Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Proverbial "Wet Blanket" on Coaching Change??

So we had a little fun yesterday, beginning a series of potential coaching replacements for Bill Doba. But guess what? Today's a new day, and Sterk told the Spokesman that it isn't such a slam-dunk that Doba will be replaced. Sterk talked about a variety of issues, and to me at least, it seems like a bunch of contradictions. Let's break it down:

"Now is not the time to make a decision for something like that," Sterk said in a recent interview. "I've always (felt) you sit down at the end of the season and see where we are. There's a lot of football to be played yet."

Ok, fair enough. I don't think anyone gains anything right now with letting Doba go at midseason. The season is already a mess, but why sink it even more by removing the coach? We've been advocating a weeks now, but I've never believed doing it now would do any good.

"We've been through the toughest part," of the schedule Sterk said, noting this year's schedule is almost a flip of last season's. "We have more home games than away games coming up. Who's to say whether we are going to win or lose each of those … they are winnable games over the next five.

"So how the team responds, how they play, who knows, but I expect them to be competitive and to come roaring back after this break."

Ok, so, it's at least mathematically possible that the Cougar offense can suddenly turn it around, and that the offense can start scoring 30+ a game, and that the special teams will suddenly be average. Likely? No. Possible? Yes. It's also possible the sun won't rise tomorrow. But I'd bet the mortgage payment that it will.

For his part, Doba, 67 and in his 19th year in Pullman, isn't worried.

"I'm getting great support (overall), and great support from Jim Sterk," Doba said.

Doba's getting great support? How is that? Maybe the golf outing donors or the ones that he sees face-to-face at dinners, etc, are just fine with the guy. Look, nobody has ever argued against Doba the human being. Everyone loves him, inside and outside Pullman. So of course it's going to appear that he's getting support. WE LIKE BILL. But it's not working as our head coach.

But Sterk won't give Doba a public vote of confidence.

"That's why I'm not going to make a statement like that, because those can be the death knell," Sterk said with a laugh. "I've seen it too many times."

Ok, now we're talking. No WAY could Sterk give him a public vote of confidence right now, because it would be a flat-out lie if he said Doba is totally safe.

"I was just at Pac-10 meetings, and (USC athletic director) Mike Garrett, who can be pretty critical of things, he said he loves Bill Doba," Sterk said. "(Doba) gets the most out of his kids that he's ever seen with any coach. And Mike knows football. He thinks we have a great staff. He just hates to come up here and play because he knows they may have the superior talent, but our coaching staff will prepare (our players) pretty well and they know how to coach.

"People in the business, football coaches, A.D.s, they know we have a pretty good staff."

This is the BIGGEST JOKE in the whole article. Mike Garrett likes Bill Doba? WELL DUH. Why wouldn't he like Bill Doba? Doba's the nicest guy in the Pac-10, and his team isn't good. Who wouldn't like to play WSU right now? Kick their asses, and then shake hands and hug and joke and talk about where to go have dinner afterwards, or go have a drink or whatever. Every program in the Pac-10 LOVES BILL DOBA for that very reason - great guy, and you can kick the crap out of his team in the process.

"At that time our weight room was probably one of the top five in the country," Doba said of the end of the Mike Price era. "I know Jason Gesser for one, because I walked him in there, he walked in and said, 'Man, I've got to lift weights here.' That sold him and sold several kids.

"Now that weight room is probably one of the top five in the Pac-10."

Let me get this straight - Bill Doba is saying that the WEIGHT ROOM is the reason we went 30-8 over a 3-year span? A weight room?? Hey Bill, if it's all about facilities, wouldn't Oregon be winning 10 games every year? I know Oregon is hot-n-sexy right now, but did you know that they haven't won a bowl game since 2001? And that they've lost at least 5 games in 4 of the last 5 seasons? What a cop-out, blaming what he considers a mediocre weight room on a sinking program.

Then Doba says this: "Our facilities are very adequate," Doba said. "They are good enough to win, they are good enough to train kids, they are good enough for everything. But they aren't flashy, they aren't new."

Please. You can't have it both ways. First he blames the success on a great weight room and alludes to the sinking program because it's not flashy anymore. But he also then says the facilities are good enough to win?? WELL IF THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN, then you and your staff must be the problem!

