Monday, January 18, 2010

Disaster in Haiti is sadly both natural AND man made

Maybe the fact that I worked in emergency management for a number of years, and agonized over the government ineptitude during Katrina, has heightened my awareness of just how good the comprehensive emergency management plan (CEMP) was in Florida. If Florida’s plan were in place for international disaster response, I think you’d see a totally different scenario unfolding in Haiti.

As it is, we see more of the same government ineptitude wrapped in bureaucratic red tape stifling the relief and recovery efforts in the devastated island nation. Why, after nearly a week, are we still seeing reporters on cable news ask where the help is? Did our government learn nothing from their missteps in Katrina?

I see aid and supplies piling up on an airport tarmac. I hear of assessment teams and logistical problems. I hear a litany of excuses why international aid organizations cannot mobilize and set up distribution points. What I don’t see or hear are any lessons learned from past disasters being applied in this chaotic situation.

The problem with a natural disaster of this magnitude, essentially disabling a national government, is that you cannot operate under standard operating procedures (SOP) or canned executive orders (EO). When there are no first responders on the ground, functioning hospitals or national guard/security, it is time to throw those government manuals out the window and improvise on the fly.

Case in point, if a private citizen receiving a call for help can drive a truck across the border to the Dominican Republic, load up with supplies and transport them back to an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, then why can’t relief organizations or the military transport those same supplies a few miles from the airport to a downtown square? It boggles the mind. And the only possible answers are a lack of government leadership, poor command and control structure and too much red tape.

I’m actually in agreement with Anderson Cooper of CNN who essentially said tonight screw assessment and logistics, just get the aid to the people who so desperately need it! Assessment is something you do in the first three days of a typical disaster, so that needs can be identified and prioritized. The situation in Haiti is anything but typical. Thousands of lives hang in the balance, and so many will be lost needlessly, not because of a natural disaster, but because of a bureaucratic one. That’s unacceptable!

I thought the head of USAID was telling the national media last week that he was in charge. If that is the case, then he needs to take charge and borrow a page out of Florida’s CEMP. Otherwise, I would expect his future departure to resemble that of FEMA’s Director after Katrina. This is a larger scale disaster in both a natural and a bureaucratic sense, in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Mickey Andrews Tribute

With all the fanfare surrounding Bobby Bowden’s bittersweet exit from the college football landscape, I’d be remiss not to recognize his long-time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. The 2010 Gator Bowl was also Andrews’ last game as a Florida State coach. And no defensive coordinator made a bigger impact on the game than Mickey.

His lightning-quick, ball-hawking, gang-tackling defenses are stuff of legend. Mickey didn’t care how big a player was, as long as he played fast, smart and explosive. Experts have attributed the dominating speed of Mickey Andrews-style defense to the rise in the spread offense in college football. Just ask Steve Spurrier, who in 1996 had to put Heisman-winner Danny Wuerrfel in the shotgun just to give him a fraction of a second to complete any passes. Sports Illustrated columnist Andy Staples says, “Spurrier, at the height of his offensive genius, had to radically renovate his offense because of Andrews.” And Mickey’s defenses were the main reason FSU held an 8-5-1 advantage over Spurrier’s mighty Gators.

Andrews was the master of halftime adjustments. You could spot just about any FSU opponent a sizeable lead or statistical advantage in the first half because you KNEW that Mickey’s defense would completely and totally shut them down after halftime. It happened more times than I can remember. Take the infamous "Choke at Doak" game vs. the Gators. The FSU defense shut the high-flying Gator offense down in the fourth quarter, allowing no points and just 40 yards of offense, and paving the way for one of the greatest comebacks in college football history. Or what of the classic goal line stands? Take the 1993 Kickoff Classic, for instance. In the 42-0 drubbing of overmatched Kansas, the Seminole defense held a goal line stance thwarting 11 Jayhawk attempts to score from inside the 10-yardline in one series.

Mickey's impact was felt beyond the college level. NFL talent scouts always knew that Andrews’ players were well-prepared to make the leap to that next level. The Associated Press reports, “Since 1985, NFL teams have picked 73 defensive players developed by Andrews at Florida State. That list includes Peter Boulware, Derrick Brooks, Terrell Buckley, LeRoy Butler, Sam Cowart and Marvin Jones, who like Sanders all went on to star in the NFL.” Eighteen of those players were first-rounders, and half went in the first ten picks.

Mickey Andrews, “the longest tenured and most successful assistant coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference,” coordinated defenses for 26 seasons at Florida State. He was named the nation's top assistant coach in 2000 by the All-American Football Foundation, the national defensive coordinator of the year in 1998 by the American Football Coach's Magazine and the national assistant coach of the year by Athlon's Magazine in 1991[1]. And during the ‘Noles two National Championship campaigns in ’93 and ’99, Andrews deserves as much credit as anyone for architecting near perfect seasons. Some of his best recruits will one day reside in the NFL Hall of Fame.


Two of my all-time favorite linebackers, groomed under Mickey Andrews’ tutelage, are Derrick Brooks and his predecessor Marvin “Shade Tree” Jones. About Jones, Sports Illustrated says, “Few college linebackers were more dominant than 'Shade Tree,' a three-time All-America who won the Butkus and Lombardi awards in 1992.” He was followed by the legendary #10 who dominated and intimidated opponents beginning his freshman year. Early in the 1993 Season, Derrick Brooks had already scored three touchdowns from his middle linebacker position, to which Sports Illustrated commented on September 27th of that year, “Brooks has outscored his team's four opponents 18-14. By himself.” Without a doubt, these two brute forces will go down in history as some of Mickey’s best and toughest defenders.

And who can forget the legendary defensive backs churned out by FSU? Mickey Andrews was their position coach for much of his 26-year tenure. He prepped stars like Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley and Antonio Cromartie for the NFL, all of them first round picks. Let’s not forget Superbowl MVP Dexter Jackson, either. Some might go so far to say that FSU was Defensive Backs U for a number of years. With a portfolio of future NFL hall-of-famers like that, who can argue?

Of all the coaches who’ve come and gone at Florida State, I’ll miss Mickey’s sunflower seed-spittin’, butt-chewin’, sideline antics the most. His defenses’ were legendary, game changing. Mike Stoops has some incredibly large shoes to fill. I hope he’s worthy of the honor.


LINKS: page

Orlando Sentinel Remembers Mickey Andrews