Tuck: College Coaches Can Leave When They Want

By Mike Tuck
Host, Tuck & O'Neill

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly’s name is coming up for the Philadelphia Eagles job.  This kind of news gets everyone freaked.  How could Kelly even consider leaving the Irish after just 3 years on the job?  He has a contract!  He made promises to those kids he recruited!  How dare he!

Reality check folks.

28 jobs have come open this year in college football.  28.  That is almost one quarter of the jobs in FBS (I-A) football.

14 of those coaches were fired.  Ellis Johnson lasted one season at Southern Miss.  John L. Smith the same at Arkansas.  John Embree last 2 seasons at Colorado.  Joker Phillips made it three seasons at Kentucky as did Skip Holtz at USF.  Derek Dooley was given three at Tennessee.  Frank Spazziani coached four seasons at Boston College.  So did Danny Hope at Purdue.  Rob Akey managed 5+ seasons at Idaho.  Tom O’Brien made it six at NC State.

And then there is Mario Cristobal, who took over at FIU, led them for 6 seasons, including their first conference title and pair of bowl wins, their first ever in school history.  He has a bad season this year (3-9) and is fired.

And how about Jeff Tedford, long-time coach at Cal, and by most measures, the second greatest coach in school history, and is let go.  All he did was go bowling 8 of his 11 seasons, and have the Bears in the national title hunt a couple times.

And Gene Chizik actually won a national title at Auburn, but that wasn’t enough to buy him more than four years on the job.

So while everyone points to the other 13 coaches who left for a “better” job (Mike Price retired)  and want to criticize them for abandoning their kids, and their responsibilities, and breaking their contracts I say, “hold on!”

What about these other coaches that weren’t given the opportunity to stick around for their kids, or for the life of their contracts???

Isn’t this a two-way street?

Why would any coach want to stay when they see their colleagues get canned so quickly?  One bad year and you could be toast.  Or heck, you remain loyal, and win, and win, and one slip-up, and you’re out?

Not that we need this reminder, but this is a big business.  As much as everyone is worried about the kids, these kids are actually adults.  They may as well get a life lesson that in the real world, you have to do what is best for you and your family, and sometimes that means striking while the iron is hot and moving on.

Like most jobs, there is a pecking order of companies, and with that, a ladder to climb.  The lure of more money, more opportunity, and more fame is tempting for any human.

So please stop with the hating on coaches who leave one job for another.  We all leave jobs for a lot of different reasons, and any of those reasons can be looked at as acceptable.  Stop with the double-standard, remember life sometimes isn’t fair, and remember that loyalty is a two-way street.

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