Two Years, Two Wins, Ianello is Fired
By Paul Myerberg // Nov 26, 2011
Akron has fired coach Rob Ianello after two years and as many wins, ending the program’s failed experiment with a coach who was hired without having any head coach or coordinator experience on the college level. Akron’s lone win under Ianello in 2010 came against Buffalo, by 22-14 in the season finale. The Zips’ sole victory in 2011 came against V.M.I., a member of the F.C.S. Prior to being hired, Ianello was the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator under Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. It was in the latter capacity, as a recruiter, that Ianello earned his stripes.
It didn’t work. It never really had a hope of working, as while Ianello did do a fairly strong job recruiting second-tier talent to the MAC, there was a fatal flaw in Akron’s plan: with only one full recruiting class under his belt, there was no way to truly judge what Ianello was due to achieve with the program.
But this is a bottom-line business. After two seasons, Akron had showed zero progress as a football team. The Zips opened this season with losses to Ohio State and Toledo by a combined score of 83-3. Only two losses, to Eastern and Western Michigan, came by single digits.
On Friday, Akron lost to Western Michigan by 68-19. It was just that ugly. A week ago, Akron lost to Buffalo by 51-10. That’s the damning loss on the schedule; as noted, Akron’s lone win in 2010 came over the Bulls. Buffalo itself is scuffling, but had enough in the tank to beat the Zips by 41 points.
The experiment – since that’s what it was, an experiment – was failed from the start. It was a failure waiting to happen on several levels: one, Ianello clearly wasn’t ready, as a coach on game days, for this sort of endeavor; two, we’ll never know if Ianello could have grown into a solid game day coach, seeing that Akron cut him loose after 24 games.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that regardless of any of Ianello’s coaching deficiencies, Akron clearly doesn’t know what it’s doing. Forget about the fact that the Zips, if Ianello is the sole figure to blame, hired a coach unprepared for the task at hand. Akron also fired Ianello over the phone as he was driving to his mother’s funeral, which is so lacking in decency as to be unbelievable.
Regardless of that unforgivable faux pas, one thing remains clear: a head coach on college football’s highest level needs to be a C.E.O.; he needs to have a big picture view, some sort of blueprint or schematic detailing how to build a winner under difficult circumstances.
Being merely a recruiter, promising that you will bring in better players than your opposition, is a band-aid. It’s not a chicken-or-egg argument: unproven coaches don’t win by recruiting but with game plans. It’s not the Jimmies and the Joes but the X’s and the O’s, regardless of what you’ve heard from Barry Switzer.
Woebegone non-B.C.S. conference programs, of which Akron is one, need to hire coaches, not recruiters. Ask Akron how hiring a coach without any leadership credentials turned out. Or ask Memphis. Or New Mexico. Or Minnesota. The list goes on.
If I’m Akron, I’m looking for the next Jerry Kill, an older, experienced coach with a track record of success and a proven system. I’m not touching the nation’s best recruiter with a 10-foot pole – unless he has play-calling or head coach experience. Arkansas State took a flier on Hugh Freeze, in a sense, but Freeze had coordinated the Red Wolves’ offense in 2010 and had head coach experience at Lambuth University, an N.A.I.A. school.
All Akron needs to do is convince this coach, one who might have options, that coaching under an administration that gave his predecessor 24 games and fired him while on his way to his mother’s funeral is a good move.
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Tags: Akron, Rob Ianello
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