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SEC Fans Want Stud Coaches… But Stud Coaches Rarely Move

steve sarkisianYesterday afternoon, Southern California hired a new football coach.  Washington’s Steve Sarkisian — who ironically served as co-offensive coordinator with Lane Kiffin while both were on Pete Carroll’s Trojan staff — was the man tabbed by USC AD Pat Haden to turn around his school’s fortunes.

Sarkisian took over a UW program that had gone winless in 2008.  His five year record with the Huskies:

 

2009:  5-7 (seventh in conference)

2010:  7-6 (tied for third in conference)

2011:  7-6 (third in division)

2012:  7-6 (fourth in division)

2013:  8-4 (third in division)

 

Sarkisian’s overall record was 34-29 and 24-21 in the Pac-12, having never finished higher than third in the North Division or third (in a tie) in the league.  Would that impress you?

That, of course, is the problem with consistently turning over coaches.  Boosters stop giving, fans stop attending, schools fire their current coach and then… roll the dice again on another up-and-comer.

Southern Cal is one of the wealthiest schools in the country.  The administration was reportedly ready to break the bank.  But Boise State’s Chris Peterson said no (as he always does) and Haden tabbed a man who knows the USC and Pac-12 landscape.  Sarkisian isn’t a bad hire, but his resume doesn’t wow anyone.

Fans of Southeastern Conference teams — always thinking that Jon Gruden is just around the corner — need to remember how hard it is to find the right “next” guy when the current guy gets tossed.  Example: Some Mississippi State fans want rid of Dan Mullen.  Well what big name is waiting out there to replace him?  Bobby Petrino (who most ADs would not trust to be honest with them)?  Gruden?  Or another coordinator or young coach from a small school?  Granted, some times those hires work out.  That doesn’t mean the young pup is any less of a risk than the guy currently at the controls, however.

Looking around the SEC, here’s who hired whom and from where…

 

  School   Coach   From   Thoughts
  Alabama   Nick Saban   Miami Dolphins   Alabama is a top five job and Saban wanted out of the NFL
  Arkansas   Bret Bielema   Wisconsin (68-24)   A rare big school to big school move
  Auburn   Gus Malzahn   Arkansas State (9-3)   Malzahn had been a head coach for one year
  Florida   Will Muschamp   DC, Texas   One of the most sought after assistants in the country
  Georgia   Mark Richt   OC, Florida State   A promoted assistant who’s worked out well
  Kentucky   Mark Stoops   DC, Florida State   Kentucky went the coordinator route last year
  LSU   Les Miles   Oklahoma State (28-21)   Another big school to big school move
  Miss. State   Dan Mullen   OC, Florida   MSU grabbed the O-coordinator from a BCS champion
  Missouri   Gary Pinkel   Toledo (73-37-3)   An up-and-comer when hired in 2001
  Ole Miss   Hugh Freeze   Arkansas State (10-2)   A head man for three years at ASU and in the NAIA
  S. Carolina   Steve Spurrier   Unemployed   Carolina landed an unemployed master fired from the NFL
  Tennessee   Butch Jones   Cincinnati (23-14)   Jones had six years under his belt at Cincy and C. Michigan
  Texas A&M   Kevin Sumlin   Houston (35-17)   Sumlin was a hot up-and-comer when hired
  Vanderbilt   James Franklin   OC, Maryland   Franklin had been the Terps’ coach-in-waiting at one time

 

Of the big names that moved, Alabama got lucky with the Saban situation as they would not have lured him directly from LSU.  Carolina had some luck in the availability of Spurrier, too (who Florida could have rehired).

Bielema wanted out of Barry Alvarez’s shadow at Wisconsin.  And Miles was just 28-21 overall, 16-16 in the Big 12, and his four-year resume was as follow: 4-7, 8-5, 9-4, 7-5.  Hardly jaw-dropping results.

Even a school with the recruiting base of Florida had to hire two coordinators and a man from Utah in its last three searches.  Tennessee — a top 10 program all-time — hired a young ex-NFL coach, then a man with a losing record at Louisiana Tech, before finally landing their current up-and-comer.

As the Sarkisian-to-USC move reminds us, coaches rarely trade one BCS-level job for another.  Just keep that in mind as you grumble about your school’s bowl plight or SEC finish this holiday season.

 


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