Okay, it was a snowy Saturday, and I thought it might be nice to start a conversation. Jeff Benjamin thinks we should look at Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell as relay coaches. What do you think?
Making coaching changes really stinks.
This doesn't come easy but, as we all know, but, in sports winning is the bottom line. There have been plenty of scenarios in sports that when the team and its players are not winning, it usually means changes in leadership are instituted. Coaches and managers are a lot easier to remove than an entire team. Sometimes it is the player's faults, other times it's the coach, and then it could even be the fault of both. But, for better or for worse, change usually comes at the top.
In an event once dominated by the United States, the American men's 4X100's greatness (except for Sydney in 2000 and the World Championships in 2007) seems to have become a throwback to the 20th Century. Whether it's DQ's, dropped batons, or just better teams from other countries, one would think that USA track fans (myself included) have become quite frustrated. Unfortunately, this leads to calls for change, and, in this humble writer's opinion, why not go with a fresh start and bring Leroy Burrell and Carl Lewis aboard to give it a shot?
Here are my points for this change -
1) Carl Lewis is one of our greatest sports icons of all-time. Just bringing the 9-time Olympic Gold Medalist on board could send a jolt to our dormant sport's promotional value.
2) Leroy Burrell is also a Gold Medalist and 2-time former 100 meter World record holder. Since his retirement, he has been the Head Coach at the University of Houston. Burrell's assistant coach the past few
years? -Carl Lewis
3) Both Burrell and especially Lewis have achieved great success in both the Olympic Games and World Championships on 4X100 relays. Perhaps their two greatest relay performances were in the 1991 Tokyo World Championships and the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. As a side note , the 3rd leg of both of those championship relays was none other than Dennis Mitchell.
4) The "Lewis Aura"? --
Carl's presence AND non presence in the relays historically showed how indispensable he may have been. In 1988, Lewis was embroiled in a tit-for-tat with American coaches over the 4X1. No matter who was at fault, the USA team, without Lewis, was shockingly disqualified in the qualifying race in Seoul. Eight years later in Atlanta, with rumors of Lewis being put on the relay which didn't happen, Canada's Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey led Canada to victory over the USA before a very predominantly disappointed American crowd.
5) The "Other Lewis Effect"--
It has been said that Lewis' presence can suck the air out of the room, that his "arrogance" or "confidence" (you be the judge) can dominate situations more than the races themselves. OK, but what is so wrong with this? Some may remember USA Hockey Coach Herb Brook's behavior in 1980 at Lake Placid. The tough, "arrogant" or "confident" (once again, you be the judge) coach dominated every press conference and request, leading to some in the media criticizing his one man-show performance. Later, Brooks admitted that this was all part of his plan, to put all the attention on himself and taking any pressure off of his players. The result- The great upset of the Soviet Union and subsequently shocking Gold Medal win. One would think that Burrell with Lewis can take all the pressure- after all, they've been in it before.
6) Both Burrell and Lewis are currently involved in coaching young collegiate athletes to get them to compete at the highest level. Younger American sprinters are on the horizon, ready to develop possibly by the 2020 and definitely by the 2024 Olympic Games, along with the upcoming World Championships. Why not bring them along with these 2 legends who are working to develop some of them right now?
Now, I don't know if politics and/or personalities would be factors for or against this change. But American Track fans have to wonder that, if winning is the bottom line, and changes have to be made, that triumphs of great American's Men's 4X100 relay teams, whose legacies go back past Jesse Owens, can possibly rise again in the 21st Century being led perhaps by 2 Legends of the event from the 20th Century.
Leroy and Carl-- What do YOU think?