Message sets tone of success or failure

Nov 30 2013 - 11:28pm


What's the message?

Is it always the same? Or are conflicting signals being sent?

Whether it's the Jazz, Weber State's football program or its basketball team, those questions must be answered the right way ... or else.

Let's start with WSU's basketball program led by coach Randy Rahe. Following the Wildcats' 77-71 loss to Utah State last week, Rahe addressed the issue of a consistent message.

The Aggies, he said, were almost impossible to rattle. Their focus was too sharp and their understanding of coach Stew Morrill's message was perfectly ingrained.

Such is the hallmark of a good team, in any sport and at any level.

"Almost everybody that plays (for USU) has had experience in their program and it really showed tonight," Rahe said.

Sometimes after a loss a coach will heap praise on the opposing team because it creates a diversion, taking the focus away from his own team's issues. In this case, however, Rahe wasn't trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat. It wasn't a smoke and mirrors routine.

"We played hard and we challenged them but we couldn't get them out of character," he added. "They just stayed composed, Utah State did. (The Aggies) ran their stuff and stayed with it. That's the mark of a well-coached team but it's also the mark of a very veteran team."



Preach on.

In sports, as well as in life, there is something to be said for the consistency of character and conveying a message that isn't muddled. We want to complicate things with statistics, formations, rotations, lineups and the strategic use of timeouts. But the truth is, if the communication from coach to players is clear and consistent everything else will fall into place.

WSU fans will be glad to know Rahe's young Wildcats are focused on developing a consistent personality.

"Yeah, that's the goal," he said. "We play a certain way, we have a system that we know how to coach. Obviously it's no secret, I've got the same system that Stew does, it's all I know. He does it better than me, he's a better coach."

The Aggies also have a different roster, one that is long on experience and short of selfishness.

"That's what we want to get to with this group," Rahe continued. "We're going to play a certain way, we're going to take good shots, we're going to guard you hard, we're going to rebound the ball well, we're going to be a high assist team, a team that moves the ball, we're going to run sets like they do."

Although relatively young and inexperienced, Rahe's team will have success this season because there is no deviation from his message. That's why he has had success in the past and why he'll have more in the future.

Now, let's look at WSU's football program.

Head coach Jody Sears was fired last week after his Wildcats finished with a record 2-10. They went 2-9 the season before when Sears was asked to step in on short notice to replace coach John L. Smith, who left the program in the lurch before even coaching a single game in Ogden.

Does any of that spell out consistency? Anything indicate an unwavering commitment to doing the same thing, time after time and season after season?

No, it doesn't. How could it?

In the coming days and weeks athletic director Jerry Bovee will search for a new coach and when he does it'll be critically important to convey a clear and consistent message.

This is how we do things. This is our system. This is our character.

The same concept also applies to the Jazz, who are undergoing a major renovation of their own.

The 2013-14 season has already been written off as a learning experience and a reshuffling of the deck, so to speak. We've been told told to expect a lot of lump-taking and that's exactly what we've seen so far this season.

I think most fans can buy into a lost season or two if there is a high purpose in play. Hopefully, part of that higher purpose involves maintaining a consistency of character throughout the organization.

As long as that's the message - and it is conveyed with exactness - everything will turn out just fine.

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at He tweets at


From Around the Web