I first got onto this idea of putting on the top of your hiring list for important sports leadership roles those that have a championship on their resume back when the Cubs hired Dallas Green as their general manager. In 1981 when the Tribune Company bought the Cubs they made Andrew McKenna their CEO. After Dallas Green was hired by the Cubs as their general manager Andrew McKenna allowed his hiring strategy to become public knowledge. I believe it was the Tribune that first put McKenna's profile as his preferred general manager out for public consumption.
The main component of this profile was to identify candidates who played important leadership roles that led to World Series winners. In Dallas Green's case, he was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies who won a World Series in 1980.
During the Bears 1981 season, I became disenchanted with their head coach Neil Armstrong. So I took McKenna's profile and proceeded to do my best to identify the best possible guy to be the new Bears head coach. My research pointed to Mike Ditka who fit the profile, perfectly. The icing on the cake was that he was a former Bear with a big personality. To start with Ditka showed obvious leadership qualities as a player. He, famously, was the Bears starting tight end on their 1963 Championship team. He also was the special teams coach for the 1977 Cowboys who were Super Bowl winners.
I wrote a letter to the Bears using McKenna's logic as the reason for my choice. Ironically, Mike Ditka sent a letter to George Halas detailing why he should be the next Bears head coach. The rest is history. I am not suggesting that my letter had any effect on this hire but the process of identifying Ditka as the Bears' best option and his ultimate success proved to me that this process of identifying a head coach was as good as any and very likely, the best way to do it.
In 1987, I used this same process to identify Phil Jackson as the best guy for the Bulls to hire as their head coach. At that time the Bulls instead hired Doug Collins as their head coach but also hired Phil Jackson as an assistant coach. Phil Jackson was a great candidate because he played on the 1970 and 1973 Knicks Championship teams.
After retiring as a player, he coached CBA teams which were the minor leagues of the NBA. In 1985 his CBA team won a championship. There is no bigger proof than Phil Jackson's enormous success as a head coach that this profile used to hire sports management people is a very special one. In Chicago and LA, Phil went on to win 11 NBA Championships as a head coach.