Where the greatness of football and the mechanics of shade trees collide Ted Buss

Years ago, a term was commonly used to define homemade auto repair shops in obscure parts of town; stores that were usually run by a couple of guys who could easily take apart and reassemble a six cylinder Chevrolet.

We called them “the mechanics of the shade tree”. The bad came and went. The good guys have carved out lasting prestige for themselves. They could fix everything from Packard to the venerable Nash Rambler. I heard they just shot Edsels to get them out of their misery.

Our first family car was an Oldsmobile. Finally, I often traded for sister brands like Pontiac, Chevy and Buick.

At the time, keys were standard and engine parts were similar. Any guy worth his salt slipped under his vehicle and changed his oil and filter himself.

Back in the day, entrusting your car to a mechanic was like entrusting your family to a doctor. The best mechanics build customer loyalty thanks to their competence and integrity. The level of comfort between the mechanic and the car owner was absolute. In my case, I had a gem.

He worked on my cars for years and I don’t remember ever having a complaint.

Then one day the inevitable happened. He retired and sold to an assistant.

Still, I felt my camera was in good hands. I had simply gone from being the best shade tree mechanic in the world to a new sidekick. Wrong. The subordinate was a bad business manager, less than ethical and just not very good under the hood.

The moral of the story here is just because he inherited the business from my loyal mechanic didn’t automatically translate into continued success.

Now on to college football. Here we’ll show a connection between the shade tree mechanic and the college grill assistant coach. Impossible, you say. No, I say.

Just because a guy is a world-class offensive coordinator for the greatest college football machine on Earth doesn’t translate into automatic future success. This should be marked in the noggin of each AD college.

Steve Sarkisian was college football’s most resourceful, an Einstein-style virtual offensive coordinator for two seasons at ‘Bama before signing a six-year, $ 36 million contract with the University of Texas.

The catch, however, is that Steve trained in Alabama, not at UT. Conservatively, there are probably a hundred guys who could successfully help in Alabama. Plus, Sark’s eight-year head coach record is a less than spectacular 50-42.

If Sarkisian lasts six years in Texas and turns the ‘Horns into a winner, I will apologize. For now, however, in recruiting coaches, avoid Alabama assistants. I hate to admit it, but the Crimson Tide is almost NFL-worthy.

And just like the famous shade tree mechanic who sells his shop to a subordinate, never assume continued greatness.

Ted spud buss is a former sports and business editor at The Times Record News.

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