So what should we look for in a new HC? I’ve had some thoughts on the matter, and now that I happen to have read Moneyball and The Blind Side in the last few days, I have more thoughts on the matter. Right now there are 4 things I think, and this is me talking on hunches, that we (or any team trying to hire a coach) should be wary of.
First, let’s call this the “anything you’ve done in the past year can and will be used against you” rule. Basically, any accomplishments made over the last year don’t count, but anything bad that happened does. I mention this because too many names appear just because the coach happens to be hot at that moment. Last year, mid-season, a lot of people wanted the coach from USF. A few losses later no one was so excited. Earlier this year, many people, myself included, put Bobby Johnson’s name on the watch list. Now no one is so excited about the coach of the 5-4 Commodores. Now a lot of people are listing Mike Leach because Texas Tech is 10-0. Sure they’re having a great season, but I think the odds are after this season his team will revert to the mean and be good but not great. Hiring a coach who comes off such a great season will be like buying dot.com stocks in the late 90s. I’ll give an exception to young coaches who may have only 1 year of HC experience.
Second, beware the coach with a really good kicker. Somewhere there has to be analysis of what an awesome kicker, or set of kickers, can do for a team. They can control the other team’s field position, and they can give you 3 points when you’re nowhere near the end-zone. I’m thinking of Jim Grobe right now. I’m wondering how well Wake would have done the last few years with a crappy kicker. A coach with a great kicker shouldn’t be disqualified, but there should be a warning flag. Here I’ll give an exception to coaches who seem to be skilled at specifically recruiting great kickers.
Third, a coach needs more than personality. A coach’s primary qualification should be something other than “toughness”. A lot of the candidates for our HC position seem to be judged by some subjective measure of their attitudes and personalities. I suspect that there is little to no correlation between the AD’s feelings about how good a guy should be and how good he actually is. [Yes, that's pretty much straight from [Moneyball.]
Fourth and finally, beware the coordinators of strong programs. I’m thinking of Will Muschamp here. I’ve heard great things about his personality, but I have honestly heard zero about his qualifications. He was at LSU from ’01-’04, Auburn from ’06-’07, and now he’s at Texas. He’s been a part of winning teams, but how well can we back out his contribution? For all I know, he’s good at finding jobs where there is so much talent that it’s almost impossible to fail.
Hopefully the consulting firm that is assisting TDP will take such factors into consideration. I strongly hope that they aren’t just buying empty reputations.