But it feels so good when it happens.

From the Department of Be Careful What You Wish For:

Over the past decade, about 1 in 10 universities at the major college level replaced their head football coaches annually for performance-related reasons. But a recent study suggests that replacements do not tend to make underperforming teams much better in subsequent seasons and frequently make them worse.

Anecdotal evidence and scientific analysis indicate that replacing a coach is no guarantee of success. Houston finished 5-7 this season after changing its coordinator. Wisconsin is a middling 7-5 after firing its line coach. The Badgers reached the Big Ten Conference title game only because N.C.A.A. penalties left Ohio State and Penn State ineligible.

A study published last month in Social Science Quarterly may provide sobering news to Auburn, Tennessee and other universities that have fired their coaches. Using data from 1997 to 2010, the study compared the performance of major college teams that replaced their coach with teams with similar records that kept their coach.

The results, tracked over a five-year period following the coaching changes, might surprise many. The lowliest teams subsequently performed about the same as other struggling teams that did not replace their coach. Mediocre teams — those that won about half their games in the year before a coaching change — performed worse than similar teams that did not replace their coach.

The reasons for this are not clearly understood, but may stem from an adjustment period required by a coach at a new university, the time players need to learn a new system and disruptions made to recruiting networks, said E. Scott Adler, an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado and the lead author of the study.

Color me shocked that in the real world it’s far less easy to replace a head coach successfully than anybody with an attitude, a pseudonym and a keyboard insists it is.

Statistically speaking, Adler said: “There’s not much to be said for every few years dumping a coach who’s had a couple bad seasons. In the long run, you are about in the same situation down the road if you had done nothing and ridden out the storm.”

Yes, but Nick Saban!  (Who, it should be remembered, was Alabama’s second choice, after RichRod.  I’m sure things would have worked out exactly the same way if he’d have taken the ‘Bama job.)


Filed under College Football

39 responses to “But it feels so good when it happens.

  1. This is why, as frustrated as I’ve been with the Dawgs and with Richt’s coaching at times over the past few years — and I was real frustrated after the South Carolina game — I’ve never been able to make the words “Fire Mark Richt” leave my lips. I mean, it’d be nice if there was a coach out there who could win the games Richt hasn’t and lead the Dawgs to multiple national titles. But outside of Saban, how many guys like that are out there? When you’re already winning 10 or 11 games a year, you’re bumping your head against the point of diminishing returns whether you’ve won a national title or not. There’s a much greater chance the Next Guy will do worse than better.

    Case in point: As I was leaving the Auburn game with my best friend from college, we were discussing whether it’d be worth going 14-0 and winning a title if it meant two years later you’d go 3-9 and winless in the SEC. We both agreed the answer was “no.” Sure, Auburn was a national championship winner just two years ago, but at this point do you think of them as a powerhouse or a laughing stock? And do you think Chizik will be remembered more for the national title he won, or for the epic collapse that followed?

    • To answer your last question, I think that somewhat depends on how quickly Auburn rebounds. The longer it stays in the wilderness, the more the downfall will fester.

      • Go Dawgs!

        Auburn’s case is even more murky, because there are a lot of people out there who will always question the legitimacy of AU’s title. It’s a lot harder to wander in the wilderness when your retort of, “oh yeah? well, championship” is met with smirks and references to “it’s an ongoing investigation.”

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Judging by their actions and deeds Auburn unlike Georgia has no “Direction”. They certainly have no leadership. I think it will take at least a generation of wandering to clean that up.

    • I’m with you, Doug. The rational side of my brain has kept me from getting to the “let’s blow this thing up and start over” mentality. However, I can’t say that some of the results over the last few years (especially after the South Carolina game this year) haven’t left me feeling indifferent about the head coach. I no longer have the blind, burning support I once did for him, but I still don’t think he should be fired.

  2. It is like changing lanes in the Bank. You never get to the teller any faster.

  3. Go Dawgs!

    Uh, New York Times? Let’s leave the college football to the publications that actually know something about it, mmkay? I checked out of the NYT’s analysis after their second piece of supporting evidence was the firing of A LINE COACH.

  4. Krautdawg

    The coaches have clearly organized and are funding their own research.

  5. Cousin Eddie

    How much of the lack of change is due to schools rotinuely “regress to the mean” by this I mean very rarely do I notice a school moves very far from their station in life reguardless of the great coaching hire that all ADs not at UT and AU make.

  6. AthensHomerDawg

    “Statistically speaking, Adler said: “There’s not much to be said for every few years dumping a coach who’s had a couple bad seasons. In the long run, you are about in the same situation down the road if you had done
    nothing and ridden out the storm.”

    Now I am looking at you again “Hijo”!

    • Cojones

      It’s been a while since the Great Argument . Richt and Co simply took care of what many of us demonstrated that he could. If there weren’t so many of us blind pigs wandering here, an “I told you so” might rise up, but it has no place here(like a Motocross race in the hospital parking lot). While posts approached the subject didactically, many were in increments meant to build loyalty. That loyalty feeling could be destroyed if any of us were to brag on the work that the coaches and players performed.

      After last year’s loss to SC, many bloggers came on here and posted their feelings of what they had seen and overall we saw hope and good things. Who the hell could predict 10 straight after that? Everyone gets credit in the loyalty category for sticking with the Dawgs during a hard time. While hope springs eternal, shit rolls downhill and instead of celebrating with the team right now, I could be in a sewage treatment plant.

      If it wasn’t for you and a few others having my back , I’d be posting this from Mexico, singing “La Cucuracha” at the top of my lungs and partaking of local herbiage in a hammock…..wait a min…..

  7. Scorpio Jones, III

    It is so easy to point at Tennessee, yet there are Vol fans who are convinced Fulmer’s time had passed, and time had passed him by.

