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Fire Your Coach?

This is the category I call “Sustainability” and it is used to measure the likelihood that a program will experience the same amount or better success if the coach is replaced.

Selfishly, we college football fans don’t want the coach to be bigger than the program. We want to believe that when our coach leaves, we’ll stay at the same level or get even better. This metric shows the likelihood of that. The ideal “Sustainability” rating for a program is in the middle or a near 0% score. This means that the talent level and expectations are in sync and stable. It is likely that when the current coach leaves, the program will have a great chance to match its current level of success.

Almost every “household name” coach falls between -5% and 5% for their career. This includes Jim Harbaugh, Kirby Smart, Dabo Swinney, Brian Kelly, Mark Dantonio, Gus Malzahn, and even Jimbo Fisher.

Between 0% and 2% is where you find legendary program builders, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer.  When they leave their respective programs, as Meyer did at Ohio St. several years ago, the new coach has a full cupboard and can be expected to contend for championships immediately. We saw Ryan Day do just that.

Too high of a sustainability rating indicates that the coach can be replaced with little on-the-field consequences to the program. The top 10 in the table below delivered results well below the current team talent level.  There is more incentive to give another coach a chance to get more out of the talent there. Any coach in the top 10 after their third season at a program will be on the hot seat. Usually, by the time this list comes out every year, some of them have already been let go.

Too low of a sustainability rating indicates that the program can expect to regress when the current head coach leaves. The Bottom 10 are tracking as irreplaceable based on program history. When these coaches leave, their programs can fully expect some sort of regression. These programs will then have to make a spectacular coaching hire to continue their success. This is possible. Liberty just went from Hugh Freeze to Jamey Chadwell. They traded the 2nd most irreplaceable coach for the most irreplaceable coach.

Below that is the entire Career list. This shows if coaches are building sustainable program(s) at each of their stops. Again, the top program builders are found in the middle, not at the top or bottom.