Battling with Boise can be hazardous
By Ferd Lewis
There was some interesting talk about turnover statistics at the Western Athletic Conference football coaches annual meetings that concluded yesterday in Phoenix, Ariz.
Not fumbles and interceptions so much, but the turnover in head coaches.
We're told that one athletic director pointed out there sure have been a lot of new faces at these meetings recently. There are two this year (San Jose and Louisiana Tech) and four in two years.
Let's put it this way, the University of Hawai'i's Greg McMackin is starting his third season as head coach and he is already fifth in seniority among the nine coaches.
"In the last three years, this is probably the most turnover I've seen in any time frame," said WAC commissioner Karl Benson, a 16-year veteran of the conference. The average current continuous term of service is 3.3 years.
While some of it is coaches moving on to greener pastures — Tech's Derek Dooley to Tennessee, for example — much of it is schools wanting, as they cliche goes, to go in a different direction. Even if they just redefined their direction three or four years earlier.
Benson suggests the shuffling demonstrates the members' "committent to winning."
There is another way to look at it: The scramble to not fall hopelessly behind Boise State is getting serious.
The Broncos set the standard in the WAC. A hard one to match since they have won or shared seven of the last eight championships (you know who won in 2007). And they are 33-1 in their last 34 conference games, essentially reducing drama in the conference to the battle for second place in most years.
As the Broncos roll on, banking Bowl Championship Series checks and building bigger facilities, they are challenging the rest to pick up the pace or be left spitting even more dust.
Which is part of why schools are more willing to make changes and do it faster. And not just in head coaches, either. Five schools have made changes in either their offensive or defensive coordinators for the upcoming season. UH changed both.
As one WAC head coach candidly put it at a previous meeting, for all the outward collegiality at these things, the underlying fact is the success of one coach makes it harder for others to survive.
He was not among them this week.