01 Feb

Why do college coaches “go pro”?

When the Penn State football coach recently left to take the Houston Texans professional jobs I saw some interesting stats. American football coaches in college average a 10 year tenure while pros only last 3 years. Why do college coaches insist on going pro when the money they make can be similar at top programs. And let’s face it the coaches of the top programs are the ones leaving o go pro. WHy would they leave the relative stability of college for the instability of the professional life.

In my opinion the jobs are similar. Yes, in college a coach should be working on graduating players and other concerns beyond the field. But all of the leadership books available, and common sense, say that a winning team is about creating something more than just what is on the field. Going pro doesn’t mean more time for the Xs and Os. Building a winning program still means developing teamwork and camaraderie off the field. If anything there are negatives to leaving college. Classes help fill time for athletes and keep them curious. Top programs will have better talent on the field for many of their matches, unlike at the professional level. If you have more talent on the field it certainly helps a coach look better.

Now several prominent women’s soccer coaches have decided to “go pro.” With the tenuous history of professional women’s leagues and the shortened tenures of professional coaches the question remains, why? Randy Waldrum of Notre Dame and BJ Snow of UCLA left for professional soccer in Houston and to coach the U17 US national team respectively. I realize that Notre Dame left the Big East and joined the ACC. That will certainly make it more difficult to win games. And UCLA won the national title immediately after Snow left so clearly they had the talent on campus.

Here is a link to an interesting article that discusses some reasons.