When the University of Arkansas went on Spring Break last week that meant a lull in Razorback events, information, and breaking news for this sports writer. That also meant more time to scour the internet for thought provoking sports information.
I stumbled upon an article titled The Article Every High School Football Recruit (and College AD) Should Read on coachesbythenumbers.com.
What new information did a writer have to share that would be so bold and informative to give them a reason to title their article this way? A lot of great information actually and the article could not have been titled any better other than “College Football Coaches Should Rent not Buy!”
According to coachesbythenumbers.com, from 2001-2012 there have been 241 head coaching changes in Division 1-A a.k.a. Football Bowl Series (FBS). Out of 120 FBS teams on average 20 head coaches are hired and fired every year.
Put in another light, over the last four years 68% of all college football teams have hired a new head coach.
If a head coach is being hired that means defensive coordinators and offensive coordinators have to be hired… and fired. Another ugly reality is if a head coach is on the hot seat the first change typically made to give said coach some breathing room is one coordinator or both are made as a sacrificial lamb to appease the fan base.
Of the two top tier positions under the head coach which side of the ball gets the dismissed more frequently? If you guessed offensive coordinator you are wrong but not by much.
Between 2002-2012 eight more DC have been let go than OC. The numbers leaning towards a DC being fired over OC is not surprising; the difference of only eight is surprising.
An offense on the college level tends to be a little bit more complex than their counterparts on defense. On any given Saturday during college football season one can flip through the sports channels to see a spread offense, power running philosophy, a Wildcat offense, or even an option attack.
Most college defenses run a 4-3 defensive scheme along with a nickle package.
Defenses like the “Tampa Two” is a rarity to see on the collegiate level. The Tampa Two defense is viewed as too intricate and tough to learn in the amount of time college football players have in eligibility.
High school players want to be on the field as true freshman not using a redshirt year trying to understand when to let a receiver go out of their zone or when to follow that receiver down the field.
More importantly, per the numbers most coaches do not have two to three years for a top defensive recruit to learn the nuances of that defense. Statistics show that a head coach will already be on the proverbial hot seat by the time a prized recruit is a junior.
Coaches also do not want to throw said recruit into the fire only to fail because they do not understand their assignments each play. This causes both the player and the coach to fail which leads to another coaching statistic.
Running a 3-4 defense on the college level is only as good as the nose guard one can recruit year after year. If a defensive coordinator does not have the clog in the middle to base his defense off of the 3-4 defense is useless.
Going a step further, offenses need time to gel, develop timing, and find a rhythm. Hiring and firing an OC every couple of years normally means new plays, new terminology, and different needs at all skill positions. All needs are time consuming efforts that can take a couple of years to bear the fruit of their labor in the form of victories.
In an ever pressing win now society alumni, fans, and athletic directors want to see immediate success on the field. How pressing and how dire the situation has become for college coaches at all positions in college football is something each high school recruit needs to understand. A recruit can determine a coaches lively hood just as well as a coach can determine any recruits chances to succeed beyond the college level in football. The room for error is narrowing year after year.
Of the 12 current SEC teams seven programs have hired a new head coach in the last two years or less- Florida Gators (Will Muschamp), Kentucky Wildcats (Joker Phillips), Tennessee Volunteers (Derek Dooley), Vanderbilt Commodores (James Franklin), Auburn Tigers (Gene Chizik), Mississippi State (Dan Mullen), and Ole Miss (Hugh Freeze).
Out of the seven SEC coaches listed, Dooley already appears to be on the hot seat and if Muschamp has another seven or eight win season in the Swamp you can bet he will be feeling the pressure to win big in Gainsville in year three or else.
Might as well add Joker Phillips to the list. If Franklin has another successful season in Nashville and the Wildcats miss out on another bowl game, fans in Lexington will be made aware of how bad things are in Lexington.
The old four year cushion college coaches had to get their players into their system and succeed is narrowing.
Houston Nutt was the reigning SEC veteran coach with 13 years of continuous head coaching service between Arkansas (1998-2007) and Mississippi (2008-2011) before he was fired in December.
2012 marks Georgia head coach Mark Richt’s 11th season as the Bulldogs head coach making him the elder SEC statesman over LSU’s Les Miles (seven years) and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (seven years).
To his credit Steve Spurrier has a combined 18 years of SEC head coaching experience going into the 2012 season (1990-2001 at Florida, 2005-present at South Carolina).
The chances of a player finishing their college career with the same offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator is a rarity. The chances of a recruit finishing their playing days with the same head coach may not be a reality.
The bottom line is winning can cure all for any head coach. Coaches like Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and Alabama head coach Nick Saban appear to be cemented in their positions for years to come because both coaches are winners. Both coaches have earned rightfully earned the undying support of their respective fan bases.
The antithesis of Petrino and Saban is a coach like Les Miles. Despite his success the Tiger fan base is not entirely behind him.
Hopefully high school and junior college recruits along with their parents will put a greater emphasis on the student aspect of being a student athlete if they are pursuing a scholarship at a FBS program. Like a coach, enjoy talking to your lead recruiter, but love the school. The school will still be around when your college career is over, the head coach along with his staff statistically will not be there.
* All statistics used in this article were taken from coachesbythenumbers.com. A lead author was not listed with the accompanying article.
Tags: Arkansas Arkansas Razorbacks Auburn College Football Derek Dooley Florida Gators Georgia Bulldogs Kentucky Wildcats LSU Mark Richt Mississippi State Ole Miss SEC SEC Football South Carolina Steve Spurrier Tennessee Volunteers University Of Arkansas Vanderbilt Will Muschamp