Coaching Success - A Historical View

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tulaneoutlaw
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Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by tulaneoutlaw »

I mentioned doing something like this in another thread and in light of last night I think it's still very relevant. I wanted to answer the question, how long does it typically take a coach to "turn the corner", which I define as achieving a single 9+ win season. In the spreadsheet below, I've so far compiled selected coaching records for the AAC, all private FBS (except Liberty), Pac-12, and K St. and VT since those examples get used a lot. I will keep adding schools as I have time.

I tried to balance listing the most recent coach to get 9+ wins at a school with listing the coach who broke a long streak of no 9+ win seasons. For many schools I included a note about an important earlier or later coach who also managed to hit 9 wins. This was my attempt to avoid cherry picking. I list school, coach, which year in his tenure he reached 9+, which calendar year that was, and how many years since that school last had a 9+ win season

Turning the Corner Spreadsheet - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing

My goal is to see how many coaches took longer than 4 seasons to reach the 9 win mark. We know the example of Beamer, but there actually are a couple of other examples. Tom O'Brien and Jim Grobe took 6 seasons at Boston College and Wake Forest respectively in the early 2000s. David Cutcliffe is the most modern example, taking 6 years to reach the mark at Duke in 2013. There's an extreme example in the notes in Rich Brooks who took 18 seasons at Oregon to notch a single 9-win season. Most coaches, however, got to 9+ wins by year 4. This is perhaps skewed because at many schools coaches that don't have that level of success are let go after four years or fewer so it may be a commentary on patience and expectation in the sport as much as a commentary on performance.

Note that many of the coaches listed here are not hall of famers or noted program builders. There's a mix of current hot names, legends, one hit wonders, coaches that watched their program rise and then fall, and even outright scumbag Art Briles makes the cut (twice). All I want to examine is getting to 9+ wins so I'm less interested in the long term outlook of these programs. And based on what I've got so far, I have to conclude the historical view doesn't like WF's odds of having a "breakout season"

One last thing to note, now that I've written a novel. I think we might be in our June Jones at SMU phase. SMU was horrible before him and he brought them back to competitiveness and multiple 7 and 8 win seasons, but never 9+. Chad Morris didn't either, but him moving along let them get a great fit in Sonny Dykes and now they are in the top tier of the conference. Will we end up settling for June Jones? Will WF buck the trend? Will we eventually end up finding our version of Sonny Dykes? All tbd.

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by PeteRasche »

Thanks for this effort.

Without doing research myself and going purely from memory, the thing that jumps out is how when a coach takes longer to get to 9 wins, they often stay and keep winning there, whereas when they get to 9 wins quickly, they are almost always gone and the program many times takes a dive back to average/poor. Obviously the argument is - always - would we rather have someone who could win here and is more likely to stay, or would we rather have a flash-in-the-pan big winner and then have to hire another coach afterwards and hope that guy could keep us going? This comes down to the AD, right? I trust Dannen infinitely more to make a second good hire than I did his predecessor... though, to be fair, I would trust anyone on this board more than I would trust Dannen's predecessor. To be clear, I'm not saying we should hold onto Fritz simply because we think he'll stay (the Scelfo syndrome).

Am I happy with 6-6 for a bunch of years in a row? Not really. But I lived through decades of 1-, 2-, and 3-win seasons, so bowl games and "average" seasons are an improvement. It doesn't seem like 6 wins is respectable, but look at the "auxiliary" outsider things: we've become worth the national media discussing our games and considering why we have a chance to win. That didn't used to happen. Weekly prediction mags don't completely rule us out; for example, collegefootballnews,in their weekly predictions has "Why Tulane will win" and "Why {opponent} will win", and there was a good 15 years where they struggled to find anything to legitimately write in the Tulane portion. Almost every week you can find some media outlet that thinks Tulane will cover, if not win, whereas pre-Fritz you certainly couldn't. That is a level of respect that we completely lost under the previous president/AD tandem.

But the biggest thing that has happened in the Dannen/Fritz era is the beginning of washing away the reputation of our coaching job. If there's nothing else Willie Fritz will be remembered for, it's that we are most likely no longer considered "toxic" and a "dead end job" where "you can't win there". Fritz has shown that you can indeed build a respectable program here. For a long time, Tulane had the "no up-and-coming coach will take that job" stigma (it led us to Bob Toledo and Curtis Johnson). I don't think that's the case now.

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by CT Wave »

Thank you for the positive comments, Pete.
"You're not here on scholarship to lose. I didn't recruit you to lose. Losing is abnormal; losing is unusual; losing is unacceptable. That's not what we're here for."
Bob Knight

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by Private Joker »

Great stuff from both of you.

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by purplehaz3 »

PeteRasche wrote:
Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:05 am
Thanks for this effort.

