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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

July 12, 2009 at 4:25 PM

So how have first-year head coaches fared?

The last few times I’ve thrown the blog open for Q-and-A’s, I’ve gotten varying versions of questions wondering how first-year coaches have fared through the years in the Pac-10.
So in an attempt to answer all of your queries on that topic, I decided I’d first list every new coach in Pac-10 history (dating to 1978, when the conference expanded to 10 teams) followed by some analysis.
So here we go, with each school’s coaches listed by the year they took over, their record that first season, and in parantheses, the coach and record of the previous season:


ARIZONA
1980 Larry Smith 5-6 (took over for Tony Mason who went 6-5-1 his final season)
1987 Dick Tomey 4-4-3 (Smith, 9-3)
2001 John Mackovic 5-6 (Tomey, 5-6)
2004 Mike Stoops 3-8 (Mackovic, Mike Hankwitz 2-10)
ARIZONA STATE
1980 Daryl Rogers 7-4 (Frank Kush, Bob Owens 6-6)
1985 John Cooper 8-4 (Rogers 5-6)
1988 Larry Marmie 6-5 (Cooper 7-4-1
1992 Bruce Snyder 6-5 (Marmie 6-5)
2001 Dirk Koetter 4-7 (Cooper 6-6)
2007 Dennis Erickson 10-3 (Koetter 7-6)
CAL
1979 Roger Theder 6-5 (Mike White 7-4)
1982 Joe Kapp 7-4 (Theder 2-9)
1987 Bruce Snyder 3-6-2 (Kapp 2-9)
1992 Keith Gilbertson 4-7 (Snyder 10-2)
1996 Steve Mariucci 6-6 (Gilbertson 3-8)
1997 Tom Holmoe 3-8 (Mariucci 6-6)
2002 Jeff Tedford 7-5 (Holmoe 1-10)
OREGON
1995 Mike Bellotti 9-3 (Rich Brooks 9-4) And yep, Oregon has had just one coaching change in the Pac-10 era until this year
OREGON STATE
1980 Joe Avezzano 0-11 (Craig Fertig 1-10)
1985 Dave Kragthorpe 3-8 (Avezzano 2-9)
1991 Jerry Pettibone 1-10 (Kragthorpe 1-10)
1997 Mike Riley 3-8 (Pettibone 1-10)
1999 Dennis Erickson 7-4 (Riley 5-6)
2003 Mike Riley 8-5 (Erickson 8-5)
STANFORD
1979 Rod Dowhower 5-5-1 (Bill Walsh 8-4)
1980 Paul Wiggin 6-5 (Dowhower 5-5-1)
1984 Jack Elway 5-6 (Wiggin 1-10)
1989 Dennis Green 3-8 (Elway 3-6-2)
1992 Bill Walsh 10-3 (Green 8-4)
1995 Tyrone Willingham 7-4-1 (Walsh 3-7-1)
2002 Buddy Teevens 2-9 (Willingham 9-3)
2005 Walt Harris 5-6 (Teevens 4-7
2007 Jim Harbaugh 4-8 (Harris 1-10)
UCLA
1996 Bob Toledo 5-6 (Terry Donahue 7-5)
2003 Karl Dorrell 6-7 (Toledo 8-5)
2008 Rick Neuheisel 4-8 (Dorrell 7-6)
USC
1983 Ted Tollner 4-6-1 (John Robinson 8-3)
1987 Larry Smith 8-4 (Tollner 7-5)
1993 John Robinson 8-5 (Smith 6-5-1)
1999 Paul Hackett 6-6 (Robinson 8-5)
2001 Pete Carroll 6-6 (Hackett 5-7)
WASHINGTON
1993 Jim Lambright 7-4 (Don James 9-3)
1999 Rick Neuheisel 7-5 (Lambright 6-6)
2003 Keith Gilbertson 6-6 (Neuheisel 7-6)
2005 Tyrone Willingham 2-9 (Gilbertson 1-10)
WASHINGTON STATE
1978 Jim Walden 3-7-1 (Warren Powers 6-5)
1987 Dennis Erickson 3-7-1 (Walden 3-7-1)
1989 Mike Price 6-5 (Erickson 9-3)
2003 Bill Doba 10-3 (Price 10-3)
2008 Paul Wulff 2-10 (Doba 5-7)
TOP FIVE TURNAROUNDS
Of that group, the top five turnarounds are:
Tedford 2002, plus-5.5
Kapp 1982, plus-5
Elway 1984, plus-4
Willingham 1995, plus-3.5
Erickson 2007, plus-3
Looking at the list above, the biggest lesson to be learned is that first-year success is not necessarily a sign of long-term coaching greatness. Kapp and Elway were each fired by those schools within five years (Kapp’s 82 season was kind of a fluke that included the miracle kickoff return win against Stanford), and I doubt few UW fans want to give Willingham another chance at rebuilding a program.
Erickson is known as a quick rebuilder, though at WSU and Oregon State he had his most success in year two.
Tedford’s 2002 season at Cal is obviously the greatest turnaround, and the one UW fans can cling to for hope of a massive rebound this season. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are probably as many similarities in UW’s current state to Cal’s in 2002 as there are to all kinds of other teams on this list that needed a few years to finally get turned around. I’ve pointed out before that two big differences are that the Cal team in 2002 played an easier schedule and had a more experienced team (including a senior QB in Kyle Boller) than UW will have this season. That’s not trying to pour cold water on optimism, just trying to be realistic.
One reason for running the entire list of new coaches was to point out the percentages for a turnaround — the reality is that it usually takes at least a couple of years, even for great ones like Carroll or Erickson (at WSU in his second season he went from 3-7-1 to 9-3)

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