The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Don’t Buy Into The Coaching Carousel: It’s Not What You Want

There are 26 schools that have a new head coach or still seeking one in college football this winter.

Bobby Petrino agreed to take the helm at Western Kentucky on Monday, just the most recent in the array of coaching moves across the nation. One coach leaves, that job opens, another coach steps in. Rinse and repeat.

This is the same Bobby Petrino that was once upon a time the head coach for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, left midseason to take the Arkansas job, and then witnessed his career come to a screeching halt with the flip of a motorcycle.

Or so we thought. Or maybe just me.

Petrino was fired from Arkansas eight months ago for unfairly hiring his mistress, and misleading his superiors about her relationship with him and the motorcycle accident. He blatantly ignored ethics while in Fayetteville. Left all possible integrity and character at the door from day one.

And yet, he is free to return to coaching with no consequence.

Ultimately, that’s the choice Western Kentucky made. Hundreds of coordinators and other seemingly viable candidates were passed over for Petrino, a guy who can coach football but a guy who has no sense of leadership. Zero.

Would Western Kentucky hire a journalism professor with a resume similar to Petrino’s? No chance. But hey, that’s college football. That’s the coaching carousel.

This feels so dry. These coaches being brought in for a little while — WKU is more or less a stepping stone for Petrino and he’ll only be there for two or three years, and then he’ll leave.

At the current stage, this type of activity isn’t happening at every major program. There are some schools that have a coach with longevity.

Iowa is one of those.

Kirk Ferentz has been the Hawkeyes’ headman for 14 years now and has a contract through 2020. His current buyout is approximately $20 million. As it has been well documented, Iowa football had a down season in 2012: A 4-8 record and no bowl game, which is a first since 2007.

But it’s not the end all, be all. At least not in Iowa City.

That’s because the coach means something here, a theme that used to exist on numerous other college campuses. Why? The head coach of a major Division-I team is the face of the program. He’s at pep rallies, tailgates, on posters, interacts with boosters, persuades recruits.

With Ferentz, there is that reputation. There is character, and there is integrity. Yes, college football has turned into more and more of a business, schools attempting to generate revenue at every opportunity.

But college football is in trouble if your school has to hire Bobby Petrino. “Teams have to win, though!” At what expense? Parading a mistress throughout an SEC program and getting fired to have another job only eight months later?

Iowa’s not in trouble. There is stability with Ferentz, who’s a symbol of many things, most of those in which Petrino will never be.

Sure, a 4-8 record and second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten is disappointing and way below the bar that’s been set.

It could be worse.