Without doing research myself and going purely from memory, the thing that jumps out is how when a coach takes longer to get to 9 wins, they often stay and keep winning there, whereas when they get to 9 wins quickly, they are almost always gone and the program many times takes a dive back to average/poor. Obviously the argument is - always - would we rather have someone who could win here and is more likely to stay, or would we rather have a flash-in-the-pan big winner and then have to hire another coach afterwards and hope that guy could keep us going? This comes down to the AD, right? I trust Dannen infinitely more to make a second good hire than I did his predecessor... though, to be fair, I would trust anyone on this board more than I would trust Dannen's predecessor. To be clear, I'm not saying we should hold onto Fritz simply because we think he'll stay (the Scelfo syndrome).

Am I happy with 6-6 for a bunch of years in a row? Not really. But I lived through decades of 1-, 2-, and 3-win seasons, so bowl games and "average" seasons are an improvement. It doesn't seem like 6 wins is respectable, but look at the "auxiliary" outsider things: we've become worth the national media discussing our games and considering why we have a chance to win. That didn't used to happen. Weekly prediction mags don't completely rule us out; for example, collegefootballnews,in their weekly predictions has "Why Tulane will win" and "Why {opponent} will win", and there was a good 15 years where they struggled to find anything to legitimately write in the Tulane portion. Almost every week you can find some media outlet that thinks Tulane will cover, if not win, whereas pre-Fritz you certainly couldn't. That is a level of respect that we completely lost under the previous president/AD tandem.

But the biggest thing that has happened in the Dannen/Fritz era is the beginning of washing away the reputation of our coaching job. If there's nothing else Willie Fritz will be remembered for, it's that we are most likely no longer considered "toxic" and a "dead end job" where "you can't win there". Fritz has shown that you can indeed build a respectable program here. For a long time, Tulane had the "no up-and-coming coach will take that job" stigma (it led us to Bob Toledo and Curtis Johnson). I don't think that's the case now.
Great post and worth reading for everyone on this forum. Fritz has undoubtedly made everything better. We are better in everything. He is building a solid foundation for long term success.

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by Marathon Wave »

PeteRasche wrote:
Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:05 am
Thanks for this effort.

Without doing research myself and going purely from memory, the thing that jumps out is how when a coach takes longer to get to 9 wins, they often stay and keep winning there, whereas when they get to 9 wins quickly, they are almost always gone and the program many times takes a dive back to average/poor. Obviously the argument is - always - would we rather have someone who could win here and is more likely to stay, or would we rather have a flash-in-the-pan big winner and then have to hire another coach afterwards and hope that guy could keep us going? This comes down to the AD, right? I trust Dannen infinitely more to make a second good hire than I did his predecessor... though, to be fair, I would trust anyone on this board more than I would trust Dannen's predecessor. To be clear, I'm not saying we should hold onto Fritz simply because we think he'll stay (the Scelfo syndrome).

Am I happy with 6-6 for a bunch of years in a row? Not really. But I lived through decades of 1-, 2-, and 3-win seasons, so bowl games and "average" seasons are an improvement. It doesn't seem like 6 wins is respectable, but look at the "auxiliary" outsider things: we've become worth the national media discussing our games and considering why we have a chance to win. That didn't used to happen. Weekly prediction mags don't completely rule us out; for example, collegefootballnews,in their weekly predictions has "Why Tulane will win" and "Why {opponent} will win", and there was a good 15 years where they struggled to find anything to legitimately write in the Tulane portion. Almost every week you can find some media outlet that thinks Tulane will cover, if not win, whereas pre-Fritz you certainly couldn't. That is a level of respect that we completely lost under the previous president/AD tandem.

But the biggest thing that has happened in the Dannen/Fritz era is the beginning of washing away the reputation of our coaching job. If there's nothing else Willie Fritz will be remembered for, it's that we are most likely no longer considered "toxic" and a "dead end job" where "you can't win there". Fritz has shown that you can indeed build a respectable program here. For a long time, Tulane had the "no up-and-coming coach will take that job" stigma (it led us to Bob Toledo and Curtis Johnson). I don't think that's the case now.

Nice post, Pete. I believe I posted similar thoughts (in only two or three sentences) about the "one and done" (suitcase coach) versus one who takes a bit longer to establish consistent winning (un-Scelfo-ish), and stays. I think we've all seen progress, maybe not as fast as we'd like, but all your points point toward actual progress. We should have won three games this season : a missed tackle, dropped ball are all easy fixes. If it takes two more years for TU to get over the hump, turn the corner, get 7, 8, 9 wins...I can wait. For the most part, we've got a competitive group of players on the field who are enjoyable to watch. (I'd rather be where we are right now than where usm is - and they used to beat the tar out of us).

