Muschamp Pelini Hoke And More Walk The Plank
By John Ventola
The collegiate coaching carousel for 2014 has begun. Already, before this season’s bowl matchups have been announced, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, and Michigan’s Brady Hoke have been relieved of their duties at three of the big-name universities in the country.
Charlie Weis of Kansas was fired on September 28th and Buffalo head man Jeff Quinn was let go on October 13th before Tulsa relieved head coach Bill
Blankenship of his duties yesterday. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck chose yesterday also to resign from his post, while Troy coach Larry Blakeney had announced his pending retirement in October. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and coach June Jones, who put out some decent teams in his tenure at Hawaii, failed to generate much traction at SMU and resigned after the first two games of his seventh season in Dallas. Jones called it quits in late September, citing personal issues.
Coaching is a tough business. Individuals who choose coaching as a profession know it will not be an easy ride to the pinnacle of the profession. Good teams lead fan bases to expect better teams. Championships teams lead to a thirst for more titles. Average does not satisfy athletic administrators, fan bases, or recruits—the lifeblood of any program. Make no mistake, it is a business, a big business, and the revenue generated by a school’s football program helps support other athletic and academic programs. Why else would we see head football coaches at most universities making more money than famous, tenured, professors?
This writer has always been fascinated with how different credentials, backgrounds, approaches, and personalities can end up being the right fit for athletic success at certain schools, but not work at others. Surely, having talented athletes is a major
part of the success formula, but some coaches have the ability to take less talented athletes, have them perform at their optimum level, and win with flawless execution and discipline. Being in the right place at the right time sounds so trite, but it does play a part, especially when a coach is entrenched with the full backing of a school’s administration and athletic director.
Twenty Division I programs had new coaches walking their sideline this year. Penn State, Texas, USC, Louisville, Vanderbilt, and Washington were in that number because of last season’s head coaching merry-go-round action. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin took the Penn State post, Louisville’s Charlie Strong was hired at Texas, and USC got a former Trojan assistant coach, Steve Sarkisian, to return to Los Angeles from Washington. That opened up head coaching jobs for Bobby Petrino at Louisville, Derek Mason at Vanderbilt, and former Boise State boss Chris Petersen at Washington. Petrino had been serving penance for some off field transgressions while at Arkansas, and was coaching at Western Kentucky before getting a reprieve and moving to Louisville.
So far only three major schools have announced that they are in the evaluation and interview process for new coaches. Besides the fired and retired names mentioned
above, there should be more firings in the next two weeks as schools decide to go with a different coach, approach, or system. Newly named head coaches have to be on board to make the recruiting process seamless for this year’s class. Neal Brown has already been named to replace Blakeney at Troy while Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris has been appointed to take over for Jones at SMU.
While last year featured head coaching changes, it appears that this season will be highlighted by former head coaches such as Muschamp, Pelini, and Hoke getting hired as assistants to help high profile programs. Southeastern Conference (SEC) rivals Auburn and Texas A & M each featured high octane offenses this year, but could not stop opponents on defense. Consequently, Auburn dismissed its defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and the Aggies let go defensive coordinator Mark Snyder after only three seasons in College Station. Muschamp and Pelini, who each led defenses at LSU to national championships, (Muschamp under Nick Saban in 2003, and Pelini under Les Miles in 2007), are sure to be looked at by both Auburn and Texas A & M.
Muschamp ended his Gainesville stay with a 17-15 SEC record while going 28-21 overall. He was the head coach in waiting at Texas under Mack Brown when he decided to succeed an ill Urban Meyer four years ago. He had a 11-2 record in his second season before losing in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. While he should have
succeeded at Florida with the recruiting hotbed around him, Muschamp had non-patient Gator Athletic Director Jeremy Foley breathing down his neck the whole time he was Florida’s head coach.
Pelini finished his seventh year at Nebraska with a 9-3 campaign, but was 15-9 in Big Ten competition and 21-9 in the Big 12 when the Huskers were still in that league. It was not enough to keep Husker Nation from his door, particularly with his squads playing such weak defense.
Hoke has won championships at three schools as a head coach, Ball State, San Diego State, and Michigan. He got off to a great start after replacing Rich Rodriguez as Wolverine top man, going 16-4 his first two seasons. However, the Wolverines began to lose the turnover battle the last three years and posted a 15-16 record. This writer watched Michigan’s 31-0 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend in early September and the squad looked completely inept in the process. Hoke’s head coaching career record at the three schools is 78-70
Muschamp, Pelini, and Hoke will not be unemployed for long. While they could not sustain success at their three stops, they are good coaches and will be back coaching football in the fall.
Offensive guru Rodriguez, who tried to bring a wide-open offense to Michigan, and introduce it to the Big Ten, faced administrative and football cultural differences in Ann
Arbor, and it led to him being replaced by Hoke. After sitting out one year as a CBS sports analyst during the 2011 season, Rodriguez currently has his brand of football working well in Tucson as Arizona, the only team to defeat Oregon this year, is readying to play the Ducks again for the Pac 12 championship.
Sadly, head coaches, who are facing any kind of pressure for one reason or another, use assistant coaches as sacrificial lambs to keep folks from knocking at their door. One high profile head coach, who was fired after last season, used this ploy throughout his coaching career. He had three 1-10 seasons, one at one school and two at another, but he was quick to offer up an assistant or two, and always able to talk himself around any real problems. Last season, the talking and offer of change—no doubt, some assistants, did not work, and he was fired.
Last season LSU coach Les Miles terminated the contract of offensive line coach Greg Studrawa after seven years in Baton Rouge. Studrawa was quickly picked up by Maryland. Miles hired former Auburn O-line coach Jeff Grimes to replace Studrawa, and yet no noticeable improvement was seen in the offensive line performance by the Tigers.
Coaching! What a tough way to make a living! You have to be a great X and O tactician, you have to be a babysitter (yes, Jimbo Fischer), you have to be a policeman (yes, Jimbo Fischer and others), and you have to be a psychiatrist (yes, Jimbo Fischer). You have to have a gift of gab (yes, like Mack Brown had), or some type of uniqueness (yes, Les Miles). Or you can consistently reach for perfection, be a control freak, and do everything better than the other guy (yes, Nick Saban).Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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