Dannemann disgusted poker purists when he pulled out a cheat sheet at the final table, reading aloud from the advice he had written for himself before the tournament began (sample entry: HAVE FUN!). The piece of advice that comes to mind at hiring season was something like: "Not calling a big bet might be a small mistake. Calling a big bet and being wrong is a big mistake." If you don't call the big bet and you're wrong, you didn't make money. If you call the big bet and you're wrong, you're broke.
My post the other day about "potential" and Jim's post on Adrian Peterson got me thinking that hiring faculty based on potential is like calling the big bet. If you're wrong (and you don't trust your tenure and promotion process to bail you out if you are -- a discussion for another day) you've made a big mistake. If, by contrast, you pass on the candidate with potential and she goes on to make a name for herself elsewhere, the loss is only the difference between that candidate and the candidate you in fact hired. If you hired a candidate based on proven capacity, the difference should be very small.
But then I'm the fourth best player in my home game.