As I stood outside of Mizzou Arena yesterday I thought of the controversy and confusion of only three years ago. It seemed that only yesterday Mizzou fans were calling for Mike Alden’s head for bypassing the hiring of Bob Huggins as their coach for a relative unknown — Mike Anderson from UAB. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.
During the next two years, Anderson set about rebuilding the Tigers. Players left willingly knowing their talents did not match Anderson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” playing style. He next began looking for a leader for his team. He thought he had one in a point guard by the name of Stephon Hannah, but ultimately settled for a relative — his nephew DeMarre Carroll, a second-team all-conference player from Vanderbilt.
Next, he began looking for unconventional sources of talent. He immediately found one in a state champion broad jumper from Georgia, J.T. Tiller, and another in a scholar-athlete holdover from the previous regime, Matt Lawrence.
The first two years of his regime were filled with disappointing losses and off-the-court turmoil. Arrests, DWIs and a fight outside a nightclub called Athena. Through it all he remained steadfast to his principles; suspending players, limiting playing time and even playing a game with only six scholarship players. He continued to recruit and develop new talent as those unwilling to buy into his system went to the wayside.
Ultimately, he developed a cohesive team of which the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
But why am I discussing this on a Chiefs site? Because that is exactly what Scott Pioli and Todd Haley are attempting with the Chiefs. They have found one of their leaders in former back-up quarterback Matt Cassel, a player who possess uncanny amounts of both perseverance and poise. Receiver Bobby Engram, who came back from a thyroid issue to post his best season, is another unlikely leader who fits the new system. Mike Vrabel? You bet.
During the next several weeks, the Chiefs will perform addition by subtraction by trading or cutting distractions to the team. The first I believe is Larry Johnson, who quite frankly has worn out his welcome in K.C. Others who fail to buy into the system will be sent packing. That is the Patriot way and the way of most successful organizations.
The lesson to be learned from the above illustration is PATIENCE. Enjoy the process. Watch the building blocks being put together and the troublemakers being sorted out.