After two decades as a football coach, Chip Kelly unearthed an interesting insight about recruiting players for the NFL: The teams with the most college graduates tend to outperform their rivals.
Kelly discovered this fact a few years ago, when Tony Dungy (then-head coach of the Indianapolis Colts) told him that the two teams that dominated the NFL at the time had the most college grads.
Intrigued, Kelly overhauled his approach to picking players for his squad. He scrutinized college stars for their academic performance as well as their athletic prowess.
One of those players, Beau Allen of the University of Wisconsin, visited with many NFL coaches before the draft. Allen says that most coaches asked a few cursory questions about his academics before focusing on his gridiron skills.
But his meeting with Kelly stood apart.
The new Eagles coach asked Allen, “Why did you pick your major?”, “What was your hardest class, and why?” and “How do you learn best in the classroom? What did your best professors do to get through to you?”
For example, Allen told Kelly that he’s a visual learner who prefers to write what he hears in a notebook and memorize it. Impressed, Kelly selected Allen in the draft.
When Allen joined the team, he saw that everyone received a tablet computer to view the playbook. But Kelly arranged for Allen to get a tablet with a stylus and a pen so that he could write what he learned.
— Adapted from “Wanted: Grads for the Gridiron,” Kevin Clark, www.wsj.com.