Coaching searches bring misguided standards

mlough@macon.comDecember 18, 2013 

So, as it turns out, the biggest budget in the land and most fertile recruiting base in the land wasn’t enough to pull Nick Saban.

And Texas is still looking.

Each year, a few jobs emerge in sports to remind us of the, well, insanity of those watching sports and their weak grip on objective reality.

Potential coaching moves are often lateral any more, more than people want to admit.

Sorry, your school really is very much like a couple dozen others in almost every form and fashion.

You sell a lot of tickets? So do many others.

Your players go pro? So do many others.

You have money to play with? So do many others.

Good-looking groupies? Teachers and professors generous with grading? Get on TV some? Great fight song? Quality tailgating? Colors that match?

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. And check.

Each year, these jobs inspire the most absurd speculation short of a presidential campaign, and as much aspirin and Pepto.

Among the dumbest mentalities exhibited by folks in charge -- and there are so many -- and encouraged by fan bases is the need for a name, and then winning the news conference (news conferences, of course, are close to undefeated).

Nick Saban was 34-24-1 at Michigan State, and he visited bowls in Shreveport, La.; El Paso, Texas; and Hawaii. He was 25-22-1 entering his final season in East Lansing.

LSU was, if you look at those numbers, fairly desperate in ending its run of Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo and gambled on a man who finished better than fifth once in the Big Ten.

Note that Alabama lost to Louisiana-Monroe in Saban’s first year, no doubt adding to Tide fans wondering how long the program would pay for Bear Bryant.

Urban Meyer was head coach for two years at Utah and two at Bowling Green when Florida took him. An odd name, but certainly no big name, not even in Utah or Ohio.

And based on the pile he left Florida in after a couple of national titles, now an unprintable name. But he was no headliner.

It’s way too early to talk about anybody at Auburn. Gene Chizik came in, got yelled at getting off the plane, and won a national championship before mortality set back in.

Gus Malzahn has pretty much been around drama since leaving the high school world for the 2006 season. He spent one year with the Textmaster, Houston Nutt, at Arkansas before the Razorbacks had their implosion of that particular decade.

Malzahn joined Chizik, found lightning -- named Cam -- in a bottle, and left while the getting was good only to come back to Auburn and ride another controversial quarterback to the championship game.

Hires are about longevity, so we’ll have to wait on Malzahn.

But back to how Texas getting Mack Brown in the first place. He was at North Carolina, for Pete’s sake, where he had one more 10-win season than he did one-win season.

Texas hired an ACC head coach not named Bobby Bowden? For football? There was not the shaking of the earth Longhorns fans hoped for back in 1998, no doubt.

For all the grousing about assorted coaches -- hello, Mark Richt, thanks for your call -- no program has “underachieved” anywhere nearly as much as Texas: More money than anybody else, a supreme college town that’s actually the 11th-largest city/metro in the land, within four hours of blue-chippers galore.

Since Texas’ greed and ESPN’s general -- eh, can’t use those words here -- led to the Longhorn Network and thus really began all of this ridiculous realignment, let’s hope they pay for awhile.

But what do the Longhorns need? Maybe just another version of that younger Mack Brown, who was a coach before becoming a name. Coaches win, names don’t.

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or

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