So your college football season went downhill fast?
Maybe it has been a trend in recent years. There have been too many losses and not enough wins. Or the losses were by an unacceptable margin.
You’ve reached your breaking point. And it’s time to fire the coach.
Seems like a reasonable thought. After all, college coaches make lots of money to guide their programs to victories, or at least records that can make alumnus and the general fan base proud.
Oh, sure, there are the calls for community involvement, and the building of leaders, as well as the call to provide a shining example of character to all, but, let’s be real honest, those concerns are most times secondary.
People fill stadiums, buy t-shirts and deck out their home in their favorite team related posters, footballs and trinkets because that team wins more than it loses.
Winners are fun to watch.
If the program is high profile enough and donors exist who will cover the expense of a contract buy out, a faltering coach doesn’t have to falter very long before he’s shown the door.
And the coach search begins.
This is where it gets interesting, because the first inclination to fire the coach didn’t involve this step, at least not in any detail.
It’s kind of like the notion of getting married. You fall in love and think about two things, the wedding and the honeymoon.
Sure, you scratch out general plans, but then life happens, and most of your plans go right out the window.
Same thing with the coach search. You throw out a name or two as possible replacements and get into some lively debates with your friends about who the coach should be, but then the coach search actually happens. And that list you had figured on selecting from goes up in smoke.
Seemingly every time a coaching job of any importance opens, we hear a lot of the same names.
The usual suspect list contains established coaches, like Bob Stoops, former NFL guys like Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher and football retreads like Jimmy Johnson.
Established guys say no, the former NFL guys stay true to their TV analyst commitments and the football retread says, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
You’ll hear a list of coaches that you never counted on, most of whom you don’t really know.
Paul Johnson was offered as a possibility to coach the Huskers after Bill Callahan was shown the door. He was that hot assistant that seemed to have a style which could fit Nebraska—the option.
Page 2 of 2 - Guess who got fired this year at Georgia Tech?
Finding a coach is a very inexact science.
And even guys directly tied to the program can be risky. An assistant coach or head coach from another school may have worked at your school previously, but he was part of a larger structure then. He was a voice in the decision making room. He didn’t have the final say.
What he’ll do when the program belongs to him is anyone’s guess.
Eventually someone will get the nod. A good portion of the fan base will at least try to buy in because that is what fans do. Some will complain insisting that a candidate on their formerly solid sounding list was actually the best choice.
And the program goes forward.
The new coach selects a staff, installs a strategy, recruits to that strategy and attempts to get the program going in the right direction.
Even with the greatest hires, there are going to be road blocks, disappointments and short comings. Frustration creeps up and, often times, the first inclination is to fire the coach and start the whole sorted affair over again.
That might not always be the best course of action.
It’s kind of funny to note that one of those NFL guys on the everyone’s initial list, Coach Cowher, would not even be on the list if the Rooney family in Pittsburgh had been impatient with him.
He was the guy who couldn’t win the big one. And there were plenty of calls for his removal. He left as a Super Bowl champion and became a permanent resident of the “Can’t miss coaching list.”
Of course patience only goes so far. And losses are frustrating. No one doubts these facts.
Consider this a cautionary notation.
Firing the coach doesn’t guarantee success.
Before throwing the current coach onto the scrap heap of program history gone awry, make sure that success isn’t just a few brief years away.
The payout for patience might be less than the payout for the coach’s contract.