Off and Running

The coach is not always the problem, so stop firing them

Mark Carlson, Sports Editor

There are a lot of things that grind my gears. One of the most profound things that grinds my gears is when a team has one poor season and they fire their coach like he was “the problem.” It’s almost like pro sports teams have taken the one-and-done policy at SHS and applied it to their coaches.

Flashback to 2011. Colts just finished (barely)a 2-14 season with Jim Caldwell at the helm. He is almost immediately fired. Yes, 2-14 really sucks. Like it really sucks. That season taken on its own and out of context could be ground for firing. But do you remember that was the season when Peyton Manning was out for the season with neck problems? Or even the fact that the previous two seasons has included a 24-8 (.750) combined record, two playoff appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl. Even adding in that season that Indianapolis fans don’t want to talk about, Caldwell departed Indy with a positive win/loss with 26-22 (.542). And yet he took the blame for that cruddy season and was fired mainly because of it.
In redemption for that decision, the Colts did decide to stick with Chuck “Chucky” Pagano for another season despite mediocre results. Instead they parted ways with General Manager Ryan Grigson. While this move was met with a mixed response, it somewhat restored my faith that teams could put their faith in coaches.

Now there are always going to be circumstances where firing a coach as soon as possible is the right decision. If the coach is under suspicion for illegal activities or has crossed a line, yes those are grounds for immediate firing, but losing some games are not grounds for immediate dismissal. There could be factors outside of a coach’s control, such as players being not very good, star players missing games for whatever reason or just an inexperienced team. Now if a coach has several underachieving seasons (Tom Crean), then yes, throw their butt to the curb and steal someone else’s coach (but not Chris Holtman).

Instead of getting rid of the coach here are some alternatives. You can build a team that fits into how the coach wants to play. It does no good to recruit a bunch of offensive oriented players, and then blame a defensive minded coach for not being able to win enough games with them. A coach has to be compatible with the kind of players they have. It may seem easier to replace one part (the coach) than many parts (the players), but some of the most successful sports teams this year have built the team around the coach. The Boston Celtics have built a team of relatively under-talented players around Brad Stevens. And then they topped the Eastern Conference in the regular season. Same goes for the New England Patriots. As much as everyone hates them, they bring in nobody’s and win Superbowls with them in no small part due to Bill Belichick. He has taken a couple great players, and a bunch of under talented ones, and he has won five Superbowls.

So please, for the sake of success and stability, give a coach a chance once in awhile.