College Football 2012: Longevity Becoming a Thing of the Past as Stakes Increase

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterJuly 13, 2012

Coach Bear Bryant of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches his players during a game.
Getty Images/Getty Images

Yesterday the ESPN bloggers detailed the longest tenured coach in each of their respective conference. Ed Aschoff hit on the SEC and Richt's tenure. Adam Rittenberg discussed how, with the loss of Joe Paterno, and to a lesser extent Jim Tressel, the Big Ten is no longer the "league of longevity." Ted Miller of the Pac-12 Blog, talks about the long-time Cal and Oregon State coaches, Jeff Tedford and Mike Riley, being on the hot seat in 2012. David Ubben talks Bob Stoops and Mack Brown, where success and longevity go hand in hand. Both Andrea Adelson and Heather Dinich hit on the short tenure of the bulk of the coaches in the Big East and ACC, save for Frank Beamer of course.

A great look by the Worldwide Leader at who has the years in the tank at their current gigs. In the wake of the Paterno firing a look around the landscape reminds us just how far away the current crop of coaches are from getting to that 409 wins that JoePa posted.

The next closest active coaches? Frank Beamer at 251, Mack Brown at 227 and Chris Ault at 226. For Beamer, the next closest, it would take 11 seasons of 14-0 football to get within four of Paterno. Not sure if you've been keeping track but Beamer is on the tail end of his career at 65 years old and the Hokies have not gone undefeated under Beamer since, well, ever.

Odds are that we'll never see a coach at the FBS level approach the Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden level of wins. In fact, Bear Bryant's 323 wins seems far fetched for the coaches operating in today's climate. The simple fact is the coaching world of the current era does not lend itself to longevity in any way, shape or form.

From the professional angle it all boils down to one thing; coaching FBS college football is harder now than it has ever been. The hours are more demanding than ever. The job requirements continue to increase as coaches are pulled in every direction by non-football demands, yet still asked to win as many games as possible.

The game is more advances than ever. Recruiting is more competitive than it has ever been. In short, the demands of the coaching job do not lend themselves to a coach grinding it out for the 46 or 44 or 38 years; Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden or Bear Bryant respectively. 

It is hard to stay at the top for a long time. The evolution of college football has sunk some coaches. Inability to adjust to today's athlete has left others looking for a job after a tough couple of season. Personality issues have seen some public favorites pushed out of their jobs. NCAA scandals have forced many a coach into the unemployment line.

For the college football coach on today's landscape there are lot more ways to get fired than reasons to stay hired. While the demands of the job wear on a coach, the truth of the matter is that college football coaches are hired to be fired in today's world. The window for immediate success is smaller, the tolerance for inconsistency is less than ever and the lusting for more at every turn is greater than ever.

Ask Mark Richt how a couple down years, following a Sugar Bowl win, can put you squarely on the proverbial hot seat. Ask Derek Dooley how not getting out to a hot start, even with injuries, can leave your career on life support. Ask Mike Riley how, after taking the Beavers to six straight bowl games, a couple bad seasons can have one of the Beavers' best coaches ever out on his behind come December.

We live in a "what have you done for me lately" society and college football's hiring and firing practices exemplify this element. You do not get a decade to "get things going" at a program. You get a couple years and if the results are not there, then your employer is looking for someone new.

The all-time wins records are all safe. Not just Paterno's but Bobby Bowden's 377 and Bear Bryant's 323 as well. With the physical demands of the job, the complexities of the professions evolution and the competition out there; staying at the elite level is no small task. Throw in the fact that your athletic director and your fanbase demand excellence on a near yearly basis or your thrown out; and it is clear that longevity is just a thing of the past.