Thursday, November 15, 2007

Coach Search Day 18: The rumor mill goes into overdrive

Well, the opened the floodgates yesterday.  The posted the following:

SMU Closing in on "Huge" Hire

UPDATED:  Sources in Dallas tell us SMU is closing in on a hire to replace the deposed Phil Bennett.  We are told to expect a “huge” splash.  The hiring of either of the two names being mentioned would send shockwaves across C-USA.    

Expect an announcement soon after the Mustangs’ final game of the season.  If the choice is who we’re hearing it could be, SMU will have hit a home run.    

Hint:  The top candidate is a head coach at a BCS school with a disenchanted fan base – and it’s not an obvious choice.  He also has ties to the state, having gone to college in Texas as well as a having a coaching stop or two in-state.  This candidate also has prior NFL experience.  

Athletic Director Steve Orsini has a history of making splash hires.  This one figures to be no different.  However, this candidate has much to lose by having the news leak out prematurely.  Should that happen, all bets are off.  Orsini and company are frantically trying to get a deal done and have other fall back candidates should the top choice not work out.  Negotiations are ongoing.  

Based on the “hint,” there are only two coaches that fit the criteria:  Baylor’s Guy Morris and Louisville’s Steve Kragthorpe (formerly of Tulsa).  I don’t think anyone really thinks Guy Morris will be hired.

Then, in a battle of football blogs, attempted to shoot down this rumor:

This is the best time of year, everyone's mom and uncle went to school with the AD or is neighbor with the friend of the coach. Quite Frankly that is who I think has given their scoop. Pony fans are convinced it is Steve Kragthorpe, see below why i think it is not Kragthorpe:

A. Not a "spash." A great hire and would do well, but is in now way a splash
B. Tom Jurich (Louisville AD) and Kragthorpe have been freinds for nearly 20 years. IF Kragthorpe turned on Jurich after 1 year after the deliberate pursut of Kragthorpe last year, then Krag isn't as cool as you think.
C. Orsini is after a bigger fish than that
D. Surely Krag wouldn't bail on Jurich???
E. Why would you leave Louisville after 1 year?
F. If you can't win at Louisville and you were just a few games over .500 at Tulsa why would Orsini hire you?

Looks to me like Footballrumormill is more interested in selling ads than reporting facts.

So, there you go.  Make of it what you will.  Certainly this is a new name I hadn’t heard before.  Since we have no other news to go on, we might as well ask the question: Would Steve Kragthorpe be a good hire for SMU?


Anybody that attempts to argue otherwise is crazy.  Here is Tulsa’s record the past 15 years.

1992:  4-7
1993:  4-6-1
1994:  3-8
1995:  4-7
1996:  4-7
1997:  2-9
1998:  4-7
1999:  2-9
2000:  5-7
2001:  1-10
2002:  1-11
2003:  8-5
2004:  4-8
2005:  9-4 (Conf. USA Champs)
2006:  8-5

What changed in 2003?  The answer, of course, is Steve Kragthorpe became the head coach.  I don’t understand how anyone can suggest Steve Kragthorpe is unacceptable.  

There are really two arguments against Steve Kragthorpe.  First, Louisville was a top 10 team last year and this year, they are not.  Second, Todd Graham was allegedly the star of the coaching staff.

I am not particularly bothered that Louisville was a top 10 team last year and this year they are hovering around .500.  If SMU were a top 10 team in the Big East, I suppose I would worry about it.  You have to judge Kragthorpe’s coaching career as a career and not as a single season.  The man turned around a program.  Turning around a program is something SMU needs.  I don’t want to diminish this concern; I just prefer to look at Kragthorpe’s career as a whole.

Todd Graham is a good coach and a good recruiter.  That is undisputed.  But he wasn’t the engine that drove Tulsa.  Kragthorpe’s offense is what drove Tulsa.  As an aside, it is still Tulsa’s offense that drives Tulsa-the defensive genius Todd Graham currently presides over the 103rd ranked defense in the country.  Kragthorpe brought in Graham.  Graham’s career and Graham’s success at Tulsa is also a reflection of Kragthorpe’s ability to put together a quality staff, which is a quality which should not be undervalued.

Kragthorpe would be a “WOW!” hire, despite what some would say.  Since the inception of the BCS, no coach has left a BCS conference for a non-BCS conference.  Kragthorpe may not be a household name, but he is a head coach in a good situation.  He is in a BCS conference.  He isn’t about to get run out the door.  If he doesn’t take the job, he is till going to be at his current job next year.  He has a good track record.  

Was TCU's hire of Fran a "Wow" hire?  At first blush, no.  He wasn't a household name, but TCU hired the ideal coach that recruited the area and stole a guy from a team in the same conference.  The hire showed that TCU was serious about turning around its football program.  If SMU hired Kragthorpe, it would show the same thing:  SMU is serious about turning around its football program.

Bottom line, Kragthorpe would be leaving Louisville for SMU.  Kragthorpe would be leaving a good situation for the SMU job.  Kragthorpe won in this conference.  Kragthorpe has coached against SMU.  Kragthorpe has recruited against SMU.  This gives the SMU validation that it has never had-Maybe SMU is not the pariah of a job some make it out to be.  This hire would prove there are coaches that believe they can win at SMU.  That is worth its weight in gold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think your posting below concerning Houston Nutt may be closer to the reality. There is no question those folks in Arkansas are totally crazy, and he would be well advised to get out before he gets tarred and feathered.

The irony is that without all those interfering alums, he would have had another good year this year. And his record shows that he can recruit. And given the quality of the running game this year, he has shown an eye for finding talent.