The End Of The Tenured College Football Coach
With the most recent developments of coaching changes occurring in Southern California and Tennessee it seems obvious why I would write this article. The truth of the matter is that I had planned on writing this after the departure of Bobby Bowden from Florida State and Brian Kelly/Notre Dame debacle.
I mention Bobby Bowden because it seems that he may be one of the last successful coaches to stick with a team for that many years. The other coach with the longest tenure is non other than Penn State's Joe Paterno. In a distant second now is Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech.
The matter of the fact is that college football coaches seem to be moving from team to team more often as of late. There are two main reasons for this anomaly and they both stem from the same reason, money. Successful coaches want more of it, and universities want to pay less of it.
There are only a total of eight FBS coaches with ten-plus years under their belt at the same university. Those being, in order, Paterno of Penn State (44), Beamer of Virginia Tech (23), Larry Blakeney (19), Pat Hill of Fresno State (13), Mack Brown of Texas (12), Kirk Ferentz of Iowa (11), Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (11), and Randy Edsall of Connecticut (11).
That list would have included two more names, but the firings of Mike Leach from Texas Tech and Jim Leavitt of South Florida make the list even shorter.
Jim Leavitt, South Florida football's first head coach, brought the team from FCS mediocrity to Big East contenders in only 13 seasons as head coach. However, he was fired this past month after allegedly assaulting a player. This firing comes less than two years after Leavitt and South Florida reached an agreement on a contract extension that would pay him more than 12.5 million.
Mike Leach was in a similar situation. As the head coach of Texas Tech he led the Red Raiders to a bowl game in every one of his ten seasons there. He was also fired in the last month for allegedly locking one of his players in an equipment shed. Almost identically to Leavitt, Leach was fired about two years after negotiating a contract extension that would pay him about 12.5 million.
It seems that either way the two universities were looking to save money by firing these coaches, either by not having to pay majority of those two contracts or trying to avoid a lawsuit by the players involved in the scandals. Regardless, the school's seemed to make their decisions rather easily in parting ways with two successful long-term coaches.
Now what about the other side of this story? Coaches leaving their schools for a greater payday.
We can start this with the great Urban Meyer and no, this has nothing to do with his leave of absence at Florida. This starts with his short stints at Bowling Green and Utah.
Meyer had decent success at Bowling Green before leaving for Utah. At Utah he completely dominated the Mountain West, only losing two games in two seasons and winning two bowl games. He was a poster boy for a college football playoff system especially after his undefeated 2004 season, where the Utes won the Fiesta Bowl. Shortly after he fled to the University of Florida for a greater pay day and seems to be less quiet on the playoff system.
Next we have Rich Rodriguez. The former coach of West Virginia, brought the team back into a national spotlight before leaving unexpectedly for Michigan. Ironically he was replacing Lloyd Carr, who is one of the more recent successful tenure coaches. Exactly the type of coach which we will most likely not see again.
Anyways, Rodriguez left a school where he had an easy chance of winning a national title in the next couple years for a rebuilding project in Michigan. A project in which he has had little success.
Money just seems to outweigh loyalty.
A perfect transition into Brian Kelly. The former Cincinnati head coach left his team after an undefeated regular season for the high paying job at Notre Dame. He back-stabbed his team and did the one thing he said he would never do, leave Cincinnati.
Besides illustrious big name Universities, there is another high paying coaching job that lures college coaches, the NFL.
One of the names that comes to mind is Nick Saban, who left LSU after six seasons for a job in the NFL. After a short unsuccessful stint with he Miami Dolphins, Saban crawled back into the NCAA to become the head coach of Alabama. He has had recent success there, winning the National Championship, but who knows if he can pass by another opportunity in the NFL.
The most recent college coach to turn to the NFL is Pete Carroll. After nine very successful seasons at USC, Carroll recently left to take on the NFL once more, this time with the Seattle Seahawks.
With this vacancy at USC there came another coaching controversy.
Lane Kiffin, after just one season with Tennessee, left to fill this position. The two previous coaches at Tennessee were there for a combined 33 seasons. Kiffin's one season simply shows the new philosophy for head football coaches, go where the money is.
It seems that in this day and age the lack of loyalty is evident. Both by the coaches and the Universities themselves. It is safe to say a lot of players lack loyalty too, with decommitments, transfers, and foregone senior seasons.
College sports use to be the one last thing where loyalty and love of the game outweighed the money. But clearly we can see that college coaches move around more like baseball free agents.
Will we ever see another college coach stick with the same team for more than 15 seasons? Probably not, if he is successful he will search for more money, if he is not successful, he will be fired. That is simply the business of the game in present day.
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