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The "Deans" of the D-1A Conferences

This is Mack's 11th year at Texas. Only one coach at UT has had a longer tenure- Royal, obviously. Of the two other regimes that lasted 10 years, one ended well (Bible), and one didn't (Akers). At 57, Mack is older than any active football coach has ever been at UT (Bible retired at age 56 and stayed 10 more years as AD). The odds are very likely that Mack will be one of those extremely rare coaches that go their entire career without being fired.

How rare is that? Here is the list of coaches who have been considered exceptional, even great, that have been fired at some time in their careers (college or pro) - Steve Spurrier, Barry Switzer, Frank Kush, Lou Holtz, Bud Wilkinson, and Woody Hayes.

When Dan McArney was fired from ISU a couple of years ago, Mack became the "Dean" (longest tenured coach at his school) of the Big 12. Second longest tenured is Bob Stoops. This is an interesting thing to follow, in a way, because every coach starts out as the least tenured in their conference, and only a few really gain any longevity at a school. Here is the list of "Deans" of the other D-1A conferences-

ACC- Bobby Bowden, 33 years (FSU was not in the ACC for most of them). He has two MNCs, and would have to commit some horrible crime against God and man to be fired. FSU has announced that Jimbo Fisher is the heir apparent. Second longest tenured is Frank beamer, in his 22nd year at VT. If Beamer were to retire this year, and BKB stay on, Tommy Bowden would be second longest tenured in the ACC (unless his perennially warm seat were to ignite).

Big 10 (11) - Joe Paterno is longest tenured at 44 years. He is unlikely to be fired, but he really should retire soon (PSU is talking openly about his retirement coming). Joe Tiller is the second longest tenured at 12 years, but has announced that 2008 is his last season. Note- Lloyd Carr would have been second-longest tenured if he had not retired last season.

SEC- Fullmer is in his 17th year. He is a similar age to Mack, and needs to either have some terrific season soon, or retire, if he wants to finish on a high note. Tuberville is in his 10th year at Auburn. The SEC has a lot of coaches with their second team in the conference (Nutt, Spurrier, Tuberville, and Saban). It's kind of an inbred coaching fraternity (thanks, thanks, don't forget to tip your waitresses)

Pac-10 Bellotti is in his 14th year. Riley and Carroll are in their 8th years at OSU and USC respectively.

Big East - Leavitt is in his 14th year at USF, but they have not been D-1A for all of them. Schiano of Rutgers is in his 8th year. They are both likely to move on.

Mountain West- Rocky Long is in his 11th year at UNM (he replaced Fran). It seems like he might be happy to finish there, and they should be happy to have them. Unfortunately, you can also say that about the MWC's last dean- Sonny Lubick, who was fired from CSU this off-season after 15 years there. Patterson at TCU (replaced Fran eight years ago) is now the second-longest tenured.

C-USA - Tommy West has been at Memphis for eight years. Until fired last year after 17 years as head coach, Jeff Bowers had been the conference's dean. Do CSU and S. Miss. really think they will do better than Lubick and Bowers?

WAC - Ault has been at Nevada for 22 years, but they weren't D-1A until recently, and there may be an interruption in his service. Pat Hill has been at Fresno State for 12 years, all D-1A.

Last year, there were 10 coaches with more D-1A tenure at their program than Mack, with him tied for 11th with Long and Nutt. This year, with Carr, Nutt, Bower and Lubick fired or retired, he is tied for eighth. Only Paterno, Bowden, Fullmer, Tiller, Bellotti, Hill, and Beamer have been at their programs longer.

It's ironic that schools are always looking for young coaches, who can build dynasties. Such coaches are so rare. Wouldn't it make sense to hire an experienced old hand, recognizing that the typical tenure is 4 - 6 years? Maybe, maybe not. It seemed to have worked for ASU with Erickson, and not for OU with Schnellenberger.