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  1. #1

    Unraveling the “firing head coach too soon” myth (long)

    For the longest time (up until even a few weeks ago), I was a big believer in giving any new hire the standard 3-year period to sustain/increase success or right the ship...whatever the case may be. The prevailing sentiment was and is always “if you fire XYZ after only so many years, nobody will want that job”.

    But the more I have thought about it lately, the less sense it makes. The fact is, hiring a college football head coach is ALWAYS a crapshoot...not just for MSU but for just about everyone else too. More on that in a minute. Knowing and accepting that, you can only conclude that there is no optimal time to fire a coach to guarantee success (or lack thereof) in the subsequent hiring process.

    Look no further than the last few hires at MSU:

    2003 - our program was a complete dumpster fire. We had impending NCAA sanctions and a losing stench that had lasted for 3+ years. Our two choices for head coach were a couple of coordinators in Jimbo Fisher and Sly Croom. Both were highly thought of nationally, Croom had been a finalist for the Bama job that previous summer and had NFL connections. Fisher was an accomplished Nick Saban protege at LSU. We chose poorly between two coordinators, but both would have been lauded as good hires (and Croom was...never forget all the media praise we got in 2003).

    2008 - Croom experiment failed miserably in all of our eyes, but he had just been named SEC coach of the year less than 12 months before he was fired. A lot of scrutiny from the press after we pulled the plug following 45-0. Many said we fired him too soon and didn’t give him a chance to right the ship when he had finally tasted winning and ridded us of the NCAA mess. Regardless, our two finalists for his replacement were once again a couple of nationally respected coordinators in Kevin Wilson and Dan Mullen. We chose correctly this time, while Wilson went on to get hired and fired by Indiana. Mullen proceeds to begin building what would become a very respected program nationally over the next decade.

    2017 - After 9 mostly fruitful and consistent seasons under Mullen, we are for the first time ever perhaps, in a position of great strength in hiring process for a new head coach. Perceived strength, anyways. We have proven MSU is not a coaches graveyard, and we ensured competitive compensation and adequate resources existed for sustained success that vaulted the previous coach into a Top 6-7 job nationally. We had a shit ton of starters coming back from a Top 20 team, including 4 guys that were taken in the first 2 rounds of the NFL draft. No NCAA trouble. We were quite literally in the best possible situation for any new hire to walk into at MSU...ever. And yet, our only two major options were still nothing more than a couple of mostly career coordinators in Moorhead and Jeremy Pruitt. Yes, Moorhead had HC experience at the FCS level for a little bit, but nothing in the Power 5 or even FBS in that regard. Once aGAIN, both were well thought of nationally, and the hire we made was regarded as a great one by all the “expert” third parties.

    So that brings us to now. Everyone now knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Moorhead must be fired. The only question is when. And I’m looking at the hard evidence above that shows our program in every point of the spectrum from weak / unattractive to outstanding / attractive for potential candidates. Every single damn time, it’s a couple of highly thought of coordinators that we get to pick from. Maybe we’ll have a guy thrown in that was a HC for a few years in JUCO or D3 or FCS...whatever. We now know for a fact what that’s worth. If we fire Moorhead tomorrow morning or after the Egg Bowl or 10 years from now...thats the caliber of guys we are picking from. Guaranteed. Maybe we’ll get it right and maybe we won’t. Probably a better chance that we won’t. But we all know for sure that what we have now isn’t working. And the sooner we act, the better.


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  2. #2


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  3. #3
    Very nice...if something is obviously not working, try something else.


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  4. #4

    Not quite right

    i heard Jimbo said thanks but no thanks.


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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by goodknight View Post
    i heard Jimbo said thanks but no thanks.
    Yeaaaaaah. Just like Wilson said the same thing. The guy that doesn’t get the job always tries to leak that out. Oldest trick in the book. And considering that Jimbo didn’t end up getting any HC job until 7 years later, I’m calling BS that he turned down an SEC head coaching gig in 2003.


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  6. #6
    Nobody will ever know the truth except the parties involved, but I have heard he did want the job. And what difference does it make? There's a whole shit load of coaches between Moorhead and Fisher in competency.


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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by tatedog View Post
    Nobody will ever know the truth except the parties involved, but I have heard he did want the job.
    What I've heard was that Lonnie kept badgering Croom and Sly turned it down early on. Then Lonnie offered the job to Jimbo and he accepted. Then Croom reconsidered, and Lonnie rescinded the offer and hired Croom. I've actually heard this story from more than a few people.


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  8. #8
    Bullldawg78's Avatar
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    Speaking of cute little phrases, I think the Bob from Boga Chitta quote from the game came across very patronizing from the guy from PA, just my two cents.


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  9. #9
    Well we were told by Crxxm that we were blind...same condescending shit


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  10. #10
    I agree. Three years makes sense if a guy has to clean up a mess or rebuild from the ground up.. When a guy is given a program in good shape and promptly ruins it two years is enough.


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  11. #11
    +1 Totally agree Go Budaw.

