Rivals.com today unveils the first part of a three-part coaching series. Since it's part one, we felt it appropriate to look at how coaches have fared this decade in their first seasons at a new school and the types of challenges they face.
Wednesday's part two will deal with coaches on the hot seat – or, in another way of looking at it, where guys could be making their coaching debuts next season.
Thursday's part three looks at some hot coaching commodities – or, in other words, guys who could be replacing those coaches on the hot seat.
No crop of new hires has done as well as the group hired before the 2001 season. The 24 newbies compiled an aggregate 142-138 record with nine bowl appearances in their debut seasons. Eleven of the coaches hired are still in their positions, and four more have moved on to better jobs. Ironically, one of the coaches who no longer has a job is Miami's Larry Coker, the only coach this decade to win a national championship in his debut. Coaches who went to a bowl in 2001 are signified by an asterisk. Those listed in bold still are in the same job, while those designated with a percentage sign (%) have moved on to other head-coaching jobs.
Conference with the most head coaches changes since 2000, based on current conference alignments
Conference USA: 20
Big 12: 14
Western Athletic: 13
Big Ten: 12
Mountain West: 12
Big East: 9
Sun Belt: 6
Dennis Franchione knows a thing or two about debuting with a new team.
Since 1992, he has taken over programs at New Mexico, TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M. He has enjoyed success, posting winning records at TCU (7-5 in 1998) and Alabama (7-5 in 2001). And he has endured failure, going 3-8 with New Mexico in 1992 and 4-8 with Texas A&M in 2003.
"It's easy to misjudge the learning curve that first year," says Franchione, who will work as a commentator on ESPN Radio broadcasts this fall after leaving his post with Texas A&M. "We usually assumed the players would learn at an A+ level, but that typically isn't the case, so you need to adjust down."
There have been 154 coaching changes this decade, which averages out to 17 per offseason. And that's exactly the number of coaches who will debut this fall, either as first-timers or as veteran hands taking over a new program. Time will tell if the 2008 new hires will be successful, but history says most are in for a rough beginning.
What can a coach making his debut expect? A 5-7 record in Year One. Recent history says so. Remember: These guys have new jobs for a reason – the coach they are following usually failed. The 137 coaches who debuted from 2000-07 compiled an aggregate 701-908 record.
A bowl will be a pipe dream for most. Just 34 percent (47 of 137) of new coaches since 2000 made the postseason.
"You have to decide how much of your system you want to put in," Franchione says. "We always put more in the first year during camp than we knew we would use. We wanted our guys to be as confident as possible going into the first game, so we limited what we taught at first.
"By the second year, we would give them everything we had, knowing we weren't going to use all of it right away that season. But we probably would by the fifth or sixth game."
A few coaches this decade have enjoyed smashing debuts, including two who posted perfect records. Larry Coker went 12-0 and won the national championship in first year at Miami in 2001. Chris Petersen went 13-0 with a scintillating victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in 2006.
Then, there are those coaches who suffer in their debuts. And none have had it worse this decade than New Mexico State's Hal Mumme (0-12 in 2005) and UCF's George O'Leary (0-11 in 2004), the only coaches who went winless in their first seasons since 2000. Despite those inauspicious debuts, both coaches remain in those jobs.