The 12 Year Itch: 13 Programs Struggling After Long Tenured Coach Leave

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The 12 Year Itch: 13 Programs Struggling After Long Tenured Coach Leave

With the recent retirement of long time Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden and the upcoming retirement of long time Penn State coach Joe Paterno, I got to thinking. What happens to major college football programs in the modern era after their long term coaches leave the university? There are a few college football programs that have enjoyed success after a successful long tenured coach. Ohio State hasn’t missed a step without Woody, Michigan goes on without Bo (although it’s getting a little testy up there), BYU keeps winning after LaVell, Georgia survived Vince Dooley, West Virginia is still in good shape after Nehlen and Air Force keeps running after DeBerry. But, is it generally good to have one coach for so long? If you look at some of the most successful college football programs in the modern era, you will see that they share something in common. They cycle through coaches. They could be let go after a couple years of mediocrity, a losing season or two, pressure from alum for not being better than 8-4, inability to beat your rival or they may just leave for greener pastures. Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Auburn, Texas, LSU, Notre Dame and Miami, for example, have had a string of coaches with less than 11 years at the helm. Most are less than that. Yet those programs are perceived as generally successful without a long term coach. So, is it good to have the cut-off point for a coach’s tenure at one school around the 12 year mark or is it better to ride their winning streak and success out and worry about the now instead of the future? I’ve listed the unlucky 13 programs that have not recovered from the success of their one long tenured coach.

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