    But another advantage to a quick hook to remove a bad Head Coach is it allows us to retain a good bit of talent on the roster. Yes some will transfer but you end up with core of decent talent level roster.

    However, if you give a bad coach multiple years to accumulate embarrassing losses the talent level of your roster starts to drop because talented recruits will start looking elsewhere to go. As a result of this you get "rebuilding" - the new Head Coach you hire will end up having to take a couple of years / recruiting cycles just to build the roster back up to a competitive level.


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  12. #12
    Cleveland Steamer missouridawg's Avatar
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    I will disagree with (only) one thing you’ve said. Our pool of hires for the next go-round will include two current head coaches in Hudspeth and Fritz. I’m not advocating for either, but they will almost assuredly be on the short list.

    I really miss Mullen. He never had a team that I viewed as soft. And JoMo had an offense last year that was soft and this year the whole damn team is soft.


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  13. #13
    Nice post and that makes complete sense. With Dan you could tell early just like you can now with Moorhead. You know that’s it’s not working. I’m more willing to give someone three years to build if we had been 4-8 the last few years before Moorhead took over. But we weren’t we had some success before he took over and stayed over 500. It’s very obvious now that the defensive talent we had last year was the only thing that keep us in the bowl eligible column that end maybe Fitz was a lot better then people wanted to give him credit for to put up with Moorhead’s offense his last year.

    He talks about building a culture and foundation to go where we haven’t been but he really doesn’t know about building that for real. Dan did. Dan was there at bowling green and Utah and Florida with urban.

    You are better off finding the right guy before it goes off the rails.


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  14. #14
    He probably heard the name Bogue Chitto for the first time a few days before, thought it was interesting and tried to find a way to work it into the conversation


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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by tatedog View Post
    Nobody will ever know the truth except the parties involved, but I have heard he did want the job. And what difference does it make? There's a whole shit load of coaches between Moorhead and Fisher in competency.
    Correct. The overall point is that nobody knows how to pick good coaches with any degree of consistency, and how well you pick has nothing to do with how the last guy went out. Not even the big boys can do it. Florida, with all their resources and appeal, 17ed around and hired Ron Zook, Jim McElwain, and Will Muschamp. Bama hired Mike Price and Mike Shula. Michigan broke the bank to hire Rich 17ing Rodriguez....then did it again to hire Harbaugh who is underachieving at an astronomical level. Texas A&M is paying $70 million guaranteed to Jimbo Fisher to go 8-4 / 7-5 every year just like Kevin Sumlin, Mike Sherman, and Dennis Franchione before him. USC is on their umpteenth mediocre coach in a row since Carroll left.

    Chances of a good replacement are absolutely no greater than 50% for anyone. If you are Cohen, take comfort in how little control you have of the future, and make at least one right decision when you know its obvious that it needs to be made. The next decision will be far more difficult and may be wrong, but it doesn’t take you any further away from your goals than you are now even in a worst case.

    Its like being in a casino and playing roulette, and your choices are to keep putting chips on #38, or maybe start betting the first 12 instead.
    Last edited by Go Budaw; 10-12-2019 at 09:46 PM.


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  16. #16
    Yes, makes me sick when I hear someone say "give him time." We did better than give him time. We gave him a team far, far better than most guys getting their first P5 coaching job dream of.


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  17. #17

  18. #18
    IBleedMaroonDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatedog View Post
    Yes, makes me sick when I hear someone say "give him time." We did better than give him time. We gave him a team far, far better than most guys getting their first P5 coaching job dream of.
    You do give them time if you can point out some improving pieces of the puzzle.

    I don't see any.


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  19. #19
    You notice now on game day and sec nation and other media don’t talk highly of us. Their praise if Moorhead has pretty much gone away also. Nobody talks about us being a tough well coached program.


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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by missouridawg View Post
    I will disagree with (only) one thing you’ve said. Our pool of hires for the next go-round will include two current head coaches in Hudspeth and Fritz. I’m not advocating for either, but they will almost assuredly be on the short list.

    I really miss Mullen. He never had a team that I viewed as soft. And JoMo had an offense last year that was soft and this year the whole damn team is soft.
    I guess what I’m getting at with the coordinators thing is that we are always going to be pretty limited in what we are getting from a resume standpoint. We aren’t ever gonna just be able to go snag a Mike Leach or a Charlie Strong or someone like that. In good times and bad, we’re gonna have a pool of candidates in which none are slam dunks.


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  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Drebin View Post
    What I've heard was that Lonnie kept badgering Croom and Sly turned it down early on. Then Lonnie offered the job to Jimbo and he accepted. Then Croom reconsidered, and Lonnie rescinded the offer and hired Croom. I've actually heard this story from more than a few people.
    Dunno about the rest of it, but I’m pretty sure that Croom stated publicly that he turned down the job initially.


