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Be careful what you wish for...A review of Coaching Hires from 2002

I have been as guilty as anyone in getting frustrated with Mack Brown over the course of his 10-year tenure. I’ve even called for his head at several points. I want to say right now that I think those of you who assume we have to resort to a wine-sipping John Mackovic have lost your minds, but it does require some substantial thought when looking to make a change.

I have no idea how I landed another job after Texas
I have no idea how I landed another job after Texas.

I’ll go ahead and say that I think sticking with Mack Brown, warts and all, is the right decision for this program. And I think it will continue to be the right decision for the next 2-3 seasons at the very least. I’d argue it won’t matter after that as I think Mack will ride off into the sunset at that point or very near there.

Irrespective, I decided to look back at the hires of the off-season after the 2002 season. It gives each of those coaches five full seasons and a chance to get their own players into the system.

The winter of 2002 was filled with interesting coaching hires at a number of schools including UCLA, Houston, Baylor, Kentucky, and Texas A&M. Twelve schools turned over the reigns of their football programs that winter and started this season with that same coach.

In descending order of compensation (tip of the hat to

Dennis Franchione - Texas A&M
Guy Morriss – Baylor (reportedly fired last week)
Rich Brooks – Kentucky
*Art Briles – Houston
Mike Riley – Oregon State
*Karl Dorrell - UCLA
*Bill Doba – Washington State
Joe Glenn – Wyoming
*David Elson – Western Kentucky
*Brady Hoke – Ball State
*Gregg Brandon – Bowling Green
Charlie Weatherbie – Louisiana Monroe

* First time Division 1 Head Coach

Six of the twelve had been college head coaches previously. Five of the six have been abysmal. Mike Riley is the lone exception of this group and ironically enough, this was his second go-round with the Beavers. Riley coached the 97 and 98 seasons at Oregon State before jetting off to the NFL. After being fired by the Chargers, he returned for the 2003 season in Corvalis. He is 43-38 all time for the Beavers.

No wonder he came back

The other five experienced head coaches have achieved lower winning percentages at their current program than their overall winning percentage as a head coach. Even more amazingly, those five experienced head coaches also achieved lower winning percentages than that school’s all time winning percentage (prior to their arrival). Not so amazingly, Morriss was reportedly fired last week while Fran and Weatherbie are expected to be fired at the end of the year.

Six were first time head coaches. Dorrell and Doba are expected to be fired in the next month. Ball State’s Brady Hoke has also lowered the bar with his winning percentage. No one seems to know or care if he is going to be fired. Briles and Brandon have exceeded the historical winning percentage. Western Kentucky did not have prior Division 1 history but Elson’s .643 winning percentage has to be considered a success.

There were 7 other coaches hired that off-season that did not make it to the start of the 2007 season.They were:

Mike Shula (Alabama) – fired after year 4 with a 26-23 record
John Thompson (Eastern Carolina) – fired after two seasons at 3-20
John L Smith (Michigan State) – fired after year 4 after going 22-26
Keith Gilbertson (Washington) – fired after 7-16 in two seasons
Bobby Petrino (Louisville) – became Atlanta Falcons HC after going 41-6 in four seasons at Lousville and was courted by Auburn, LSU, and other NFL teams
Steve Kragthorpe (Tulsa) – should be considered a success since he moved up to Louisville after going 29-22 in four seasons
Urban Meyer (Utah) – parlayed two great years at Utah (22-2) into the Florida job after also being courted by Notre Dame, a $2M annual raise, and a MNC

What does all this mean?

19 hires that off-season resulted in twelve complete failures, four guys who have been successful and are still at their school, and three other guys who were successful enough to parlay it into a better job. Oof. That's gonna leave a mark.

What does that mean for Texas?

Texas will never be a stepping stone job to another college program so we don’t need to worry about the Meyer/Kragthorpe thing happening to us. Texas, like all programs, would be susceptible to a stud stepping up to the NFL level a la Petrino. As I said before, I don't think it matters.

10-2 isn’t so bad after all.

What does it mean for SMU, Baylor, and Texas A&M among others?

Choose wisely.