The Cost of the College Coasting Carousel
College sports are a big business. There are television deals, entire networks for conferences, video games and apparel contracts to name a few. Colleges and Universities stand to make good money when teams win. And the money doesn't just come from ticket sales and TV contracts. It also comes from boosters and more students wanting to attend a winning school. Schools in the Power Five split Bowl Game and network money. The more you win, the bigger the apparel deal.
So winning brings in dollars. Which means that winning - or losing! - brings pressure. Nowhere is that pressure felt more than by head coaches and athletic directors.
College coaches, no matter the sport, are under enormous pressure to perform. And their livelihood and reputation depends on kids 18 to 22 years old. It's not all flashbulbs and autographs!
Let's take the most obvious, high pressure position - FBS head football coach. The average football coach works 100+ hours per week during season. (This is also true for most other sports.) They have no days off. There is really no “off-season”. The off-season is full of recruiting, planning and practices.
Let's put X’s and O’s aside. Coaches are responsible for ALL of the operations. They manage players, staff, budgets and more. Add the media - and social media. Do all of the above with pressure of being watched 24/7. Oh, and not just you, the head coach, but you are now responsible for the behavior of your coaching staff and players.
Yes, those 18-22 year olds without frontal lobes.
Turnover rate is high. 77% of coaches are in their position less than 6 years. 2nd & 3rd year coaches being let go with increasing frequency. They do not have the time to bring in their own recruits or put in their own systems and styles of play. According to this article in Business Insider, most players will lose their head coach before playing out their college career. And let's remember that firings aren't just for losing records. Coaches are fired for losing control of player behavior, or for not thinking through social media posts. Think Tracy Claeys.
Even worse are the real physical tolls of the game witnessed by heart attacks, seizures and substance abuse. Yep - there are lots of ways coaches lose their jobs, and none of them are pretty.
When a head coach is fired, it doesn't just cost the coach. It costs the university as well. Coaching contracts are worth millions of dollars. When the head coach goes so does his or her staff. There are buyouts adding to the overall cost of turnover. Then, as with any other business, there is a cost of hiring. So the costs hurt the coach. They hurt the Athletics Department. And they hurt the school.
Where is the support system for a head coach? Family helps of course. But go back to the 100 hours at work and the time for meaningful family conversation drops. Plus family is likely also suffering from the impacts of the coach's stress. Staff? The AD? These all have a vested interest in what the head coach feels or what decisions they make, and objectivity is hard to come by.
So where can a head coach go to vent, run ideas and gain perspective?
What about hiring a coach for the coach?
According to CFO Magazine, Coaches have the ability to view things from afar — in what some call ‘helicopter vision’ — and to shed new light on difficult situations. Often they can act as a sounding board through tough decisions, help sharpen skills, and motivate.
Hiring a coach helps the coaches, athletes and ultimately the school.
Think about it.