Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coaching Carousel

As the latest round of college and NFL football coaches get fired, hired, and resign, I look on and wonder who will fill their shoes. It seems like their is a fixed number of coaches and exactly one less coaching positions. Coaches just move around from one job to another hoping to get a fresh start and some decent school colors. By the pigeonhole principle, there's always one coach forced to stand on the sidelines for a season or two, waiting for another opening while he offers his color commentary on coaching vacancies for a sports network.

Most recently, Mike Sherman was given a 7-year 1.8 million dollar contract to replace Dennis Franchione at A&M, who stepped down within hours of beating UT for the second consecutive year. Although he was never able to recover from the sale of his inside information and game commentary, this incident will look good on his resume when he interviews with ESPN's Sportscenter as and inside-overweight-analyst. Sherman, his replacement, has been like an Aggie boomerang, including TWO different stints with A&M as their offensive line coach as he has traveled past such NFL teams as the Packers and Texans. Sherman apparently told his wife that they were going to go so far this time as to UNPACK their moving boxes. Whether or not they'll actually get any pictures hung is yet to be determined.

While one college was installing an NFL coach, another school, Georgia Tech, was canning another--Chan Gailey, former Dallas Cowboy coach, who rode out the Jimmie Johnson's (who later went to Miami for a stint) and Barry Switzer's (former OU coach) Super Bowl teams to a dead stop, short of the big game. Oh, Chan will land somewhere else for sure, probably at a chinese food buffet, where he'll turn down the job of head chef to accept another position as an NFL coach.

In Nebraska, legendary Tom Osborne wasted no time in giving the axe to former NFL coach, Bill Callahan. What Bill was unable to do for the Oakland Raiders, he was able to repeat for the proud program in Cornhusker land. So where does Bill go next? NFL, College, . . . . I think it's safe to say there will be a losing high school football program somewhere next year.

A shocker came yesterday when Houston Nutt stepped down at Arkansas after upsetting number one LSU (whose own head coach is interviewing for OTHER vacancies!) last week. Having experience several thousand heartbeats as Razorback coach during his 10-year stint, he cited vague reasons for walking out on his contract, saying that the organization could not beat as a single heart beat. So where does a Nutty coach end up? Rumor is he will become spokesperson for the Chicot Memorial Children's Hospital's Cardiac Ward.

Last year, Nick Saban left his cab running while he was in Miami. Having left his remarkable LSU program at the height of its game, Saban lasted two years in Miami, after which he literally jumped ship, right back into that cab, and headed to Alabama. I guess you know when the NFL is not for you, or perhaps you just know when a team is soooo bad that the money is just not worth it. What Jimmie Johnson, Dave Wanstead, and Nick Saban could not do is now in the hands of 0-11 Dolphin coach Cam Cameron, who, last night, lost 0-3 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only was it the lowest scoring game in Monday Night Football history, but it was the 6th time this year that the Dolphins have lost by 3 points or fewer. This begs the question, "Which college will Cameron be coaching next year?" You'd better believe that there is a desperate school who's saying to themselves, "Sure he's 0-11, but he's got NFL experience. We sure could use a guy like that! Think of all the close, barn-burning, nail-biters we'll lose! Our fans will appreciate the drama."

There are also openings at Baylor, Southern Mississippi, and coveted Michigan. Some lucky coach will get the daunting job of taking over these programs, getting a chance to make a name for himself one way or another. In the business where winning is everything, as long as everyone is happy too, the carousel will continue to go round and round each year. But as organizations will always realize, the person they hire won't the be person they want to keep. They will always be looking for greener pastures.

In public education, although many teachers cycle through different schools and districts, they do so without press conferences or contract buy-outs. It's actually harder to get rid of a "losing" teacher than it is a losing coach. I was once told that the only way fire a teacher is for financial mishandling of school money and getting caught on the highway with a goat!

So I guess I'm glad that, although I don't make the 1.8 million dollar per year plus salaries that coaches make, I DO have my pictures hanging on my wall at home--pictures of my wife, my kids, and my agent.


Anonymous said...

Nutt just took the Ole Miss job. And the wheel keeps turning...

kwkorpi said...

No wonder he was all smiles at the press conference. I'd smile too if I knew I would be receiving $5 million within 24 hours of saying, "I QUIT!!" That was a nice touch about the "heartbeats." I'm sure his heart was jumping for joy. That guy is Nutts!