The Cornhuskers of the 90s had one of the best decades by any sports organization ever: winning seasons every year and three national championships. Looking back on the program reveals that they held several significant institutional advantages over their competition. They had a unique offensive scheme, an excellent leadership program, a strong walk on program, and an excellent strength and conditioning program. Each of the institutional advantages helped them develop more talent never even sought by their peer groups into dominant players.
The unique offensive scheme helped them target great athletes that wanted to play offense; but would not be selected by schools running traditional schemes.
The leadership program helped the coaching staff focus, organize, and teach the players the mental attitude they needed to excel. The program is outlined "A Championship Formula" by Jack Stark Ph. D. (I have not yet read the book.)
The walk on program gave them a lot of extra players that were willing to work their way into playing time and possibly a scholarship.
The strength and conditioning program was far advanced for its time in creating useful strength in less time than other programs.
But the linchpin to all of this was a coaching mindset that was willing to put in the extra time needed to provide equal access to coaching regardless of the talent. And provide an opportunity for all. Not necessarily an equal opportunity; but an opportunity. If someone demonstrated the improved technique and strength off the field they were given the opportunity on. This constant demonstration led to numerous walk-ons and lesser ranked recruits becoming stars. And the attitude pushed the team to further heights.
Which brings us to Altuve and the Astros; Altuve exemplifies a player that far exceeds initial expectations. Hopefully, the Astros way that we’ve heard about is similar to the above outline. Looks for unique talent, provides a training framework that builds the winning attitude, allows talent to come from non-traditional locations (this is where I think a lot of the sabermetrics comes into play), and provides an opportunity to excel.
We keep comparing the current leadership to the environment in place in St. Louis. Look at the Cards does demonstrate a commitment to allowing lower ranked talent to excel.
Building the depth helps push all of the players harder. Not having talent to push each other can prevent a lot of players from ever reaching their peak.
What do you think?
Can you see the building blocks for a run like the Cornhuskers or Cards?
Do you see opportunities given to lesser heralded talent?