What these three coaches tell us about the state of college football
There are 128 head coaches in Football Bowl Subdivision. If you were to place all of them on a scatter plot by their hiring dates, there'd be a massive cluster around the last five years and then, starting around 2008, a handful of dots every year until the turn of the century until you got to one lonely speck marking Frank Beamer's hiring at Virginia Tech back in 1986.
With a total of 126 hirings over the past five years (mind you, there are just now 128 teams in FBS) college football is very much a win-or-get-out business. Make it past year four, and chances are it's because you started winning very quickly. But for every rule there is an exception, and in this case there are three.
Of the 128 FBS head coaches, three of them have won seven or less games each of the past four seasons. They are Iowa State's Paul Rhoads, Central Michigan's Dan Enos and UNLV's Bobby Hauck. This may read like a negative note, but it's not. Plenty of coaches don't get four years to build a program, as Jon Embree, Ellis Johnson and a host of others can attest.
Two of the three are in the midst of a definite upswing. After three straight two-win seasons, Hauck took UNLV to its first bowl game since 2000 this fall. Enos rebounded from back-to-back 3-9 campaigns to a Pizza Bowl win in 2012 and a 6-6 follow-up in 2013. And though Rhoads' Cyclones suffered a down year in 2013, the Iowa State community is enamored enough with his program to completely sell out of season tickets three weeks before opening kick.
This is more of a commentary on the state of college football and the expectations heaped on coaches. When 128 athletics directors and presidents have their fingers glued to the eject button, you get a coaching middle class with a population of three.
Video: Eastern Michigan will work out anywhere, anytime...including in the snow
Under brand new head coach Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan's new motto is "Anytime, Anywhere." The Eagles' strength staff is holding the team to that motto, as Eastern Michigan went through a recent workout on a Rynearson Stadium surface covered in several inches of snow.
Many of these dudes are in nothing more than their practice jersey and shorts, which would be the end of my Eastern Michigan football career right then and there.)
Looking to break in to major college football? Get a job on these staffs
Every young coach taking a graduate assistant or off-the-field position wants to learn under good coaches, gain valuable experience and an eye-catching line for their resume and land a full-time job either on their current staff or somewhere else. All four goals are great, but every aspiring coach really wants that last one accomplished above all others.
Every head coach worth his salt works to pay the tireless work of his off-the-field staff forward to springboard their own careers, but some coaches manage to do a better job of that than others.
For instance, Monday's news of Ball State defensive grad assistant Thad Bogardus landing a quality control job with the Buffalo Bills rang a bell with us. Sifting through The Scoop archives, we saw that Cardinals grad assistants Billy Riebock (wide receivers) and Cris Reisert (tight ends) landed full-time jobs at Elon and Gerald Chatman has moved on to coach the defensive line at Butler. That's a perfect 4-for-4 job placement cycle for Pete Lembo.
Arizona State's Todd Graham joined Lembo in finding four jobs for his graduate assistants: T.J. Rushing is now coaching cornerbacks at Northern Arizona, Dan Lanning will coach the defensive backs at Sam Houston State, Trent Figg found a job as the defensive backs coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Southern Arkansas, and Keola Loo will now coach the offensive line at West Texas A&M.
Aside from graduate assistants, it seemed like every week this winter a new football analyst or off-the-field staff member at Auburn and Alabama found a full-time on-the-field job elsewhere. Other coaches wanted guys on their staff who worked under Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn.
Lembo, Graham, Saban and Malzahn aren't the only head coaches serving as matchmaker for their support staffs. What other staffs have had a number of off-the-field staff find full-time work this off-season? Who did we miss?
Video: No mirrors, no TVs. Just a man and his weights
Maryville College is coming off back to back conference titles, and their first D-III playoff berth in school history last season. Head coach Mike Rader and his staff brought in a whole new attitude when they came to the program in 2012, and their recent success is a testament to their "there is no off season" approach.
Walking around the facilities, and the weight room in particular, you won't find some of the bells and whistles that you'll find at other places. But the staff has instilled a belief in players that those aren't the things that win championships. All they need is some weights and motivation.
The elite teams put in the work necessary (and then a little extra), and the Maryville staff has got their players to understand that.
"For the elite, there is no off season. Ali once said that he hated every minute of training. Ali also said 'suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"
"This is MC. We don't have TVs. We don't have mirrors. All it is, is a man. A man and his weights, and a will to be the best."
Above all, they understand that there is no "off season".
What is the Texas Tech staff doing in high heels?
At first glance, seeing the entire Texas Tech coaching staff in high heels is both hilarious, and a bit unsettling.
Come to find out, the staff slipped on the red pumps to show their support for the Lubbock Rape Crisis Center's "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event. Definitely a great cause to slip on heels for (and probably the only reason to), and seeing football coaches in high heels will definitely grab your attention.
