The reasons coaches move
Great coaches will always be on the move. Not because they’re money grubbers but because they want to win and compete on the biggest stage they can. Don’t fault them for that.
For Brian Kelly to win big at Cincinnati, everything had to be perfect. He had to have a very good QB (Tony Pike), his top 15 players had to be healthy and he needed some breaks to go his way during the season.
But the problem (and the reality) with the system is that schools like Utah, Boise State and Cincinnati can go undefeated yet not get a chance to play in the national championship game because of the conference they play in. So when a coach like Kelly or Urban Myer, who left Utah for Florida in 2004, gets offered a bigger stage, he’s probably going to take it.
A look behind the scenes:
Why do coaches move? When you hear a coach say something like, “I labored over this decision, and I have to do what’s best for my family and move on,” it usually means, “Another university or NFL team made me an offer I can’t refuse and I’d be foolish to turn it down.” Needless to say, the economic impact of going from $1 million per year to $2.5 million, for example, is worth considering in any field. That’s obvious.
Other factors that can affect coaches’ decisions to move on usually come down to two things: overall support of their cause to win a championship and their relationships with those they work with and for.
SUPPORT: There have been many coaches who have made what looks to be a lateral move because they felt they didn’t have the full support of their university or ownership to get the job done. They weren’t given that new weight room they were promised, their salary pool was not increased to a level to keep and attract good assistant coaches, admissions was not being flexible on borderline kids and/or the team owner was not spending money on quality free agents. These types of issues rarely make it to the media because coaches can be tight-lipped about their concerns and grievances. However, because good coaches have such a burning desire to compete, issues like these eat away at them and eventually can become motivating factors to move on.
RELATIONSHIPS: I once had a successful AD tell me that if there wasn’t friction between him and his coaches, they probably weren’t competitive enough. He told me he expected his best coaches to continuously push the envelope with him on supplying the best tools to recruit, practice and win. Through this process, however, relationships can sour over the smallest issues. Athletic directors, owners, team presidents, school presidents and GMs can quickly drift apart from coaches because of miscommunication, egos or even subtle disagreements.
A lot of college coaches are made huge promises when they come through the door, but if the promises don’t come to fruition after a few years, they lose confidence in their support groups and are quick to take the next available opportunity. Rarely do coaches voice their disappointments publicly, leaving the fan base to speculate about their perceived selfishness.
AGENTS: Have you noticed that you don’t hear much from the agent community when coaches are in play? That’s because a good agent is neither seen nor heard. One of the biggest problems coaches and agents face is the never-ending speculation from the media about coaching vacancies. I received more than 30 requests for information about my client Jim Harbaugh’s supposed candidacy for the Notre Dame job. The New York Times and ESPN ran unsupported stories that he was going to be interviewed last week, although there was no confirmation from anyone with direct knowledge of the situation. The fact is, there’s so much competition for information today, even reputable news agencies are willing to speculate because no one will return their calls and they don’t want to be left behind.
Like other responsible agents, I make it strict policy not to comment on my clients’ opportunities or other jobs.
Speculation on a coach’s future by the media is acceptable but should be handled with sensitivity because it can be damaging to recruiting efforts and professional relationships.
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