Big East Football - Taking a Break from the Coaching Carousel?

When Greg Schiano takes the field to begin his eleventh season as the head coach at Rutgers, he will be the longest tenured head coach in the Big East. In fact, Schiano will have logged more years at Rutgers than the rest of Big East coaches have at their current schools combined. The next closest is Syracuse's Doug Marrone who enters his third season at Syracuse. Nothing has plagued Big East football and directly contributed to its overall struggle more than the constant coaching turnover. Since the league was reconstituted in 2005, no coach has won the conference and remained at his respective school more than two seasons. After yet another offseason of coaching changes, the Big East finally enters a football season with the hope of stability as, barring anything unforeseen, the conference will finally take a year off from the coaching carousel.

No Promotions

Randy Edsall, Bobby Petrino, Brian Kelly, and Rich Rodriguez all cashed in their Big East championships for jobs at bigger programs or the NFL. It is unlikely that whichever coach manages to win the conference in 2011 will bolt for a bigger job. Of the favorites to win the league, two (Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia and Todd Graham at Pittsburgh) are in their first year and it's unlikely that any would be up to moving on after just one year. The coach at the third consensus contender for the Big East, Skip Holtz, is in just his second year and is exceptionally happy to be in Tampa. He also has the school's best recruiting class ever brewing and seems in no hurry to leave (unlike Petrino, Edsall, and Kelly who made their desires to leave the worst kept secret in college football).

Marrone is a Syracuse man through and through, and the only thing likely to pull him from the Orange is a chance to be an NFL head coach. Charlie Strong will be on the list for some of the upcoming openings throughout the south and perhaps Ohio State, but, his team will be young and will likely have to work just as hard to match 2010's results. Strong has been building for 2012 since he arrived, and if he were in a hurry to leave, would still likely stay through 2012 to capitalize on what should be a very big year for Louisville. Greg Schiano has been offered big jobs, like Miami, before, but his team will likely struggle again in 2011 and that should keep him off of promotion lists for another year.

A Very Cool Hot Seat

There are only two coaches in the league that one could argue are remotely on the hot seat, and even then it would be a stretch. The first would be Greg Schiano at Rutgers. Coming off of a very tough season that saw the Knights' postseason streak end, and the possibility that they could miss the postseason again might cause some fans to grumble about what once looked like an extremely bright future for Rutgers. For all of its early promise, Rutgers has yet to win the conference. Still, Schiano continues to recruit well and this is the architect that built the program from absolutely nothing to respectability. Even if the Scarlet Knights struggle mightily in 2011, Schiano won't be fired.

The same is true of Butch Jones at Cincinnati. 2010's 4-8 record, coming off of an undefeated season in 2009, was obviously a disappointment. Still, Jones remains popular with the team and fans, and is putting together one of the better recruiting classes in Cincinnati's history. Combine that with the likelihood that the Bearcats will at least reach the postseason in 2011 and his job should be secure for another year. Even if Cincinnati finishes below .500 again, if they appear improved and don't completely collapse or quit on Jones, he'll be safe for another year. 

A Chance to Build a Brand

Avoiding turnover will do wonders for Big East football. It gives the schools a chance to develop an identity and relationships with the high schools they hope to recruit. It gives fans a chance to know what to expect and the schools a chance to build a brand that they can sell to players and fans alike. It also gives the conference as a whole the chance to develop some rivalries via the personalities at the top. Fans will have the chance to know what the teams should look like and enjoy the thought of bright offensive and defensive minds scheming for one another, rather than every year being a blank slate. A year off from the coaching carousel would do more for the Big East than anything that could come from expansion or other proposed quick fixes and 2011 should deliver it.

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