It's worth pointing out that some of the coaches look a little more comfortable than others in the pic.
Ohio State, Clemson, and Texas A&M had a meeting of the offensive minds
In an effort to get better and learn something new this off season, the offensive staffs from Clemson and Texas A&M went up to visit Ohio State last week.
Yes, three teams that ranked in the top ten in the FBS in scoring last season converged in one room, with the primary objective being to leave with one nugget of information that will help improve an already potent offensive attack into something even more dangerous to defenses. Tom Herman's Buckeyes ranked third in scoring offense, Chad Morris' crew ranked eighth, and while Jake Spavital will be calling the shots at A&M for this first time this fall, the Aggies ranked fifth in scoring last season.
Since Chad Morris, Jake Spavital and Tom Herman each attack defenses very differently, and still specialize in putting points on the board, there was plenty to learn.
"You're not trying to change the style of offense, you're just looking for a couple of little things where you can tweak your offense," Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital explained to CBS Sports.
"If you got a coaching a point out of it, you made the play better, so you're talking, 'Maybe the QB needs to take a shorter drop, or maybe it's better if it's slower developing.' You're talking about timing issues about what the path of the offensive linemen are; how the quarterback's footwork should be. There is a lot to be discussed and you kind of just chip away."
In a meeting room with Herman, Spavital and Morris, I can imagine Ohio State's power run game being a major talking point, as well as Morris' vertical passing attack and play action game, and Spavital chipping in with plenty of screen game and efficient route concepts. Lots of great X's and O's content, as well as coaching points from some of the best in the business were being exchanged in that room.
Imagine the asking price if that kind of information was put on a DVD and put up for auction. Who wouldn't want it?
Texas commissions study to examine expanding its stadium
In a bit of coincidental timing that can not be ignored, Texas announced plans to commission a study examining the feasibility of expanding the south end zone of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Monday. This comes on the heels of Texas A&M's recent renovations that will push Kyle Field's capacity to 102,500 by 2015.
DKR's present capacity? 100,119.
“The south end project is conceptual at this point,” Texas athletics director Steve Patterson said in a statement. “Any further planning will depend on a variety of factors to be studied over the next several months.”
Texas is in the midst of major facility upheaval across the university. The university has announced plans to establish a new medical center - supplementing the existing ones in Dallas, Houston and Galveston - on the current site of Frank Erwin Center, thereby necessitating a new basketball arena in the coming years.
A south end zone build out would entail the construction of a number of suites - as all stadium upgrades do in this day and age - along with connecting the stadium's east and west sides. Texas has invested a number of improvements into its 90-year old home over the past decade and a half, removing the track and astroturf installed in the 1970's, enclosing the north end zone and creating a new club level, uprooting the grass surface for field turf and boosting the capacity by 25 percent in the process.
How a potential south end zone renovation would affect the Moncrief-Neuhaus athletic center, home to the Longhorns' coaches offices, locker room, weight room and meeting rooms, remains to be seen.
Most coaches would rather get a tooth pulled than do this
Most - and by most I mean closer to 99.9 percent than 51 percent - coaches place quarterback battles in the same category as voluntary root canals. Why submit yourself to something so excruciating if you don't absolutely have to? Competition for a starting job is always a good thing, but when that competition catches the eye of the media? That's where season-sidetracking distractions are born.
That's why I find what Illinois is doing this spring so interesting. In their quest to replace longstanding starter Nathan Scheelhaase, the Fighting Illini are auditioning three hopefuls: senior Riley O'Toole, sophomore Aaron Bailey and sophomore (and Oklahoma State transfer) Wes Lunt.
Again, most coaches would rather wear their underwear outside of their clothes than have the ins-and-outs of something so crucial as a quarterback derby chronicled for public consumption. Not Illini offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. After landing from Western Michigan, Cubit pushed Illinois' offense from 122nd to 46th nationally in total offense, 119th to 45th in yards per play and a two-touchdown-per-game improvement in scoring average. Cubit's expertise was a key factor in Illinois' two-win boost from 2012. He's a confident coach, as evidenced by his quote to the Chicago Sun-Times that the Big Ten's best offense may be wearing orange and blue. "I don't think anybody can stop us," he told the paper. "...I think we've got a chance to be the best offense in the conference."
True or not, Illinois' 2014 offense will begin to take shape in the coming weeks, and that starts with finding a signal caller. This may be some of the most intriguing reality television of the spring. "We're all friends, we have to realize that at the end of the day. And at the end of the day we have to realize we're all teammates and we have to want what's best for the team," Lunt said.
"We want to see the guys that are going to go out there and fight every single day for that position, that don't get down, don't let adversity hit you in the face," Cubit said. "Just keep on going."