Picture this: your favorite college football team hires a new head coach. His resume is incredible, he is more than qualified for the job at hand. He’s smart, he’s a leading offensive/defensive mind, and a great recruiter who can bring your team back to the highs it reached in the 1980s/90s. He’s the second-coming of Nick Saban, and, as a nice little treat, he went to your school and won championships there as a player. He’s the miracle, your Archangel Gabriel who has descended from heaven telling you that God has chosen your body to foster his child, the perfect person to get you out of purgatory and show you a new world of success.
Soon enough, ever so slowly, reality set in. His first recruiting class was his best; it ranked 10 spots higher than your previous head coach’s last few and he was able to bring in a few key transfers that started right away and filled big holes. His first season, they win 3 games. You got absolutely walloped by your biggest rival. “That’s fine, he just needs to get his guys” you say to yourself, as confident as you were the day he was hired.
Season two was more-or-less the same. Maybe they won another game or two. Maybe they were more competitive against their biggest rival. Their recruiting class stayed the same, and you continued to convince yourself that everything was going according to plan, but you concede you need to see a bigger on-field improvement next season. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.
Then the third season happened. The minimal progress they’ve made went down the drain, your dreams crushed by the cold realization that this staff isn’t any better than what you’ve already had. The team regressed to three wins and were eviscerated by their biggest rival. They lost to an FCS school in a game they were favored to win by 30+. Your team became the laughingstock of their conference, every media pundit mocks them, and you can only be left wondering what happens now.
The good news for you? This happens a lot. Coaches flame out all the time at every level of every sport. In college football, there are at least two new coaches in every conference every year (don’t check this). Coaches come and go at every major program in the country. Nick Saban is the exception, not the rule, and no one should ever be compared to him unless we’re talking about the Devil himself. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Sound like someone we know?
Coaches leave jobs all the time and really for any reason. Sometimes they get fired for a scandal, sometimes they get a new job elsewhere, but more often than not they just aren’t the right fit. Lane Kiffin left FAU to return to the SEC, while Tom Herman was fired because he didn’t care about the train song. Nick Rolovich just got fired because he thought a needle would turn him into a beta, and Mike Leach locked a student in a closet. These things happen.
And truth be told, we don’t really know who is going to be a good fit. Scott Satterfield was awesome at Appalachian State and no one had any qualms about Louisville hiring him, but so far the results haven’t exactly gone as planned. Sam Pittman on the other hand is going bowling in only his second season and he was just supposed to be a placeholder.
No one actually knows anything.
So yeah, hiring a head coach with a proven track record of success is a pretty good bet. But if it doesn’t hit, people get to talking, and you need to find a way to get them to shut up.
The best way to do that? Fire all of the assistant coaches. It definitely wasn’t the head coach's fault. He is the golden boy, the one who can do no wrong, the one who you can’t fire without paying $25 million. Those pesky assistants make less than a milli, its their fault.
OL coach? His kids just graduated, he’ll be fine. DBs coach? If he was any good he’d be coaching the receivers. TEs coach? None of the good teams use tight ends anyway. QBs coach? Just throw the ball! It’s not that hard. And what does an offensive analyst even do? Sounds like $300,000 of nothing to me. You know what else we can do with this money?
This hasn’t happened often in the past, but it is starting to be more and more common at the FBS level, especially in the Power 5. I believe the GOATs at Split Zone Duo said this is the first year they can really remember assistant coaches being fired in October/November, and they know more than I do so I’m liable to believe that.
What happens after? Well, again, it hasn’t happened super often in the past, but it's usually not good. Usually when this happens the assistants get fired from the same side of the ball that the head coach specializes in, because these assistant coaches are a cancer infecting the brain of the golden boy genius. Without those tumors everything should be fine.
Except when those assistants have been with said head coach for the last 15 years and their families vacation together every offseason. These assistants are responsible for the success that you give the head coach. At this point, things can get a little dicey.
Sometimes, bringing in outside voices can help. Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh both had to clean house in order to keep their jobs at the risk of alienating their friends, but they’ve both found a tremendous amount of success after. Both currently have their teams in the Top-10 in the AP and Playoff rankings, and both have a legitimate shot at the Playoff.
This is the real world though. You’re a Power 5 school without the funding and the resources of a Notre Dame or a Michigan. Even when those two fired their assistants, their recruiting classes were still among the best in the country. They had some of the best facilities in the nation. You aren’t that. You’re a smaller program without a lot of on-field success save for a couple seasons 30 years ago. You don’t have half the success these two coaches had BEFORE cleaning house.
It’s an unfortunate situation and I’m honestly sorry you’re in it. You deserve better, the kids on the team deserve better, and the assistants deserve better. They could’ve at least waited until the end of the season. Hopefully this works and you find the success you’ve been longing for, the one you deserve.
Unless you’re Florida, then I hope you get escorted down the River Styx into the furthest depths of Hell.
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