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I'm not a big sports fan, but I know Auburn, the SEC, the Yankees are winners, but then the Mets, the Cubs, the Browns tend to lose.

I would think over years that there would a more cyclical win/lose cycle, but it seems pretty consistent, even over decades.

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I'm going to provide a general overview of factors that contribute to a team's consistency. This isn't meant to be a comprehensive or highly detailed essay on the topic.

A few factors:

  • Recruiting
  • Coaching
  • Front Office
  • Any combination of the above factors.

Recruiting: In college, the best teams generally get the best recruits. This explains why the SEC generally has the best teams (as 6 out of the top 10 recruiting classes for 2019 belong to SEC teams).

Coaching: Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, and Steve Kerr are considered exceptional coaches in their respective sports. Teams with low turnover in the coaching department tend to be more consistent as players do not have to adjust to different coaching systems (even Marvin Lewis, coach for the Bengals for the past 15 years, has been consistent...consistently slightly above average and cannot win a playoff game).

Front Office: This is a big factor when it comes to the Cleveland Browns. Their front office decisions have been considered subpar. There have been instances that a team has turned around after a personnel change (eg, a new general manager). For example, the San Francisco 49ers hired a new general manager for the 2011 NFL season (along with a new head coach). After consecutive losing seasons, the 49ers made the NFC Championship game that season.

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Simple: Ownership. It starts from the top. Ownership sets the tone, the culture and strategic goals, signs off on big moves, hires the front office who in turn make the strategic decisions on running a franchise, hiring a coach, building a team of players, etc.

If you want proof, just look at cases of perennial losing and winning franchises across different sports.

The Bad

  • Los Angeles Clippers under Donald Sterling
  • Golden State Warriors under Chris Cohan
  • New York Knicks under James Dolan
  • Detroit Lions under the Fords
  • Washington Redskins under Daniel Snyder

The Good

  • New England Patriots under Robert Kraft
  • San Antonio Spurs under Peter Holt
  • Los Angeles Lakers under the late Jerry Buss
  • Golden State Warriors under Joe Lacob

A great example of the difference an owner can make is the Warriors. Long time owner Chris Cohan oversaw decades of being a bottom dweller laughing stock team, dysfunction and turmoil in the front office, a culture more worried about entertainment than winning, etc. So what happened? He made decisions based on his goals, and his incompetence permeated throughout the franchise. They didn't care about winning, they made horrible trades, drafts, decisions, etc. Now comes along Joe Lacob, who transformed the entire franchise: created a winning culture, hired competent/respected/smart front office, made great decisions with drafts, trades, free agency, etc. The Warriors went from absolute laughing stock, to powerhouse dynasty, in less than 5 yrs of new ownership. Good, bad, or mediocre, this happens all across sports.

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