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NCAA can prevent coaches from leaving programs before bowl games

Dave+Clawson%2C+head+coach%2C+runs+on+the+field+with+the+Falcon+football+team.+Clawson+stayed+with+BG+despite+several+other+coaches+leaving+their+teams+nation-wide.
Steven W. Echard

Dave Clawson, head coach, runs on the field with the Falcon football team. Clawson stayed with BG despite several other coaches leaving their teams nation-wide.

Why do college coaches leave their teams prior to bowl games for other jobs?

This new trend is growing in momentum over the past few seasons, yet none more prominently than this past one.

As the college football season finished up, over six coaches had left their respective programs prior to their bowl games in light of new coaching positions at different schools.

This, on the surface, seems unfair to the programs and the players, but because of the current NCAA system, the coaches almost have to if they want to be successful at their new schools.

Basically, if the coaches do not leave as soon as possible for a new position and instead finish out the season before accepting a new job offer, they will lose critical recruiting time.

Many coaches must figure out what is more important to them; finishing the season or started their new career off on the right foot.

The early migration of coaches isn’t as cruel as it may seem. Most leave before their team get accepted into a bowl game. Take the case of Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren.

Doeren left the Huskies one day prior to the team’s acceptance into the Orange Bowl. He didn’t know his program would become the first MAC team to make a BCS bowl when he signed his new contract, but he still left his team hindered regardless of which bowl the team would have made.

The Huskies lost to Florida State in the Orange Bowl under their interim head coach.

The trend is most common among mid-major conferences such as the MAC or the WAC. This became apparent when Doeren left NIU and then Kent State Head Coach Darrell Hazell left for Purdue. There were even rumors that BG’s Dave Clawson could be next to leave.

It was once told to me that if a MAC coach stayed with a program for more than five years, he was only good enough not to be fired. Meaning, that good MAC talent leaves for larger programs.

Clawson didn’t leave before the Falcon’s Military Bowl game; however, his opponent, Mike MacIntyre, did leave San Jose State out of the WAC for Colorado.

San Jose State would go one to win under their interim coach for its first 11 win season in school history.

When coaches leave a program, it puts the added pressure for a new coach to be hired or appointed for, arguably, the most important game of a team’s career. But what can be done about this that is fair to all involved?

Well for starters, the NCAA needs to step in and eliminate the early contract period that occurs for high school recruits to sign during the long bowl season.

This would prevent the need for coaches to jump ship early and would be fair to the players and programs. It seems like everybody wins … well, sort of.

Like any policy, there would be unintended consequences. In this hypothetical case, schools that failed to make bowl games would lose their ability to recruit at the conclusion on their season — essentially pushing the offseason further into the distance.

This would also discourage high school athletes as they wouldn’t be able to be sign or receive scholarships until well after their season ends, which is a couple months before NCAA bowl season ends.

Another possibility would be the NCAA establish the early contract signing to begin during the college regular season instead of the bowl season.

However, neither of these really will stop the programs that receive the new coaches. Programs will still demand new coaches in December and if other coaches do not accept, they could lose the job opportunity as well serious money.

Coaches will always have an internal struggle between leaving early for themselves or staying on for the sake of the program. However, in my eyes, a coach that is planning on leaving post-bowl game, wouldn’t really be the best option to coach the bowl game.

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