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Opinion – Days of Long Tenured Coaches May Be Over

In a time not that long ago in college football, the staffs of winning college football programs did not have that much change or turnover.

At successful programs, there was often coaching stability. In a different era, you knew that Bo Schembechler was at Michigan, Woody Hayes at Ohio State, Bear Bryant at Alabama and John McKay at USC. . Even coaches that did not win national championships had long tenures such as Grant Teaff at Baylor, Tommy Prothro at UCLA and Shug Jordan at Auburn.

When Don Nehlen was the head coach at West Virginia from 1980-99, he was there so long that many fans knew the names of much of the staff. Names such as Steve Dunlap, Dwight Wallace, Doc Holliday, Bill Kirelawich and others were long-time fixtures in Morgantown and they stayed with their head coach for long periods of time.  

In recent years, college football still had that with Bobby Bowden at Florida State and Joe Paterno at Penn State. But, now with the passing of Paterno we have probably seen the last of that type of coaching staff. 

In 1966 when Paterno took over for Rip Engle he had assistant coaches on his staff that he inherited who had been at Penn State for 20 years or longer. Names such as Jim O’Hora, J. T. White, Tor Toretti, Bob Phillips,  and others.  During Paterno’s tenure he had a second group of assistants that also stayed for long term tenures of 25 years or more. Among those names were many who coached against WVU such as Fran Ganter, Bill Kenney, Tom Bradley, Jerry Sandusky, Dick Anderson, JIm Williams and Joe Sarra. 

Now that long term head coaches such as Nehlen, Paterno, Bobby Bowden and others are no longer coaching, we will probably never see coaches in jobs again for extended periods of time. With the wall to all media coverage and the advent of social media, it is just too hard to do. As a result, we will not see assistant coaches staying in positions for long periods of time either. 

Even if coaches do stay in one place and win plenty of games and national titles, the assistant coaching staffs still tend to turn over in this era of college football.

Mack Brown of Texas made made coaching chances last winter. Alabama’s Nick Saban seems to lose two or three good assistant coaches every season..Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops made a coordinator change in the off-season. 

More and more coaches are on the move. For many, it is a way to move up.  Many assistant coaches now take jobs in schools where they have no personal or georgraphic ties. Thus, they don’t stay long. 

Fans at places such as WVU, Penn State, Ohio State, Florida State and others will have to get used to watching the revolving door that is now, more of a part than ever, of coaching college football. 





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