November 27, 2007

The Hiring Season for College Coaches

We are currently in the second most entertaining season in the college volleyball year - the Hiring Season. Each November the website starts to list available college coaching positions and not only NCAA positions, but openings in Junior Colleges and NAIA schools.

I say this because it has many elements of good entertainment - drama, surprise, heartbreak, innuendo, false premises - everything that would make daytime television a hit. Unfortunately, this is not television and a few careers are being ended, while others are just beginning - it can be an exhilarating time and a crushing time. I have experienced both ends of the spectrum.

The most entertaining part of this season is the volleyball message boards (Volleytalk and Prepvolleyball are the most common - but regional ones abound) and what information is posted. It becomes a contest between the posters about who can post the latest firing and hiring. In November and early December, it is all about the carnage of coaches. This is the time when people 'resign' (which RARELY happens), do not get renewed (a nice way of getting fired), move to another position or just get fired.

The boards are entertaining because of all the 'inside' information that the posters know - super cool assistant coach will get the job, she got fired because she asked for too much money, the position is filled and the announcement will come on Monday - we are not talking ESPN reporters here, but rather volleyball folks that have a passion for the rumors and gossip of college volleyball coaching.

Having gone on my share of interviews, it is amazing how wrong the message boards are - more often than not, the board is no where close to being correct. I have read about the 'inside' interview list for a position that did not get one person correct - how, because I was on that interview and the athletic director point blank told me who else was interviewing.

It is not just hiring, the posters get the departure reasons wrong - she left because she has a new business venture (no, she left because the new AD wanted their own coach), he quit because the program support was lacking (no, he got fired because he broke NCAA rules and got caught), etc.

By the way, a great majority of college coaches, at all levels, watch the message boards for pure entertainment - only the really silly/foolish coaches will post anything. But, for the rest of us, it is akin to reality TV, where we know the reality and others are so interested in trying to figure it out.

In college volleyball the reasons a coach will vacate a position:

1) A new Athletic Director is at the school and because the AD no longer controls the hiring/firing of Football and Basketball coaches (the school Presidents do this now), they want to control something and this is the Olympic Sport coaches.

2) The coach just got fed up dealing with all the hypocrisy and treatment of running a Division I program that does not receive support comparable to other programs in the conference - sometimes college coaches just get tired of being trotted out as the program that makes great grades, has good kids and wins, but the coach does not get a raise, they don't have a contract and they are doing fund raisers to be able to go recruiting.

3) They lost too many games for a few consecutive seasons. Winning is job insurance - as long as you do enough to look good, the job is secure. Very few departments care if the volleyball team is conference champions, but they just don't want to come in dead last.

If you look at all the changes during the Hiring Season, the reasons for coaches leaving will almost always be with above 3 examples - New AD, burn-out, lost games.

When it comes to the actual hiring of new coaches, things really become murky - it is a complete roll of the dice to see who will get hired. Some hires make sense to those in the volleyball community, while others are just so strange, you just shake your head.

The major influences that I have noticed with the hiring of new head coaches, is that a female is the number one preference and assistant coaches from Power conferences are very attractive.

The desire to have a female as the head coach of a women's sport makes sense -unfortunately, many schools pay their volleyball coaches a very low salary when you consider the responsibilities of the position. Instead of raising salaries for head coaches and thus attracting or keeping qualified candidates, the athletic departments will just lower their standards to offer the position to a female coach who is not yet qualified to lead a program. There are so many female coaches, which after being assistant coaches and seeing the way the athletic departments operate and the low pay, just move into a high school position (because it pays more!) or step away from coaching all together to get married and start a family. This has happened with a number of my female assistant coaches. If the schools would pay a salary comparable to the women's basketball coaches, there would be no shortage of female head coaches in women's volleyball!

Athletic directors have a strong attraction to those candidates that are coming from Power conferences - if the AD can say they just hired the #1 assistant coach from Nebraska or Texas, it looks good. I guess it is no different than buying name brand clothing - Everyone knows who Florida is, and they have a great volleyball program, so by association this assistant coach will be a great hire for the school. While there may be wonderful future head coaches at every power conference school, they are raw and just don't have the seasoning of a head coach who is at a mid-level or lower level conference program. Because of the way Power conferences are supported, the assistants have a false sense of reality about funding and support. The head coaches from the other conferences know how to recruit to schools that are not popular, know how to stretch the budget and know how to deal with athletes that are not in the top of every recruiting class.

Now that the Hiring Season is underway, just sit back and enjoy the show - it always has surprises!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please stay positive or at the minimum present constructive criticism - Negative comments or attacks upon other reader's opinions will not be posted.