Posted 12/21/2008 at 04:11 PM
Even without any games being played college football has managed to stay in the news. Although things could change, one of the big surprises is that Turner Gill is still the head coach at Buffalo. Charles Barkley blasted Auburn officials for not hiring Gill and what Gill has done at Buffalo is remarkable and he deserves a shot at a higher level should he choose to accept it but Gill has been passed over for several big jobs the past two years. Gill’s short stay at Buffalo has been impressive but he is a little short on experience having never been a coordinator but he was a positions coach at Nebraska for many years.
Hiring a coach in the SEC is very tough as programs are pressured to bring in a big name to win immediately and the instant success of coaches like Nick Saban, Les Miles, and Urban Meyer is probably not good for the long-term health of the conference as many teams could shuffle through coaches looking for a quick fix. Tennessee hired a big name, snagging Lane Kiffin with his father in tow fresh off his dismissal from the Oakland Raiders. For the Vols sake let’s hope he has a better Raiders to college football story than Bill Callahan, although that tenure started with great optimism.
Gene Chizik was thought to be a great hire at Iowa State as he was a highly thought of coordinator at Texas and also led the defense of some very strong Auburn teams where he will now take over. Chizik did not have the great impact at Iowa State that was expected and it will not be given the needed length of time to play out. There are a lot of issues that need to be evaluated when hiring a head coach as so much is involved that is not seen on the football field but it is hard to envision great enthusiasm with the Chizik hire at Auburn.
It is hard for fans to see the sense in some hires and also to see the sense in some coach’s decisions to leave. Ball State Brady Hoke is heading to San Diego State. Leaving a team that nearly went undefeated and should be very good next season to go to one of the worst programs in the nation that has had a very tough time being competitive doesn’t make sense if winning is what matters but moving to San Diego and making considerably more money matters quite a bit as well.
The coaching carousel in recent years has led us to treat college coaches much like MLB free agents looking for the best deal and in many ways they deserve that commoditization as many players are tossed aside every year after making life-altering commitments to coaches. As long as teams keep having instant success with a coaching move it will continue to happen in a copycat world. Soon college football could be like the NBA where barely a fourth of the way through the 2008-09 season six coaching changes have been made. If some team makes a mid-season move and it works, another team will be willing to try it, no matter how costly the buyout is or how ugly the settlement could get.