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THE 4-8 REPORT LOOKS AT COACHING TENURES

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YEP, STILL DOING THIS THING

This week in this incredibly loose premise haphazardly built around the numbers four and eight, I’d like to take a look at a certain echelon of current FBS coaches - that is, coaches who’ve completed between four and eight seasons at their current schools.

It’s an achievement to last more than four seasons anywhere, but it’s also where you reach put-up-or-shut-up time. You’ve had a chance to install a full team of your recruits, your program is fully in place. If you make it past eight years, you’re an institution.

We could call it the Urban Meyer Zone: if you get Urban for four years, you’ll get a national title. No one has gotten eight years.

There are 14 current coaches who have this kind of tenure — let’s review their results.

David Shaw, Stanford (8 seasons, .759)

Harry How | Getty Images
  • Bowl games: 8 total (5-3)
  • Major bowl games: 3 Rose Bowls (2-1), 1 Fiesta Bowl (0-1)
  • Top 25 finishes: Six, peaking at #3
  • Conference titles: 3 Pac-12 (2012, 2013, 2015)
  • Rivalry record: 8-0 vs. California, 6-4 vs. USC, 5-3 vs. Notre Dame

Are they on the hot seat? Absolutely not. Shaw’s continued the success of his predecessor (we’ll get to him later) for a remarkably solid, long run at a school that’s no easy feat to win at. Four major bowl games in eight years is a record that’ll keep you employed anywhere.

Mike Leach, Washington State (7 seasons, .551)

  • Bowl games: 5 total (2-3)
  • Major bowl games: None
  • Top 25 finishes: One, #10 in 2018
  • Conference titles: None
  • Rivalry record: 1-6 vs. Washington

Are they on the hot seat? The numbers above don’t tell the whole story, especially considering that by far his strongest season in Pullman was this most recent one, a campaign that saw the Cougars flirt with playoff contention and finally bring College GameDay to town. Washington State is a difficult job that will reward a special personality, and Leach fits the bill perfectly.

Steve Addazio, Boston College (6 seasons, .510)

  • Bowl games: 5 total (1-3-1)
  • Major bowl games: None
  • Top 25 finishes: None
  • Conference titles: None
  • Rivalry record: 2-4 vs. Syracuse

Are they on the hot seat? No. Addazio’s not threatening to win anything big, but five exactly-seven-win seasons in six years is enough to keep going. Also:

Gus Malzahn, Auburn (6 seasons, .663)

  • Bowl games: 6 total (2-4)
  • Major bowl games: 1 BCS NCG (0-1), 1 Sugar (0-1), 1 Peach (0-1)
  • Top 25 finishes: 4, peaking at #2 in 2013
  • Conference titles: 1 (2013)
  • Rivalry record: 2-4 vs. Alabama, 2-5 vs. Georgia

Are they on the hot seat? Yes. Eternally. He could make it seventeen seasons at Auburn or be fired by the time this is published.

Dave Doeren, NC State (6 seasons, .571)

  • Bowl games: 5 total (3-2)
  • Major bowl games: None
  • Top 25 finishes: #23 in 2017
  • Conference titles: None
  • Rivalry record: 4-2 vs. UNC, 3-3 vs. Wake Forest, 0-6 vs. Clemson

Are they on the hot seat? No. Five straight winning seasons, with the two best being the two most recent.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky (6 seasons, .480)

  • Bowl games: 3 total (1-2)
  • Major bowl games: None
  • Top 25 finishes: #12 in 2018
  • Conference titles: None
  • Rivalry record: 2-4 vs. Louisville, 1-5 vs. Florida

Are they on the hot seat? Definitely not. Credit Kentucky for being patient and realizing how long a rebuild would take in Lexington; it took four seasons before Stoops had a winning campaign, and in the sixth season, they’re still improving. They may not challenge Georgia in the SEC East this year, but they’re no pushover anymore.

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (5 seasons, .387)

  • Bowl games: 2 total (0-2)
  • Major bowl games: None
  • Top 25 finishes: None
  • Conference titles: None
  • Rivalry record: 3-2 vs. Tennessee

Are they on the hot seat?

What’s the bar for success at Vanderbilt? James Franklin raised expectations, but can anyone else be asked to match that at one of the most unforgiving jobs in the country? He probably won’t last too much longer at this rate, but wins over Tennessee can be enough to keep going in Nashville.

