The College Coaching Carousel

FSU's Jimbo Fisher offers interesting insights into the coaching profession.

This interview with Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher about his bringing on Alabama defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt offers interesting insights into the coaching profession:

My interest was piqued because I’m an Alabama guy and the guys used a clever headline, “Jimbo Fisher on interviewing Jeremy Pruitt and why Nick Saban is mad.” But it’s not really about Pruitt so much as the nature of the hiring process and the relationships that develop within the coaching fraternity.

As it turns out, Saban isn’t mad; he’s almost certainly happy that another of his coaches got a chance to move up. Happy as a human being, friend, and mentor. Happy that he’s having so much success that his coaches are so sought after. But that means having to constantly replace those guys with others who can continue the winning tradition.

Fisher comes across as quite likable here and kudos to him for allowing Pruitt to stay on at Alabama through the BCS National Championship game. His stated reason is generous: He wouldn’t want to deny that rare opportunity to Pruitt and it’s not fair to the Alabama players to lose their coach at such a critical juncture.

Alas, most coaches don’t have Fisher’s class. If I were king of the NCAA, I would put a moratorium on coaching hires until after all the bowls are over. No interviews, no nothing. Sure, that puts teams seeking to replace their coach at a severe disadvantage. But the alternative is the situation we see year after year where a coach takes a team to a major bowl game and then skips town before taking the kids to the game. That’s not fair to the kids or to the schools.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. If I were king of the NCAA, I would put a moratorium on coaching hires until after all the bowls are over. No interviews, no nothing.

    This is the rule in the NFL and most other professional sports as I understand it. I don’t see why it shouldn’t apply to the NCAA. Another example is Wisconsin, who is heading to the Rose Bowl with a temporary coach filling in for the Head Coach who left at the end of the regular season. to accept a position at Arkansas.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yup; it just ain’t right. The current guy at Notre Dame did that to the kids at Cincy on his way out the door.

  3. Franklin says:

    Could the schools essentially write that into a contract. They could keep a normal buyout of $X million, or a MUCH bigger buyout if it occurs during the season including bowl games. (This wouldn’t prevent the interviews and other shenanigans, admittedly.)

    BTW, the reason most coaches leave at this time is that they have to get a head start on the big recruiting time which is basically right now. And then there’s cheaters like Ohio State, who hired Urban Meyer to recruit while the regular coaching staff just coached.

  4. @Franklin:

    Perhaps they could, but the acquiring school could always say that they’ll cover the penalty clause out of their pocket.

    This needs to be a generally applicable rule.

  5. Crusty Dem says:

    @James Joyner:

    Don’t blame Kelly, that was his only way to get the job, when was the last major poaching after Jan 10th? Why they haven’t fixed it is completely beyond me.

  6. So, people shouldn’t be able to accept a better job whenever they like? I understand buyout clauses, but they are largely used to protect employers in the case of sudden changes and leaving before a bowl games seems to be a stretch.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @Talmadge East: These guys are all under contract. But I’m proposing that the NCAA prohibit the hiring institution from reaching out to coaches under contract elsewhere—with severe sanctions for violation–before, say, 15 January. It’s simply not fair to the schools being raided to have their process disrupted in the manner that it currently is. And coaches have little choice but to comply if they want to move up the ladder.

  8. The Q says:

    Well then, what about the obverse?

    Coaches getting FIRED before bowl games?

    For example, Rick Neuheisel at UCLA last year, getting fired just before a bowl game and instead of allowing him to coach his last game with the team, instead handed the reins over to his OC.

    This doesn’t seem fair either.