Allow me a few sentences to provide a little background before I jump into the real question of naiveté...
First, I've owned FootballScoop for about five and half years and I own it because I truly enjoy helping people in life and that's what we try to do with the site. We try to help coaches understand what is going on in the profession through the delivery of timely and accurate coaching news. I'm not a great writer; but when I do write something, I write what I believe and everything we write on FootballScoop is aimed at our audience, which primarily is coaches. We consistently receive sincere appreciation from coaches across the country for doing what we do and that quite frankly is all we need to keep at it. As the owner of FootballScoop, I am from time to time afforded considerable access to coaches and I've had the true pleasure of getting to know a lot of great people who have chosen to invest a good portion of their lives in teaching, leading and coaching young men. There are a lot of truly great people in this profession and I'm proud to be able to do my little part to help these guys out.
Now with that said, from time to time I read things written by seemingly eminently qualified people and I simply don't where they are coming from ... and this makes me wonder if I really am the one who is naive.
For example, last night I read this piece written collectively by the staff of writers at CBS Sports in which their staff tries to think ahead in the event both Texas and USC decide to hire new head coaches. In the first "domino" - Dennis Dodd writes that Texas would hire Kirby Smart. Following that, Bruce Feldman says USC would hire Pat Fitzgerald. There are several more dominoes to follow, but at this point in the article I'm beyond scratching my head.
Allow me to step back and preface this by saying the way I found this article was by seeing CBS's Gregg Doyel tweet that maybe David Shaw from Stanford would be the guy at Texas.
CBS Sports is a huge national operation with seemingly unlimited resources. I, and I think most people, presume that their "experts" as they refer to them have countless years of experience and more connections in the profession than most people could dream of. If these guys have a question for a coach or AD they just call them, right?
So here I am, having only owned FootballScoop for less than six years and I'm scratching my head wondering if I'm the naive one.
In all of my dealings with David Shaw at their offices in Palo Alto and every time I see him on the road and based on all of the time I've spent with coaches and administrators on their staff all I've ever seen, heard or felt is that Shaw has his dream job as the head coach at Stanford. This is his alma mater. He absolutely loves his job unlike nearly any other person I've ever met. He is passionate about Stanford University and their football program. Everything in me tells me that as long as the University supports him properly (which by all accounts they have and are) he will not leave that job for a very long time.
Over the past few years I've also had the pleasure of spending some time with Kirby Smart, Nick Saban and a number of staff members at Alabama. Kirby has "it" and has a very bright future ahead of him. He has been offered head jobs in the past and he will be offered more in the future; and when he finds one that he believes in the right fit, I think he will do well as a head coach. But with that said, Kirby is an Alabama/Georgia type guy. He has never been a head coach of a major program. The University of Texas is not turning the reigns over to Kirby Smart. Just months after letting Manny Diaz go, I simply can't imagine Texas hiring another "bright, young defensive coordinator" who has never been a head coach before to take over as the face of what should be the most visible head coaching position in the country. The University of Texas will look for a proven winner with a demonstrated track record as a head coach. Art Briles could very well be the next head coach at Texas, Gary Patterson could possibly be the next head coach at Texas, but Kirby Smart will not be.
And then there's the concept of Pat Fitzgerald leaving Chicago to move his family to Los Angeles for the USC job. Wait, what? I've had the pleasure of receiving a bear hug from Fitz at his facility in Evanston and having him give me the tour around the place and seeing his eyes light up as he showed me where the new facility they are building is going to be (right on Lake Michigan...spectacular location). I've sat in his office and listened to him proudly tell me stories from his time as a player there and I've spoken with him about his wife and kids at length. He's an incredibly humble person and is appropriately respected as a leader. Fitz is the real deal and he's Northwestern through and through. He's also Chicago area through and through. Same as with David Shaw above, as long as the University continues to appropriately recognize the value Fitz brings to the University (and both he and Shaw have recently entered into lengthy contracts with sizable pay increases), I simply can not see Fitz leaving the city for a few more dollars or "a new challenge". Now, if the Chicago Bears come calling several years from now after Fitz has already taken Northwestern to perennial top ten program status, then... well that's way down the road.
So I'm back to the question, am I the naive one? Dodd, Feldman and Doyel have probably been doing this collectively for 50-plus years longer than I have. Conventional wisdom tells me they aren't writing things just to get a rise from people. So, what gives? How is it that these guys peg David Shaw or Kirby Smart to Texas and Pat Fitzgerald to USC when I can't envision any possibility of any of those three things happening?
I don't know, maybe this is what fans like, a good debate. Maybe, I really am the naive one.