Yesterday 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…
|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.