Chris Petersen, Washington (5 seasons, .691)

  • Bowl games: 5 total (1-4)
  • Major bowl games: 1 Peach/Playoff Semifinal (0-1), 1 Fiesta (0-1), 1 Rose (0-1)
  • Top 25 finishes: 3, peaking at #4 in 2016
  • Conference titles: 2 (2016, 2018)
  • Rivalry record: 5-0 vs. Washington State, 2-3 vs. Oregon

Are they on the hot seat? Nope. Petersen jumped from his stellar run at Boise State to continued success in Seattle without a hiccup. Three New Year’s Six Bowls in the last three years for a school that hadn’t made one since 2000 before he showed up will keep him going for a long time; the only question is if the team can jump to legitimate title contender or just remain content with dominating the relatively-mediocre Pac-12.

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest (5 seasons, .444)

  • Bowl games: 3 total (3-0)
  • Major bowl games: None
  • Top 25 finishes: None
  • Conference titles: None
  • Rivalry record: 2-3 vs. NC State

Are they on the hot seat? Dave Clawson is living my personal professional dream of being no more than adequate doing something no one really cares about but that pays well.

James Franklin, Penn State (5 seasons, .682)

  • Bowl games: 5 total (2-3)
  • Major bowl games: 1 Rose (0-1), 1 Fiesta (1-0)
  • Top 25 finishes: 3, peaking at #7 in 2016
  • Conference titles: 1 (2016)
  • Rivalry record: 1-4 vs. Michigan State, 2-1 vs. Pittsburgh, 1-4 vs. Ohio State

Are they on the hot seat? The only knock on Franklin’s tenure is the record in rivalry games, but honestly, we’re a couple plays against Ohio State away from him having arguably the best resume on this list. With the Buckeyes in transition, it wouldn’t be any sort of surprise to see the Nittany Lions in Indianapolis again this year.

Clay Helton, USC (4 seasons, .646)

  • Bowl games: 3 total (1-2)
  • Major bowl games: 1 Rose (1-0), 1 Cotton (0-1)
  • Top 25 finishes: 2, peaking at #5 in 2016
  • Conference titles: 1 (2017)
  • Rivalry record: 1-3 vs. Notre Dame, 3-1 vs. UCLA, 2-3 vs. Stanford

Are they on the hot seat? I’m not going to lie: Helton’s resume is better than I remembered off the top of my head; that’s probably because the expectations are so high at USC that “pretty good” seems like a failure. Anyone Trojans coach is one bad season away from getting the axe, and his current list of accomplishments wouldn’t be enough to counteract that.

Paul Chryst, Wisconsin (4 seasons, .778)

  • Bowl games: 4 total (4-0)
  • Major bowl games: 1 Cotton (1-0), 1 Orange (1-0)
  • Top 25 finishes: 3, peaking at #6 in 2017
  • Conference titles: none
  • Rivalry record: 3-1 vs. Minnesota, 3-1 vs. Iowa

Are they on the hot seat? Only if Barry Alvarez decides he wants to coach again.

Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh (4 seasons, .538)

  • Bowl games: 3 total (0-3)
  • Major bowl games: None
  • Top 25 finishes: None
  • Conference titles: None
  • Rivalry record: 1-2 vs. Penn State

Are they on the hot seat? I suppose that depends on if Pitt’s administration thinks that they can hire someone who’ll do better. What’s the bar for success for the Panthers? ACC championship game appearances, or .500 records? Get a coach who can give you both.

So, there you have it. Of all the current FBS coaches who’ve been at their current jobs for between four and eight years, you’ve got a handful of unquestioned successes (Shaw, Petersen, Franklin, Chryst), some solid performers (Stoops, Doeren, Leach), a few guys who might be on the hot seat at high-expectations jobs (Helton, Malzahn), a couple at places where the bar is pretty low (Clawson, Mason) - but honestly, no real disappointments, no one whose performance is so terribly out of line with fans’ visions for their programs, no-

[record scratch]

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan (4 seasons, .731)

  • Bowl games: 4 total (1-3)
  • Major bowl games: 1 Orange (0-1), 1 Peach (0-1)
  • Top 25 finishes: 3, peaking at #10 in 2016
  • Conference titles: lol no
  • Rivalry record: 0-1 vs. Notre Dame, 2-2 vs. Michigan State, 0-4 vs. Ohio State

Are they on the hot seat? Oh man if you didn’t know any better you’d think I wrote this entire 1,400-word analysis just to point out that since returning to Ann Arbor to messianic praise in 2014, Harbaugh’s gone 2-7 against his three top rivals with no playoff appearances, no conference titles, no conference championship game appearances, no major bowl wins...

But I wouldn’t do that.

note: an earlier version of this post incorrectly listed Jim Harbaugh’s record against Notre Dame as 0-2, rather than 0-1. We regret the error. We at EDSBS would be ashamed if we accidentally suggested Jim Harbaugh’s record in rivalry games was worse than it is, which is 2-7.