It seems quaint now to reflect on Georgia giving Mark Richt fifteen years. (Hell, there were plenty of people who had misgivings about letting Richt go despite the dry spell after the 2012 season.) What I’m wondering about is whether it’s going to soon seem quaint to give any head coach three years without immediate gratification.
Willie Taggart, Chad Morris and Joe Moorhead will forever be linked together for something they’d probably like to forget. They were all fired before coaching the first game of their third season at their respective school.
The timing is important here. Before this season, you’d have to go back more than a decade to find three Power 5 coaches who were dismissed, primarily for on-field performance, before their third year. This year, we got three in a single season, two of them within a week of one another in early November—when Florida State fired Taggart after 21 games and Arkansas fired Morris after 22 games. On Friday, in an unusual move, we got No. 3 when Mississippi State fired Moorhead, the rare coach fired after his bowl game.
The Moorhead firing is particularly unusual.
And so after just 26 games, Mississippi State fired a man with as many wins in two years as the Bulldogs had in a five-year stretch from 2002-06. It is the greatest and most recent example of the pressurized, win-now era of college football…
… Before Mullen’s arrival, State played in one bowl the previous eight seasons. Go deeper into State’s history and you’ll find a program that had 15 winning seasons in a 50-year stretch starting in 1959 and ending with the start of Mullen’s tenure. In 10 years under Mullen, they had eight such seasons. “The just beat Ole Miss narrative was assassinated this morning,” tweeted longtime Bulldogs insider Steve Robertson. “Mississippi State just fired a coach who beat the Rebels both times he played them and went to two bowl games. It’s a different day and time in Starkville.”
This is, to put it mildly, insane. Whom exactly are they expecting to hire in Starkville that would dramatically change the school’s fortune in the SEC West?
The answer, of course, is nobody obvious. Still, when you’ve got the bucks to make short attention span decisions, that’s what you’re gonna do.
Moorhead’s buyout is much lower, a source said, about $7 million, but that can be mitigated to as little as $4 million through off-set language in his contract, assuming the coach finds other employment. Meanwhile, a new coach’s contract could cost more than $20 million guaranteed. And then there’s the current and future staffs. Schools must buy out remaining assistant coaching contracts (many coordinators have two to three year deals), and a new staff might cost more than $5 million in guarantees.
Thank Gawd for the new TV revenue that will be coming in when Mickey picks up the CBS deal. All that’s going to lead to is putting more money in the pockets of Jimmy Sexton and his clients. But, hey, at least mediocre ADs will be doing something.
This is why Jim Delany is jonesing for an antitrust exemption. Athletic departments need immunity from their own stupidity.