Monday, October 6, 2014

How long it takes to get to 9 wins after taking over a team without a winning record

Since the late 1990s, 55 times a coach took over a .500 team, or worse, and eventually went on to win at least 9 games. Here is how long it took each.

Took over team with 0-2 games under .500 with how many years it took to get to 9+ wins, and what the record was the year before they took over as head coach.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 2 years (5-6)
Bronco Mendenhall, BYU 2 (5-6)
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame 3 (6-6)
Todd Graham, Arizona State 2 (6-7)
Urban Meyer, Utah 1 (5-6)
Urban Meyer, Florida 1 (6-6)
Urban Meyer, Ohio State 1 (6-7)
Nick Saban, Alabama 2 (6-6)
Al Groh, Virginia 2 (6-6)
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland 1 (5-6)
Charlie Weis, Notre Dame 1 (6-6)
Dirk Koetter, Arizona State 4 (6-6)
Dennis Ericson, Oregon State 2 (5-6)
Art Briles, Houston 4 (5-7)
Bo Pelini, Nebraska 1 (5-7)
Jim Mora, Jr., UCLA 1 (6-8)
Pete Carroll, USC 2 (5-7)
Bill Snyder, Kansas State (2nd time) 3 (5-7)

Average: 1.9 years

Took team 3-5 games under .500

Houston Nutt, Arkansas 1 (4-7)
Walt Harris, Pittsburgh 6 (4-7)
Pat Hill, Fresno State 5 (4-7)
Charlie Strong, Louisville 3 (4-8)
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State 2 (4-8)
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State 2 (4-8)
Troy Calhoun, Air Force 1 (4-8)
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa 4 (3-8)
Greg Schiano, Rutgers 6 (3-8)
Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State 1 (4-9)
Tommy Tuberville, Auburn 2 (3-8)
Tommy Bowden, Clemson 2 (3-8)
Mark Mangino, Kansas 6 (3-8)
Ron Zook, Illinois 3 (3-8)
Joe Tiller, Purdue 1 (3-8)
Nick Saban, LSU 2 (3-8)
Gary Pinkel, Missouri 7 (3-8)

Average: 3.2 years

Took over team 6+ games under .500

Art Briles, Baylor 4 (3-9)
Gus Malzahn, Auburn 1 (3-9)
Houston Nutt, Mississippi 1 (3-9)
George O'Leary, Georgia Tech 4 (3-9)
Chuck Amato, NC State 3 (3-9)
Tom O'Brien, NC State 4 (3-9)
Gary Anderson, Utah State 4 (3-9)
Tommy Bowden, Tulane 2 (2-9)
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest 6 (2-9)
Skip Holtz, East Carolina 4 (2-9)
James Franklin, Vanderbilt 2 (2-10)
Lou Holtz, South Carolina 3 (1-10)
Jeff Tedford, California 3 (1-10)
Paul Johnson, Navy 2 (0-10)
David Cutcliffe, Duke 6 (1-11)
Jim Harbaugh, Stanford 4 (1-11)
Al Golden, Temple 4 (0-11)
Nick Saban, Michigan State 5 (0-11)
June Jones, Hawaii 1 (0-12)
Steve Sarkisian, Washington 4  (0-12)

Average: 3.4 years

Average of all 55 examples: 2.8 years


Only 19 of the 55 (34.5%) took longer than three years and 11 of those 19 took over a team that lost 6+ games in the previous season. 

Only 8 of 35 (22.9%) that took over for a team that had lost 0-5 games the previous year took longer than three years. 


  1. Conclusion???
    What can you extrapolate re: Chryst?
    Chryst would fall in the 0-2 games under 500 which means he should have 9 wins last year!!!

  2. Are you sure about your numbers?
    In the past 15 years, there have to be more than 55 coaching changes where they took over a team that was under .500. That averages about 4 coaches fired per year due to record of below .500. There has to be more than that??

    1. As I stated, this is only the 55 coaches that actually accomplished it. Many don't and get fired.

    2. Awe... now I see said the blind man.
      So, give us the flip side.
      Of those coaches hired for sub .500 teams that never got to 9 wins, how many years before they were fired.

