This morning’s scouring of the wire (and e-mail) brings us a piece of news that carries with it three separate thoughts worth exploring.
The news is Army’s decision to dismiss Stan Brock after two seasons at West Point.
This might not have drawn much attention here, except for the fact I got a really good look at the Black Knights on Saturday when they played Navy. The look was not pretty in the slightest.
So there have been some ideas swirling around for the better part of a week, though it didn’t seem worth exploring. After all, there would be some slow day in the summer to expound upon a program that’s won four games just once in the last 11 seasons.
Well, now it’s worth exploring.
Point No. 1: It is never, ever, ever a good sign when it is easy for a writer to simply list the teams a coach has defeated in a single paragraph.
But after two years, it was still quite possible to do that with Brock, as Rivals.com’s Tom Dienhart did in his fourth paragraph this morning:
Brock’s victories came against Rhode Island, Temple and Tulane in 2007, and Tulane, Eastern Michigan and Louisiana Tech this season.
Yeah, that’s not good at all.
Point No. 2: Army is clearly extremely impatient at this stage.
Here is the full list of coaches whose tenures ended after two seasons or less since 2005:
* 2005: Nick Holt, Idaho (Took Southern Cal defensive coordinator gig)
* 2006: Dennis Erickson, Idaho (Took Arizona State job); Terry Hoeppner, Indiana (died of a brain tumor); Todd Graham, Rice (Took Tulsa job); Walt Harris, Stanford (fired).
* 2007: None
So Brock lands in Walt Harris territory. That’s not a good thing on a number of levels, since it’s hard to find people who will say Harris did a solid job in two years at Stanford.
More than anything, however, the decision is an indication West Point is fed up with seeing its season end with blowout losses to Navy. Which leads me to …
Point No. 3: Brock violated the first commandment of college coaching.
Well, maybe it’s the third or fourth commandment. But ignoring the axiom “Thou shalt not get obliterated in a rivalry game” is a sure-fire way to become unemployed.
Let’s look at some of the coaches who were cashiered or “resigned” in the last month or so that came as a mild surprise. This would exclude obvious candidates like Greg Robinson.
* Ron Prince, Kansas State: Lost 52-21 at Kansas on Nov. 1; four days later, he announced his resignation at season’s end
* Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State: Lost 45-0 at Ole Miss on Nov. 28; 24 hours later, he resigned.
* Stan Brock, Army: Drilled 34-0 by Navy in Philly on Dec. 6; five days later, he was pink-slipped.
The Black Knights, of course, lost that game 38-3 last year.
The question is, can Army find someone to reverse that trend? If not, it risks becoming even more irrelevant in the college football landscape than it already is after a dozen straight losing seasons, seven consecutive losses to Navy and a forgettable football-only alliance with Conference USA.
Wins are scant, patience is thin and and the average margin of defeat against Navy over the last seven years is 29 points. This is not a program in good shape, and whoever gets hired won’t turn things around overnight – or in two years.
That’s how much time Brock had (though, to be fair to Army, Brock was hired after Bobby Ross retired in January 2007; that’s not the most conventional spot on the calendar to make a hire). His successor will need more, or else this cycle is near-certain to resurface.