Thursday, November 30, 2006

Football Coaching Changes

Ok, something interesting rumblings on the coaching staff..

Not going to happen per Chan Gailey

AJC confirmed the note I posted yesterday - he might be interested in the Tulane job, they might be interested in him, but nobody has contacted anyone.............. yet

CURTIS MODKINS TO NORTH TEXAS? has him listed as a possible candidate for the head coaching job at North Texas.

Well, we dodged a bullet with the Michigan State head coaching job, but now there are rumors that Texas wants him as their new DC and are willing to pony up big bucks. I'll break out my thoughts on that later, but bottom-line - it's a higher profile job, but does it get him closer to that head coaching job he wants? Debatable. Very iffy. You can argue either way. I don't think it happens, as he's already one of the highest paid assistants in the nation (highest in the ACC), but Texas can go much deeper if they want.....

So what does all this mean? Well, you start winning and people think there must be a reason, and that usually starts with the coaching staff. If you're winning these things happen.

Now let's tie this in to a recent article................. Bill Curry is one of the most philosophical writers you will find in the sports media market. His articles on are just a joy to read. His latest is an article about how football programs are rewarded for making rational decisions around hiring and particularly firing coachings. As usual, much of the article is well-written, offers excellent perspective and makes many solid points.

Here's how it starts:

John Heisman was the head football coach at Georgia Tech from 1904 until 1919. He moved on to other coaching jobs, eventually landing at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, where the Heisman Trophy was originated, then named after him upon his death. On Heisman's departure from Tech, Bill Alexander assumed command, and remained until 1944. Bobby Dodd, an Alexander assistant, became head coach in 1945. He remained head football coach until 1966, retiring after his last team played in the Orange Bowl.

Three head coaches in 63 years … three that established a program in which each won national titles, produced outstanding graduation rates, and during which all three earned membership in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.


Now, on this article I am a tad bit disappointed. He talks a lot about the Alabama job, but he doesn't relate any personal experience he had while he was there. It would have added to the text.

Lastly, he doesn't talk about the other side of the coin - coaches who taste a little success, but jump at the first chance at the "bigger" limelight. In fact, here's a perfect chance for him to talk about leaving FOR Alabama instead of trying to become one of the legacy of Heisman, Alexander and Dodd at Tech. Don't get me wrong. I don't hold any grudge for him leaving. He did what he thought was best. But he passed up a chance when nobody was running him out of town, and he didn't talk about it in the article. So where is the loyalty? Are all the situations above "rational". Should coaches have a responsibility to stay if the program wants them? Welcome to corporate America, where the "what have you done for me lately" crowd thrives.

I don't really have the right answers. I agree that the sports culture today is too impatient. We live in a world of open 24 /7, instant gratification, round-the-clock, overnight delivery, to-your-door convenience. We want it now, and too many of us aren't willing to invest in the "buy and hold" strategy. But the stock market proves a new generation of day-traders wrong all the time.

The fact is that a head coaching change sets a program back, particularly if it wasn't doing too badly. If Chan had not been given a contract extension and run off, I don't think we're playing for the ACC title. Just an opinion. Stability is of critical importance to success. Do you think it's any coincidence that the Tech recruiting efforts skyrocketed after Coach Gailey got his contract extension? It absolutely played a role! It is important to the kids. Stability is critical.

Now there is a balance. Another 3 years of Bill Lewis would not have benefitted Georgia Tech - and on that we can all agree. There's a reason that his name is typed as B***L**** on the bulletin boards. The answer lies in the direction of the program - which is NOT solely judged by wins and losses.

- Are you bringing in talented kids?
- Are you bringing in high character kids?
- Are you bringing in kids that can do the school work?
- Are you graduating those players?
- Are you developing the kids in football AND if life?
- Are you representing the program with honor?
- Are you a good spokesman for the program and school?
- Are you a leader?
- Are you team builder?
- Are you helping build a better infrastructure at your school?
- How do you deal with adversity?
- Do your teams have a heartbeat?
- Are your teams consistenty competitive?
- Oh yeah............. are you winning?

If a head coach is doing most of these things, then as an Athletic Director, I think you have to sometimes say - hey, the wins and losses will come. We are headed in the right direction, and we will not pander to the instant gratification crowd - the Taz's of the world. We will stay the course. Dave Braine did that with Coach Gailey and Coach has proven that it was the right choice. Oh, there are people on the fringe once again ready to jump off a bridge after a 6th consecutive loss to the mutts. There are people who NEVER liked Chan Gailey as our coach from day 1, and those people's minds won't be swayed no matter what. They are the stubborn few and usually the squeeky wheels.

Stability is important to a program. It's proven. It works............ well, unless you're Chuck Amato, but then there's an exception to every rule.