  3. Looks like Chryst doesn't fall into that category, this program is trending down, we will be lucky to win 5 games this season. Next season a tougher schedule and we will be in the gutter.

  4. No offense intended for HCPC's dwindling numbers of defenders, okay? But hanging onto an incompetent head coach for the sake of stability is foolish and short-sighted, IMHO. Especially after three years and little to no progress (and arguably, significant regression...).

  5. Wisconsin: 1989 / 2-9
    Barry Alvarez:
    1990 / 1-10
    1991 / 5-6
    1992 / 5-6
    1993 / 10-1

    Virginia Tech: 1986 / 9-2-1
    Frank Beamer:
    1987 / 2-9
    1988 / 3-8
    1989 / 6-4-1
    1990 / 6-5
    1991 / 5-6
    1992 / 2-8-1
    1993 / 9-3

    1. I was trying to keep it from just the late 1990s because before that universities were more patient. There wasn't the same desperation to turn things around quickly like they have now.

    2. College football is nothing like it was in the 80s. Terrible sample

    3. That's because administrations don't have patience they had in the 1980's. It's win fast and win now. If Brown and Beamer were hired today, they would have been fired very quickly.

    4. Imma Man - So your saying that a coach that wins 9 games a year will not regress? The list is riddled with coaches that had short term success and imploded. Charlie Weis , anyone?

    5. It's not just the administration. It's the entire game. Nebraska was a power with the option back then with a lot of unathletic players or like michigan/osu 3 yards and a cloud of dust. It's not a regional sport anymore. The game is speed and amazing athletes now, not some farm boys.

      Plus, most importantly, it wasn't a billion dollar industry for schools.

  6. Chris,

    Not trying to be a wise guy, honestly. You have some data that's worth at least some food for thought. But each situation is unique. PC is not a GREAT coach. But I present some coaches that are more his style. Not saying he will have their success, but fit more his personality

    North Carolina: 1987 / 5-6
    Mack Brown:
    1988 / 1-10
    1989 / 1-10
    1990 / 6-4-1
    1991 / 7-4
    1992 / 9-3

    1. You're going back nearly 30 years looking for a handful of examples instead of looking at what the vast majority of examples show.

      I'm not saying Chryst won't get to 9+ wins but people have to stop naively thinking its a fait accompli. The cold hard facts is that the odds are against him.

  7. Not sure I follow your logic. If a coach gets to 9 wins in a certain time frame does that make him a good coach? Would you replace Chryst with any of the following?

    Al Groh
    Ralph Friedgen
    Charlie Weis
    Dirk Koetter
    Bo Pelini,
    Houston Nutt
    Pat Hill
    Troy Calhoun
    Kirk Ferentz
    Greg Schiano
    Tim DeRuyter
    Tommy Tuberville
    Tommy Bowden
    Mark Mangino
    Ron Zook
    Joe Tiller
    Gary Pinkel

    I wouldn’t. Some may be a flash in the pan and couldn't sustain their short term success. Others may be good enough to win, but not good enough to build a program.

    1. Good enough to win but not good enough to build a program.
      That is an oxymoron!!

    2. What is Chryst building? in 2 plus seasons we have trotted out a mediocre team, we have recruited mediocre and this season a bowl game is going to be a stretch. We have 3, yes 3 QB's on scholarship, seems to me that there is no defined direction. PC reminds me of Paul Hacket, another offensive genius who couldn't recruit.

    3. There is growing evidence that shows that PC may not be the coach Pitt needs to make the program a consistent winner. I wasn't thrilled with his hiring, but I wanted to give him a fair shot. I'm now leaning towards he isn't the right guy.

      However, there are larger questions besides him. Does the administration want to commit the resources to make Pitt a consistent winner? Do we really want the current AD to make another football hire? His track record is pretty dismal in that regard.

      Without an administration willing to make a commitment to football, and an AD who can make a good hire, football at Pitt will most likely be stuck in mediocrity for the foreseeable future.

      Finally, Anon 10/6 @ 9:36. That statement isn't an oxymoron. It may be contradictory in nature, but it's not an example of an oxymoron.

