By now, you've probably heard the news that Battery Creek's Carlos Cave was named an assistant coach on the South Carolina staff for the 2010 Shrine Bowl.
So let's be honest: many of you probably saw Cave's 7-15 record in two years at Battery Creek and wondered what warrants him coaching in not only the Shrine Bowl but also last year's North-South All-Star game.
Well, let's explore.
To do so, we must rewind back two years when Cave was first hired to coach the Dolphins. Back then, I essentially addressed the same question of how the school expected Cave, who had led North High School to a 4-17 record in the prior two seasons, to turn around a program that hadn't won in 25 games?
And back then, my answer was the same as it is now -- marked improvement.
Just as Cave did with North High School, improving a desolate program by three wins and sending them to the playoffs, he's quickly turned BC into a respectable program, making the 28-game winless streak a thing of the past and turning the postseason into an expectation with playoff appearances in consecutive seasons after a four-year drought.
What's more, Cave has already pushed 10 players into the college football ranks, with one headed to Clemson in safety Ricardo Chaney (Mind you, Cave helped open collegiate doors for seven of these athletes during his first year despite having limited knowledge of his new players).
Sure, it's easy to judge coaches by their wins and losses because in the numbers game we call sports, that's all we pretty much have for the guys with the headsets and ties. But how often do we forget to value the guys who can motivate, the ones who can make players bent on losing suddenly buy into what they're selling as coaches?
As I wrote two years ago, if numbers and wins were all that mattered in getting a W or turning around a program, then highly regarded coach Doc Davis wouldn't have gone 0-11 in his lone season coaching the Dolphins.
What Cave has brought to the Dolphins is a hope as well as a respect among his players for one another, the coaches and the duty to make this program a successful one.
These traits were nearly impossible to see when Cave brought his 4-17 mark to BC two years ago and, frankly, they probably are not evident to an outsider only familiar with his current 7-15 record
Now, don't get me wrong. Winning is important -- as my man, Herm Edwards, put it, "You play to win the game."
And this isn't to say that Cave hasn't recorded winning seasons. He had plenty during his seven years at the helm at Allendale-Fairfax. All I'm saying is that coaching success can be had in more places than just the record books.
The ability to implement such traits within his players and system -- and in such a short time -- are what makes Cave an invaluable coach for all-star games like the North-South and Shrine Bowl contests.
There's only one week of practice to get those players (some with egos and all with different backgrounds) to learn and buy into the system. And as Cave told me Monday, a lot of the player selection process is based on which athletes fit best in the team's ultimate scheme, making film study and evaluations about much more than just -- you guessed it -- numbers.
Ultimately, I'm not the one who would need convincing of Cave's worthiness of coaching in the Shrine Bowl. I've been privileged to see BC's turnaround and the completely different attitude of hard work and commitment that now rests over the program.
But from experience, I also knew those naysaying whispers would be prevalent, so I'll leave you with Cave's response to such talk:
"What I would say to them is from a body of work standpoint, you have a lot of coaches that Xs and Os alone don't reflect what they do and the type of program they run," Cave said. "A lot of coaches have success with outstanding athletes. We have some outstanding athletes here, too, but it's just a work in progress.
"The easy thing to say is, 'Well, why him?' and my answer is 'Why not me?'" Cave continued. "My record doesn't reflect the work that I put into the program. I know that I know football and that stuff will work out. I've never taken a snap in the games that I've won or lost. My job is to get them up to speed and eventually things will fall in line."