NCAA – 2014 CoachRank – How Do New Faces Fare?

Forty-six schools made coaching changes between 2008 and 2010.  Of those schools, thirty-seven were replacing coaches who had been in their post for three or more seasons.  But how many of those schools made a change for the better in terms of results on the pitch?  Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit of a murky picture in the eyes of the CoachRank system.

Note: This data used the unadjusted data, not weighting conference difficulty, a variable that creates problems when comparing coaches across a broad expanse of time.

CoachRank Difference In Coaches Hired Between 2009-2011 and Their Predecessors

244.59% – Clemson (2.55 – Eddie Radwanski – 0.74 – Hershey Strosberg)
229.63% – Nicholls State (5.34 – Dylan Harrison – 1.62 – Cindy Piper)
217.60% – Montana (31.76 – Mark Plakorus – 10.00 – Neil Segwick)
184.97% – Arkansas State (16.30 – Tafadzwa Ziyenge – 5.72 – Derek Pittman)
160.23% – Vermont (9.03 – Kristi Lefebvre – 3.47 – Kwame Lloyd)
87.67% – Winthrop (38.21 – Spencer Smith – 20.36 – Melissa Heinz)
68.09% – Tennessee-Martin (48.51 – Phil McNamara – 28.86 – Craig Roberts)
63.32% – Virginia Tech (40.29 – Chugger Adair – 24.67 – Kelly Cagle)
55.66% – Saint Mary’s (CA) (3.30 – Kai Edwards – 2.12 – Kelly Lindsey)
52.73% – Youngstown State (3.91 – Will Lemke – 2.56 – Anthony James)
48.99% – Kentucky (30.98 – Jon Lipsitz – 18.79 – Warren Lipka)
45.30% – Howard (20.85 – Brent Leiba – 14.35 – Erinn Garner)
37.53% – Morehead State (40.49 – Warren Lipka – 29.44 Erin Aubry)
34.46% – High Point (44.05 – Marty Beall – 32.76 – Michelle Rayner)
29.98% – East Tennessee State (25.10 – Adam Sayers – 19.31 – Heather Henson)
22.36% – Air Force (1.97 – Larry Friend – 1.61 – Marty Buckley)
7.04% – Lehigh (21.46 – Eric Lambinus – 20.00 – Manny Oudin)
5.80% – Northeastern (28.80 – Tracey Leone – 27.22 Ed Matz)

-9.69% – Indiana State (14.26 – Erika True – 15.79 – Vernon Croft)
-10.02% – Rice (24.70 – Nicky Adams – 27.45 – Chris Huston)
-26.08% – Ole Miss (19.56 – Matt Mott – 26.46 – Steve Holeman)
-32.82% – Fresno State (30.80 – Brian Zwaschka – 45.85 – Steve Springthorpe)
-33.10% – College of Charleston (19.87 – Christian Michner – 29.70 – Kevin Dempsey)
-35.35% – Holy Cross (2.67 – Darren Gallagher – 4.13 – Deb Cox)
-35.43% – Belmont (19.96 – Heather Henson – 30.91 – Lisa Howe)
-42.78% – Hawaii (13.37 – Michele Nagamine – 23.37 – Pinsoom Tenzing)
-49.69% – Xavier (4.01 – Woody Sherwood – 7.97 – Alvin Alexander)
-49.82% – Georgia (23.62 – Steve Holeman – 39.29 – Patrick Baker)
-51.30% – Charlotte (28.21 – John Cullen – 57.93 – Jon Lipsitz)
-64.25% – Manhattan (5.02 – Brendan Lawler – 14.04 – Sean Driscoll)
-70.61% – Rhode Island (4.60 – Michael Needham – 15.65 – Zac Shaw)
-71.16% – Loyola (Ill.) (14.15 – Barry Bimbi – 49.07 – Frank Mateus)
-73.26% – Gonzaga (4.33 – Amy Edwards – 16.19 – Shannon Stiles)
-77.37% – Vanderbilt (3.11 – Derek Greene – 13.74 – Ronnie Woodard)
-82.42% – UAB (4.78 – Harold Warren – 27.19 – Paul Harbin)
-85.72% – Western Carolina (5.71 – Chad Miller – 39.99 – Tammy DeCesare)
-86.75% – UNC Asheville (3.40 – Michelle Demko – 25.66 – Michele Cornish)

