Some Rambling Thoughts About Coaching Changes and High Expectations

Coaching changes are designed to bring fresh blood into a struggling team and fan base, a chance to recharge the batteries, if you will. Most of the time they do work and you see sky rocketing season ticket sales and, in the case of college athletics, a swell in the donor base. Obviously this leads to high expectations among the fan base, which can get super awkward when the poor talent that was on said team continues to play like poor talent.
This will lead to extreme disappointment with in the fan base that thought things were going to be different. Well guess what, the talent that the last coach failed to win with is pretty much the same talent that you will see on the squad that the new coach inherited. Rarely is it that the talent there was underperforming under the old coach; most often it is poor talent that couldn’t win games and keep the old coach’s job. Although we’ve seen a three teams that seemed to be underperforming under their old coaches take off in the early going this season; again that is far from the norm.
These Two Gentlemen Are in for a Rough Ride
More often than not you see what is happening up here in the Palouse this football season.  The new coach comes in and initially struggles to install his system and mentality in to the squad. And as a result the team struggles to win. It usually takes an embarrassing lost for a team to completely buy in to the new coaching staff. And for WSU that loss came on Saturday September 22nd, 2012; they allowed the Colorado Buffaloes to hang in the game for too long and as a result they got boat raced in the final quarter and earned the Loss.

After struggling to score after the third quarter the team blew its 17 point lead. The defense absolutely fell apart when it mattered most as Kentucky transfer Jordan Webb destroyed the secondary. They completely fell apart and now they are 2-2 (0-1 in Pac-12 play).  It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cougs respond to the Buffs returning the favor. After the Cougs burned the Buffs last year in the final five and a half minutes, the Buffs pretty much collapsed.
It’s pretty hard for a squad with a new coaching staff to respond to a heart-breaking, last-minute loss. After giving up 15 points in the last five and a half minutes last season, the Buffs collapsed. They went 2 -8, beating-up on the hapless Wildcats and upsetting the Utes.  They allowed over 40 points six times after that loss to the Cougs, including allowing 52 points to the Huskies. Do you guys want to know the really scary part of that? Last season was Jon Embree’s first season as the Head Coach for the Buffs.
Granted Embree’s pedigree spent ten years working as an Assistant Coach at his alma mater Colorado, then he spent three years at UCLA, and followed that up with three years at Kansas City; all of these times he was an assistant coach. He has earned the right to a head coaching job. I just don’t know if he should have jumped right into being a head coach at the Division 1 level.
Leach’s pedigree is more impressive after than Jon Embree. Leach and Humme floated around for years in Divisions Two and Three before breaking into Division One at Kentucky. Eventually they worked their way over to Oklahoma. After a year as a Sooner, Leach was hired as the Head Coach at Texas Tech; after ten years, and ten bowl games, he was fired for doing something he never actually did[1].
Both of these coaches faced expectations of bowl games this year. And after the starts that both of these squads have undergone this year, those expectations look like a lot of smoke. That being said Leach has a history of winning at schools that don’t typically recruit well. As for Jon Embree, he was a fantastic assistant coach, but no one knows what he is capable of as head coach at a struggling institution.
The bottom line is this; it looks like another year of development for both schools. And that is a frustrating and disappointing pill to swallow for their down-trodden fan bases.


[1] Read Swing Your Sword By Mike Leach for all of the emails between Texas Tech officials, James Craig, and Spaeth Communications
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