NCAA – 2017 CoachRank – Lessons From The Recently Departed

Managers Departing After 2016

74.14 – Graham Winkworth – South Alabama
52.44 – Lang Wedemeyer – South Dakota State
45.41 – Mike Tucker – Dayton
43.54 – Margaret Saurin – Oakland
43.06 – Caitlin Cucchiella – Albany
40.69 – Brent Anderson – Utah Valley
36.75 – Jon Lipsitz – Kentucky
28.27 – Ada Greenwood – San Diego
27.57 – Katherine Lyn – Marist
26.32 – Jason Hamilton – Troy
25.10 – Laura Schott – Portland State
18.69 – Kevin Boyd – Arizona State
18.61 – Thomas Chestnutt – Florida International
17.33 – Mike Minielli – Wagner
12.27 – Don Klosterman – Nebraska-Omaha
11.57 – Joel Bancroft – UMass-Lowell
10.83 – Scott Grzenda – Delaware
10.57 – Frank Davies – Alabama A&M
8.37 – Michael Needham – Rhode Island
7.06 – T.O. Totty – Grambling
6.02 – Sonia Curvelo – Cleveland State
5.48 – Greg Ashton – Davidson
5.28 – Becky Hogan – Southern Utah
4.89 – Shanna Caldwell – Texas A&M-Corpus-Christi
4.58 – Amy Edwards – Gonzaga
4.16 – Fran Kulas – Villanova
3.91 – Lindsay Basalyga – Bowling Green
3.85 – Harold Warren – UAB
3.81 – Patrick Farmer – Cornell
2.73 – Woody Sherwood – Xavier
2.08 – Chris Pfau – Houston
1.85 – Matt Kellogg – North Dakota
1.84 – Aaron Gordon – Mississippi State
0.19 – Tony Tommasi – Chicago State

NR – Jamie Hutchison – Arkansas-Pine Bluff
NR – Samuel Nwaneri – Alcorn State
NR – Eric Golz – Illinois State
NR – Nate Norman – Liberty
NR – Scott McClellan – Long Island
NR – Chris Logan – Northern Iowa
NR – Matt Muia – Southeastern Louisiana*

* = Took over at mid-season

Changes Upon Changes

Simply put, it was a bloodbath this offseason, with a whopping forty-three changes in leadership, or just under thirteen percent of DI teams made a switch this offseason. Beleaguered Xavier even had to make two changes when their first hire Kacey White was plucked away by U.S. Soccer deep in the offseason. While there was a big wave of change this offseason, most of that change happened in mid-majors or second tier conferences like the WCC or Big East, with just three “Power Five” schools making a change. Whether these trends are a blip on the radar or a signal of decreasing patience remains to be seen, but it may cause some to look over their shoulder a little more heading into 2017.

Arizona State Goes Big

Had Graham Winkworth stayed at South Alabama, he would have ranked #7 in this year’s CoachRank, ahead of some very big names in the DI coaching ranks. But it was pretty clear that he had taken the Jags as far as they could probably go in the current landscape of women’s college soccer. The former USA boss was always likely to be linked with most major jobs that came open in the offseason, but the move to Arizona State to try and breathe life into a stale Sun Devils program is certainly an intriguing one. Winkworth will be working with a lot more in terms of resources but also with much greater expectation at a much higher level for a program that probably expects to be a consistent NCAA Tournament participant. Winkworth brought All-American full-back Jemma Purfield with him to Tempe, but he’ll also know that a glittering record at lower levels doesn’t automatically equal success, as former Illinois State and current Purdue boss Drew Roff can attest to.

Liberty Wins Again

What is it with Liberty and highly touted mid-major coaches? A year ago, the Flames were able to pry Nate Norman away from Western Michigan after he had done wonders with the Broncos in a short time there, with Norman seemingly making a backwards or lateral move to the Big South side. When Norman left for an assistant position at Notre Dame this offseason, the Flames seemingly had another big set of shoes to fill. They seem to have done so spectacularly, taking away Lang Wedemeyer from South Dakota State, with their new boss a Top 25 coach according to this year’s CoachRank. Wedemeyer likely would have been in consideration for many a major conference job had he decided to cast his glance that way, but as is, Liberty has again punched above their weight and filled a coaching vacancy with a great hire.

Exit Talented Female Coaches

Much has been made of the stagnant numbers of women coaching DI women’s soccer in recent years, and the situation really hasn’t gotten better this offseason. In terms of quantity, despite the number of changes, the number of women patrolling the touchline at this level next year has still decreased by three. In terms of quality, there are big losses here as well, as two of the up and coming female coaches at mid-major level stepped down in the offseason, with Margaret Saurin leaving Oakland (though she took an assistant position at Dayton) and Caitlin Cucchiella departing Albany. Add in the loss of above average female coaches like Katherine Lyn at Marist and Laura Schott at Portland State, and there are real signs of worry. None of the three open positions at “Power Five” conference schools making changes went to women, with the likely highest profile hire of a female coming at San Diego, who tabbed UCLA’s Louise Lieberman as their new boss.

When The Second Chair Is Better Than The First

Assistant posts at major conference schools can sometimes be more attractive than being the top guy/gal at a smaller school, and that was evident this offseason with a handful of moves. The biggest examples may be Utah Valley’s Brent Anderson heading to Provo for the assistant job at BYU, while other talented mid-major coaches to make similar moves include Jason Hamilton of Troy heading out to Mississippi State, while the aforementioned Norman hopped back to Notre Dame. Power conference assistant jobs could even prove to be an escape route for embattled coaches such as ex-Rhode Island boss Michael Needham moving to Ohio State or a way back for coaches just dismissed from power conference jobs such as ex-Kentucky coach Jon Lipsitz, now an assistant at Cal.

Victims of Themselves Raising The Bar

(Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Jon Lipsitz is my podcast partner. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this article and was not privy to the contents of this article before publication.)

Two of the more surprising sackings this offseason came at Kentucky and San Diego. At the former, Jon Lipsitz had turned the Wildcats from an afterthought in the SEC to a generally reliable and competitive team that was capable of winning a few games in the NCAA Tournament thanks in part to some of the league’s strongest recruiting. At San Diego, Ada Greenwood had done the seemingly impossible and broken the duopoly between Portland and Santa Clara at the top of the league while even getting USD amazingly close to the Elite Eight in 2011. Both raised the bar at their respective schools, and both paid the price for a downturn in form. Kentucky struggled to recapture winning form the past two seasons, while San Diego had seemingly lost touch with the new powerhouses of the WCC like BYU and Pepperdine and old standards like Santa Clara. Both were still roughly in the middle of their conferences’ pecking orders based on CoachRank numbers over the past five years, but their respective bosses saw a need for change which could be a big gamble for both considering the track records of the departed.

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