Upon arriving at Georgia Tech, head coach Paul Johnson was told the following: The triple option is antiquated- a thing of the past you can’t recruit players at the BCS level to run the option not balanced enough to be successful.The critics seem to have forgotten this was the same man whose antiquated offense won 2 National Championships at Georgia Southern and went to 3 straight bowl games at Navy. After leading one of the nation’s most prolific offenses to 2 bowl games and an ACC Championship people’s perceptions are changing a little.
When he took over at the University of Florida, head coach Urban Meyer was told his spread option was “a gimmick, something you could get away with at Bowling Green or Utah but it will never work in the talent rich fast SEC conference.” The 3 time coach of the year who had gone 39-8 won 2 conference championships and earned a BCS bid was considered a gimmick. Two BCS Championships later people are singing a different tune and now many Division I football programs have integrated the spread option into their offenses.
Don’t be afraid to go against the grain in decision making as long as you have the courage in your convictions as a leader and the personnel to fit your system. You can become the Paul Johnson or Urban Meyer of your industry. I had the opportunity to meet one such leader, Mr. Richard Connor CEO of Maine Today Media. Anxious to hear what I could learn from Mr. Connor I attended the speech he delivered to the Maine Red Claws Young Leaders organization. I immediately learned that Richard Connor could have just as easily been a college football coach as a media executive.
You hear every day that the public believes print media is a dying breed and electronic media has overtaken print. Many so called experts state that you can’t make money in the newspaper business today. Richard Connor has heard this all before. He has decided to go against the grain with his own version of the option offense. He has a track record of success to back it up and is doing his own rebuilding job with his program here in Maine.
Like Urban Meyer and Paul Johnson this isn’t Connor’s first rebuilding job. He successfully rebuilt the Fort Worth Star Telegram in Texas over a ten year period. Connor also turned The Times Leader, in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, into the fastest growing newspaper in Pennsylvania and the fourth fastest in the country. He is known for turnarounds. He is well on his way to doing the same here in his home state of Maine. Yet that hasn’t stopped print media critics from voicing their skepticism.
Connor spoke about the importance of not being risk averse. He prides himself on having a willingness to take chances on a daily and weekly basis, trying new initiatives at a time where many of his contemporaries refuse to embrace change.
Connor is doing so with a head coach’s mindset. His personnel or recruiting philosophy is “I don’t work with people I don’t like.” As simple as that may seem, there is sound logic to this philosophy. With an employee stock ownership plan in place everyone on his team has a vested interest in its success. As he builds his team and transforms the culture at the Press Herald, his staff should have the peace of mind in knowing that there is tangible proof in Connor’s track record. This is reason enough to step outside comfort zones and work through any growing pains.
What fosters success, whether it is a football program, a product, or a newspaper is often the fact that it is unlike a majority of its competition on the market. Delivering news like option football is a game of power strength and quickness. The power to reach people at a local level the strength of sound journalism and the quickness to deliver news at the speed of business today.
Sticking to the game plan yields results-look no further than Gainesville or Atlanta. Just as Johnson and Meyer have proven the options are still relevant in today’s game. Connor is proving with print media that what’s old can become new again.