Time to put athletic directors and presidents on the hot seat

It is a tradition to put football coaches on the hot seat. Writers from the AP and television personalities rank the coaches who are most likely to get fired. There is even a website devoted to the concept—Coaches Hot Seat.

Sometimes the problem isn’t with the coach. Sometimes the problem sits in the athletic director’s office or even the president’s office.

Everyone knows the mess at Ole Miss. It might be nice to blame Houston Nutt, but the troubles predate his arrival and if Pete Boone continues at the school then the troubles will linger for many years. How can anyone have confidence in his administration? The guy hired Ed Orgeron—the biggest joke in the history of the conference. Orgeron makes former Alabama coach Mike Dubose and former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin look like great hires.

According to the AP’s Ralph D. Russo, another coach on the hot seat is Boston College’s Frank Spaziani. Spaziani is in his third season with a 17-16 record. The problem at BC is how athletic director Gene DeFilippo treated the Eagles last head coach Jeff Jagodzinski. DeFilippo fired Jagodzinski for interviewing with the New York Jets. (Source) Jagodzinski posted an 11-3 record and a 9-5 record at Boston College. Very strong performances in the ACC and both seasons he won the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

However, DeFilippo acted like a tyrant.

He refused to a let a subordinate explore a great possibility for career advancement. Let’s be honest here, Boston College is not Notre Dame or Alabama or Oklahoma. To insist a bright coach should forgo the chance at an NFL interview borders on delusional. At worst, the coaches get the job, leaves, and BC gains in prestige; another outcome was that the coach does not get the job and returns next season.

Instead, DeFilippo injured Boston College. Why should the present coach be on the hot seat and not the athletic director who caused the present malaise?

Another coach on the hot seat is UAB’s Neil Callaway. Yes, UAB has a football team. The school began its football program to spite the University of Alabama. The football program has lingered on Birmingham’s Southside despite little fan interest.

It shouldn’t be Callaway on the hot seat.

UAB should be on the hot seat. Or, more specifically, UAB president Carol Garrison should be on the hot seat.

The moribund football program is representative of a major problem at the school—a lack of leadership. Leadership made UAB what it is today. The good leadership of men like Joseph Volker created a dynamic urban university. Bad leadership during the 1990s brought about the money pit known as UAB football.

UAB has put many great players on the field. UAB could have a successful football program if the school were not playing major college football. A great comparison is with the successful Samford University football team. Samford knows what it is, and is comfortable fielding a great product without the demands of big budgets in major college football.

Just like the City of Birmingham, UAB’s football team is an example of failed promises. Birmingham’s founders promised to build something special and the metropolis of their vision never lived up to the promises. UAB’s football team promised to build something to compete with Alabama and Auburn. Of course, the football team was launched with similar smoke: “The corporate and civic community urged us and made a financial commitment,” former UAB athletic director Gene Bartow said in 1994. “It seemed to be a good move for us.” (Source: The Dallas Morning News – Monday, September 26, 1994)

It wasn’t a good move for UAB or Birmingham.

UAB’s leaders should be held accountable. The problem is not just a football coach.