Thursday, December 11, 2008


"Dear Santa, I have been extra good this year and did not say the F word because of Auburn football more than six nine 14 times even though I really wanted to. For Christmas, I would like one Brian Kelly please. Signed, the JCCW."

Meant to include this in today's edition of the Works and forgot, but you should still totally check out Dr. Saturday's breakdown of the importance--or rather, the complete lack thereof--of SEC coaching experience in hiring an SEC championship-winning coach.

Your money graf:

Only one championship coach since Steve Spurrier's last hurrah at Florida, Tommy Tuberville, had ever coached in any capacity at an SEC school before landing his headlining gig in the conference; Tuberville is also the only coach to even hail from an "SEC state," if Arkansas even qualifies -- the Razorbacks weren't in the conference until 1992, well into Tuberville's eight-year stint with the dominant Miami teams under Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson. Tubs had never coached in the SEC before landing the Ole Miss job in 1995, and when he finally broke through in 2004, his chief innovation was hiring an offensive coordinator, Al Borges, who had spent his entire life on the West Coast before a two-year stint at Indiana.
In other words: that Johnson and Kelly (and to "a lesser extent" per the JCCW's personal preferences, Leach and Gill) have no ties to the conference isn't a problem. To look at the success of Saban, Meyer, Richt, and Miles, hell, it might even be a positive.

However, the most substantial tie that binds three of those coaches, along with Tubby--in other words, four of the last five SEC championship-winning coaches--is that they held a head coaching position before they were hired by the school at which they won the SEC.

We can go further: of the 10 coaches in the BCS this year, one is Joe Paterno. The circumstances of Joe Paterno's hire after he returned from his service in the Crimean War aren't entirely relevant. But of the other nine, seven of them--all but Stoops and Whittingham--had previous head coaching experience. Six of the nine got their first head coaching experience at some form of "lower level" school (I-AA, MAC, etc.) than the one at which they eventually made their name.

One other connection: age. Of the five SEC title-wining coaches Dr. Saturday mentions, only one--Miles--had past his 50th birthday when he was hired at the school he won the title with. Of the 10 coaches to make the BCS this year, all but Saban were hired at their current school before they turned 50.

The bottom line: if you're looking to make a home run hire--to hire a coach who can win the SEC and put your team into the national spotlight--your best bet is to ignore whether a candidate has SEC ties or not and grab someone under the ago of 50 who has previous successful head coaching experience.

No one available has more "successful head coaching experience" than Kelly, Johnson, or Leach. They should be the frontrunners--and while I'd be equally happy with Johnson or Kelly, if you put a gun to my head, the age difference would make me say Kelly.

Seeing as how none of those guys seem to be serious candidates for the Auburn job at the moment (sigh), what it does it actually mean for Auburn's search? It means Gill or Slimeball Graham or even Hoke or Dooley are definitely better hires than Garner or Nix, probably better hires than Fisher, and everyone is better than hiring a 63-year-old.

1 comment:

Alex P from Smyrna G said...

I hear you, Jerry. If he'll leave Cinci, then Kelly is the best choice among HCs at schools at or below Auburn's level of prestige. I see "Next Urban Meyer" written all over him.

I would still rather have Leach - more for the splash than anything. Also I would like us to be known as the tigerwareagleplainsmenpirates.