What Happens to Teams When They Replace Winning Coaches?

David+Padgett+with+Rick+Pitino+via+sportingnews.com
David Padgett with Rick Pitino via sportingnews.com

David Padgett with Rick Pitino via sportingnews.com

David Padgett with Rick Pitino via sportingnews.com

Nathan Moore, Sports Writer

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Coaching changes of any kind in the sports world can cause a lot of uncertainty amongst organizations and fan bases, but the replacement of a successful coach can cause utter chaos. Frankly, coaching is a tenuous profession at best, and even successful coaches are not safe if the powers-that-be deem them to be wrong for the program or franchise. For instance, the recent firing of Yankees manager Joe Girardi caused massive tumult and confusion throughout the city of New York even after a playoff run. On the other side, there are coaches like Charlie Strong who bring a sense of hope and cheer amidst the disarray of a coaching change. But one question remains in the air, what are the programs and organizations like after these coaching changes cause such chaos?

THE GOOD

Sean McVay: Los Angeles Rams

KeithAllisonPhoto.com
Jaguars at Redskins 9/14/14 (Sean McVay)

McVay has taken the Los Angeles Rams, previously coached by Jeff Fisher, from #29 in the NFL Power Rankings to #3 as of week 13 in the NFL. The LA Rams are one of many teams to flourish in the wake of new coaches being thrust into the spotlight but could possibly be one of the most improved. The NFL’s youngest head coach has turned his first year into a cinderella story. The Rams are currently 8-3 and sitting atop the NFC West just one game above the Seattle Seahawks.

Doug Pederson: Philadelphia Eagles

Doug Pederson may have been considered on the coaching “Hot Seat” before week 4 in the NFL coming into the 2017-18 season. The second year head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles has started making his case to be NFL Coach of the Year. Coach Pederson left the Kansas City Chiefs as their offensive coordinator to be the Eagles head coach in January of 2016 where in his first year as head coach he led the Eagles to an 8-8 record with Rookie QB Carson Wentz. Pederson now has the Eagles off to a very promising start of 10-1 in week 13 of the NFL season. The second year head coach has not only developed his players to be the top team in the NFL Power Rankings, but he has also added several key free agent players to his team. These include K Jake Elliott, DB Derek Barnett, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Torrey Smith, and WR Alshon Jeffery.

Charlie Strong: South Florida

Coach Strong and the University of Texas parted ways in November of 2016 after almost a week of media speculation. After reports of Ole Miss and Tennessee pursuing emerged, some people began to think that Strong would step away from coaching. In December of 2016, the University of South Florida announced that they would be hiring Strong as their new head coach heading into the 2017 season. Coach Strong has led an already experienced team to an 9-2 record which places them at #23 in the AP Poll and #2 in the American East. This comes as a surprise to many as Strong left Texas after three years with a combined record of 16-20 and on the heels of his third seven loss season in a row. Strong has blown expectations out of the water and is on his way to the postseason, which he failed to reach in three years with Texas. He has also been assembling quite an arsenal of recruits with his first signing class at USF ranking 75th nationally.

Joe Maddon: Chicago Cubs

Joe Maddon was hired by the Chicago Cubs following the MLB Postseason in 2014. Maddon left the Tampa Bay Rays to sign a five year contract with the Cubs who were coming off another disastrous season. In Joe Maddon’s first year as the Cubs manager he lead the team to a winning record of 97-65 as well as a 4-5 record in the playoffs. The next year Maddon would break the Cubs’ 108 year World Series drought as the Cubs went on to beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. Joe Maddon’s culture change didn’t stop there though as the Cubs made the playoffs in 2017 for the third consecutive year. This included a winning record of 92-70 and a playoff record of 4-6.

THE BAD

Jim Harbaugh: The San Francisco 49ers

Calling all trainwrecks! Jim Harbaugh began his NFL head coaching career in 2011 taking over the 49ers. In his first year Harbaugh seemed to change the atmosphere. The 49ers went 13-3, before being eliminated in the NFC Championship game by the eventual Super Bowl XLVI winning New York Giants. The following year, Jim Harbaugh would take the 49ers to the Super Bowl where he would eventually lose to his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens. After the Super Bowl loss, Harbaugh would take the 49ers to another NFC Championship game before ultimately leaving the NFL to coach at his alma mater: the University of Michigan. Things for the 49ers spiraled downhill from there. The starter, Colin Kaepernick, was benched and ultimately caused all kinds of uproar within the franchise with his political protests. Since 2015, the year after Harbaugh left, the 49ers have been dead last in the conference including a 2-14 campaign in 2016. This year the 49ers are currently 1-10 under current head coach Mike Shanahan.

