More than ever, new coaches must win right away
At his introductory news conference, new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora talked about “the UNC brand” and how he will use that to enhance the football program nationally.
In his introductory news conference, new Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze talked about the importance of recruiting and how he planned to win championships.
And at his introductory news conference, new Arizona State coach Todd Graham talked of winning Pac-12 championships and even the national title.
At least 26 FBS schools are going to have new coaches this spring – we say “at least” because schools with vacancies now could hire a sitting coach and create another vacancy – and the introductory news conference for each basically will be the same as those for Fedora, Freeze and Graham. You’ll hear platitudes about the administrators, reverence for the school’s football past (even if there isn’t much of one) and big ideas about the future.
But you won’t hear talk about three- or four-year plans. That’s because there are no three- or four-year plans anymore.
The 26 changes this offseason are the most since the turn of the century; the second-most is 25 after the 2000 season. And the 26 changes mean this will be the fourth offseason in a row with at least 22 new hires: There were 22 after the 2008 season, 23 after ’09 and 22 last season.
[Related: College football coaching carousel]
None of those new hires are getting much time. Of the 24 hirings made after the 2006 season, 17 already are gone (either fired or left for another job). There were 18 new coaches hired after the 2007 season, and 11 already are gone.
Heck, six of the 22 coaches hired after the 2008 season are gone and three coaches hired after the 2009 season already have been fired: Kansas’ Turner Gill, Akron’s Rob Ianello and Memphis’ Larry Porter. Think about that for a minute. Schools are firing coaches who, basically, had just one recruiting class of their own.
Since the 2000 season, there have been 238 coaching changes – meaning an average of almost two per school among the 120 FBS programs. There were 103 changes made from 2000-05 – and 83 of those coaches already have been fired or left on their own; that’s 80.6 percent.
Using even more recent history as a mathematical guide, about two-thirds of the coaches hired this offseason will be gone by the time the 2016 season rolls around.
That’s why you’ll hear no talk about four-year plans from any new coach: At the end of four years, there’s a good chance he will be gone.
Most people who follow recruiting get caught up in the “star” system – as in, “Why is State Tech signing all those four- and five-star guys and we only have three-star recruits?” But sometimes, three-star guys work out just fine.
We looked at the 26 first-team selections on the recent Yahoo! Sports All-America team. (There actually were 25 players on the team, as LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu also made it as a punt returner). Nine – a bit more than a third of the team – were three-star recruits out of high school.
There also were nine four-star recruits, four five-star prospects (all on offense) and two two-star players. One player was unranked out of high school and walked-on in college.
The four-star prospects: Wisconsin RB Montee Ball, Alabama SS Mark Barron, LSU G Will Blackwell (though as a defensive tackle), Nebraska LB Lavonte David (he was a two-star guy out of high school before going to junior college), Baylor QB Robert Griffin, Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower, South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram (as a linebacker), LSU’s Mathieu and Penn State DT Devon Still.
The three-star recruits: Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, LSU CB Morris Claiborne, Stanford G David DeCastro, Georgia C Ben Jones, Boston College LB Luke Kuechly, Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus, TCU CB Greg McCoy (he’s a kick returner on the team), Georgia FS Bacarri Rambo and Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy.
The unranked player is Nebraska K Brett Maher.
• The Big Ten leads the way with 10 bowl entrants, which ties a single-season record held by the ACC and SEC. The SEC has nine this season, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with eight each, the Pac-12 with seven, the Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American and Mountain West with five each, the Sun Belt and Western Athletic with three each and the independents with two.
• There are a record 14 6-6 teams in bowls. There were 13 last season, eight in 2009 and nine in 2008.
• Two bowl-eligible teams were left out: Ball State (6-6) and Western Kentucky (7-5). Miami (6-6) and USC (10-2) had the requisite number of wins, but UM self-imposed a postseason ban and USC is serving the second season of a two-year ban imposed by the NCAA.
• Clemson and Oklahoma State are making their BCS debuts.
[Related: College football bowl schedule, results]
• This is the seventh consecutive season the Big Ten has had two BCS teams and the sixth season in a row for the SEC. It’s the first time the ACC has had two.
• Going into the postseason, there were four teams that had zero wins against other bowl teams: Air Force, Nevada, Temple and Western Michigan. There were 10 that had just one win over another bowl team: BYU, Florida, Florida International, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, SMU and Vanderbilt. On the other end of the spectrum, there were three teams – LSU, Michigan and Oklahoma State – that had eight victories apiece over other bowl teams.
• For those of us who admit to watching the New Orleans Bowl (actually, if you didn’t, you missed an exciting and entertaining game), the finish was a little bizarre, what with the call of “illegal stemming,” a penalty I never had heard of before. Louisiana-Lafayette was lined up to attempt a 55-yard field goal on the final play of the game when flags flew. San Diego State was called for “illegal stemming,” which in simple terms (but, hey, when is anything related to the NCAA rules book ever simple?) means a defender tried to induce a false start by feinting toward the line of scrimmage. After the 5-yard penalty, ULL’s Brett Baer connected on a 50-yarder to win the game 32-30. Because of the way the ball was hooking at the end, it seems doubtful the kick would’ve been good from 55 yards.
• Ten of Utah State’s 13 games this season were decided by seven or fewer points, including Saturday’s 24-23 loss to Ohio in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Five of the Aggies’ six losses fit their close-game profile. There was an announced crowd of 28,076 in Boise for the game, and that’s important because the Idaho Grower Shippers Association planned to donate three potatoes to The Idaho Foodbank for each fan in attendance; that means 84,228 potatoes are on their way to the food bank.
• The top two seeds moved into the FCS final, which will be Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas. No. 1 Sam Houston State beat No. 4 Montana and will meet No. 2 North Dakota State, which ousted No. 3 Georgia Southern in the other semifinal.
• Pittsburg (Kan.) State downed Wayne (Mich.) State for the Division II crown; the Gorillas had last won a title in 1991. Wisconsin-Whitewater downed Mount Union (Ohio) for its third consecutive Division III title and its fourth in five seasons. You have to figure coach Lance Leipold is going to get a chance to coach an FCS (or even a lower-level FBS) team sometime in the near future. He is an incredible 72-3 in five seasons, and Whitewater currently is riding a 45-game winning streak. In the NAIA final, St. Xavier (Ill.) downed Carroll (Mont.); Carroll had won six of the past nine titles.
• Finally, who says there is no Santa? Because he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, ESPN analyst Craig James is taking a leave of absence from the network. The deadline for James, 50, to file to run is Monday. James would run as a Republican. If he doesn’t decide to run, he presumably would return to the airwaves next week.
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