Many thanks for four great seasons. #BOB pic.twitter.com/2AbEOwAagF— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) January 21, 2014
Please think about how long James Franklin was at Vandy: four years, a span of time that is enough for most people to get sort of close to finishing college, and for Prince to record somewhere around eight hundred songs you will never hear due to thirty-year old copyright disputes. It is enough time for a child to go from slobbering dependent cuteness to fully articulate monster, and enough time to complete two masters' degrees. You can get a decent patch of asparagus going in that time, or build a few houses.
Unless you are a coach's wife, in which case four years is an eternity. Four years is enough time to put kids through middle school in the same school, and almost sort of maybe build some equity in a house. It's time enough to get to know people in your community, and have something like a normal life for a bit. Mike Leach said the best time for his family in coaching was the five years he spent at Valdosta, of all places, mostly because he got to live somewhere, and not just in an extended stay hotel. It was Valdosta, but it was five years of the same thing, in the same place, with the same people.
So behind all this are the families and the wives who have to move, and move again, and soon turn it into a habit so well-acquired that sitting in one place for too long feels like the new abnormal. That's the unwritten flip side of the coaching transfer season in college football: that every contract and negotiation implies another insta-house being put back on the market, and schools to be found, and rental vans to hire to move to another house that will likely grow into something like "home" just in time to be sold when stakes have to be pulled up for the next stop.
This isn't to imply some pity: they get paid to do this at the highest levels, unlike their players. But do save a moment for the thought that after every season, the architects and managers of America's greatest black market sport are shuffled by an invisible mad over-manager and scattered randomly across the United States, often to towns with more livestock than population.
This is a profoundly strange sport for a lot of reasons. One of them is that behind every coaching search and hire, there is a family who just rolls along with moving, firings, and hirings. We have no idea why you'd voluntarily be in a coaching family. The hours are insane, the pay up to a certain point is awful, and you never get to really call anywhere home. We'll also never condone nepotism in coaching, but that's certainly more understandable when you think about how few coaches even get the chance to say a proper goodbye like Herb did up there. Hiring a son or daughter might be the most time you ever spend with your family, and after thinking about it a bit we're sort of shocked no one's wife has ever been defensive coordinator.*
*There are numerous instances where this might have been a better alternative than the actual defensive coordinator. We bet Terry Saban can call and teach a passable Cover 2, for instance.