Finally, money (and at the end of the day, isn't it always about money??):

Sterk also admitted money plays a factor in every decision about coaches. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't," Sterk said. It would cost WSU around $2.8 million to make a change at the end of the season, according to staff contracts examined for this story. The nine WSU assistant position coaches have contracts that run through the 2008 season with total guaranteed money of more than $1 million. Doba, who received a five-year contract when he was hired in 2003, had his contract extended through the 2009 season two years ago. If he is let go at the end of this season, he is due in the neighborhood of $1.8 million. There would also be an additional cost of bringing in a new staff. The going rate for a head coach and staff is at least $3 million a season. Doba is 10th among Pac-10 coaches in salary and is the only conference coach who doesn't make a million dollars in base salary and other compensation.

Yikes. That's a lot of dough to oust old Dobes and staff. A LOT of dough that quite frankly, the football program doesn't have lying around in big piles. One wonders if Sterk isn't trying to soften the blow of keeping Doba around with this next part:

Beyond the won-loss mark, Sterk notes some broader achievements for the football team.
"Some things people don't see," Sterk said. "I think we are second (in the Pac-10) to Stanford in our exhaustive graduation rate over a 10-year period and Bill's been a big part of that. (Grade-point average) is the highest ever with our student athletes in football.
"So those are things that people don't see that you think there is a solid base (the football program) is on, it's just the wins and losses that you see on Saturday, there's more exposure to that." There are other variables Sterk said he would take into account, including some personal ones. "(You have to consider) the 40 individuals that are impacted along with our 120 student athletes," he said. "You are talking 10 coaches along with their families and all that, it adds up really quick. It's not something you take very lightly." "In the end," he said, "when you make a decision, you try to balance fact and fiction. Fact is, there are a lot of things with Bill and the staff that have gone very well. Bill was Pac-10 coach of the year his first year and it's not like Bill (is a) different (person)."

Interesting how Sterk points to graduation rates, but fails to mention the 50% attrition rate of recruits signed to letters-of-intent since 2004. Do the kids that flunk out of school count in determing the grades? I doubt it.

So, what do you think? You hate to read too much into an article. Sterk didn't say it's slam dunk that Doba will be retained, but he also didn't say it's s slam dunk he'll be fired or retire either. I guess overall, he pretty much said what he needs to say right now - that Doba and staff will be fully evaluated at the end of the year, that there is still some support for Doba out there, and if we have these dreams of firing him and turning things over to a brand new staff, we might have to realize how hard - and expensive - that proposition may ultimately turn out. But I also believe that this move is paramount to the future of the program. Sterk has another round of renovations to sell, and I truly question how many will reach for their check books if Sterk announces that Doba and staff will get another chance in 2008. Ask yourself this - would YOU happily donate your hard-earned money in this down-turning economy for status quo??? Neither would I.


Anonymous said...

RELAX. He's out after the season is all I take from this. What do you expect, "that old man is done!" No way.

Sedihawk said...

Hmm, I don't know now. A week ago I was convinced he was gone, and even thought that Brinkhater could be right and that Doba might even step down immediately, but the article is somewhat sobering to the reality of our financial situation. It does feel like Sterk is softening the blow somewhat if he does choose to keep him around. He is in fund-raising mode, and every penny he can scrounge together is going towards that stadium renovation. The last thing he probably wants to do is pay off a coaching staff, plus hire a new one.

But, what about the old adage of you have to spend money to make money? If you threw a good chunk of change to get rid of this staff and brought in some new, high-caliber blood, wouldn't that help the cause of fund-raising? I know I WOULD reach for my check book if Sterk can get the heart racing over a strong coaching hire, and we approach it as fans and alums that this thing is going to be built, brick by brick.

But, I still think the change is more likely than not to happen, and I think there will be some sort of agreement with Doba so we don't have to pay the full remaining due. Something (or someone?) tells me we'll see a settlement.

And, I don't know about the $3 million number it will take for a whole new staff. If you could get Gregory for 500K and load it with incentives, that's still 2.5 mil to hire 9 assistants. Figure 200K on average for each assistant, which is actually on the high side, that still puts you at 1.8 million. Add the 1.8 to Gregory's 500K and you have around 2.3 million, not the "at least 3 million" that is mentioned in Vince's story.