    4. Some coaches know how to coach, but don't know how to sustain it. There are lots of coaches on Chris' list that fall into that category. Other coaches know how to coach plus build a program that will last for years (VT). It depends on your patience and who you bring in as a QB. It's no accident that VT took off once they got Druckenmiller and Vick. Right now the fan base doesn't have the patience due to the years of bumbling. And we don't have the QB in place because of inexperience.

    5. Yeah... it's obvious the fan base doesn't have the patience.... look no further than not extending Walt Harris and the firing of Wanny. Both were successful (Walt more than Wanny) and both walked away. WTF does that say?

      Chryst is in a no-win situation... or actually a win-win for him. He knows the admin can't touch him for another 2 years and by then he'll be a rich man.

  8. I'd replace him with 7 or 8 of those guys. Are you high?

    1. I disagree ... I would take 9 or 10 of them over PC

  9. Great coaches and up and coming great coaches win quickly. Taking a 6-6 team and winning 2-3 more games is usually more about instilling discipline, figuring out what you have and then bending those players to your will to get the most out of them while incorporating your recruits.

    Really good coaches figure out how to win with talent that is there and make the sum of the parts better. When you really analyze the recruiting star rankings 80 teams or so are huddled within close proximity to each other talent-wise and the coaching is what separates those middle 80 teams. Yes, there are elite (only FSU in the ACC) that are clearly much better than the pack and horrible as well (Duke until recently) but everyone else will win or lose base off of all the facets of coaching.
    Look at Pitt in the old Big East....Easily a team that never got the most out of the players while Wanny was there because he wasn't a great coach....but he was good enough with better talent than the other teams, to get them to 9 wins averaged over final 3 years with the youngest team in the conference the year he was fired.
    If we want stability and 7-9 wins Chryst is it, he's not for me! pghfan1992.

    1. HCPC is not and will not be a 7 - 9 wins per year coach.

    2. I disagree .... he will be a 7-9 wins per year coach. He needs a little more time. Chris has 55 coaches that did it, but, as he said, many get fired and never make it. Is it a bad thing if it takes Chryst longer than the averages shown above? He needs, at least, 2 more years .. if he hasn't gotten to 8-9 by the time Boyd and Conner graduate (or end of 2016 season if they leave early), then I'd start to turn up the heat.

    3. My point is that a hi water mark in the next 6 years for Chryst would be 9 wins IMO if we waited that long. Not good enough to me but with his QB (whoever it may end up being), some more time, luck... he will get to 9 at some point. But more regularly 6-7-8 wins and .500 or so in conference. Is Pitt ok with that, sure hope not.

      If anyone needs to look at the poster-child for having talent and not getting anything from it look at Michigan...they have top 15 classes every year, literally, and recently lost to Rutgers and are just horrible. Brady Hoke sucks as a head coach but bring in even a competent coach there and they are 9-3 next year. Then there is Urban Meyer who tool what amounted to a .500 team (6-7) with Fickle in 2011 and went undefeated for 24 straight games. pghfan1992

  10. QB is the most important position on the field. With a good QB, Pitt would be 6-0 or at the very least 5-1. The recruiting of QB's is a legit complaint that nobody should be arguing with. The staff needs to go all out to get a couple of elite QB's and this thread would be a non-issue.

    1. AGREED ... unfortunately though, we don't have that QB playing, and, if Bertke or Hornibrook are not the answer, we need to get a Juco transfer or a top recruit asap or we won't hit my end of 2016 timeframe.

    2. But is it just that? Chryst had ample opportunity to evaluate Voytik in 3 years and to give him some time in packages last year to see what he has. Did Chryst do anything to gauge Voytik, no, he threw the ball 2 times last year. If Chryst had played him in certain packages the learning experience would have been lessened and Chryst could have determined whether to bring in a juco player this year...another Tom Savage. He bungled the entire situation, not to mention Chryst has had 3 years to work with Voytik.

      Then you look at what CV is good at and what we do with him. He seems good in roll-outs, throwing intermediate passes. Do we use our tight ends, our running backs in any way? Do we use screens beyond the line of scrimmage to utilize our run blocking and backs while eliminating TFL's? Do we do any options with James, Conner and Voytik....some of the offense that FL used with Tebow? No we do nothing to play to CV's strengths IMO and that is why this coach stinks. Chryst will do better when he gets his type of QB but he should be able to coach up and adapt to a kid like Voytik. pghfan1992

  11. Guys uall got to calm down yes they are not were we would like them to be . But that's what happens with youth . Let the season move on and play out then we will see we're there at.

