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Tenure and Success, or Great Expectations

Interesting look this morning by Paul Westerdawg at the Georgia Sports Blog at the longest-tenured coaches without a BCS bid to their credit at schools that might reasonably expect it. And some that might not reasonably expect it, but have boosters and fans who probably do, anyway. Nobody's made it very long:

   1. Houston Nutt (Arkansas) - 1998
   2. Tommy Bowden (Clemson) - 1999
   3.(T) Mike Leach (Texas Tech) - 2001
   3.(T) Al Groh (UVA) - 2001
   3.(T) Greg Schiano (Rutgers) - 2001
   3.(T) Gary Pinkel (Missouri) - 2001
   7.(T) Chan Gailey (GT) - 2002
   7.(T) Mark Mangino (Kansas) - 2002
   7.(T) Jeff Tedford (Cal) - 2002
   7.(T) Bobby Johnson (Vandy) - 2002

Houston Nutt tops the list entering Year Ten, but most lucrative possible prizes aside, he has guided Arkansas to three improbable SEC Championship games, each followed by a New Year's Day bowl, and regularly exceeded expectations at a school that for whatever reason rarely has any where that sort of success is concerned. "Hot seat" talk in his case is patently re-dick-ulous until the outbreak of scandal (real scandal, not a rash of transfers that from the outside looking in has more to do with jilted individual expectations/egos than it does with Nutt's effectiveness). And Mitch Mustain, temporarily, at least, has re-enrolled for the Spring semester to keep his grades in line for transfer. Oh, and to, like, work on educational-type degree stuff, or whatever (Texas Tech is among the schools that have "expressed interest" in Mustain, according to the link, which is frankly too absurd a concept - pass-happy Springdale parents charting the distributive tendencies of Mike Leach's savant-ish schemes by formation? - to actually contemplate).

Somebody at every school wants the coach fired yesterday, but is there any particular reason the boss at Arkansas should be punished for falling just short of winning SEC titles? SMQ thinks there's not, especially when his championship losses are to teams that finished 1, 3 and 1 in the final polls, his best team (1998) didn't qualify because of Clint Stoerner's immortal gaffe against the eventual mythical champs and a last-second field goal at Mississippi State, and he turns down offers from more visible, resource-rich powers. Some people might think Phil Fulmer, seven years removed from Tennessee's last big money gig (a romp at the hands of Nebraska at that), has more to worry about.

Definitely crazy, but mostly effective. As well as "on hand" at totally unpredictable locales!
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It's a different situation in the ACC, which has enviable middle class parity but never the SEC's championship-worthy depth at the top. For failing to crack the conference's small BCS club (only four different representatives in nine years, fewest of any other major conference), no ass in any position anywhere outside the Bush cabinet can be as blistered as the raw hide of Tommy Bowden, he of the perpetually toasty seat for, what, six years running? He's saved his own bacon with eight-plus-win seasons and a win over Papa Bowden at least twice, in 2003 and 2005, but the Tigers finished third in the conference on both occasions. Last year, Clemson busted up into the top ten, looked for all the world like the class of the conference after stomping the crap out of Georgia Tech in October, then fell flat on its face in four of its last five games and got wiped out in the Music City Bowl by Kentucky. Bowden made it to the Gator Bowl in his second season in 2000, but hasn't been to a New Year's Day bowl or lost fewer than three ACC games in any season since. SMQ doesn't know exactly what Clemson's expectations are, but with the middle Bowden child, the trend has been pretty clear: four or five overall losses, third place in the division, a December bowl of ill repute. Clemson has to decide how long that's good enough.

The heads associated with the other ACC names above would be on the chopping block if the NFL wasn't so apparently eager to hire them away. The Dolphins certainly could have gone far under Chan Gailey, perhaps even achieving 9-7, but truly hit the mediocre jackpot in Cam Cameron instead, a great offensive mind who failed to get Antwaan Randle El-led Indiana near a bowl game during an 18-37 tenure from 1997-2001. But then, the Dolphins better than any team know lots of coaches who struggle as college bosses succeed in the pros,