Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is a Coaching change needed?

With the playoffs looking more and more out of reach I have been seeing several reports from both fans and the media calling for a coaching change this off season should, as is looking more and more likely, the team not make the playoffs. As exciting a change as it would be I find myself asking if it is the best decision. I know Jason Kreis, like John Ellinger before him, has made numerous mistakes that have cost the team crucial points. I severely question his decision making ability every time he puts Robbie Findley out on a wing or subs out Fabian Espindola. When the team starts flat like they did last week I also cant help but look at the coach for blame first. I have also noticed that,unlike Ellinger, Jason Kreis has improved in his ability to mix up his formations due to different situations in a game and his timing for substitutes has improved. The quality of players has gotten better for which I give credit to both Kreis and GM Garth Lagerway. With all these points swirling in my head I have a hard time coming to a conclusion about what would be a better option, keep coach Kreis one more year or start over and see what someone else can do with the talent he has helped amass.

One of the reason’s I struggle with this is because I have seen too many coaching changes made in other sports by local teams. Some of those changes happened at the right time for the right reason and others I have to wonder why they didn't happen sooner. One example I look to is the changes made by local college football teams. The University of Utah and Brigham Young University have both switched head coaches twice in the last 10 years.

The first change that comes to mind was Urban Meyer replacing Ron McBride at the University of Utah. Coach Ronny Mac is a man I still consider to be among the best that ever headed the football team up on the hill. He took a team that had been down for a few decades and made them respectable but he struggled to win the big games and take the team from middle of the pack to being a title contender. In return for his teams mediocrity he got canned and Urban Meyer took over for him. In my mind at the time I questioned the decision. In retrospect I can see how genius that move turned out to be. In two years Urban only lost 2 games and lead the Utes to their first BCS bowl game.

At the same time the Utes were trying to decide what to do with McBride BYU had a coaching change of its own. Lavell Edwards retired and his replacement was a man most Cougar fans would like to forget. Gary Crowton started his tenure with BYU as a promising coach and lead them to 12 wins his first season. Then things fell apart and after extending his contract he proceeded to flush the program down the toilet with bad recruit after bad recruit. His firing didn't come son enough and BYU fans lament their schools procrastination in showing him the door.

The third coach that comes to mind for me is current Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham. His start as head coach was a bit dubious considering where the program went the year before he took over. I heard many fans call for his job the first few seasons he coached and then year four he did something no one expected. He lead the Utes back to a BCS bowl and a number two finish in the rankings at seasons end. Had the program given up on him to early think what would have been lost.

While none of these examples relate 100% to what is going on at Rio Tinto they do give me some perspective. The problem is alone none of them can give a clear direction to take and the picture is even more muddled when you compare all three. What would have happened to the Ute’s football program if they had kept coach McBride? What about if they had fired Whittingham after one year? What if BYU had removed Crowton sooner, would they have been better off? The problem with what if’s is no one truly knows what the outcome would be which is why I cant decide an answer to the question. What do other people think? Should Kreis be given more time or is it time for the team to cut its losses and move on?