Sports in America are frequently becoming less and less patient with regards to coaches. Sometimes, this is justified – like when a coach comes in and it’s obvious they’re overwhelmed by a job and need to be axed immediately or if they get caught giving a recruit bars of gold – but for the most part, this will more often than not work to the detriment of your program.
Basically, schools need to give coaches a chance for at least four years. In college sports terms, that’s the length of one recruiting class. Let a coach establish themselves, get “their guys” into the program (more on this in a sec), develop them, and implement the system they want to play before passing any sweeping judgement. It’s hard to do this, I know – ask a Penn State fan what they thought of James Franklin a month ago compared to now, or ask a Texas fan what they think of Charlie Strong – but this is the best thing for a program.
The most underrated aspect of all of this is the “their guys” thing. College football fans will point to, say, the success that Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh had during their first years at Ohio State and Michigan as proof that this doesn’t matter as much as you’d think. That is wrong. Every coach walks into a different circumstance and sometimes they need some time to get going.
This happens by letting them go out and build the program in their image. Some coaches want to run a spread system on offense but their personnel is more suited for a power running game. Some want to run a blitz-happy defense but the players they have aren’t especially great at pressuring quarterbacks.
So instead, coaches have to try and adapt to fit what they have. Sometimes this works out really well. Sometimes you have the first two and a half years of Franklin in Happy Valley (although there were a few other factors impacting that team) or Strong’s tenure in Austin.
But let’s look at Strong as an example: I think he is a good football coach. I think he was the right dude for the Texas job and I think that if he’s given enough time he’s going to have a really, really good football team on his hands. We’re even seeing him get dudes who are super talented, like Shane Buechele and Malik Jefferson (hell, just look at how few times “Senior” appears on this team) into the program. Talent brings in talent, which helps your team win once said talent is in your program, and Strong is working to get the Longhorns back to being nationally prominent.
And yet his hot seat is scorching right now. This is absurd! He’s in his third season, and the team has been better this year assuming they don’t crash and burn to end the season, but some Texas fans have been adamant that he’s not the guy.
Let coaches do their job without worrying about whether they deserve to stick around for at least four years. Again, some circumstances will pop up that give teams a reason to lose their jobs, but for the most part, be patient. More often than not, it will work out.
Anyway, let’s watch some football.