When college and professional coaches are hired, they understand the business of coaching. They are hired and judged on their win-loss record, championships, and development of talent, and at the college level graduation rate. When the losses mount, no matter the level of competition, there is no tolerance for mediocrity.
When a head coach is on the hot seat for whatever reason (overall record, issues with ownership, lack of institutional control, lack of respect by the team), it effects his assistant coaches and the complete organization from the equipment room to his administrative assistant. Everyone is on edge to win and succeed, now!
As a losing season continues on a downward slide, the pressures of coming to work on a daily basis grows harder and harder with every Sunday passing without a win. The building slowly loses its luster, bright light, energy, fresh air and becomes lifeless like Tutankhamun tomb.
I’ve seen people that work in marketing, sales and other areas not to mention the college scouts who are disconnected from the organization and do most of their business outside of the building, fall into a funk and light depression, because of all the negativity they hear on a daily basis from college coaches, folks in the community and their peers. People start to ignore you, and avoid you like you have the plague.
Assistant coaches are affected because of the close connection with the head coach, and their jobs are to coach the talent. They do a great job of allowing the losses to bounce off them and take a one-game-at-a-time mentality, working hard preparing their troops for the upcoming Sunday. Coaching is like driving a car; they steer directly into the windshield to where they are heading, never glance into the rearview mirror, but they are human and feel the effects from the top down.
While the NFL’s Black Monday brings torture to head coaches, with their careers hanging in limbo waiting to know their fate, it brings horror to the families involved. Wives are strongly affected because they directly feel their husband’s highs and lows and the pain and frustrations they go through on a daily, weekly and monthly basis if winning is absent. Coaching has a fairly high divorce rate because of the pressures from the outside, time on the job and pop-corning from job to job and city to city.
But those affected the most are the children within the families. Once their fathers are fired, dismissed from their duties, terminated or contracts not renewed, they too feel the pressure and the disturbance of the family unit. It means relocating to a new city, a new home, a new school and most important, depending on their age, new friends.
The old trickledown theory is in effect, and touches everyone. The days of longevity in tenure are over. Years ago coaches could work for an organization for 15 or 20-plus years, fighting through a few losing seasons. Today, it’s win now or you’re out, and most of the tenures are within a two-to-four-year window. I keep hearing people say, “He is our long-term player.” There is no such thing; coaches must get it right, win now or somebody else will be coaching them.
I remember when I was hired into the NFL in 1995 with the Carolina Panthers. Two years later we were playing in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. Around the league, several coaches, personnel directors and scouts were fired, because the other NFL owners figured if an expansion team could do it in two seasons, their own team must be doing a lot wrong, and very little right.