NA – Appalachian State (15.61 – Sarah Strickland – NA – Hallie Briggs)
NA – Ball State (18.31 – Craig Roberts – NA – Michael Lovett)
NA – Coastal Carolina (19.48 – Paul Hogan – NA – Tammy DeCesare)
NA – Marist (50.30 – Katherine Lyn – NA – Steve Davis)
NA – Nevada (6.18 – Melissa Price – NA – Jaime Frias)
NA – Northern Iowa (5.33 – James Price – NA – Jen Plante)
NA – South Dakota (2.80 – Mandy Green – NA – Marcia Oliveira)
NA – UMass (21.66 – Ed Matz – NA – Angela Napoli)
NA – UMKC (23.82 – Chris Cissell – NA – Anita Rodriguez)

Did Your School Make A Good Decision With Their New Hire?  Flip A Coin.

48.6%.  That’s the percentage of schools with measurable CoachRank scores who saw those CoachRank scores go up after changing coaches between 2009 and 2011.  In short, it’s been close to 50/50.

Teams At Rock Bottom Usually Don’t Stay There

OK, some might argue that the improvement seen by some of the clubs listed below is a product of being so damn bad, they couldn’t possibly be worse.  In particular, how are you supposed to not get better than Hershey Strosberg’s 0.74 CoachRank rated tenure at Clemson.  It’s such then that we should take some of the big gains at the top of the chart with a little bit of salt.  At the very least though, it’s a good sign that clubs in pretty deep holes aren’t digging themselves any deeper.  There were ten schools who had made changes with old coaches having 10.00 CoachRank scores or lower, with eight of those schools seeing an improvement in their scores.  Note for a little skepticism?  Only Mark Plakorus at Montana and Tafadzwa Ziyenge at Arkansas State got their programs even in double digits.  Of course, program building’s a difficult art and one usually grounded in long-term solutions.

At the other end of the spectrum, replacing an underachieving coach isn’t a guarantee for improvement.  Holy Cross and Xavier both had coaches with under 10.00 CoachRank scores leave.  Both programs, historically bad, have seen results only worsen despite the change at the top. 

Mark Plakorus’ Work At Montana Might Be Really Underrated

Well, the first two seasons anyway.  While Grizzly fans will likely be hoping that 2013’s down season was a one-off, even factoring that in, Plakorus essentially jumped close to a hundred places in the rankings as compared to predecessor Neil Segwick.  Unlike some of the coaches around him in this chart, Plakorus was taking over a team that had just been bad as opposed to monstrously awful.  He’s proceeded to propel his CoachRank number into the Top 80 after just three seasons and has the sixth highest number of anyone on this chart.  If 2014’s more like 2011 and 2012, Montana may find it hard to hold onto their successful boss.

No Instant Stars

As noted above, it’s not easy to build a serious contender as a new face in charge.  Nobody who took a job between 2009 and 2011 cracked the Top 25 of the adjusted CoachRank standings, though Chugger Adair of Virginia Tech at #32 and Phil McNamara at Tennessee-Martin #33 came closest.  With high profile openings at UCLA, Notre Dame, and USC having come up in recent seasons though, it’ll be interesting to measure if coaches with an outlay of big time talent at a big school can buck the trend and be immediately in the frame for a top CoachRank spot.

Big Schools

So, is there any big difference between the performance of big schools who changed their coaches and little schools who did likewise?  Not particularly according to the data.  Considering the top eight conferences, four programs (Clemson, Virginia Tech, Saint Mary’s (CA) and Kentucky) saw increases in CoachRank, while five (Ole Miss, Xavier, Georgia, Gonzaga and Vanderbilt) saw decreases.

Replacing A Great Coach Is Hard

Duh, right?  Though it should be noted that the differences here were pretty stark.  Only one program that replaced a coach who had a CoachRank rating above 30.00 points, High Point, saw an improvement in their CoachRank numbers for the new boss.  The other six (Fresno State, Belmont, Georgia, Charlotte, Loyola (Ill.), and Western Carolina) saw decreases.  With a 30.00 rating corresponding to roughly being in the Top 90, that’s a pretty jarring difference.  Obviously, this is just one snapshot of the data at a certain point of time, but it’s an interesting measure of just how hard it is to instantly overcome a big loss at the top.

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