How Do Coach's Fare In Their
1st, 2nd, and 3rd years?
If you have read my magazine in the past or even if this is your first year, you are very familiar with my thoughts on 1st year, 2nd year and 3rd year head coaches. Some 1st year head coaches are poised for success each year and I tell you which ones are and why in my forecasts for each team each year.
Most 1st year head coaches go through a rebuilding season as they must learn the strengths and weaknesses of their players and the players have to learn new systems. Most 2nd year head coaches usually have a solid improvement. In fact four 2nd year HC’s actually won National Titles (Bob Stoops w/OU, Jim Tressel w/OSU, Urban Meyer w/UF and Gene Chizik w/AU) in the BCS era to date while Les Miles w/LSU, Nick Saban w/Bama and Pete Carroll w/USC also had tremendous 2nd years.
In a coach’s 3rd year most of the starters are the coach’s own recruits and they really hit their stride. Is this a fact or a myth?
What I decided to do was to take a look at each coach and their record since 1990 according to their year as a HC with the program and what I found backs up for the most part much of what I hypothesized.
Head Coaching Year Records 1990-2011
|# of Cchs||Wins||Losses||%||# Let Go After Ssn|
The above chart shows a total of 379 coaches who have been a 1st-year HC at their respective program since 1990. The combined win total for these 379 coaches is 1978-2502 (44.2%) or an avg of 5.2 wins-6.6 losses. 11 coaches since 1990 have actually been let go after their 1st seasons and the remaining 368 coaches improved their record to 2119-2268 (48.3%) or an avg of 5.8 wins-6.2 losses in their 2nd year (a pretty significant improvement overall).
29 additional coaches were let go after their 2nd year. My original hypothesis was that coaches would hit their stride in their 3rd year and while the record again improved to 1968-2048 (49.0%) or an avg of 5.8 wins-6.0 losses, the improvement was not as large as what I had hoped. The great 2nd year successes of Meyer, Stoops, Tressel and Chizik may have had something to do with that.
After getting year three’s results, I was curious as to what those coaches would do in years four, five, six and beyond and it was in these years where I found some curious data points. In year four (additional 43 coaches let go after year three) the record again improved to 1812-1709 (51.46%, 6.1 wins-5.8 losses). Again there was improvement in year five (64 let go after year four) this time for a combined total of 1452-1311 (52.6%) with an avg of 6.3 wins-5.7 losses.
Throughout college football history, there has been an argument supported by many people that a coach deserves five years to build or turn around a program. While we have seen in the last decade this number possibly shrink to three years, overall 68 coaches out of 232 (29.3%) since 1990 were let go after year five which was the most in the first ten years analyzed. By the time year six rolled around just 164 coaches out of 379 (43.3%) were left and it is here where we see that big spike as the remaining coaches improved their total to a combined 1124-857 (56.7%) or an avg of 6.9 wins-5.2 losses.
Year seven would see the numbers improve for the 6th consecutive year with 118 coaches with a combined record of 826-604 (57.8%, avg of 7 wins-5.1 losses). After year seven the numbers would fluctuate around the 60% mark as just 64 out of 379 made it to year 10 (16.9%) while only 17 made it to year 15 (4.4%).
Another factor that I wanted to analyze was how 1st-year coaches do with no prior HC experience vs coaches that have prior HC experience in FBS/NFL and also HC's with FCS HC experience.
Does Prior Head Coaching Experience Matter?
|Year 1||No Prior HC Exp||183||940||1234||43.24%|
|Year 1||Prior HC Exp FBS/NFL||144||790||913||46.39%|
|Year 1||Prior HC Exp FCS||52||248||355||41.13%|
You would think that 1st-year HC’s with prior HC experience at the FBS/NFL level would fare better and this was the case as they had the best win %. It was surprising to see the FCS coaches fare worse that the HC’s with no prior HC experience but their sample size was more than three times less.
Stat Comparison Years 1-15 for Head Coaches
|Off PPG Avg||Def PPG Avg||PPG Diff||Off YPG Avg||Def YPG Avg||YPG Diff|
Finally, I also analyzed how coaches do in the stat department with regards to offensive and defensive ppg and also offensive and defensive ypg. Similar to the overall records chart, the stats improved each year thru year seven with the major improvements coming in years two and six.