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The 10,000 hour rule and Syracuse football

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book recently called "Outliers." In it, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the "10,000-Hour Rule", claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

It's the idea that if you spend a lot of time learning, practicing and immersing yourself in a particular discipline, you will become a master at it. The Beatles built their style and music by playing set after set in Germany away from the eyes of British and American media. A medical resident practices the same surgery hundreds of times before they can go out into the real world of medicine. The true innovators and leaders didn't do it overnight, they did it through hard work, time, and making dumb mistakes.

College football probably should have the same rule, maybe the Three Year Rule. When you're trying to build something that's unique and not at all aligned with the way things were, a turnaround can't come instantly. You have to rid yourself of the rot and instill something that will last beyond one season. It might be painful in the short term, but it pays off in huge dividends in the long run.

It took Chip Kelly just over two years to turn Oregon into an uncatchable spaceship. Ditto Nick Saban at Alabama, Art Briles at Baylor, Mike Leach at Texas Tech, Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Chris Petersen at Boise State, Urban Meyer at whatever program he turns into his pet project, and any other remarkable coach who knows that to be great, you have to dare to be different.

The key thing to remember: On the way to all that success, all those teams lost. Some lost more than others. Harbaugh had two losing seasons in Palo Alto and lost head-to-head battles with Mike Stoops. Saban got embarrassed by Louisiana Monroe and got creamed by Utah on a national stage. Kelly took awhile to figure out the players he needed to run the system he wanted. Briles had to show Baylor that they could execute forward passes without them being intercepted.

So I read stuff written that our coach had to go. Or fire the coordinators. Or send Gross back to USC (or worse).

Let's see what happens over the next couple of years. Yeah, it's going to be painful. And I hope that Shafer uses these 10,000 hours or Three Years to weed out players who aren't going to help. Or those who can be stars.

I don't mind losing if we have a chance to win in the future. And since no one can predict the future, I think we just to have to put up with the pain, unless some evidence is provided that convinces us that this team will never go anywhere.

Note: I liberally stole some of this stuff from another writer making another point. I'm OK with that.

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