As MMA Weekly first reported, the IFL has released Shawn Tompkins from his contract as coach of the L.A. Anacondas. Anyone who saw the Anacondas back in March and then saw them again in the playoffs in August could have seen this coming. They just weren’t the same team, and a lot of it had to do with Tompkins not having the necessary time to devote to them.
Don’t get me wrong, Shawn Tompkins is an excellent coach and MMA trainer. He understands the nuances of the sport and can assess a guy’s strengths and weaknesses to come up with an effective game plan.
But over the last six months or so his career as a trainer has really taken off and as a result he spread himself very thin trying to keep up. He was named head coach of the Anacondas after Bas Rutten left, and then he was named head trainer at Dan Henderson’s Team Quest West academy (the name of which always perplexed me, since both Team Quests were already on the West Coast), and then he left Team Quest for Randy Couture’s fight team.
That’s just too many different teams and fighters to worry about. When Tompkins was just focusing on the Anacondas, they were characterized by extensive training camps. But going into the IFL semifinals there were rumblings from several team members that Tompkins wasn’t pulling them together for team training like they’d hoped.
After they were pounded by the Silverbacks in the semis, I remember asking Tompkins in the press conference whether he felt the lack of a solid training camp hurt his team. It was almost impressive the way he evaded the question completely.
It’s a shame, because Tompkins was a really good ambassador for the league and a good coach. You can’t blame him for wanting to seize these opportunities as they arose, but his fighters deserve a coach who will put them first.
From what I hear, Tompkins won’t be the only coaching change the IFL makes before the 2008 season. I won’t say who else is on the chopping block, but as the team format progresses we’re discovering that just being a great athlete doesn’t make you a great coach. I’m looking at you, Isiah Thomas.