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  22. #22
    BossDawg78's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatedog View Post
    Yes, makes me sick when I hear someone say "give him time." We did better than give him time. We gave him a team far, far better than most guys getting their first P5 coaching job dream of.
    Me too. Competent to great coaches don't need much time at all, and there is always clear evidence of improvement in their first year. Like Mullen's first year...we were 5-7, but there was no doubt he had things going in the right direction. There is no excuse to regress THIS much in year two of a coach's tenure. Moehead has lost the team and there is no evidence that he is capable of fixing this smoking bag of crap.
    Last edited by BossDawg78; 10-12-2019 at 09:39 PM.


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  23. #23
    Bottom line is, when you realize you've got the wrong guy in the job, you've got to fire him. Whether that's 1 year in like USM did with Johnson, or 33 years in like FSU did with Bowden.


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  24. #24
    ... and if you go back further than that.... I believe Bellard was out of coaching. Fired byaTm. Felker was the DB coach for Bama. Sherril out of coaching.

    Then our fans will bitch and moan when we hire HUD. A current head coach.


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  25. #25
    “What should be done eventually, must be done immediately.” ~ Jeremy Foley, commenting on the proper time to fire coaches.


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  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Go Budaw View Post
    I guess what I’m getting at with the coordinators thing is that we are always going to be pretty limited in what we are getting from a resume standpoint. We aren’t ever gonna just be able to go snag a Mike Leach or a Charlie Strong or someone like that. In good times and bad, we’re gonna have a pool of candidates in which none are slam dunks.
    I don't know about never. I remember when we hired Jackie it was down to him and Ray Perkins who was a former Alabama head coach and was coaching the Buccaneers. I don't know why we wouldn't be able to get a G5 coach or at least have someone like a Willie Fritz or Bill Clark on the short list?


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  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by missouridawg View Post
    I will disagree with (only) one thing you’ve said. Our pool of hires for the next go-round will include two current head coaches in Hudspeth and Fritz. I’m not advocating for either, but they will almost assuredly be on the short list.

    I really miss Mullen. He never had a team that I viewed as soft. And JoMo had an offense last year that was soft and this year the whole damn team is soft.
    Mark Hudspeth will never be on any head coaching list for Mississippi State.Cohen isn't looking at a coach that put a team on probation while his school is now on probation.


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  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by goodknight View Post
    i heard Jimbo said thanks but no thanks.
    BS. Jimbo’s agent released a “statement” that he wasn’t interested after he found out he wasn’t under consideration.

    Besides, Templeton was hiring Croom no matter what. And I’ll never believe that line Croom gives about his turning us down the first time. Croom wanted to be a head coach bad.


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  29. #29
    the peeper's Avatar
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    I'm done if Hud is even sniffed at by Cohen


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  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Todd4State View Post
    I don't know about never. I remember when we hired Jackie it was down to him and Ray Perkins who was a former Alabama head coach and was coaching the Buccaneers. I don't know why we wouldn't be able to get a G5 coach or at least have someone like a Willie Fritz or Bill Clark on the short list?
    Even G5 coaches have huge question marks. Look at Chad Morris at Ark, who everybody thought was a good hire, and numerous others. Jackie was a special case. We hired him off a car lot, and would have done something similar with Perkins (which would have been a disaster). Last I checked, there were no Jackie-caliber coaches sitting around unemployed right now. Clark and Fritz may be possibilities, but again they are both question marks in terms of everything....recruiting, fit, coaching system, program management. I’m more than happy to roll the dice on anyone else though.


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  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by RutherfordBHayes View Post
    BS. Jimbo’s agent released a “statement” that he wasn’t interested after he found out he wasn’t under consideration.

    Besides, Templeton was hiring Croom no matter what. And I’ll never believe that line Croom gives about his turning us down the first time. Croom wanted to be a head coach bad.
    Croom wanted to be a head coach, yes. But he had serious concerns about coaching Mississippi State. He viewed the job as beneath him and thought he'd be in line for something bigger having recently been a finalist for the Alabama job.

    That's why he was so stubborn and derisive toward the fan base.

    As for Jimbo, all coaches who don't get a job they are up for are given the opportunity to "remove their name" or "deny interest." That way they can save face at their current job and not have the burden of being viewed as a program's reject.


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  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Drebin View Post
    Croom wanted to be a head coach, yes. But he had serious concerns about coaching Mississippi State. He viewed the job as beneath him and thought he'd be in line for something bigger having recently been a finalist for the Alabama job.

    That's why he was so stubborn and derisive toward the fan base.

    As for Jimbo, all coaches who don't get a job they are up for are given the opportunity to "remove their name" or "deny interest." That way they can save face at their current job and not have the burden of being viewed as a program's reject.
    I hear you, but knowing people that know Croom, I don’t believe that. I am quite certain that Croom thought he was better than MSU and was probably disappointed that he wasn’t hired at Alabama or Ohio State, but he didn’t hesitate to take this job.
    Jumbo would have too.


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  33. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by IBleedMaroonDawg View Post
    You do give them time if you can point out some improving pieces of the puzzle.

    I don't see any.
    Agree with that on offense and special teams, but those young guys in the middle on the d line are getting better. I think Shoop and the defensive staff look to be at least changing things up.


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