There are two good articles out there today on college football, one in the Washington Post and the other in the WSJ. Both point to stability as a key to success.

In the WaPo article, a study is cited looking at success and failure after a coaching change. The study found:

A few years ago, Colorado political science professor Scott Adler tried to measure the success, or lack thereof, of athletic directors who change football coaches in the hopes of landing a winner.

For his 2012 study entitled “Pushing ‘Reset: The Conditional Effects of Coaching Replacements on College Football Performance,” Adler collected data from more than 100 teams in college football’s top division between 1997 and 2010. For teams that changed coaches, Adler looked at the first five years under the new coach, and compared their records to similar teams that did not change coaches.

Adler’s conclusion: Changing coaches has minimal, if any, impact on team success. Among the worst teams, Adler found, those that changed coaches won about the same amount over five years as those that didn’t. For mediocre teams, those that changed coaches actually fared worse.

This makes sense: there are many factors that contribute to a successful venture, and the head coach is just one factor, although it is the one fans most focus on.

The second article, in the WSJ, says hiring from within is usually the best. In fact:

The Count looked back at all coaching hires by Power 5 schools and Notre Dame from 2005-11 to determine which hirings were most successful. Of the 70 coaches hired at major programs during that time, only 44% remained on the job for five years or longer and just 24% are still at the same school today.

. . . hiring a college assistant from another program produced more disappointment than success. The 12 assistants who landed head coaching jobs during that period combined for a win percentage of just .438 during that span. By contrast, assistants promoted from within posted a combined .632 win percentage . . . Existing head coaches from the college ranks have combined for an unspectacular .561 win percentage . . .

The lesson, it seems, is to hire a good coach; keep him; and provide the “other factors” needed for success. If not, then the game of paying former coaches to vacation has to be the most destructive force in college athletics: Maryland is paying Randy Edsall $2.6 million not to coach. That money could have been spent improving training or on fan experience at the stadium. A great athletic director avoids the quick fix.