Does one guy make a franchise? A better question would be does one guy (or two or three), in one position, who has held that position for a long time, make a championship calibre team? When you look at Bill Belichick and how he along with Tom Brady have help make the New England Patriots the NFL team every other NFL team wants to be, the answer would be yes.
Another team that fit the mould was the Toronto Blue Jays between 1983 and 1993. They either made the playoffs or were battling for a playoff spot each and every year. That despite the large percentage of player turnover due to trades or free agency. Players come and go but the one constant is the personnel in charge, that being Club President Paul Beeston, General Manager Pat Gillick, and Manager Cito Gaston.
That same line of thinking applies to the college and junior ranks. Say what you want about the London Knights, but Dale Hunter and company have been able to maintain their stronghold in the OHL because they have had the same coach, management, and ownership the last 20 years. Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Nick Saban have been able to lead successful programs at their respective schools because they have been given room to develop and grow. Mike Babcock and Jim Harbaugh are early in their coaching tenures with their current teams. It is only a matter of time before they find success.
There is, however, another side to this argument. No question when there is little change to the team structure whether it is management, coaching, or players, you will succeed. But while some moves are done for the sake of change, sometimes teams tend to hang on to certain people a little too long. Take Jeff Fisher for example. He was fired in December after 5 years with the St Louis/LA Rams. When you combine his last ten years in Tennessee, Fisher had only five winning seasons. You can make that same comparison with Lindy Ruff. He has been behind the bench of an underachieving Buffalo Sabres team for 15 seasons (save for one in 1998-1999). We’ve seen former Coach of the Year winners get the axe the following season, however these two did absolutely nothing for their teams and yet they managed to avoid execution.
But for the most part, having people in place who know what they are doing and not having to decide whether to go look for a new coach/manager/general manager/president means putting a focus on what really matters, and that is winning championships. These people are where they are because they know how to win. They have a plan and stick to it. They don’t care that others don’t like what they do.
I believe management owes it to the people who got you there by giving them long-term contracts or other perks. Everyone does have a shelf life. There will be a time where Belichick will put away the headset and Brady will hang up the cleats for good. But that’s a fork on the road that will be eventually be reached when the time comes. Otherwise, why be in a hurry to get there?