It seems there are some that are concerned that Michigan may have settled by selecting Brady Hoke as their next coach. After Rich Rodriguez was fired, it seemed that Jim Harbaugh was the odds on favorite to be the next coach. Once he decided to head to the NFL, all eyes turned to LSU coach Les Miles. Reports vary on if Miles was even offered the job before they hired Hoke.
Harbaugh and Miles were the superstar names on the list. By not getting either one of them or by luring some other “named” coach, Michigan has been accused of settling by going with Hoke.
Looking at the past 10 BCS Champions though, we see that based on the winning coach’s backgrounds, Hoke is the right choice. It is rare to see a big-name coach from a top flight school jump to another big school and even rarer for them to find success. The path to championship coaching appears to be finding the next big coach from a mid-major or lower-tier school, rather than luring one away from another established winning program.
One question being asked by some is: Does Hoke have the experience needed to run a major football program? Based on this list, the answer is yes. Also, much is made about Michigan wanting a “Michigan Man.” The stats show that many of these coaches had previous experience at the school that they eventually won a championship with, and most didn’t have the “Big” school coaching experience.
2000: Oklahoma; Bob Stoops
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Iowa, Kent State, Kansas State and Florida.
Stoops' first and only head coaching position has been with Oklahoma. He coached them to a championship in his second season, and under him, Oklahoma has the most wins in the NCAA FBS over the past decade.
2001: Miami; Larry Coker
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Miami.
He was promoted when Butch Davis, the former coach, moved on to the NFL.
Coker is the only coach on this list to eventually be fired by the school he won a championship with. Like Stoops, this was his first head coaching position. However, he did serve as the offensive coordinator for five years in Miami before taking over as coach.
2002: Ohio State; Jim Tressel
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Akron, Miami of Ohio, Syracuse and Ohio State.
Head Coach: Youngstown State
Tressel lead Youngstown State to four division 1-AA championships in his 15 years there. He had only served as position coach while at his various FBS jobs. He coached the Buckeyes to a championship in his second season and has helped them reach the championship game two more times.
2003: LSU; Nick Saban
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Kent State, Michigan State, Syracuse, Ohio State, Navy. NFL jobs with Houston and Cleveland.
Head Coach: Toledo, Michigan State and Miami (NFL, after LSU)
Saban only coached in Toledo for one season but was successful, leading them to a 9-2 record. He had moderate success at Michigan State. He had previously been on the coaching staff at MSU before being named as the coach. He posted a 34-24-1 record in his five seasons but only won more than seven games once in his tenure. After his best season of 9-2, he left for LSU.
After three seasons, he won the championship at LSU before heading to the NFL.
2004: USC; Pete Carroll
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Pacific, Arkansas, Iowa State, Ohio State and North Carolina State.
NFL positions with Buffalo, San Francisco and Minnesota
Head Coach: NFL New York Jets and New England
Carroll had a 33-31 record as a head coach in the NFL. When USC was looking for a new coach, he was not the top choice for the job. He had not been a collegiate coach for 17 years, and his NFL head coaching resume wasn’t that solid.
He was fired from the Jets after one season. His three years with the Patriots saw their record get worse each season. USC pursued three other candidates before Carroll, and even then, Carroll had to lobby for the job. He was finally hired.
2005: Texas; Mack Brown
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Florida State, Southern Mississippi, Memphis State, Iowa State, Louisiana State and Oklahoma.
Head Coach: Appalachian State, Tulane and North Carolina
Mack’s head coaching resume was not that impressive. He had a 6-5 record at Appalachian State and 11-23 at Tulane. He spent 10 seasons at North Carolina, a run of 20-3 over the last two seasons helps to boost his record, so that by the time he was hired by Texas, his complete record was 86-74.
He won the championship in his eighth season at Texas.
2006 and 2008: Florida; Urban Meyer
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Ohio State, Illinois State, Colorado State and Norte Dame.
Head Coach: Bowling Green and Utah
Meyer put up impressive records at two mid-major schools. At Bowling Green, he was 17-6 over his two seasons. Once at Utah, he posted a 22-2 record and a BCS bowl, the first for a school from a non-automatic qualifying conference. Following the 2004 season, Notre Dame, where he had been an WR coach, and Florida each pursued him. He selected Florida and won two championships within his first four seasons.
2007: LSU; Les Miles
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Michigan, Colorado, Oklahoma State and Dallas (NFL)
Head Coach: Oklahoma State
Miles posted a record of 28-21 as a head coach at Oklahoma State over four seasons. While not an amazing record, he did improve a team that was 13-20 in the three years before his arrival. That turnaround is what helped him land the LSU job when Saban left for the NFL.
2009: Alabama; Nick Saban
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Kent State, Michigan State, Syracuse, Ohio State, Navy.
NFL jobs with Houston, Cleveland and Miami.
Head Coach: Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Miami(NFL)
Saban goes against the pattern at this point. After a short-lived tenure in the NFL, he returned to the college ranks. At this point, with a BCS championship to his credit, he was already a big-name established coach.
2010: Auburn; Gene Chizik
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Clemson, Middle Tennessee, Stephen F Austin, Central Florida, Auburn, Texas
Head Coach: Iowa State
Chizik had an unremarkable 5-19 record in his two seasons at Iowa State. He was not a popular hire and had many people questioning the reasoning for the hire. Auburn won the BCS Championship in his second season, and he has a record at Auburn of 22-5.
Coaching Background: Various positions on the coaching staffs of Grand Valley State, Western Michigan, Toledo, Oregon State and Michigan,
Head Coach: Ball State and San Diego State.
Hoke turned around a Ball State team that had not had a winning record in 10 seasons. In 2008, he led Ball State to a school record 12 wins and their first ever Associated Press Top-25 ranking.
He then moved to San Diego State where he turned around a team that had won two games the year before he arrived to nine wins two seasons later.
So what does all this mean?
Looking at this list of nine championship-winning coaches, we learn that:
-Four had previously held positions at the school they eventually led to a championship.
It seems like the “Michigan Man” mentality is also practiced in other schools, and it has worked well for them.
-Three of them held their first collegiate head coaching job at the school the won would win the title with. A fourth, Tressel, had only coached at FCS (D1-AA) level school.
This is a surprising stat to see that so many on the list had little head coaching experience prior to their championship team. Hoke has eight years of head coaching experience.
-Only three had held a coaching job and a BCS conference school prior to their hire and none of those school were considered upper echelon schools within their conference. Of course that does not count Nick Saban winning with Alabama as at that time he was an established big name coach.
The theme with the coaches on this list is that, with the exception of Chiznik, they have turned around and improved the teams that they coached. Most made a name for themselves in the mid-majors.
Hoke has made a name for himself in the mid-majors. He gets what being a “Michigan Man” is, just as Tressel got what being a Buckeye was from his famous and rousing speech at an Ohio State basketball game just after his hire. His job will not be easy as the system turnaround will take time, but he will know how to use the talent he has.
So, relax Michigan fans. Just because you didn’t get the big-name, star coach doesn’t mean you got the wrong coach.