My thanks and appreciation go out to Mr. Whit Watson for taking the time to let me publicize his "Artists and Mechanics" theory and let me take creative liberties with it.
I asked him to take a look at my entry and respond with his own commentary, particularly about the "Big Five" Florida teams he extensively covers and writes about for the Sun Sports network. Whit was gracious enough to do so, and thus what follows is his response:
First off, my thanks to Brian [CFR] for spreading the gospel of Artists and Mechanics, and for allowing me to jump in. A couple of added points to Brian's comprehensive list, with a focus on the Florida programs that we follow here at Sun Sports:
--Bobby Bowden is the consummate Artist. Anyone who introduces the term "puntrooskie" into the football lexicon cannot be anything else. His legendary living room skills as the "closer" in FSU's recruiting process also speak to his Artist talents. I agree that Mickey Andrews is the Mechanic in the relationship, and going a step further, I think that Bowden's willingness to surround himself with Mechanics on his coaching staff is one significant reason for his long-term excellence.
However, there are many, many Florida State fans down here who wish that Bobby's son Jeff showed a bit more Artist in his role as offensive coordinator. Okay, a lot more. If Florida State's offense is considered Artist - and I'll go along with that - it's due to Bobby's influence, not Jeff's play-calling.
--Larry Coker? Mechanic. One of the most down-to-Earth head coaches I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Interestingly enough, Sun Sports did a lengthy feature on former Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe last year, and I would tag him an Artist. Having fired half his staff after the 2005 season, I hope Coker finds more Artists to balance the scales.
Was it odd for Miami to have an Artist leading their offensive line for all those years, considering that the O-line seems to be a terribly Mechanic world? Not really. Offensive linemen, on balance, tend to be the most cerebral players on the field. Some might even say they're the smartest players on the roster, a rep that O-linemen love to perpetuate. Makes sense that an artist should lead them.
--Dead right on Urban Meyer. The offense appears Artistic, but in truth, it's a misdirection system that thrives to make it impossible for a defense to cover everybody - right in the wheelhouse of a Mechanic. Calculating and detail-oriented. "Process wonk" is a perfect term. Ever Meyer's most Tony Robbins-sounding policies - the Champions' Club, assistants eating dinner with their units, assigning color schemes to players based on meeting certain criteria - all are designed to create individual accountability, which sounds to me like page one of the Mechanic's handbook.
Chris Leak? Mechanic. Film-room addict. Honestly, his hobby outside of football is watching tape of football.
Ron Zook was an Artist, by the way.
--The two head coaches that have led Florida's directional schools into my mildly controversial "Big Five" are both Mechanics.
The University of Central Florida's George O'Leary is obvious. He makes Old School look young. Heavy on the running game, he doesn't ask his quarterbacks and wide receivers to do anything beyond their capabilities - and this year, QB Steven Moffett and his wideouts responded with career years across the board. O'Leary recruits linemen and tight ends heavily, reasoning that no team can have too many. Winning the line of scrimmage is a decidedly Mechanic trait. It's worth noting that a UCF running back, Kevin Smith, was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year, and the Golden Knights placed seven players on the All-Conference first and second teams.
Their positions? Offensive line, defensive line, tight end, running back, wide receiver, defensive back, punt returner. And the Head Mechanic was the Conference Coach of the Year.
The University of South Florida's Jim Leavitt was a tougher call, but I'd still say Mechanic. Consider that USF didn't start playing football until 1997, and in the fall of 2005, the Bulls were two wins away from capturing the Big East title and the BCS bowl berth that goes with it. While it takes some Artist-level imagination to sell a fledgling program to fans, recruits, and media, it takes a Mechanic to put the pieces together and compete.
Record-setting running back Andre Hall was the only Bull to make the All-Big East first team (Artist, by the way), but USF had seven players on the second team: three offensive linemen, one defensive lineman, one linebacker, and two defensive backs. If only Leavitt had a passing game this year. Pat Julmiste, the incumbent QB, was a Mechanic trying to pass to a bunch of Artists.
Final point: As I mentioned in the original piece, the Artist/Mechanic relationship is symbiotic, by necessity. The example I used was a couple vacationing in Paris - the Mechanic will make the flight and hotel reservations, prepare a checklist of sights to see, and get a map to the Eiffel Tower. The Artist will order the wine, and convince the Mechanic to enjoy the view. Everybody has elements of Artist and Mechanic in their makeup, but my theory argues that we all lean heavily to one side or the other, and we function best when we work with people from the far side of the scale.
But ... does that mean that two Artists or two Mechanics will clash? Often times, yes. I'll leave that for a future post.
Whit Watson, Sun Sports and FSN Florida, Orlando
Once again big thanks to Whit for his contributions. You can find him on the Sun Sports cable network in Florida and other parts of the South, and read his blog here-Whit Watson Blog. We may just have to tackle the Big Five at a later time, as I've also run into controversy discussing the Big Six theory created by HeismanPundit and espoused here at CollegeFootballResource.