Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Coaching Carousel, Part 1
We are past the coach firing season, and are well in the middle of the coach hiring season. Schools with disappointing results and upset boosters are scrambling to find themselves a coach who will win a championship and make all stakeholders of a university happy. A lot of schools have made news with their searches, their hires, or their lack of hires to this point. This blog will have periodic posts over the next few days on the implications of some of these hires.
Arkansas: The Hogs listened to a large portion of their fan base and cut a deal with Houston Nutt for his resignation. Nutt was calling the Hogs one day, and showed up in Oxford the next day to take the Ole Miss job. Nonetheless, it was a move that needed to be made. Now, the Razorbacks are bringing in Bobby Petrino from the Atlanta Falcons. Petrino left the Falcons with three weeks left in the season, leaving a train wreck of a team. It wasn’t his fault Michael Vick got in trouble with dogs, but he apparently wasn’t a good fit in the NFL, regardless. Petrino comes to the SEC after a good run at Louisville, finishing third in the nation with the Cardinals last season. This will be interesting, as Petrino (a former Auburn assistant) was the coach interviewed for the Auburn job on an airport runway in 2003 by Auburn czar/booster/trustee Bobby Lowder, while the job was still held by current coach Tommy Tuberville. Petrino was finishing his first year at Louisville. Also, Tuberville had his name in the hat for the Arkansas job, but the Hogs were unwilling/unable to pay the huge buyout required for Tuberville’s services. The Arkansas/Auburn game will be a scene this year, with two coaches that once worked with each other and wouldn’t mind having each other’s jobs. In the meantime, the Falcons are in even more of a lurch.
Michigan: Lloyd Carr retired effective at the end of this season. The Wolverines find themselves in the market for a coach, but are unwilling to break the bank for it. They’re Michigan, and many of them feel that a coach should pay them for the privilege of coaching Michigan. There is a Michigan Man at LSU, Les Miles, who is repeatedly stating that he will remain as head coach at LSU. I don’t buy that. There is a vocal minority at UM that does not want Miles to become the coach. However, judging by the way feet are being dragged there, it appears the Wolverines are killing time until after the BCS championship game, when Miles returns home to Ann Arbor.
Baylor: Baylor lured Art Briles from Houston to replace the departed Guy Morriss. Briles doubled his salary to $1.8 million in the process. This is a good move for both parties. Baylor gets a good coach, and Briles gets to build a program in the Big 12. Not many would be capable of making Baylor a winner. I believe he has the background and skills necessary for the job there. The downside: He and his wife have to live in Waco.
Ole Miss: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One day after a farewell press conference in Hogland, Houston Nutt was introduced as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels. Talk about a win-win situation: Nutt gets paid to leave Arkansas, then takes a job with a rival down the road. Whatever one may think of Nutt, he is an improvement for Ole Miss over the fired Ed Orgeron. Nutt becomes the third head coach in the SEC West to have previously served as head coach at a rival division school, joining the aforementioned Tuberville (Ole Miss, Auburn) and Nick Saban (LSU, Alabama).
In addition to those coaches, Sylvester Croom of Mississippi State played at and was formerly an assistant at Alabama, and Petrino was formerly an assistant at Auburn before taking the circuitous road to Fayetteville. Throw in Steve Spurrier, who grew up in Tennessee, played and coached at Florida, and now coaches at South Carolina, and we see that there is some serious inbreeding in that conference. No wonder Les Miles wants to go back to Michigan!
More coaching comments later, including remarks on SMU, Georgia Tech, UCLA, and others..