Line of succession

Head coach Bobby Bowden is still in the batter's box for the Florida State Seminoles but Jimbo Fisher is in the on-deck circle, already announced as Bowden's eventual successor.

Head coach Rich Brooks is still in the batter's box for the Kentucky Wildcats but Joker Phillips waits in the on-deck circle, already tabbed to move up when Brooks moves out.

These developments suggest two things:

1. Having a colorful nickname – Jimbo or Joker, for instance – may help you land a head-coaching position in college football.

2. Some schools will go to great lengths to keep assistants they view as vital to their program's future.

The obvious question: What are the pluses and minuses of tabbing a successor while the current coach is still sitting at the big desk?

THE PLUSES

- If I know I'm going to be the next head coach, I'll be even more conscientious about following the rules. Who wants to assume a program that's on probation and/or facing NCAA sanctions?

- If I know I'm going to be the next head coach, I'll be intensely loyal to the current head man, since his recommendation made me the heir-apparent.

- If I know I'm going to be the next head coach, I'll be carefully studying every move the current head man makes in order to learn from his mistakes and help prepare myself to fill his shoes someday.

- If I know I'm going to be the next head coach, I'll be motivated to try and sign great players at every position, since I'll be overseeing all of them someday. Otherwise, I might be tempted to concentrate a bit more effort on prospects who project to play on my side of the ball.

- If I know I'm going to be the next head coach, I'll be more inclined to make decisions that benefit the program in the long run, not just the short term. Why mortgage the future of a program that may be yours in two or three years?

- If I know I'm going to be the next head coach, I'll be less inclined to pursue a prospect with character concerns. Since I could be the one who ultimately must discipline and/or dismiss him, why would I want that headache?

- If I know I'm going to be the next head coach, I'll be working extra hard at developing young talent for the future, instead of merely getting the veterans ready to play each Saturday.

- Finally, my familiarity with the current head coach's scheme, his staff, his players, his recruiting base and any unique challenges he might face will allow me to make a smoother transition into the top job than someone brought in from outside the program.

THE MINUSES

- If you are the hand-picked successor to a head man whose program and popularity plummet, some of the frustration fans have toward him is likely to be directed toward you.

- If a better opportunity comes along, you already are bound – morally, if not contractually – to stick with your current program.

- If you are an unethical opportunist, you might try to push the current head man out the door to hasten your ascension to the top spot.

Bottom line: There are a lot more pluses than minuses involved in naming an on-deck coach ... but only if you pick the right guy.


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