Winning isn’t Everything, Right?


Photo Courtesy of Millikin University

It is a coach’s job to win games. If you aren’t winning, you aren’t doing your job. Winning equals success, while losing equals failure. It’s as simple as that. There is no place for losers in sports. At least that’s how society tends to see it.

When a coach begins to go down the road of failure, a number of questions come into mind. Is he or she doing their job? Why aren’t they winning? Is it time to search for someone who can do the job better? Several of these questions have arose following the recent season of outgoing Millikin basketball head coach Matt Nadelhoffer.

On Thursday, February 23, a press release was sent out, stating that Nadelhoffer had resigned from his position as the head coach to pursue other interests.

Athletic director Craig White thanked Nadelhoffer for his contributions at Millikin during his coaching career. “I want to thank Coach Nadelhoffer for his contributions to Millikin over the last six years. Matt is a man of strong character and I appreciate his work ethic and the values and life lessons he instilled in his players during his time leading the Big Blue basketball program,” White said

Nadelhoffer and the Big Blue finished the season with an abysmal record of 3-22. This brings Nadelhoffer’s overall record to 37-113, and 13-73 in conference play. Nadelhoffer did not comment on his reason for resigning. But he did apologize to his players and Millikin as a whole for not being productive while being head coach at the university.

“I would like to say sorry to the people who believed in me and supported me in thinking we could turn it around, I feel bad. I thought we could get it turned around,” Nadelhoffer said.
During the regular season, Nadelhoffer had tweeted about how even though the season wasn’t going in the right direction, he was committed to staying as head coach.

“I can say this … there is nothing or no place me or my wife, Rebecca would rather be than Millikin-I am a believer … ” Nadelhoffer tweeted. Nadelhoffer has stated that he still feels the same way despite resigning.
“I really felt like the Lord called my wife and I here. Now I don’t know why, but I’m sure there is a plan for the Nadelhoffer family,” he said.

Although Nadelhoffer officially resigned, these statements and tweets call into question whether it was by the personal choice of Nadelhoffer or if he was influenced by members of the athletic administration.
Whether or not Nadelhoffer made the decision on his own, the fact of the matter remains. He did not lead his team to wins.

But is winning the only thing that matters? Some tend to think so. When you look at Nadelhoffer’s record, all you think is, he didn’t get the job done. He failed. But did he really fail? Nadelhoffer may not have produced wins, but perhaps what he gave to his boys was far greater than a winning record. Nadelhoffer focused on making the Millikin basketball program successful on and off the court.

Following the 2011-2012 season, Herald and Review executive sports editor Mark Tupper stated that Nadelhoffer built his program around the idea that basketball wasn’t everything.

“Typically, Nadelhoffer assembled his team and talked about matters beyond basketball. He asked how they felt about themselves. He got them making a list of characteristics they’d hope to find in an ideal wife. When they mentioned independent, hard-working and loyal, he asked them, ‘Could you offer those same attributes to a woman?” Tupper said.

Nadelhoffer didn’t look to make his guys into just basketball players; he transformed them into great young men. He taught them lessons that not all coaches pride themselves on. He taught them that it isn’t about how well you can dribble a ball or how well you can dunk a basketball. He taught them the lessons that can’t be taught just on the hardwood. He taught them lessons of life that are meant to be used off the court and in the future.
Sophomore guard Jack Simpson can testify to this.

“He changed the culture. As a team we had a 3.1 GPA which is a drastic difference from what we had in the past. Almost anyone who has played for Nadelhoffer is prepared to graduate from college. Nadelhoffer provides a lifelong relationship to us,” Simpson said.

Unfortunately, in the sports culture, these life lessons don’t always amount to much when you aren’t winning. Nadelhoffer learned that the hard way.

With Nadelhoffer now gone, the question remains. Where is the program heading and who will lead this program? Assistant athletic director Bryan Marshall didn’t yet know who would be taking over the program, but the plan is to get someone who could take over the problems. It is also not clear when this will take place, but Marshall is hopeful they will know by April, at the latest.

Although these questions have not been answered yet, one thing is certain. Whoever takes over this program, they better start winning some games. Or they will be packing their bags before they have finished unpacking. As blunt as that sounds, it’s the truth. In sports, you have to win if you want to be successful.