Cowboys play Philadelphia in the final game of the NFL regular season. Win, Dallas goes to the playoffs. Lose, and for the third straight season, Garrett’s team will have participated in a win-and-get-in game to end the year and will have failed, settling for yet another 8-8 record.
“It’s like us (last season),’’ said Cuban, whose Mavs won the title in 2011 under the leadership of coach Rick Carlisle. “We didn’t look to say, ‘OK, 41-41, this is OK. What do we do to get a little bit better?’ We basically blew it up. Nothing to do with Rick. We didn’t look at Rick and say, ‘Well, you were only 41-41, 36-30 the year before.’ It was never a reflection of Rick.”
In other words, Cuban believes there are many reasons to value a coach beyond his win-loss record.
“I think unless a coach loses the locker room, regardless of the sport, or there’s just something fundamentally wrong, you (keep him),’’ Cuban said. “Then you go out and you get the best players you can and you go to war. I’m not an NFL expert by a long shot, but I don’t seem to see any of those while watching the Cowboys fans as a fan.”
Cuban has twice parted ways with successful coaches, first Don Nelson and then Avery Johnson.
There were things “fundamentally wrong’’ with some of the involved relationships that fueled those moves.
What traits are important in deciding to retain a coach, even if the record disappoints? Or to judge what makes a “good coach’’?
Said Cuban: “Knowledge of the game. Respect of the players. And ability to adjust and learn.''
It can be argued that Garrett possesses those traits. (“I think Jason, from all I know, exemplifies that,” Cuban said.) That hasn’t stopped speculation, of course, that Jones will move on if Dallas misses the playoffs for a fourth straight year – though the owner has essentially insisted Garrett will return no matter what happens Sunday.
Should Jones listen to public opinion?
“You don’t care about the media,” Cuban said. “The last thing you care about is how the media responds. … I don’t give a damn about what Twitter says or what the feedback is on Twitter or in the media, because that’s the worst way to make a decision. You’ve got to do what you know is right, based off the information that you have. I don’t think Jerry will do anything different than that. It’s exactly what I would do. We’ve had situations where everybody was questioning us. I told you guys (reporters) many a time: ‘Talk all you want. We’ll still be here figuring it out.’”
It is Cuban’s opinion that the success of the coach – in any sport – can be limited by numerous factors. “I would just look to see what I could change,” Cuban said. “Is it talent evaluation in the first round? Second round? Injuries? Use of quarterbacks? All of this is qualified by saying, I have no (expletive) clue. I don’t know football at all.”
But he knows this:
“You may not like what the Cowboys have done on the field, but I’ve never looked at them and said they’re not playing hard. I mean, they always look like they’re busting ass.’’
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