Mike: Powerhouse Stability

Coaching changes certainly aren't what they used to be. A mere 20 years ago, the casual observer would look at the head coaching positions at Carolina in basketball, Notre Dame in football or Alabama in football and easily conclude that they were indeed places that, if open, would produce a stadium full of qualified candidates to fill the spot.

Within the coaching world, these have been and remain a few of the handful of "top places" to be the top coach. But does recent history really bear that out?

In the last 2 ½ years, we have seen all these positions come open for a new occupant. If we go back 4 ½ years, we see multiple openings at Carolina and Alabama. 20 years ago, this concept would be downright earth shattering concepts, as part of the appeal of all three programs was the consistency and stability of each place.

All three programs have been burned to one extent or another with dishonesty on the part of coaches or candidates. Carolina had the Roy Williams fiasco, which remains strange in the sense that there are varying levels of opinion on the amount of dishonesty present. Notre Dame's coaching search last year was marked by controversy last year with the hiring and subsequent firing of George O'Leary due to inaccuracies on his resume. As of this writing, Alabama sits twisting in the wind over Mike Riley in the immediate aftermath of Dennis Franchione quite nearly leaving town under cover of darkness.

For places that used to be the pinnacles of stability, things definitely aren't like they used to be.

Further, the coaching changes at all these places have not produced the scores of qualified coaches which everyone thought would come running. The last Carolina basketball search and the last Alabama football search both were so prolonged and comical (to everyone besides fans of the respective institutions) that they actually resulted in rival fans coming up with t-shirts to ridicule the event.

Some have argued that the reasons for the lack of coaching stability and loyalty simply come down to increased greed. Fans want winners, and alumni and boosters will simply not tolerate losing if there is another coach who can do a better job. Seeing that there is no hesitancy to make changes, coaches have learned that they better get all they can when they can – and if that means moving on to a better offer while the getting is good, so be it.

Fans and coaches today are probably no more or less greedy than they were 20 years ago, but due to the technological advances over the same period, a different terrain has emerged. Fans' conversations over the "state of the program" which were once confined to water coolers and barber shops, now have a much more powerful medium in the form of the internet. Obviously, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but just try to find a coach who agrees. Most coaches view the ‘net as something which could turn on them at any moment, and ultimately cost them a job.

It remains to be seen if Carolina's strategy of investing in a young Matt Doherty will live up to the high hopes for stability and success that all parties share. There are, perhaps, more variables present today than when he was first hired, although this season seems to be boding well for the future. Stability is something that those of us who grew up on Carolina Basketball loved; although it now appears we may not have realized that until it was gone.


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