When plum coaching jobs at public universities pop up, you’d think they’d be filled faster than this, especially if they are at Michigan and Arkansas. Well, Rutgers’ Greg Schiano just added his name of the list of people to say no to Michigan (including Les Miles and Cincy’s Brian Kelly), and Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe decided against planting himself in Fayetteville — after being the third choice (Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville and Clemson’s Tommy Bowden were the first two names.)
There are the usual astute reasons why coaches will say no to prominent gigs like this, the largest of them being that the 85-scholarship limit has produced an equilibrium among programs now — Schiano can stay in his home state of New Jersey, keep coaching, and bring in good enough talent to try and run up a Big East-winning season down the line, and considering that the conference is still evolving, it’s a straighter path to a big BCS game than the Big 10 is, especially when dealing with the likes of Jim Tressel every year. Same goes for Grobe and his decision to stay in the ACC — family counts for something, but so does being able to grab 8-9 wins a year without too much pressure in a program you can call your own.
But there’s also the larger fan devotion involved at schools like Michigan and Arkansas — coaches will look at that sort of pressure and hand-wringing over the Michigan-OSU game as say, “Why do I need that anguish?” Someone, eventually, will step up in Ann Arbor, but it’s hard to replace a coach that had success at any point — and Lloyd Carr did win a national championship once upon a time before the Sweater Vest came to Columbus. Sometimes, good coaches don’t come in to replace good coaches.
As for Arkansas, Grobe said no, just like the Tommys — and after watching Houston Nutt get savaged by having his cell phone records subject to a Freedom of Information Act request and unheard-of levels of bitching from entitled and way-too-involved football parents, why even flirt with that job unless you’re trying to get an extension from your current school? Arkansas has the all-too-common affliction of many a Division I-A school: in a conference and division with LSU, Auburn, and Alabama, it believes its football program is better than it actually is.