Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Except when a head coach voluntarily retires, coaching changes are usually made when a team has poor win-loss record. The new coach is expected to come in and improve that record. Even when coaches retire on good terms, the successor coach is expected to take the team to the next level (unless the team is already at the top—in that case the coach only needs to maintain the formers’ level of success). More often than not, coaches achieve the expected improvement incrementally, and school athletic directors realize this and allow new coaches 3 to 5 years to accomplish the desired success. For example, if a team won 6 games the year before, we expect 8-9 wins the next year, and maybe 10-11 wins the following year. However, some coaches surprise everyone and skip a step or two on the ladder of success in year 2. Some examples of this sophomore success for coaches was achieved by the following:

Nick Saban, Alabama, 2007: 6 wins 6 losses, 2008: 12-2

Urban Meyer, Florida, 2005: 9-3, 2006: 13-1 (SEC and National Champions)

Bronco Mendenhall, BYU, 2005: 6-6, 2006: 11-2 (MWC Champions)

Pete Carroll, USC, 2001: 6-6, 2002: 11-2 (Pac-10 Champions)

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, 1999: 7-5, 2000: 13-0 (Big 12 and National Champions)

My point is that as the 2009 season starts we should keep an eye on second year coaches. Their Teams can easily fly under the radar. However, some of them might be primed for a breakout year, including the following:

Rich Rodriguez, Michigan, 2008: 3-9

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas, 2008: 5-7

Huston Nutt, Ole Miss, 2008: 9-4

June Jones, SMU, 2008: 1-11

(While Urban Meyer’s 9 wins can be considered a success in his first year, I included him because no one expected his 2006 Gators to contend, let alone win, the national championship his second year. The same can be said for Houston Nutt. He was surprisingly successful last year, but no one is taking Ole Miss serious as a national title contender. If the Rebels do win the national championship, then I would say he fits the unexpected sophomore success lebel.)

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