But I think that does also underscore that if we do speculate on who will be the new head coach, we should probably focus on rising assistants that haven't had a head job yet (Gregory, Michalczik, Chip Kelly, etc), or, a coach with a soiled reputation looking to re-establish himself. Not saying this guy is a candidate we should even consider, but a guy "LIKE" Neuheisel, coming off a tough situation, might be the only way to get an established guy. I was thinking along the lines of a Dirk Koetter, who was ran out of town by the sleazy Lisa Love, but who knows.

It's pretty clear now though, that trying to make a splashy hire via an established coach is pretty much out of the question given our finances.

longball said...

Koetter is program poisen, that guys is a huge jerk.

On the damaged goods discount front, how bout Franchione at A&M? He is on his way out with a bit of unsavory scandal, but nothing i wouldn't forgive in for in an instant if we beat the Ducks and Dawgs.

longball said...

I also don't think we can get away with paying our coach 500K. I think 7-800K base at least. We are in a big boy coference, whether we can afford it or not, and we need to pay big boy rates.

longball said...

I thought not having a COug game today would be a relief, but somehow i miss the old Cougar Football Saturday butterflies in the stomach, that quickly turn foolish optimism after beer number 3. Anyone know if Mini McBoob's game is on TV today?

Sedihawk said...

I don't know that Koetter is such a terrible guy. Some have said that he's gotten a bad rap, but, who knows. He had a public feud with Lisa Love, who is a sleaze herself. Her and Dennis are a perfect match. But he might not even want the job anyway.

I agree that this is "big boy" football. We are in a BCS conference and all that. But we are also at the bottom in terms of pure finances, and so we have to find a bargain. It's a cold shower of reality. That's why it's pretty dim with the idea of attracting a top-shelf established head coach for anything more than 500K.

Thing is, unless some majorly influential (rich) donors step from out of the darkness and give until it hurts, we have a real dilemma. Money is going to likely win out in all this. And so, the question will be, do we try and stick with a 3-win coaching staff for one more year, and then let Doba go next year when the cost will be far less painful? All those assistants contracts expire after next season, and that will open up a lot of money for the next staff. Furthermore, does Sterk risk donor attrition if he chooses to bring back Doba and company?

I know a lot of people who were fed up after last year's fade and were right on the edge of not renewing their tickets, but if the rest of the season plays out like we think it will, and recruiting continues to suck? And Sterk says "status quo"? He might see the rats abandon ship faster than he could ever imagine. Then he's stuck with not only zero momentum behind the next phase of renovations, but he's also got an apathetic, dwindling season ticket holder base, which is a nightmare. I guess when you weigh all the angles, it looks like a much tougher question than it should be.

Anonymous said...

Our biggest problem is that it appears that recruits believe that Doba is gone. Sterk is about to bury this program unless he fires Doba. We are not the Yankees. You can have unresolved job situations pending throughout the year. Sterk needs to announce Doba is back or that he is done. Waiting until the end of the year will just hurt our program under either choice.

Anonymous said...

As good as it sounds, I don't think we can commit to him or fire him right now. Firing a coach in the middle of the year could be a disaster. Who knows how the players would react? How about the assistants? How would they handle things down the stretch? And what happens to any semblance of recruiting? While we don't see the public commitments, there is definitely some work that's been done at this point, and I'm sure that we'll be hearing soon of some commitments. If you blow it all out of the water right now, then it could do far more damage than good.

The only way to do it now is if you have the replacement sitting to your right, and in the same breath of saying "Doba's out" you turn and introduce the new guy, now. And we know that can't and won't happen in midseason! Even Nebraska, where everyone and their dog knows Callahan is out after the year, won't replace him until after the season. The bottom line is, as much as change is wanted, we just can't do it right now, even if we could afford to do it.......which, well, we can't.

Think about Sterk's quotes of affecting the lives and families of the coaches, stressing the financial situation, and going out of his way to say how much Doba's respected and all the good that goes on behind the scenes. If you want to get rid of someone, I don't think you go to that extent or detail. The only tiny negative morsel is that Sterk won't give him the vote of confidence, but the rest out of Sterk is 99% positive about Doba. Aren't all those quotes about Doba translated into a full vote of confidence??