Job security? Ha!
Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2008
Sam Mitchell, Toronto coach and the NBA’s Coach of the Year two seasons ago…gone.
Tommy Tuberville, the Auburn coach who is 45 games over .500, captained his team to a perfect season in 2004, and had dominated rival Alabama in recent years…out.
For Tubby, it’s because of one bad 5-7 season. For Mitchell, it’s seemingly because of 17 regular season NBA games.
Yep. The Raptors — who made the playoffs a year ago, mind you — fired him after 17 games and an 8-9 start.
8-9! With sports fanaticism at an all time high, so is impatience.
Tuberville technically stepped down, but the writing was on the wall for weeks: Auburn wanted out of their marriage. His crimes included having a losing season in the Southeastern Conference, perhaps largely due to his hiring of an offensive coordinator that simply didn’t fit. Auburn’s not a spread team — just take a look to Michigan to see how well that offense works if a team hasn’t had time to shape his team for it.
But his greatest sin was falling 36-0 to their nemesis, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Tubs beat those guys six straight times, but the Tide’s got the new shiny toy now in Nick Saban. And the Auburn boosters want one, want one, wannnnntttt oneeeeee!!! (I’m sure a lot of you parents are hearing a lot of that from the kids this holiday season.)
The Mitchell case is probably less well known than Tuberville’s, but I still raise an eyebrow to it. You generally see coaches get axed this early if they start 2-12, 3-13, or even 5-11.
But 8-9? .500 ball? In the playoff hunt, after making it a year earlier?
Sure, if Mitchell were overseeing over a stacked team like the Lakers or Celtics…then ok. Pull the trigger. But Toronto? A team that’s never been past Round 2? He’s not exactly running a power into the ground — Chris Bosh is fantastic and Jose Calderon is a solid point guard. Jermaine O’Neal has battled injuries — who woulda thought? — but that falls on the GM that traded for him.
Just living close to New Orleans, we hear it all. I’ve heard guys that want Sean Payton out (after a non-playoff year and a 6-6 record) and even Byron Scott (The Reigning NBA Coach of the Year???).
By these standards, Jeff Fisher would be long gone from the Titans. Tom Coughlin would never have defeated the Patriots and delivered a Super Bowl to New York with his Giants last season. Even if you win, after awhile it may be determined you’re not winning enough. Or by enough. Or something. See Tony Dungy in Tampa and, again, Schottenheimer.
It’s all instant gratification these days. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side though.
The only thing worse than not hiring the right guy for the job is learning that you FIRED the right guy for the job. The latest two instances seem like prime possibilities.