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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

A Look Back at the One-and-Done Coach

With the move official, let’s put Todd Graham’s second one-and-done stay into a historical perspective. Among the current 120-strong group, there are only two other head coaches with one such tenure, let alone two. This list doesn’t include those coaches currently in their first season at a specific program – coaches like Colorado’s Jon Embree, in the first year of a newly-minted contract. No active coach, other than Graham, has had two one-year stints.

Lane Kiffin spent the 2009 season at Tennessee, aggravated everyone in sight – outside of Knoxville, it should be added – and rejuvenated the program’s swagger despite finishing 7-6. That winter, Kiffin informed the university he was accepting the open position at U.S.C. during a minute-long press conference.

It felt a minute long, at least. At that moment, Knoxville hated Kiffin with the same passion as the rest of the SEC. Like Graham in 2007, when he left Rice for Tulsa, Kiffin took a step up in program prestige; unlike Graham’s move to Arizona State, Kiffin viewed his destination as his dream job.

The second is Hugh Freeze, who last week parlayed a 10-win season at Arkansas State into the rebuilding job at Mississippi. That’s a fairly clear promotion: Sun Belt to the SEC. The slight difference is that Freeze spent two seasons at Arkansas State altogether, having been the Red Wolves’ offensive coordinator in 2011. Kiffin and Graham – at both the latter’s stops – were newcomers during their lone season in town.

Not counting interim coaches – like Ohio State’s Luke Fickell, for example – there have been 43 one-and-done coaching stints among current F.B.S. programs since 1960, counting those who have joined the F.B.S. in the years since.

This list also doesn’t include coaches who were hired yet never coached a game, like George O’Leary at Notre Dame or Mike Price at Alabama. Listed chronologically:

Ching Do Kim, Hawaii 1961
Bum Phillips, UTEP 1962
James McDonald, Tennessee 1963
Hugh Devore, Notre Dame 1964
Clark Shaughnessy, Hawaii 1965
Jim Mackenzie, Oklahoma 1966
Lou Saban, Maryland 1966
Phil Sarboe, Hawaii 1966
Don King, Hawaii 1967
Perry Moss, Marshall 1968
Don Fouss, Middle Tennessee State 1969
Al Michaels, N.C. State 1971
Bill Peterson, Rice 1971
Dave Smith, Oklahoma State 1972
Jackie Sherrill, Washington State 1976
Warren Powers, Washington State 1977
Bob Kappas, Ohio 1978
Bill Parcells, Air Force 1978
Rod Dowhower, Stanford 1979
Lou Saban, Army 1979
Richard Bell, South Carolina 1982
Pat Dye, Wyoming 1980
Sam Weir, U.C.F. 1982
Sam Wyche, Indiana 1983
Lee Corso, Northern Illinois 1984
Dennis Erickson, Wyoming 1986
Jim Hilles, Wisconsin 1986
David McWilliams, Texas Tech 1986
George Henshaw, Tulsa 1987
Carl Torbush, Louisiana Tech 1987
Nick Saban, Toledo 1990
Ray Perkins, Arkansas State 1992
Ron Turner, San Jose State 1992
Jeff Horton, Nevada 1993
Joe Lee Dunn, Mississippi 1994
Howard Schnellenberger, Oklahoma 1995
Steve Mariucci, California 1996
Houston Nutt, Boise State 1997
Dennis Erickson, Idaho 2006
Todd Graham, Rice 2006
Lane Kiffin, Tennessee 2009
Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State 2011
Todd Graham, Pittsburgh 2011

There have been five one-and-done seasons since 2006, with Erickson’s second – joining Idaho in 1986 – and Graham’s pair joined by Freeze last week and Kiffin in 2009. Hawaii had a run from 1961-67: Kim, Shaughnessy, Sarboe and King. That makes the program as it currently stands look farsighted in comparison.

How about poor, poor Washington State? The Cougars hired Jackie Sherrill in 1976; after one season, Sherrill left Pullman for Pittsburgh. His replacement, Warren Powers, lasted only one season before leaving for Missouri. That puts any pain over Graham’s departure into some perspective, doesn’t it?

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  1. Rich says:

    The Corso cameo at NIU didn’t even last a full season. He took a USFL job several games in.

    Paul: Are you sure? I think he lasted the entire year (a pretty disappointing 4-6-1 finish) before taking the U.S.F.L. gig.

  2. Andrew says:

    I recall hearing about Dennis Erickson leaving Idaho a little over half way through the season too, but my memory could be fuzzy.

  3. schedule nit says:

    Why does Nick Saban’s listed 1 year tenure at Toledo not mean there are 3 active coaches with such a mark on their resume? Don’t tell me a Freudian slip has you spilling the beans about a big retirement secret!

    Is Lou Saban related?

  4. Burnt Orange says:

    As I recall,there is some talk of Sabans being distant relatives but they were certainly not close relatives.

  5. Bobak says:

    Ching Do Kim got my attention so I did some research and noticed that the Wikipedia coaching list for Hawaii skips 1961. A bit more research on the CFB Data Warehouse has Hawaii playing an all in-state (club? HS?) schedule and a bit more investigating revealed that, due to travel issues, Hawaii appeared to have officially dropped NCAA-level football in 1961 due to travel logistics/costs only to bring it back the following year after fan/alum pressure. I would have never known that but for reading your article. Still, does that mean Ching Do Kim counts?

    Paul: Success! And great research on your part. I included Kim only because I wanted to be uniform. Basically, I wanted to use every coach whose name popped up on each team’s year-by-year history, even if it involves a strange schedule, etc. Also included Oklahoma’s Jim Mackenzie for his season at Oklahoma in 1966, even though Mackenzie’s tenure with the Sooners only ended because he suffered a heart attack and died in the spring of 1967.

  6. schedule nit says:

    Kinda feel like you’re being a bit hard on Jim Mackenzie now.

  7. Paul says:

    Recollect that the Sabans are second or third cousins….. removed by a generation I think…

    I think there’s a lot of good “short stories” out of this list.

  8. Burnt Orange says:

    @Paul – in reviewing the list, the one which strikes me as most peculiar is Clark Shaughnessy at Hawaii. That guy, in terms of innovation, was the Mike Leach of his time first with the forward pass and then with the T formation. He made Tulane a power in the twenties, and took Stanford to the Rose Bowl among other accomplishments. Now how that guy, at age 73, after being out of coaching for years takes the Hawaii job in 1965 is bizarre.

  9. Steve M. says:

    Hugh Freeze was the offensive coordinator for Arkansas State in 2010, not 2011 as you wrote.
    Although that fact should be obvious to anyone, I just wanted to mention the error because it might confuse some people unfamiliar with the situation.

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