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by Marathon Wave »

tulaneoutlaw wrote:
Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:34 am
I mentioned doing something like this in another thread and in light of last night I think it's still very relevant. I wanted to answer the question, how long does it typically take a coach to "turn the corner", which I define as achieving a single 9+ win season. In the spreadsheet below, I've so far compiled selected coaching records for the AAC, all private FBS (except Liberty), Pac-12, and K St. and VT since those examples get used a lot. I will keep adding schools as I have time.

I tried to balance listing the most recent coach to get 9+ wins at a school with listing the coach who broke a long streak of no 9+ win seasons. For many schools I included a note about an important earlier or later coach who also managed to hit 9 wins. This was my attempt to avoid cherry picking. I list school, coach, which year in his tenure he reached 9+, which calendar year that was, and how many years since that school last had a 9+ win season

Turning the Corner Spreadsheet - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing

My goal is to see how many coaches took longer than 4 seasons to reach the 9 win mark. We know the example of Beamer, but there actually are a couple of other examples. Tom O'Brien and Jim Grobe took 6 seasons at Boston College and Wake Forest respectively in the early 2000s. David Cutcliffe is the most modern example, taking 6 years to reach the mark at Duke in 2013. There's an extreme example in the notes in Rich Brooks who took 18 seasons at Oregon to notch a single 9-win season. Most coaches, however, got to 9+ wins by year 4. This is perhaps skewed because at many schools coaches that don't have that level of success are let go after four years or fewer so it may be a commentary on patience and expectation in the sport as much as a commentary on performance.

Note that many of the coaches listed here are not hall of famers or noted program builders. There's a mix of current hot names, legends, one hit wonders, coaches that watched their program rise and then fall, and even outright scumbag Art Briles makes the cut (twice). All I want to examine is getting to 9+ wins so I'm less interested in the long term outlook of these programs. And based on what I've got so far, I have to conclude the historical view doesn't like WF's odds of having a "breakout season"

One last thing to note, now that I've written a novel. I think we might be in our June Jones at SMU phase. SMU was horrible before him and he brought them back to competitiveness and multiple 7 and 8 win seasons, but never 9+. Chad Morris didn't either, but him moving along let them get a great fit in Sonny Dykes and now they are in the top tier of the conference. Will we end up settling for June Jones? Will WF buck the trend? Will we eventually end up finding our version of Sonny Dykes? All tbd.
An incredible bit of research done here, outlaw. Fun to look at the numbers and names. I also notice many of these coaches are no longer with the schools listed. I guess that's all part of success, moving on to bigger goals, bigger schools.

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by FW »

Beamer was 2-8-1 in year 6. Imagine if VT had fired him.

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by Fan Since '54 »

Thanks for your, uh, "expert expertise" Pete. It is my belief that only someone who has played "AT LEAST COLLEGE SPORTS AND AT A HIGH LEVEL", like Pete has done, can give such a magnificent analysis as he has. He walked in those shoes and learned some valuable knowledge about sports in specific and life in general. Bravo sir.

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Re: Coaching Success - A Historical View

Post by tulaneoutlaw »

Glad some of y'all are enjoying this. It's been fun for me to go back through and remember some very interesting names. I've continued to add schools and will eventually get all of FBS in there, save the few newer schools that have never reached 9+ wins. As of now I've added the SEC (to wrap up the power conferences) and CUSA. That should give us a look at all our old conference mates.

I really don't disagree with what Pete says. There is a ton of variation in this list. There are plenty of folks who hit 9+ wins one time in a magical season where everything lined up, only to flame out and leave their program back in the dumps. None of us want that, so WF's slow build, setting a foundation and making the program respectable again is the right move. Hopefully we do eventually break through and WF will stick around to bring us many strong seasons.

My big worry has been that very few coaches have broken through after year 4, but I've been pleasantly surprised to find more that did than I knew about. I've mentioned a couple but some others in somewhat similar to Tulane circumstances have taken more than 4 years to hit 9 wins. Of note: Mark Mangino (Kansas), Dan McCarney (Iowa St.), Greg Schiano (Rutgers), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), and Mark Stoops (Kentucky) all took 6 seasons to reach 9+ wins. Those are pretty much all tough places to win, so perhaps it takes longer for schools like those and Tulane to get where they want to go. Some have said that next year's schedule is too tough for a breakthrough and that may be. Even so, I found a great example in Gary Pinkel (Missouri), who took 7 seasons to get Missouri over the hump before having a great run there. I guess my point is that while the odds are against it, I'm having more hope that what we want WF to achieve isn't some insurmountable goal this late in the game. I postulated that maybe WF is our SMU June Jones, but maybe he's our Gary Pinkel. Here's hoping.

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