College Football 2011: 10 Coaches Who Made a Mistake Switching Jobs
Rich Rodriguez has a huge ego.
So when he recently admitted he made a mistake by leaving his alma mater West Virginia for what he thought was a better opportunity at Michigan, it was a shock to many.
The shock wasn’t that he regretted the move, but rather that he actually admitted it.
Will Rich Rodriguez coach again? Of course he will. He has a good enough track record of success for someone to not give him another shot.
But his legacy will always include the mistake he made of leaving WVU for Michigan.
Rodriguez is not the only coach who made a questionable coaching change. In the past 30 years, here are the coaches who had a serious lapse of judgment.
10. Randy Edsall
OK, this may seem a bit premature, but this is an early prediction.
Randy Edsall was the face of UConn football and led the Huskies to their first BCS Bowl Game.
So how does he follow it up?
He bolts for Maryland and the ACC. Not really much of an upgrade.
9. Nick Saban
Anyone who knows anything about football will tell you Nick Saban is one of the best coaches in the game.
Saban also has one of the sweetest jobs also. It doesn’t get much better than winning at Alabama.
Seriously, does this guy ever pay for a meal or drink in Tuscaloosa?
However, Saban should have never bolted for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins after the outstanding work he did at LSU.
Of course you could say he wouldn’t be at Alabama right now if he didn’t go to Miami, and of course he collected some pretty hefty pay checks for two years.
But Saban is a college football coach. He doesn’t need the NFL to validate anything.
8. Bobby Petrino
This is similar to Nick Saban’s dalliance with the pros, but an even worse outcome.
Bobby Petrino was itching to get out of Louisville and when the Atlanta Falcons came calling—with another boatload of cash—he just couldn’t say no.
Like Saban again, Petrino is doing just fine at Arkansas. But he didn’t need to go the NFL route first.
Petrino was and still remains one of the top names in college football. He would have found his way to the SEC eventually.
7. Butch Davis
Butch Davis had a rough go of it last year at North Carolina, but nothing compares to when he tried to run the show with the Cleveland Browns.
The year after he left the Miami for the NFL, the Hurricanes rolled to a BCS Championship under Larry Coker. That’s Bill Stewart before anyone knew Bill Stewart.
If Davis had remained in Coral Gables he would have racked up a few national championships and would be even more legendary than Jimmy Johnson.
Instead, he’s a great coach with an average team.
6. Urban Meyer
You don’t leave Florida when everyone in Gainesville still wants you around.
Ron Zook is forced out, but Urban Meyer could have coached there until he was Joe Paterno’s age.
Now Meyer says he was burned out and he needed more time with his family. So he proceeded to leave his family to cover spring games for ESPN.
Now he’s rumored to be the next coach at Ohio State (if and when Jim Tressel is fired).
That wouldn’t be a bad move, but quitting the Gators when you don’t have to is not recommended.
5. Steve Spurrier
Here we go again. Steve Spurrier was Urban Meyer before Meyer was ever a head coach.
Spurrier was Florida Gators football. A Heisman Trophy winner who loved to poke fun at the Gators’ rival Florida State.
For some reason, Spurrier couldn’t turn down Daniel Snyder and Washington Redskins. Apparently $5 million a year is tough to pass on, even for Spurrier.
His NFL coaching run was miserable and now he’s at a second-rate SEC program.
OK, the Gamecocks won the SEC East last year, but no one ever confuses South Carolina with Florida.
4. Tyrone Willingham
There was a time when Tyrone Willingham was considered one of the finest college coaches.
As the coach at Stanford from 1995-2001, Willingham guided the Cardinal to a 44-36-1 record. Stanford also played in the 2000 Rose Bowl.
After a 9-3 season in 2001 and a misfire by Notre Dame on George O’Leary, the Fighting Irish turned to Willingham.
Willingham delivered a 10-3 record the first season, but from there it went down hill with a 5-7 and 6-5 marks his final two years.
It’s hard to blame anyone for taking the Notre Dame job, but Willingham’s reputation never recovered.
3. Dan Hawkins
In 2005, Dan Hawkins was one of the hottest names in coaching.
At Boise State, Hawkins amassed a 53-11 record from 2001-05, while going 2-2 in bowl games.
So when Colorado came calling in late 2005, Hawkins couldn’t turn down a shot at a big-time program.
Now Hawkins is the butt of many jokes as he led the once proud Buffaloes to a 19-39 record from 2006 until he was fired in 2010.
His replacement at Boise, Chris Petersen, has resisted the urge to go elsewhere and it has paid off handsomely.
2. Rich Rodriguez
Moving from West Virginia to Michigan seems like a no-brainer.
Take a closer look and you’ll see Rich Rodriguez had struck oil in them thar hills of West Virginia.
Rodriguez was born and raised in the state and was coaching his alma mater. He had them on the verge of playing in a BCS Championship Game and had become a perennial Top 10 program.
But he got greedy. He kept asking for more and more from the WVU administration and finally they said no.
Backed into a corner, Rodriguez flinched and the rest is history.
Don’t be surprised if one day he returns to WVU, but it may take another five to seven years for enough fans to forgive.
1. Howard Schnellenberger
What the hell was Howard Schnellenberger thinking?
He turned around the Miami Hurricanes from a laughingstock program that was almost shut down by university officials into the 1984 National Champions.
Schnellenberger was almost as big as Don Shula in South Florida.
So what did he decide to do after getting to the top?
He thought bolting for the USFL was the right move instead of continuing to recruit the State of Miami and winning championships.
Sorry Howard, but that’s the ultimate failure.
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