I love sports. And I love books. And I’m fascinated by coaches. So I should love sports books by coaches, right? But I just don’t.
Today’s yawner came with the news that New York Jets head football coach Rex Ryan is set to write a “nontraditional autobiography” that will be published by Doubleday next year.
Now, some observers have pointed out that Ryan hasn’t accomplished that much in his single season as a head coach. Most frequently, these coach books come on the heels of winning a championship in the given sport. But Ryan’s club finished 9-7 and lost in the AFC Championship Game. Josh Alper, for example, humorously points out wrote that readers should “Just look for ‘Putting the Cart Before the Horse: Rex Ryan’s Guide to Leadership’ at the top of a best-seller list near you.”
On the other hand, Ryan is in the Charles Barkley-mold in that he has a sizable ego and mouth (in a good, fun way) and he always provides good quotes, good stories, and whirlwind of “what’s he going to say next?” whenever he speaks. He comes from a legendary coaching family and his father, Buddy Ryan, would surely provide enough good material for a book.
But the problem is that so many of these coach books are so generic, sanitized, cliched, and paint-by-the-number affairs that they strip away all individuality and uniqueness. Maybe Ryan and his highly-successful co-author Don Yaeger will buck the trend. Unfortunately, I’m not placing any bets on that.
I blame two of my favorite coaches for creating the coach book template: Pat Riley and Rick Pitino. Back in the eighties, they both capitalized on their smooth personas and championship credentials to pen a series of highly successful books melding coaching tactics with business examples. They became highly sought after speakers, appearing before Fortune 500 companies and commanding hefty fees. As a result, it seems like every coach after that has positioned themselves in this business leader space. Therefore their books are correspondingly dull, tedious, and repetitive. They strive to be inspirational, to show you the hurdles they’ve overcome, and how they lead men to victory. But it’s all the same. Read one and you’ve read them all.
So I do hope that Ryan and Yaeger do something different and maintain the original voice the coach uses in the press room. Because the last thing the world needs now is yet another same old, same old coach book.