We are definitely in the "win now" era of college football. No longer are coaches given at least three or four years to get into a new job and produce positive results. Now immediate results are expected.
College Football is a big business so I understand that. I understand why the heat is on Will Muschamp at Florida and Derek Dooley is feeling it up in Knoxville. That being said, the trend of coaches getting fired after really short stints is a bit rushed in some cases. This weekend was the end of the regular season for many teams and a lot of Athletic Directors made it the end of some coaches tenures at their schools. The Coaching Carousel is in full swing. Let's take a look at who got shown the door this weekend:
Rob Ianello, Akron- Ianello lasted only two seasons in the MAC with Akron winning just two games and just one conference game during his stay (2-22 Overall, 1-15 in MAC). Obviously when you win just two games in two years it's not a shock when you are shown the door. But the way that it happened? Ianello was reportedly fired over the phone on his way to his mother's funeral. Stay classy, Akron. Good luck finding a coach who wants that job.
Turner Gill, Kansas- Gill got kudos when he turned Buffalo into a 8-6 team in 2008. Charles Barkely wanted him in Auburn instead of Gene Chizik. Gill took the Kansas job in 2010 and proceeded to go 5-19 and just 1-16 in the Big 12. Would you believe Gene Chizik had the same overall record when he was at Iowa State (5-19)? Chizik went on to be hired by Auburn and won a National Championship with Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. Turner Gill? He took a tough job and two years later he's out of a job. Gill took over for Mark Mangino after a 5-7 season in which three of their wins came against Northern Colorado, UTEP and Duke (the other two were Southern Miss and Iowa State). Hopefully Gill gets another shot somewhere.
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Larry Porter, Memphis- Porter is yet another example of a coach fired after just two years on the job. He went just 3-21 at Memphis and 1-15 in Conference USA. Porter took over for Tommy West (who went 49-61 and went 2-10 in his final year) and could never turn the corner. This decision was not a hard one for Memphis as their attendance was dwindling and fan apathy was probably at an all time low. Porter spent some time at LSU prior to his gig in Memphis. Expect him to be scooped up as a position coach pretty quick this off-season.
Neil Callaway, UAB- Callaway went 29-51 in his five years at UAB. His demise has been long rumored and finally came to fruition this weekend. I guess the question for UAB is, where do you go now? They don't exactly have a big time background as a football program as they have gone to just one bowl (the Hawai'i Bowl in 2004). Guys like Mark Hudspeth (Louisiana) and Hugh Freeze (Arkansas State) have had some big impact at their schools this year in their inaugural seasons. UAB plays in a conference one step up from the Sun Belt, but does the administration have it in them to make a hire along those lines? In our article about "Who Should Ole Miss Hire" I suggested Liberty's Danny Rocco and South Alabama's Joey Jones as longshots for that job. Maybe they should give one of those guys a call.
Dennis Erickson, Arizona State- There might not be a Head Coach as well traveled as Erickson in all of college football. He's coached at Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami (Fl), Oregon State, Idaho (again) and Arizona State. He went just 31-30 for the Sun Devils in five years. This year it looked like Arizona State had turned the corner as they started out 5-1 with wins over Missouri and USC. But then they tanked down the stretch by losing their last four games. It was an epic collapse when Arizona State should have easily won the Pac-12 South (which is the weakest division in all of "big boy" college football with USC on probation). Erickson is shown the door and this is a pretty good job for somebody to step into.
Ron Zook, Illinois- I saved the best for last, didn't I? Ron Zook was born on the hot seat. I honestly don't think that he's ever not been on the hot seat since he's been a Head Coach. He started 8-5 in his first year at Florida and at Illinois he went 4-19 in his first two seasons. This season went much like Arizona State's in that Illinois started out red hot, but their collapse was even harder and more spectacular than Arizona State's. The Fighting Zook's started 6-0 with their best wins coming against Erickson's Arizona State and Northwestern. It was all downhill from there as they dropped six straight including losses to a down Ohio State, Purdue and the one that broke the camel's back to Minnesota.
One thing I would caution school's about is being too quick to pull the trigger. You guys have heard of Nick Saban, right? He's considered one of the top coaches in all of college football right now. In his second job at Michigan State (he went 9-2 in one year at Toledo) he was 25-22-1 with his best season being 7-5 before he finally broke through with a 9-2 season in 1999. Since then he's won two National Championships.
You've heard of Frank Beamer, right? Did you know that he was just 5-17 in his first two years at Virginia Tech and just 24-40-2 after six years. In his sixth year he went 2-8-1 and if he was coaching today he would surely have been terminated. Virginia Tech stuck with him and over the last 19 years he's gone 184-56 for a winning percentage of 76%.
I'm not saying these coaches should not have been fired, but sometimes they need to be given a little more time to develop. It's the AD and the administration's job to figure out which coaches will make it if given more time. That's not an easy job.
Now we turn to schools like UCLA, Washington State, Texas A&M and many others that have their coaches on the hot seat. Who's next?