Monday, October 26, 2015

Grading the Coaching Moves

The 'Coaching Carousel', as I have dubbed it, has been in full swing this offseason. Twenty-eight Division 1 programs have seen their program's leadership change. Some due to administration's determination of a need for a changing of the guard, while others saw their captains leave for more lucrative positions and salaries. Still others decided to call it quits after lengthy careers.

Twenty-six of the available positions have been filled, leaving only Fairleigh Dickinson and Jackson State without full-time head coaches at this point. FDU did name assistant coach Ashley Powell as the interim head coach, but have failed to promote her or otherwise fill the position on a permanent basis. Requests for information on the status of each school's search went unreturned.

Together with Justin's World coaching expert Lee Dobbins, we put our heads together and came out with what we feel is a fair determination and grading of each and every hire. The new coaches were rated on a traditional A - F scale. Desiring a more fluid approach, we did away with pluses and minuses.

The key that we abided by in assigning our grades:
A = Great hire.
B = Good hire.
C = Average hire.
D = Mediocre hire.
F = Bad hire.

Julie Wright
Maryland/Big Ten
Wright is a good coach and did well at Idaho State with three straight Big Sky championships. She earned a move to a Power Five program and should do well at Maryland from day one.
Kenny Gajewski
Oklahoma State/Big 12
He has a baseball background and helped the Florida Gators to back-to-back national championships. He has shown great promise in a short tenure as a softball coach and could help return OSU to quick competitiveness in the offense-minded Big 12.
Rick Fremin
Southeastern Louisiana/Southland
Fremin was successful at Jackson State, and did a good job with a mid-level team. He should turn around SELA to winning ways. Southland Conf. can be competitive.
Sarah Willis
Bowling Green/Mid-American (MAC)
I (Justin) have seen Willis coach first-hand, and while the programs she has been a part of have not been stellar, she is a solid coach that I like in this spot. Could have done a better job in filling out her staff.
Marissa Young
Young comes from the Carol Hutchins coaching tree, usually a positive mark from the very beginning. She has roughly two years to build up every part of the program, from a stadium to recruitment, and could be a seasoned head coach before she ever takes the field for a game. Also, I love the built-in addition to the rivalry as the Blue Devils add a Tar Heel as head coach.
Courtney Oliver
East Carolina/American
Oliver is young and inexperienced outside of being a PC, but has coached in good programs and ECU is a good place to begin a head coaching career. The American conference is open behind UCF and the Pirates should do better with consistency at the HC spot.
Geoff Harai
Harai was not hugely impressive at Oregon State as an assistant coach, but has good experience and has paid his dues and earned his shot. A coaching stop at Washington on his resume earns a mark in his favor.
Julie Farlow
Cornell/Ivy League
The move on from longtime HC Dick Blood to Farlow will give the program some strong continuity, as she has been an assistant since 2002. If nothing else, she figures to be able to keep the status-quo going, which is good enough to win a good number of ball games each year.
Aileen Morales
Radford/Big South
Solid but unspectacular at her first head coaching job  at the Division 2 level, this was the very definition of a mid-level, average hire.
Shane Showalter
Austin Peay/Ohio Valley
Already on staff at APU, Showalter is an experienced head coach, a good ‘get’ for the school. However, he has had little success as a head coach and did not help with much success in his  three years as an assistant at Austin Peay.
Megan Bartlett
Ball State/Mid-American (MAC)
Bartlett has shown flashes of talent in brief coaching stints thus-far; that said, she does not have a lot of consistency at any coaching stop and the Cardinals can’t go much higher after postseason appearance in ’15; there will likely be growing pains.
Courtnay Foster
Bucknell/Patriot League
While former HC Bonnie Skrenta was an OK coach accustomed to a solid number of wins each season; coming from the Northwestern coaching tree, Foster should be effective if not spectacular. I expect a short learning curve and a small downgrade for a team used to league championship games by now, but a swift return to Patriot League competitiveness each year.
Tyra Perry
Illinois/Big Ten
Perry’s star has apparently been one of the brightest in recent history, as she’s had an almost-meteoric rise up the coaching ladder. Moving from a Sun Belt to a MAC to a Big Ten team in the span of three years is just a little too meteoric in my mind. I would have liked to have seen another year or two of consistent winning at Ball State before she got a Power Five job.
Sami Strinz
Loyola Marymount/WCC
Fresh blood as the heir apparent after the longtime head man was forced out, but a radical change is unlikely.
Shannon Salsburg
The school did well to hire a veteran coach on short notice after Louie Berndt’s medical retirement, but Salsburg did little at Bowling Green.
Mike Bosch
Reports of restrictions placed on the program by higher administration do not get Bosch’s tenure off to a golden start. That said, he has the opportunity to continue the success of former head coach Leigh Ross.
Carl Taylor
Drexel/Colonial Athletic
While it’s not likely that the program will leave the conference cellar anytime soon, Taylor has experience including a D3 national title. Based on recent experience, however, it is just an average hire.
Courtney Scott Deifel
This is a mediocre hire that will not make the Hogs a factor in the SEC; has just one year of head coaching experience.
Ashley Waters
Boston/Patriot League
In her first head-coaching gig, Waters takes over a sub-par-in-recent-history Terriers team, and I see no signs or likeliness of that status changing. She spent three seasons as an assistant at Harvard, during which time the team went 73-58 with no NCAA appearances since 2012, before she got to the school. She filled out her BU staff w/ folks with Harvard ties – while familiarity is good, her staff hires are unimpactful.
Kathryn Gleason
Northern Kentucky/Horizon League
While the Norse did get someone with experience as a head coach in Gleason, her career record is very middle-of-the-road and, with a conference change that needs to be adapted to, I don’t foresee a whole lot of change in the squad’s cellar-dweller status in the near future.
John Seneca
Delaware/Colonial Athletic
The UD program is still reeling from the allegations leveled at former HC Jaime Wohlbach and her swift departure in the middle of last season; Seneca has an underimpressive resume, including only five years of experience at the college level and all of that at UD. There is nothing that gives the immediate feel that it will turn UD around to winning ways.
Candi Letts
Idaho State/Big Sky
Letts compiled a .492 winning percentage in three seasons at Fairleigh Dickinson, following seven seasons at Ole Miss from 1998-2005, during which she compiled a 153-246 overall record, including a 53-153 clip inside the SEC. Just when Idaho State was starting to peak with success, this was a momentum-stopping hire.
Mike Coutts
Maine/America East
Replacing his wife at the head coaching position after she moved into senior administration, what changed?
Bridget Hurlman
Rhode Island/Atlantic 10
With an unimpressive coaching resume as well as underwhelming assistant coaching hires, there are seemingly few positives in this hire.
Angie Churchill
To replace a twenty-year monarch in Glen Payne, the school went out and got a coach who went 14-32 at a Division 2 school in the 2015 season.


  1. Apparently all you need is a face to coach softball. Most of these guys couldn't coach a little league team let alone the universities they got jobs at.

  2. I know some of these people and I think it is unfair to grade them before they get a chance to set foot on the field