Sunday, April 24, 2011

Firings and Resignations Critique, Part 2

Bill Lynch   19-30 (6-26)
Fired 11/28/10
Indiana is probably the hardest place to build a winning program at in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers have to recruit against Purdue, Notre Dame, and Louisville locally and also hold the stigma of being a “basketball school”. Lynch had a .388 winning percentage, the third best winning percentage of the last 12 Indiana head coaches. Only Terry Hoeppner (.391) and Bill Mallory (.463) had better winning percentages than since 1947, and both of those coaches were short of breaking even. Lynch’s players bought into his program and achieved the late Terry Hoeppner’s dream of getting Indiana to a bowl for the first time since 1993. The Hoosiers did seem to be improving as a team, but not winning enough conference games (.188) was Lynch’s downfall. Indiana also had a few games decided by bad officiating, in particular, against Michigan and Iowa during the 2009 season. The icing on the cake was losing to Wisconsin by 63 points on November 13th. Indiana’s defense appeared inept. In the end, it is time for Indiana to move on and give defensive guru Kevin Wilson a try. Unless Wilson can pull off some upsets, he will be out of a job after four seasons as well.

Rickey Bustle   38-56 (28-31)
Fired 11/29/10
After nine seasons in Lafayette with no bowl appearance and one conference title in 2005, Rickey Bustle needed to be cut loose. Bustle was able to compile 6-6 records in 2008 and 2009, but the team regressed to 3-9 in 2010, finishing sixth in the Sun Belt. Bustle had four six-win seasons, but he was never able to exceed six W’s. In the Sun Belt conference, it is not uncommon to go 0-4 in the nonconference season when playing ragdoll to BCS conference schools. However, the conference standing of a team should indicate how well the program can compete with teams at the same level of talent. During Bustle’s tenure, the Ragin’ Cajuns were below .500 in conference winning percentage.  New energy is needed to reinvigorate Louisiana-Lafayette to a breakthrough season.

Steve Roberts   37-47 (25-22)
Arkansas State
Resigned 11/29/10
After nine seasons in Jonesboro, the athletic department at Arkansas State had decided the football program had become stagnant and needed change. The administration forced Steve Roberts to resign with one year left on his contract. Under Roberts, Arkansas State won the Sun Belt title in 2005 and led the Red Wolves to their first and only bowl appearance, the 2005 New Orleans Bowl. The Red Wolves were bowl-eligible in four of Roberts’ nine seasons. Under Steve Roberts’ tutelage, the program had notable non-conference wins over Tulsa, Army, SMU, Memphis, and Texas A&M. The 2008 win over the Aggies is the Red Wolves first and only win over a BCS automatic qualifying conference opponent since ASU joined the FBS. Roberts last two seasons ended with disappointing 4-8 records. Arkansas State is not an easy place to coach. Losses and injuries build up playing against teams from the big conferences during the nonconference schedule, and the Sun Belt is more competitive than ever. Interestingly, offensive coordinator High Freeze was promoted to take over as head coach of the Red Wolves. I am not so sure they Freeze will be able to do any better at this assignment.

Dave Wannstedt   42-31 (24-18)
Resigned 12/7/10
Dave Wannstedt was pressured by the University of Pittsburgh to step down after failing to meet expectations. Wannstedt failed to win the conference outright and get to a BCS bowl game during his six years. The Panthers went 7-5, after the Big East Media Poll predicted them to be the strong favorite to win the Big East Championship during the preseason. Wanny got the Panthers to bowl games in his final three seasons, 2008-2010. In 2009, Wannstedt led Pitt to its first 10-win season since 1981. Wannstedt was popular among his players, most of whom wanted him to remain the head coach. Surely, Pitt saw talent leave early for the NFL with the ouster of Wanny and recruits change their commitments. The University of Pittsburgh needs to realize, that despite a few untimely losses, Dave Wannstedt did far more good than bad for Panther football. It is not the 1980’s anymore. The program could very well bottom out in the coming years.

Ralph Friedgen   75-50 (43-37)
Fired 12/20/10
I do not see the point in firing Ralph Friedgen. The Fridge went 9-4 with a Military Bowl victory over East Carolina and has performed admirably over the last ten football seasons at a school that was a doormat in the decade before Friedgen arrived. Friedgen was 5-2 in bowl games and won the ACC title in his first season. He holds is the first Terp head coach to have a winning record since Bobby Ross (1982-1986). Friedgen, a former offensive guard at Maryland, was passionate about his alma mater’s football program; it was his destination job. There is no way Randy Edsall will have the same passion for Terrapin football, and that may become evident to boosters when a better job becomes available. Other than a down season in 2009 (2-10), the Fridge did a great deal with little at a program that is not a national powerhouse in football.

Mike Haywood   0-0 (0-0)
Fired 1/1/11
Mike Haywood was rightfully fired from the head coach position at Pittsburgh after only sixteen days on the job. Haywood committed domestic battery on the mother of his child. Before X’s and O’s, a college football coach needs to be a good role model for young men. Felons need not apply. Haywood only had two years of head coach experience at a mid-major, so his hiring as a head coach at a BCS school with little experience was controversial to begin with. The whole Haywood-Pitt episode makes athletic director Steve Pederson’s decision to force out Dave Wannstedt look stupid.

