Monday, April 26, 2010

Coaching Carousal Part 2010-02: Waiting for the Dominos to Fall

(Rumor Has it That) When Oregon Sneezed, Iowa State Caught a Cold...
The internet has brought many things, not the least includes the "democratization" of information. In decades gone by only insiders may have known that a coach's personal indiscretion was about to trigger a termination or a player's adjustment problem would lead him (or her) to transfer. Physical proximity was a prerequisite in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. The drop in long distance costs in the 1970's & 80's changed the dynamic slightly -- timely information (for personal consumption) could be obtained quickly via the phone, but someone still had to be (physically) close to the information source to initiate the transmission. And transmission may have been quadratically better than mouth-to-ear of earlier days, but still relatively less efficient than (say) newspaper circulation. The reaction to Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons' Cold Fusion experiments back in March of 1989 gave an early preview of the implications for a system of "democratized" information dissemination might work, and last weekend provided one of the more interesting examples of how an event can trigger a cascading sequence well before anything is made "public".

On Saturday several media outlet reports had Creighton's head coach Dana Altman poised to accept the month-long (and much discussed) vacancy in Eugene. The news triggered a maelstrom of reactions across a pair of heartland athletic conferences in the intervening two days. Omaha, Nebraska (home to Creighton, a Catholic University of 4,087 undergraduates), papers detailed Altman's last day on the job, speculated about Creighton's next head coach, reactions from current players and media (local and national) and ultimately, Altman's successor (Greg McDermott of Iowa State). Oh, and Oregon has yet to schedule a press conference to introduce Altman as their choice. Ironically the non-announced change has triggered three head coaching switches, the longest sequence of this off season. And if Iowa State follows it's previous pattern, at least one more D1 head coach will leave to take the job in Ames.

By the Numbers...
Counting both Creighton and Iowa State (press conferences pending?), there have been 50 vacancies since the start of Fall Practice (October 2009), 19 between Selection Sunday and the National Championship game, and another 17 since. Two in three vacancies created during the NCAA Tournament were employer-initiated (fired, contract not extended, internally relocated, etc), while 13 of 17 (76.5%) post NC were employee-initiated (mostly moving to other head coaching jobs). Approximately 14.7% of the available D1 head coaching jobs were turned over this season, a bit higher than 2009 (9.3%), but lower than 2007 (17.9%). To this point, (Oregon has announced Altman's hire, even as Creighton introduced McDermott as their new HC), 18% of the jobs are still to be filled. I had anticipated about 45-50 vacancies through the end of this off season, but that estimate was clearly low. I suspect it may reach 52-54 total.

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