Monday, January 3, 2011

the College and NFL Head Coaching Carousel

What have you done for me lately?

That is the sentiment among many college programs and in the front offices of several NFL teams on what is typically called "Black Monday," to signify the end of tenures.

The NFL season hasn't been over for a full day and John Fox and Eric Mangini are already out of Carolina and Cleveland, respectively, with Marvin Lewis expected to part ways with Cincinnati.

Though Fox and Lewis have had significant runs with their teams, Mangini had two full seasons in Cleveland and achieved a 10-22 record. Earlier this season, Denver severed ties with head coach Josh McDaniels in the middle of his second year.

And in college, it seems to not necessarily be worse, but just as confusing.

Ralph Friedgen was fired from Maryland after 10 years. And 2010 saw a turnaround. The Terps finished 2009 with a 2-10 record. This year, Maryland finished 9-4 after a Military Bowl victory over East Carolina and Friedgen was named ACC Coach of the Year.

To clear up any confusion, I am not necessarily opposed to the "what have you done for me lately" culture, especially in the NFL. While schemes are more complex, everyone runs a Pro-Style offense and the best football players in the world are playing on teams.

But regardless of what level you are at, you need talent to win. Coaches that have talent, but don't win, should be shown the door as Wade Phillips was earlier this season by the Dallas Cowboys.

By the end of the week, it is expected that coaching situations will become more clear for teams like the Dolphins, Texans, Titans, 49ers, Vikings and Cowboys. Counting the teams I already mentioned and the Giants, who have already apparently decided to bring coach Tom Coughlin back, 11 NFL teams have some speculation about the future of their head coaches.

Is that a good thing? More than one-third of the teams are not certain who their coach is going to be in 2011. Is it a coincidence that out of those 11 teams, only one - the Giants - have a Super Bowl championship in the 2000s?

Is it also a coincidence that one of the NFL's most popular teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have had 3 coaches since 1969 and have won six Super Bowls. The best team of the 2000s, the New England Patriots, have had the same coach, Bill Belichick, since 2000 and has won three Super Bowls.

One could say, and I wouldn't argue, that the Steelers and the Patriots have had some really good players. But if a coach like Eric Mangini finishes 10-22 in two seasons and doesn't get to pick his players, how much blame should he receive?

Whatever task is in front of you - coaching, playing,working - have a sense of urgency to get the job done. Your success and how long you are around may depend on your results.

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