Solochek: NCAA coaches need a chance

first_imgIt isn’t easy being a head coach in college football these days.Especially with high-profile donors breathing down your neck, fans calling for your head and the constant threat of being upset, head coaching has become as embattled of a job in the college ranks as it has in the pros.Long gone are the days when teams stuck by their coaches through thick and thin. The only two remaining coaches from the days of old are Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and Penn State’s Joe Paterno — and even these two have had fans wanting them to step down for years.Instead, college coaches have come under the same scrutiny as they have in the professional ranks. As we have seen across the NFL in the last few years, coaches unable to field a successful team within a few years of being hired are soon fired. In comes someone new who the team’s management is sure will be able to field a playoff-caliber team the next year.College football has caught on to the trend.This week, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden was fired for underperforming in a division they were supposed to win. Bowden had been the Tigers’ head coach for the past 10 seasons and had some moderate success in a division that has included powerhouses Florida State and Miami (Fla.). He was 72-45 with eight bowl appearances in his tenure at Clemson.Even though Bowden did have a successful career, he was dismissed due to a lack of recent performance. This trend has been seen throughout college football.Just last year, former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr retired after he was criticized for not fielding a National Championship team. Little did people realize Carr led his team to a bowl game every year he was at the helm of the Wolverines and won the National Championship in 1997.After Carr retired last season, the Wolverines hired spread offense guru Rich Rodriguez. Since the spread has changed the landscape of Big Ten football — where running games and defenses dominated for so many years — schools have been clamoring to hire coaches who can install a high-powered offense.Although he has tried to install the spread, RichRod has already received a lot of pressure from both the fans and the university because he has lost many winnable games, including those against Notre Dame and Toledo. However, it is not because Rodriguez is a bad coach. Instead, critics must realize it takes time to recruit players for his system and develop it into the high-octane offense fans saw at West Virginia.Rodriguez isn’t the only new head coach who is under fire. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who took over the Badgers just three years ago, has led his team to a 3-3 start this year, including a 0-3 record in the Big Ten. During UW’s three-game skid, the boo birds have come out at Camp Randall, and there have been calls for Bielema’s head just a few years into his tenure as head coach.Bielema’s critics have become so harsh that websites such as firebretbielema.com have become increasingly popular. The fans are growing increasingly impatient, especially since the Badgers were so highly touted going into the season and were even ranked in the top 10 at one point.Now, I am not offering an excuse for Bielema or Bowden. There may have been some coaching decisions that were poor, but what many people do not realize is there is no ready-made talent in college football as there is in the professional ranks. It takes time to not only install a new system, as in Rodriguez’s case, or nurture recruits, as in Bowden’s case with new quarterback Willy Corn.Fans and donors in general need to be more patient with coaches. If there is a downward trend over a couple of years, then it would be OK to put some heat on college coaches. However, especially because players on college football teams are only there for a brief time, there is a huge turnover and it takes time to nurture and coach younger players to their full potential.last_img

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