Rich Rodriguez   15-22 (6-18)
Fired 1/5/11
Rich Rodriguez was rightfully dismissed from Michigan after taking a once-dominant football program to a new all time low. Rodriguez has the lowest winning percentage of any Wolverine head coach ever at .405. Michigan’s 2008 season (3-9) was its worst in the 131-year history of Michigan football. During his three seasons at Michigan, Rodriguez never beat either of the Wolverines’ chief rivals: Ohio State and Michigan State. A 52-14 massacre at the hands of Mississippi State in the 2011 Gator Bowl was the last straw. Rodriguez and his staff were criticized for offensive language and belittling players, resulting in players transferring out of Michigan and recruits not committing to the school. Michigan committed five major NCAA rule violations and many minor violations during the Rich Rodriguez-era. Prior to Rodriguez’s arrival, Michigan football had never in its history committed major NCAA rule violations. The Josh-Groban-reciting coach could not win on the field and all around lacked class. He had to go.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Firings and Resignations Critique, Part 1

Tim Brewster   15-30 (6-21)
Fired 10/17/10
Firing Brewster was the right decision. His conference record was .222 and nonconference record was .500. His marquee loss was to the South Dakota Coyotes during Week 2 of the 2010 season. Brewster was able to get Minnesota to the Insight Bowl twice (2008, 2009) during his 3 ½ years, but both games ended in losses. Minnesota is a tough assignment but not a place where it’s impossible to win and recruit. The university has a new stadium, is located in a large metro area, has no in-state competition for recruits, and has a large alumni base. With hard work, strong leadership, and some luck, the Golden Gophers could find their way into the Top 25 in the next few years.

Todd Dodge   6-37 (3-23)
North Texas
Fired 10/20/10
When Dodge took over the program at North Texas, the program was coming off of two dismal seasons. Dodge never was able to make much improvement only winning 3 conference games in his 3 ½ years at North Texas. The Mean Green never finished better than 2-10 under his direction. During the 2010 season, North Texas was plagued heavily by injuries early in the season and never had a chance to rebound. The Mean Green had ten starters injured (nine season-ending) after their third game. Dodge has proven to be an elite high school coach, but the high school level and college level are two different beasts.

Dan Hawkins   19-39 (10-27)
Fired 11/9/10
Dan Hawkins tenure started out rotten and ended rotten. In his first game as head coach, the Buffs lost to FCS Montana State. He was never able to guide the program to a better-than-.500 season. Hawkins had a .074 winning percentage in games not played at Folsom Field or Invesco Field at Mile High. The last straw was on November 6th when Colorado blew a 28 point lead in the fourth quarter over Kansas. The Jayhawks won 52-45. This was the biggest meltdown in the history of Buffaloes football. The writing was on the wall that Dan Hawkins could not bring Colorado back to its 1990 glory days. The university should have taken out the trash after the 2009 season.

Doug Martin   29-53 (21-35)
Kent State
Resigned 11/21/10
Doug Martin resigned after seven seasons leading the Golden Flashes. A 29-53 may look bad on paper, but when considering the support the football program gets from the university and the fact that Martin has the best winning percentage at Kent State since Glen Mason coached the Golden Flashes in 1986 and 1987, Martin was doing a pretty good job with the resources he had. The football team shares a weight room with all of the other athletic teams. Kent State’s football program has the smallest recruiting budget in the MAC. Doug Martin was the lowest-paid head coach out of all FBS programs in 2010. Martin’s best record in his seven seasons was 6-6 in 2006. Consider that four of Doug Martin’s seven seasons had five wins. Since 1972, the Golden Flashes have won five games in a season just 12 times. I’m not sure Darrell Hazell will be able to do much better at one of the toughest coaching assignments in the FBS.

Stan Parrish   6-19 (5-11)
Ball State
Fired 11/22/10
Stan Parrish was rightfully fired after going 6-19 as head coach at Ball State. Parrish was Brady Hoke’s offensive coordinator before taking over as head coach when Brady Hoke darted to San Diego State. After Ball State’s amazing 12-2 2008 season, the Cardinals fell back to below average for Parrish’s two full seasons at the helm. The Cardinals went from double digits wins to double digit losses between the 2008 and 2009 seasons. While the job in Muncie is not an easy one, the Cardinals laid some eggs under Parrish: losing to a FCS school in 2009 and 2010, losing to an Eastern Michigan team that was on an 18-game losing streak.

Robbie Caldwell   2-10 (1-7)
Resigned 11/27/10
Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson retired less than two months before the 2010 season, and the Commodores needed a head coach that knew the program ASAP. Robbie Caldwell was thrown into the fire. Caldwell went 2-10 like Johnson did in 2009. He decided to not stay. Perhaps, Caldwell could have had some success in the long term, but Vanderbilt made it clear they needed to get a flashy name to start some buzz in Commodore football again and turn the page on the Bobby Johnson. Vanderbilt is the toughest place to build a winning program in the SEC. It is likely Ron Franklin will not be able to do much better than Caldwell, but at least fresh leadership will attract recruits and reinvigorate the fan base.

Randy Shannon   28-22 (16-16)
Fired 11/27/10
Randy Shannon did not meet the high expectations that University of Miami has for its football team. The last five head coaches winning percentages at Miami were: .800 (Coker), .718 (Davis), .875 (Erickson), .852 (Johnson), and .719 (Schnellenberger). Randy Shannon’s: .560. Add to that the fact that the Hurricanes never won their division or a bowl game in Shannon’s four years. Four of the previous five Miami head coaches won national championships. Losing to Florida State, 45-17, falling to South Florida, 23-20 in overtime, and a loss to a rebuilding Virginia team made getting rid of Shannon necessary. However, Shannon did get players to attend classes and stay out of trouble. The moniker Thug U was nonexistent during the Shannon years. While Shannon did not have the winning percentage or resume of his predecessors, he bled Miami green and orange and acted like a father figure to many of his players. Miami has lost ground to other programs in recent years and Al Golden, a hire from outside the program, may not be the answer.