Marty Schottenheimer: The San Diego / Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers (formally known as the San Diego Chargers), have found several ways that do not include just moving cities to upset their fanbase. A familiar name many Chargers fans may try to forget is Marty Schottenheimer. A fair question is why fire a coach who went 14-2 but lost the divisional game? This question may never be formally answered. The one thing that stands out is how many times the Chargers have posted double digit wins since the Schottenheimer era. In case you weren’t keeping track, the magical number is two. Two times in the last 10 years the Chargers have posted double digits in the win column. Since 2014 the Chargers have not secured more than five wins. This raises some huge questions, but one that many die-hard Chargers fans still ask: what were they thinking when they fired Marty Schottenheimer?

Bobby Knight: Indiana Hoosiers

Bobby Knight is known to some as a blessing and a curse in the dark corridors of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. Coach Knight was a great coach at Indiana University, or at least many may have thought. Knight found success in winning three national championships, five final four trips, and 10 conference championships. All this fame and shiny trophies didn’t do well to cover up Knight’s dark side. The legendary coach who had an undefeated season en route to a national championship was now being dismissed. His dismissal caused massive uproar, by the student body and the Hoosier state. Knight was fired for his “unacceptable pattern of behavior” and an accusation by freshman student player Kent Harvey. Harvey stated that Knight grabbed him by the arm and verbally abused him. The dismissal came a month before the basketball season. Heading into the 2000-01 season the Hoosiers hired Mike Davis who then departed from the school to pave the way for Kelvin Sampson who put the program in jeopardy for violating NCAA rules. Some Hoosier faithful may argue to this day that Bob Knight changed the face of the program, but the question is, was it for better or worse?

Kent Harvey via yahoo.com

Tony Dungy: Indianapolis Colts

It’s been told that Indianapolis Colts fans shed a single tear when they hear the name Tony Dungy. The legendary hall of fame coach retired from the NFL after the 2008 season. In 7 years with Indianapolis, Coach Dungy accumulated a record of 85-27. He also accrued one Super Bowl win in 2006 over the Chicago Bears. Dungy’s retirement from football left the Colts in a world of hurt. In all seven seasons with the Colts, Dungy posted no fewer than 10 wins per season. His predecessor, Jim Caldwell, seemed to be doing well with his first two seasons resulting in an AFC Championship, but things quickly went downhill. In his third season Caldwell boasted a 2-14 record before leaving Indianapolis to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions. The coaches who followed Tony Dungy have found success but only in their first few seasons. Some blame has fallen on the owner and general manager, but could it be that the Colts have just not found a replacement to their beloved Coach Dungy?

The Unknown

Joe Girardi: New York Yankees

The future seemed bright and hopeful for the young ball club in New York. The Yankees seemed to be the team to beat in the American League but now we have no idea. Joe Girardi, the man who has spent ten years coaching and rebuilding the Yankees, was let go in October of 2017. Girardi was informed of his dismissal after losing the ALCS to the eventual World Series winning Houston Astros. This is a major shock to the organization and raises many questions. Joe Girardi found much success in his 10 years as the Yankees manager. In six of his 10 seasons Girardi made the postseason, and in 2009 he won the World Series. The future seemed extremely bright for Girardi, as well. He had an extremely young star studded roster. Among these players are Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Hicks who were nicknamed the “Baby Bombers.” With a young team and no manager, we can only speculate what the future will hold for this ball club.

Joe Girardi via commons.wikipedia.org

Rick Pitino and David Padgett: Louisville Cardinals

David Padgett became the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals Men’s Basketball team in a rough time. The University of Louisville dismissed head coach Rick Pitino in the wake of a massive scandal of “pay-for-play” throughout the NCAA. The Cards not only lost their #1 recruit, they could potentially lose several wins, future NCAA Tournament bids, and valuable scholarships. David Padgett seems unphased by all of this as he has the U of L Cardinals off to an unfathomable 4-0 start to the 2017-18 season. This could just be a fluke as the Cards are just beginning to play more power five teams. Time will only tell what the future of the Cards really holds, but as of right now, all eyes are on David Padgett to resurrect U of L from the shadows.

Archie Miller: Indiana Hoosiers

The Indiana University Hoosiers Men’s Basketball team may have struggled finding a coach who can find similar success to Bob Knight, but many Hoosier fans are hopeful they may have found that in Archie Miller. Miller comes from the University of Dayton where he took the Flyers to four straight NCAA appearances. For Hoosier fans, this is promising that Archie could take fewer big name recruits in a mid-major program to four back-to-back NCAA Tourney bids. Indiana is considered a blue blood of college basketball and has not backed that up in recent years. Miller has his Hoosiers off to an interesting start of 4-3 and showed promise in a close loss to AP #1. Nobody knows the real fate of the Hoosiers under Coach Miller just yet, but many will say the future looks bright.

 

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