  12. This season is reminding me of 2007. We could have won a few more games that year if we had a decent QB. Which incidentally was Wannstedt's third year. Wannstedt couldn't find a decent QB if you drew him a map. What's PC's excuse?

    1. They have not had a complete game and the only bad lose was Akron . You can say it's recruiting but he change the hole team of players and throw that first three year thing out they had three coaches in three years really!! It apples and oranges

    2. Not saying that at all. I agree. But we have to do better n recruiting QB's because their is no big time QB in the horizon for Pitt. I am a big PC supporter, but QB recruiting is legit criticism I can not deny. As far the overall recruiting is concerned, look who your very best players are on the team. They are true Sophmores and Freshman (Boyd, Conner, Blair, Blewitt). Most of the upper classmen have been missing in action so far this year or very inconsistent (Clemmings, Gonzalez, Pitts, Thomas, Rotheram). Vinopal is the only upper classmen that has played consistently. I'm not a negative nanny. We may not bring in a lot of elite players in, but we are bringing in some good ones. However,every recruiting class needs a few Jordan Whitehead's to add at the top.

  13. Fire Paul Chryst! Fire Him! He's No good.

    Neither were these guys obviously.

    1997 Pittsburgh 6–6 4–3 T–3rd L Liberty
    1998 Pittsburgh 2–9 0–7 8th
    1999 Pittsburgh 5–6 2–5 T–6th

    2000 Pittsburgh 7–5 4–3 T–3rd L
    2001 Pittsburgh 7–5 4–3 T–3rd W Tangerine
    2002 Pittsburgh 9–4 5–2 3rd W Insight 18 19
    2003 Pittsburgh 8–5 5–2 3rd L Continental Tire
    2004 Pittsburgh 8–4 4–2 T–1st L Fiesta†

    2005 Pittsburgh 5–6 4–3 T–3rd
    2006 Pittsburgh 6–6 2–5 6th
    2007 Pittsburgh 5–7 3–4 T–3rd

    2008 Pittsburgh 9–4 5–2 T–2nd L Sun
    2009 Pittsburgh 10–3 5–2 T–2nd W Meineke Car Care 15 15
    2010 Pittsburgh 7–5 5–2 T–1st BBVA CompassA

    4 years gentlemen. 4 years.

    1. There are very few people who want Chryst fired now. I think most people understand that it's best to wait it out another year.

  14. Anonymous 8:52 you said it well. The best part of this team is sophomores and freshmen

  15. On last week's broadcast it was mentioned that 75% of Pitt's roster is freshmen or sophomores. That being said, I saw it mentioned above that Pitt has only 3 QBs on roster. What wasn't mentioned was that one walked-on when Graham was still at the helm. Listen, I think Paul Chryst is a good guy and good football mind. He just isn't a head coach. His recruiting tendencies are lackadaisical. I can't stand the "come if you want" mentality. That worked 20-30 years ago, it doesn't work with today's group. Kids want to know they are wanted. Want to know they are the best.

    In order to successfully turn this program around, Pitt needs changes from top to bottom. A new, fresh philosophy on how athletics are run - new ideas. Pitt has absolutely no traditions on game-days. It's the same thing year after year. If this is how we as Pitt fans feel now, imagine what it's going to feel like when PSU embarrasses us next year. It's going to be very disheartening. IMO, Pitt needs to make a change after this year. There is enough talent on this roster for a quick turnaround.

    Finally, there is no reason Pitt can't be in the same conversation as teams like UNC, Northwestern, etc.

    1. Really they are unc and northwestern they are no better and getting better . Can't wait to go to unc game h2p

  16. This two sentence combo has to be the funniest I have read on panthersprey and one of the funniest things I have read anywhere

    " Pitt has absolutely no traditions on game-days. It's the same thing year after year."

    Aren't traditions the same things year after year?

  17. Really you have no clue where did you go to school at??