Archive for July, 2008

Are ACC Coaches Kidding Themselves?

July 27, 2008


Seemingly out of nowhere, during last month’s ACC football meetings in Greensboro, GA Clemson HC Tommy Bowden took a shot at the proverbial ‘big dog’ SEC:


“Not long ago, it was Florida State and Miami dominating college football. Where was the SEC then? These things go in cycles. The SEC has had a nice run. I’m sure that the ACC or another conference will take its place.”


"I make it rain on Spurrier"


Probably not in his own record against the SEC.  He’s 1-3 in his last four games, including the bowl loss to Kentucky two years ago and two straight losses to South Carolina before winning this year 23-21 in Columbia.


Perhaps in his argument, perhaps not.  Miami & FSU won/shared a combined four national titles from 1991-2001.  During that span, the SEC won 3 (Alabama, Florida, UT).  The Big 12 won four as well, so I don’t know that Miami & FSU dominated college football, but you could make a decent case that they were the ‘big dogs’ of southern college football during that span.


Bowden’s leg to stand on may be in that he actually has a pretty good perspective in this argument. Obviously he’s biased now, but before taking the head jobs at Clemson & Tulane, he was an assistant at FSU (twice), Auburn (twice), Duke, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Another SEC transplant in the ACC, David Cutcliffe couldn’t resist making a similar comment.  The former Ole Miss HC & UT OC, proverbial Manning family friend, and current Coach K buddy had this to say:


The SEC and ACC “are a lot more similar than people might think.”


"The Asack family are the next Mannings"


Not sure what specific film spurred him take the Duke job (maybe this game?).  His worst win total at Ole Miss (4) was two more than Ted Roof’s best at Duke and more than Roof won over the past three years combined.  Cutcliffe may want to hope the ACC is a lot less similar than people think.






Happiness is Coaching in SEC (not NFL)

July 5, 2008

An article that caught my attention last weekend was a USA Today via Florida Today story with the headline “SEC coaches happier on campus than in grind of NFL.”  Not a lot of crack reporting here, but some there were some quotes from those who’ve tried their luck in both leagues:

Steve Spurrier (Gators/Redskins/Gamecocks): “I think what has happened is that we all realized it’s a lot more fun coaching in college than it was in the NFL.  You answer to the president and the athletic director, and you very seldom see them unless you’re losing too much or you’re breaking the rules.  You are the boss in college.  I just think we all realize it’s a lot more fun game. The lifestyle is more conducive to a happy, normal person as a college coach.”

Bobby Petrino (Falcons/Razorbacks): “It’s the whole experience.  I like going to the softball games and the basketball games and being part of the entire university, being on campus and going to events on campus.”

The wife of Nick Saban (Tigers/Dolphins/Crimson Tide) was also quoted (from his hiring press conference in Tuscaloosa) as saying it was “that family feeling” that brought the Sabans back to college from the NFL.


It’s also the same Petrino who said in January of last year that the Falcons’ head coaching gig “is truly the best football job in the NFL. It was an easy decision for me.”  A month later, Bobby P also offered told reporters during Super Bowl week that “Everything I’ve done from the time I left the [Jacksonville] Jaguars [as an assistant following the 2001 season] was within mind that, ‘when I come back to the NFL.’”  He went on to say that “in my mind, it was never a question of ‘if’” but rather ‘when’ he would return to the professional ranks.

And, yes, it is the same Saban who said back in December of 2004 that after turning down pro offers in prior years, the Dolphins job was “one of the best that’s ever been presented to me.”  Before the start of his first season, Saban also said that “the longer I was a college coach, the more I got used to it.  It seemed like the NFL got further away…   But going back, this was always the big challenge.”  He also explained that at LSU “I had pretty much decided I was going to stay as a college football coach” but after winning a national title “the challenge of going to the NFL seemed to be something I was looking for.”

So we probably can’t take these guys at their word when they say college is more fun.  We know money was and is always a factor.  Spurrier became the highest-paid NFL coach when left the fun and sun of Gainesville to sing with Washington.  Saban earned the same distinction in college when he left the No Fun League for Alabama.  Petrino traded family stability and fun in Louisville for a bump in annual pay – from roughly $2.5 to $4 million – in Atlanta. 

And what about success?  Well, the combined NFL winning percentage of the Petrino (3-10), Spurrier (12-20), Saban (15-17) and Rich Brooks (13-29) is .361.  That’s a pretty significant drop from their combined college record of 417-259-7 (.611).  Spurrier won 81% of his games at Florida before winning less than 40% in Washington.  Petrino won 82% of his college games before losing 76% of his 13 NFL games. 

Is it really that there is more coaching happiness in college or perhaps that there’s just no happiness in failure, in any league?

Of course, Spurrier and Petrino did dominate offensively in their initial NFL preseasons, going 4-1 and 3-1, respectively.