Friday, December 20, 2013

Leaving Your Mark: Mack Brown and Mike Shanahan Teach Lessons About a Proper Exit

Mack Brown recently resigned from his Head Coach post at the University of Texas.  Mike Shanahan is still employed as Head Coach of the Washington Redskins…for now.  The way each has gone about their respective departures (or soon-to-be departures) has been much different.

Brown, who won the National Championship in 2005 and more than a dozen Bowl Games, stepped down last week from one of the country’s most prominent college coaching positions.  Despite the fact that the leadership at the university was willing to have him return next year, Brown decided to do what he said was “best for Texas”.   He is leaving on good terms, without burning any bridges, and as many have already said, with class.  Brown, in case you were wondering, will stay on in a consulting/fundraising-type of role and be rewarded handsomely for his efforts.
Shanahan on the other hand hasn’t quite had the same going away party, regardless of premature you think this blog post may be.  To say the least, he has had less than a favorable relationship with his star quarterback Robert Griffin III and team owner Dan Snyder from what we know on the outside.  Additionally, his relationship with the local media (and by extension, the fans) leaves a lot to be desired.  This past Sunday, he walked out of his press conference after not liking a question that was asked from the audience.  His most recent strange move came via benching Griffin, who seems to be healthy, for Kirk Cousins.  He has left many wondering whether he is trying to get fired.  Some also believe he may be trying to plan out his next move with the Griffin/Cousins decision.  It hasn’t completely been his decision-making that is in question but his poor style, his awkward approach, and his negative attitude.  Heck, there are even reports that his own son, Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, wants to move on and split from being under his father’s wing.  That is when you know things are bad.
Yes, Shanahan is a Super Bowl winning coach and is very well-respected in most NFL circles.  However, his actions, which may ultimately lead towards his demise in Washington, are leaving people with a bad taste in their mouth.  Team owners, players, members of the media, and fans across the league will now be very leery about having him be their next coach.  This will follow him around and his reputation will not be as solid as it once was as the two-time champion with the Denver Broncos. 
If Shanahan was smart, he would look at Brown’s departure and right the ship.  Like Brown, Shanahan should repair the relationships he damaged and go out with his head held high.  Change the perception as fast as possible and have pride and dignity in what has been a very poorly executed professional exit.
Mark Gress is the Associate Director of Employer Relations for Arcadia University with a Masters Degree from Drexel University.  Mark formerly worked as Co-Op Coordinator and Manager of Employer Relations for the Steinbright Career Development Center at Drexel University.  He also has experience with Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, Philadelphia Eagles, and Drexel Athletics.

Connect with Mark Gress on LinkedIn. 

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