I won't offer any personal opinions on the (s)he said/(s)he said aspects that are indistinguishable from gossip, or the supposed political machinations with which I am entirely unfamiliar. So that leaves me with a fairly narrow range of topics on which to comment , but nevertheless:
-Generally, there is no tight correlation between how well a coach did in their own athletic career and their subsequent success as a coach. Bela Karolyi was apparently a mediocre gymnast. Bob Knight, widely considered one of the all-time geniuses of college basketball coaching, was not a world-class player himself (possibly because chair-throwing was never introduced as an Olympic sport); at Ohio State, he was a scrub who rarely made it off the bench. The consensus greatest teacher in modern golf, Butch Harmon, was a marginal tour pro for a couple of years who started his coaching gig lining up putts for the King of Morocco. It's almost a rule of thumb in baseball that the best coaches are the guys who never had much talent (relatively speaking), but who tried to make up for it by being smart in all aspects of the game. Frank Carroll won a couple of medals at the junior national level, but did not go beyond that.
The first and primary job of a coach is to "impart knowledge" on the correct way to do things, in terms of technique and training regimen. How to pull a ball to left field, or feather a jump shot, or the principles of a fade, or the required mechanics for a 3f-3t. Many more people possess this knowledge than can become champions at doing it.
On the other hand, what distinguishes a great coach, IMO, is not necessarily the knowledge, but the ability to "impart". This requires a skill-set very different from, and perhaps just as rare as, the actual doing. In many cases, being a great champion may actually work against you as a coach, for reasons of ego, impatience, the inability to understand how someone can't immediately do what seems obvious/easy to the former great champion, etc. This is not to say a champion can't be a great coach, just that the skill-sets are not necessarily joined at the hip.
In the case of Brian Orser, my view is that the fact that he was a World Champion, or conversely, that he was never Olympic Champion, is not decisive in determining his coaching abilities. That he coached Yuna to World and Olympic championships is, personally speaking, a strong prima facie case that he is a great coach. Although the question of whether he just managed to catch lightning in a bottle can only be fully answered as his coaching career progresses (the criteria to be applied, however, shouldn't be as narrow as producing another OGM winner. OGMs are rare; Frank Carroll only had one in a career that spanned almost five decades).
-As anyone who has participated in sports in any systematic way will know, the coach's ability to successfully "impart" is actually a two-way street. First, it very much has to do with the fit between the coach's strengths and the weaknesses of the pupil, and the importance of this increases in direct proportion with the pupil's demonstrated abilities. Second, the importance of "chemistry" cannot be understated, at any level. There is always talk about the "coachability" factor (Mirai being a currently popular poster child), but in my view, coachability is generally not all on the pupil. Sometimes it is at least partially a function of the coach's pedagogical (which often means psychological) skills, and sometimes it's just a matter of clashes of personality and styles.
I would very much hope that Team Yuzuru had these considerations very much front and center in their decision-making. If these things aren't right, then in my untutored opinion, any calculations of political advantage, prestige, etc. are like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Last edited by Robeye; 04-28-2012 at 08:02 AM.