    As it looks now, of course, how much worse off would the Vols be if they had left The Great Punkin in place?

    My suspicion is that hiring a new coach is a lot easier when you have done it badly twice in a row. Two bad hires in a row tends to loosen purse strings.

    What I would like to see is a story correlating price paid for results gained.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I don’t know if throwing a wad of cash at it makes any real difference. Somewhere posted on GTP today it was pointed out there are only so many Sabanators. One. Brown at Texas may be have been One. CMR is ranked pretty high. How many Richt proficient coaches are out there available for hire?
      I remember when we hired Mason to replace Dooley and then got left at the alter. WTH? Like winning a championship I think a good coach hire requires a little luck. Why did UT hire SOD? He certainly didn’t have a winning resume. Cause his last name is Dooley? Now UT wants to hire Chucky Cheese. Without much in the way of a college coaching resume. I guess because he was an assistant at UT and his wife was a UT cheerleader. He has been away from the college game for 20 years and was fired from his last job. I don’t think UT bounces back from this debacle very quickly.

    • dooshay

      Mike Price and Mike Shula were two pretty bad hires.

  8. AusDawg85

    Senator, you are defending mediocrity with your selective facts! Unless, of course, the Dawgs win tomorrow. Then I understand from our far better informed posters into coaching hiring that “all will be forgiven”.

  9. sniffer

    Speaking of coaching changes, did anyone else spill their milk of magnesia like I did when they learned that Monte Kiffin is out at USCw?

    “Lane, Greg McGarrity here. We will allow you to speak with Coach Grantham about your open position under certain conditions. You can only interview him in Knoxville, at a public location to be determined by us, with all interested parties present. The job interview will proceed after an open press conference in which you will answer all questions posed.

    By the way, Chizic says Armani cleans up much better from tar and feathers than Boss. Oh, and Derek says to wear cheap shoes”.

    • Dboy

      Sniffer, don’t joke about Grantham interviewing for other jobs. The Willie years were dark. I don’t want to break in another Dcoordinator for a while. Maybe Lane Kiffin’s wife can interview Grantham instead.

      • sniffer

        I hope McGarrity keeps Grantham near the top of coordinator salaries. I wouldn’t even be mad if Granthams agent leverages this time to get more money for him.

        That is, if there is any left after Adams gives it away to domestic partner benefits…

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I’d like to interview Lane’s wife myself.

  10. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    Based upon this study, it appears to be counter productive for programs to fire coaches for performance-related reasons.

  11. cube

    John Cooper thanks you for sticking up for him.

  12. Ed Kilgore

    So we now have multiple sources reporting that Gruden’s told UT “no thanks” to coaching offer. One suggests he was deliberately playing Vols to boost potential NFL pay (wouldn’t be the first time). I’m interested in how soon it will take for the Vol fan base to accept this; may take a Sherman Statement. Mattress-burning riot remains a possibility.

    • Honestly, I don’t get Gruden fever. He doesn’t have a reputation as a good judge of personnel and he’s never had to recruit before. How does any of that work at a place like UT?

      • Ed Kilgore

        I get the impression it’s all about image: Gruden was supposed to be UT’s “Saban”–the super-expensive former NFL coach whose hiring would re-establish the Vols as Big Time and keep them on the radar screens of the blue-chip out-of-state recruits they so badly need.

        Indeed, Vol fans got so frantic about Gruden that any Plan B is likely to produce an entirely unnecessary disappointment. I’d keep that it mind if I were one of their targets.

        • Doug

          Saban had a solid track record of success at the college level, though. Gruden’s last college position was . . . wide receivers coach. At Pittsburgh. More than 20 years ago.

          Rule of thumb: If it’s been a decade or more since the guy held a college job, you need to start asking questions about how in touch he is with the state of college football — Charlie Weis, Bill Callahan and Mike Sherman being just a few prime examples. On the other hand, guys like Saban, Mike Riley and Steve Spurrier weren’t out of college ball that long and have thrived upon their return to the NCAA ranks. (You could make the case that their NFL tenures were short because they were better suited for college ball from the get-go, but that doesn’t disprove the larger point.)

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Let ‘en screw up a HC hire again at UT, Senator. 3 more years like the last 5 and they’ll be Kentucky redux.

  13. Cojones

    Corporate has now let me release this info: Quietly and with no fanfare, we recalled all the Fing Scooters last summer. It has helped the team immensely. While we take no credit for the low injury rate now enjoyed, we like to think it has helped. Ray Drew is beginning to catch up with all the work he missed last year and is appearing in a game or two.

    Not to worry. We shipped many of the recalls to a quiet Catholic school in upper Indiana. We took the advice of potential customers in Little Italy, Chicago and shipped the rest to Upper U.S..

  14. Will Trane

    The Dawgs have a long history of coaching stability. But I doubt if any Dawg alum or supporter is going to accept what Auburn and Tennessee went through the past two years. It would come across to many that if Gruden wanted to coach he would do it…there have been many opportunities. When I looked over the Saragin SOS report linked into the GTP I wanted to see where Mike McIntrye squad was. Do not remember him as a grad assistant with the Dawgs in CMR’s early years. He has connections to the SEC. But in the report his team was ranked fairly high. ADs and AB like big names…feel safe in hire if it goes south.
    I still stand by old rule. What you see a coach do in his first three years is probably what you will see during their tenure. Apparently Auburn and UT had saw enough…same at Bama and UGA.
    LOS, LOS, LOS…create the running lanes and shut down the running lanes.
    Who are the officials/ Just wondering, and the dawgs going with a fast pace. Can’t have no TD put up when the player fumbles the ball.
    Like Coach Russell said about polls and the team ahead of them. Dawgs piss on polls… and pundits who dismiss them.

  15. Jim Donnan

    I agree!