With apologies to Charles Dickens, the topic today seemingly represents only the worst of times. Today, I want to talk about 3 football coaches who find themselves in a less-than-happy place.
A week ago, the Miami Dolphins fired Joe Philbin as the head coach and named Dan Campbell as the interim coach there. Only 6 months ago, Philbin got a contract extension from Dolphins’ owner Steven Ross which means that his termination has a bit of a soft landing; nonetheless, he is no longer a member of the rather exclusive fraternity of “NFL Head Coaches”.
Dan Campbell said that the Dolphins’ team needs to be challenged more. OK, he is there with the team and I am not – but at his first practice he got the players to do the old Oklahoma drill. [Google is your friend…] The best players on that team are making millions of dollars and their continued ability to pull down that sort of coin is dependent on them having healthy muscles and joints with which to carry out their athletic instincts and capability. Question for Interim Coach Dan Campbell:
How often do you think you can pull off practices like that before your “best players” make sure you do not become the permanent coach?
Dolphins’ owner, Steven Ross is very much into the publicity splash associated with things he does. He sells off small ownership pieces to celebrities to get his name in the papers and to get celebs identified with the team. Many folks think he will try to make a splashy hire here and will forego the chance to put in a call to fellow-owner, Danny Boy Snyder to find out just how well that works out. Don Shula is not coming out of retirement; neither is Bill Parcells; they would be “splashy hires” but that is not happening. Ergo:
How long until the rumor has it that Nick Saban will be returning to Miami to tend to “unfinished business” there?
Philbin was fired after Game 4 this season when the Jets dominated the Dolphins in a London Game. That makes two years in a row when the first London Game did not work out very well for an NFL coach. Last year, the Raiders fired Dennis Allen after the Raiders were blown out in the London Game. Ironically, the team administering that blow-out was the Dolphins coached by … Joe Philbin. If that is the start of a trend, Todd Bowles had best hope that he does not have to play in London in Week 4 next year.
So, are there any other NFL head coaches who might not be around to see the end of this season with their current teams? The answer is probably not – but if pressed I would offer these two up for consideration:
Jim Caldwell: The Lions are 0-5 and their Bye Week comes in Week 9. This is a franchise that knows all too well about the horrors of 0-16. Between now and the Bye Week, here is the Lions schedule:
Vs. Bears – Lions are a 3-point favorite at the moment
Vs. Vikes – Lions likely to be underdogs here
At Chiefs – without Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs are eminently beatable
Jim Tomsula: The Niners are 1-4 and their Bye Week comes in Week 10. He was dealt an impossible hand but there is no way that the GM and the Team President who is the son of the team owner will take the fall here…
At the collegiate level, Maryland fired Randy Edsall over the weekend. Make no mistake; he was not highly successful at Maryland and he was not always the most sociable fellow in the room. Please do not interpret even a syllable of what follows as any kind of argument that Maryland should have kept him on. The geniuses in charge of athletics and administration in College Park, MD put assistant coach Mike Locksley into the interim coach position. At his introductory press conference, Locksley said directly that there were a few things that were going to be done differently around there.
That is as it should be; when a new guy takes over – and in the deep recesses of his gut hopes that maybe this could turn into a permanent gig – he needs to do things differently and put his stamp on the program lest the changes turn out to be positive and he seemingly has nothing to do with those changes. So, let us take a cursory look at Mike Locksley’s history in football coaching:
He has been an assistant coach/offensive coordinator at 7 schools since 1992.
Starting in 2009 and lasting until the 4th game of the 2011 season, he was the head coach at New Mexico where he compiled a record of … wait for it … 2-26.
One of those 26 losses was in a game against Sam Houston State. That was the loss that cost him his job there.
One of his assistant coaches at New Mexico alleged that Locksley jumped on him and attacked him at a “contentious staff meeting”. That allegedly happened early in Locksley’s tenure there. The school suspended Locksley for 10 days without pay for that incident.
An admin assistant at New Mexico filed an EEO discrimination complaint against Locksley asserting age and sex discrimination. The complaint was eventually withdrawn.
The geniuses who run things at Maryland had best hope that whatever things need to be done differently in the football program there involve strategic decisions on the sidelines and not fisticuffs among the coaching staff…
Yesterday, USC fired head coach Steve Sarkisian. Recall before the season began, Sarkisian had an embarrassing situation in front of USC fans/boosters where he appeared to be drunk. His explanation was that it was all caused by a mixture of prescription meds and an adult beverage at the event and he said he was going to be evaluated to take care of any problems he might have. Then the season began…
According to reports, Sarkisian – in the midst of divorce proceedings – had to attend to “family matters” last Saturday evening and all did not go well. There was a practice scheduled for Sunday but Sarkisian was not there; according to a report, a player told ESPN’s Shelley Smith that Sarkisian “showed up lit” for team meetings on Sunday afternoon.
The first announcement from USC was that Sarkisian would be on an indefinite leave of absence; that happened on Sunday evening. Yesterday afternoon, the announcement came that USC had fired Steve Sarkisian.
USC is not doing well on the field this year as measured by USC standards but this termination really does not reflect a “coaching problem”; Steve Sarkisian clearly has things going on in his life that have nothing to do with football that he needs to resolve. It would seem to me that separating himself from the pressures and demands of being the head football coach at USC would have to give him a better chance to take the time to deal with those things in his life and to make them better.
Godspeed, Steve Sarkisian…
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Ex-football coach Lou Holtz, to the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, on the state of his golf game: ‘While a lot of people want to shoot their age, I’m trying to shoot my weight. If I gain 5 pounds, I think I can do that.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………