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I knew sooner or later I’d find a way to work college football into this blog. (For those who don’t know me well, yes, I’m a rabid fan of SEC football. You can take the girl out of the South….) I’ve been watching with interest as this crazy season comes to an end how many universities are dropping the ax on their coaches. At least ten NCAA Division I coaches—and likely several more I’m unaware of—have been fired in the last few weeks, and when they leave, it’s rarely under ambiguous circumstances.
Compared with CEOs, it’s refreshing to see both how closely coaches’ performance is tied to job security—and how straight the schools can be with the reasons for the coaches’ departures. (“He represented the university in a first-class manner and always did,” Duke University athletic director Joe Alleva told the Winston-Salem Journal about now former Duke football coach Ted Roof. “It just comes down to a point where you need to win some games.”) In CEO land, no one ever seems to get dismissed. They just retire, resign, or leave for those oft-quoted “personal reasons.”
One sidenote I found interesting: While coach at Duke, Roof commissioned Duke’s top-ranked business school to come up with a strategic plan for turning around the beleaguered Blue Devils, which went 6-45 in Roof’s four seasons as head coach. The analysis was to go beyond recruiting and development, but to take the plan “to the MBA level,” according to Director of Football Relations B.J. Naedele. While it didn’t save Roof’s job, it’ll be interesting to see what the plan will do in years to come to turn the team around.
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