by Andrew J. Maurer / admericaaaf.org columnist
From Where I Sit [Feb. 19, 2006]
New Wolverine Order - for life?
New Michigan coordinators are nice, but more college football firings are needed—and not just in Ann Arbor.
I had a conventional column all ready to go last week for you guys. It was about how the firing of Terry Malone (Yes, it was a firing, no matter how the media spun it.) was good for the Wolverines, despite the fact that Jim Herrmann remained the elephant in the proverbial locker room.
Then, before I could even get the column posted, the elephant packed up his trunk and left town. Buh-Bye Herrmann. Welcome back, Ron English. Poor guy didnít even get a chance to sample a Chicago deep dish pizza.
And while Iíve heard a decent number of people already jumping on the DeBord and English promotions, I think itís only fair to give them a game or two before unloading on them. I will say this though: firings in NCAA football, any firings, are a good thing.
There is a growing myth in college football and itís one I am here to dispel. The myth states that because of the natural turnover of college players every four or five years, NCAA coaches can stay on much longer because their style or message does not become stale or tedious.
That belief, Iím sorry to say, is flat out wrong. And hereís the proof.
According to a fairly recent article by www.sacbee.com [see related article], the Average NFL Career Length (for a player), regardless of position is 3.5 to 4 years, the shortest average of any major professional sport and, surprise, shorter than the usual four or five year college career.
Then there was the statistic quoted twice in a press conference by New England Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick, who said that the average NFL player turnover rate by team over five years is 75%. A quick check of the roster by a reporter found that the Patriots themselves had lost 87% of their original roster since 1999.
Since Iím not Stephen Hawking, Iím not going to try and explain the NFL salary cap. Letís just say that it is designed to promote parity over a very short period of time (despite what Detroit Lions fan have seen), which creates massive player turnover.
So moving on, one would assume based on the amount of player upheaval, that NFL coaches would be given a huge amount of job security, right?
I mean, college coaches like Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, Barry Alvarez, and Lloyd Carr are given untouchable status because of past history with their respective schools and the new teams they bring in every four or five years.
Yet, in the NFL, which it turns out has similar or more player turnover than NCAA football, 8 head coaches, or 25% of the 32-team league were fired or resigned immediately following the end of the 2005-6 season.
Despite this, many college coaches remain on for absurd amounts of time. The aforementioned JoePa just finished his 55th season as an assistant or head coach at Penn State University (40 years as head coach). Bobby Bowden just finished his 30th season as head coach of the Seminoles. Just to put that in context for you, Iím 27 years old and these guys have coached at one school for longer than my existence on this planet - conception included!
Unquestionably JoePa and Bowden are great coaches, but with a combined 70 years on the sidelines is it really possible for them not to be? And this is why I think the NCAA as a whole needs more coaching turnover. Simply because the ideas and styles of the 1960s and 70s do become stale and predictable, which most Nittany Lion and Seminole fans can attest to in recent years. The NCAA needs more fresh blood, more fresh ideas, more innovation.
I realize somewhere in Happy Valley a Nittany Lion is yelling at the computer screen. Something along the lines of, ďROAR! SNARL! Paterno nearly got us an undefeated season this year! Blasted Super Mario and Classic's extra two seconds! GRRR! And a BCS Berth! ROAR! Stop picking on him! GROWL! SNARF!"
[editor's note: Thundercats, HOOO!!!]
In 40 years as a football coach, the seventy-nine-year-old man was bound to have a comeback season at some point. Get over yourself and take a statistical probability course.
However, enough about great coaches, letís look at some mediocre ones from the NCAA. Oh, I donít know, letís try Barry Alvarez and Lloyd Carr. Granted, each one has had their moments, but I donít see Hollywood shelling out for their life stories if you get my drift.
Alvarez coached at Wisconsin for 16 years and remains the only Big Ten Coach to win two consecutive Rose Bowls. (Yawn.) Lloyd Carr has coached 11 years and won a Co-National Title in 1997. So together, the two men have coached 27 years with a half of a title between them.
Now, letís look at the two Super Bowl XL coaches in the NFL. Bill Cowher holds the longest tenure in pro football at 14 years. Mike Holmgren has been with the Seahawks for 7 years (most of them spent on The Hot Seat) and is tied with Andy Reid for the longest coaching tenure in the NFC. In fact, no coach in the entire NFC has been at their job longer than 1999.
To summarize, Alvarez and Carr: 27 years. Cowher and Holmgren: 21 years. This should be an outrage. Yet for some reason, college coaches get to collect checks for much longer without winning nearly, NEARLY, as much.
Just how many NFL coaches would it take to get to Joe Paternoís 40 years?
Try Bill Cowher (14 years), Jeff Fischer (12 years), Mike Shanahan (11 years) and Mike Holmgren (7 years). And if you add up the Super Bowl rings here, PSU fans are getting cheated with only two national crowns.
Heck, Lloyd Carr has been around longer than all but 2 NFL Coaches, which have dealt with a lot more player turnover than he ever will, but somehow, there Classic stands taking his free pass secure in the knowledge that he canít get stale because every 5 years the recruits are blank slates.
Bad news, collegiate football fans. College coaches can get figured out. They can become predictable. They can stop inventing new schemes, new plays, or new ideas. And they can (eventually) get fired for it.
Just ask Terry Malone and Jim Herrmann.
Thatís interesting. When I axed my outdated column I was simply trying to find another inspired case for Lloyd Carr to be removed, but now as a college football fan who craves excitement and innovation, Iíve come to realize the problem is even worse than that.
We need to demote a lot more NCAA coordinators, fire more head coachesótake this ďcanningĒ thing national!
Good thing I get inspired like this every 30 or 40 years.
ANDREW J. MAURER (AKA Wolf Vereen) is a 2000 graduate of the University of Michigan and a professional writer, having trained at Second City (Detroit) in sketch comedy writing. He also wrote the short-lived comic book series, “Masters Of The Ring” and is the author of two books currently in submission. He is represented by the Richard Henshaw Group of New York, NY.
SOURCES: This article was researched through various sites and transcripts from
www.sacbee.com, www.patriots.com, www.espn.com, and www.wikiedia.com
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