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A-Line Extra: The Coaching Carousel

A very interesting part of college football, at least from this perch, is the annual observance of the coaching carousel. As is always the case this time of year, the comings and goings are numerous. Some are downright amusing.

Out in the Ozarks, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, fresh off of ending LSU’s MNC march, decided he was sick and tired of dealing with those who seemed to think that building a championship SEC football program was no different than constructing a Wal-Mart. Before heading out the door, Nutt did manage to snatch $3 extra-large of Sam Walton’s money, a nice price rollback. He should be able to shop in a little higher style than his neighborhood big-box store while he mulls over the job offers.

One state down in Texas, Dennis Franchione, after knocking off Texas for the second straight year, didn’t even wait around to get his hands on some Texas Aggie oil money before giving aTm’s warring the factions the finger and quitting. The Aggies, where the group supporting fired but not forgotten coach RC Slocum seems to be again achieving ascendancy in the always-amusing modern-day Texas range wars that surround Texas A&M athletics, have installed former Slocum assistant Mike Sherman as head coach.

One would have thought they might have looked northward in their own conference for guidance as to what happens when you hire a failed NFL coach, and, of course, one would have been wrong. It would seem the amassing of vast fortunes in the oil and cattle businesses does not automatically make one a football expert.

Further hilarity is to be found in that same Big XII conference. How has throwing five decades of tradition out the window by hiring Bill Callahan worked out, Nebraska? Callahan did survive a few games longer at Nebraska than did the AD who hired him, Steve Pederson. It isn’t too often that such a disastrous hire is made that it actually costs an AD his job, but, then again, no AD had ever hired Bill Callahan before. After seeing what happened to Pederson, I would imagine Kevin White’s collar is getting a bit tight.

Closer to home in the ACC, Chan Gailey was given the boot. It would seem that winning most of your games, never having a losing season, always going to bowls, graduating your players and running a clean overall program counts for very little when you can’t beat the Dawgs. Firing a coach for not beating a team with far greater football resources across the board, including the vitally important area of fan support seems just a little unfair and downright stupid. If the GT brain trust is going to show this lack of brains, they should be advised that Bill Callahan is available.

Elsewhere in the ACC, then there is Duke. After checking with Coach K, Duke AD ‘Lackey’ Joe Alleva was instructed to give football coach Ted Roof the boot. Guidance seems to have come from Coach K’s newspaper statements of “fire him, already, and be quick about it.” When firing Roof, Lackey Joe waxed eloquently about winning football games and championships at Duke and how more money would be pumped into the program and something would finally be done about decrepit Wallace Wade Stadium.

These statements had not been heard since Ted Roof was hired after Carl Franks had been fired and had not been heard before that since the hiring of Franks after Fred Goldsmith had been goldsmithed. Duke prides itself on its consistent excellence. When it comes to football, at least they have the ‘consistent’ part down pat.

The most amusing thing to come out of the last few days’ worth of firings comes from the coach who was not fired. That would be Butch Davis, the world’s best 4-8 coach. This was not the first time a football or a basketball coach played Carolina AD Dickie Baddour for a fool. On the contrary, it seems to happen quite often.

None have accomplished the deed while displaying the pure and utter gall by which Butch turned the trick, however. This is a guy whose sole coaching accomplishment is that he managed to recruit enough recruits while sitting in the middle of the country’s hottest recruiting hotbed for the guy that replaced him to win an MNC.

Other than that, Butch seems to have spent most of his time proving that he is a very mediocre coach whose word simply cannot be trusted. After declaring, “Carolina was the only place I would coach,” this after Steve Pederson at Nebraska determined that even the awful Bill Callahan was preferable to Butch, the Head Heel promptly fired his agent for not getting him the Alabama job.

Then, despite no evidence whatsoever that Arkansas was the slightest bit interested in a coach whose career record is now used by Webster’s to define ‘mediocrity,’ Butch was able to convince the gullible DickieB to hand over even more cash. Butch is getting his bonus for that sterling 8-loss season despite making it perfectly clear that he will only remain at Carolina until he can talk himself into a better job or the Ram’s Club runs out of money. Given the wealth at Carolina and the utter lack of interest shown in Butch by other schools, this might take a while.

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