When CRN was named head coach back in 2008, he faced a unique situation upon assuming his duties. He fac
ed a situation that rarely confronts a new head coach. I think understanding what Rick walked into goes along way as to explaining where our program is and where it is heading.
When a new head is named one of two situations exists. Either the old coach retires or he is fired. Each of these situations presents a stream of events that plays out for the coach.
In most cases, when a coach retires, a successor is named from the assistant coaches to replace the retiring head coach. The program is usually left intact with the new coach retaining the old staff and leaving in place an infrastructure that maintains what the previous coach has built. Over time the new coach either doesn't change anything or slowly puts his imprint over the system.
An example of that was when Donahue took over when Dick Vermeil left to go to Philly. Donahue was a young assistant who knew the program, knew the school and left things as they were and built the program over twenty years. When it came time for his retirement, our AD looked around for a new coach from the outside and finally settled on Toledo, who was an assistant under Donahue.
Toledo knew the program and inherited a program that was in place for twenty years. Over time, Toledo but his stamp on the program and ultimately was blown out by newly appointed AD DG. When it was time to pick a new coach, DG decided to go outside of the UCLA program and picked CTS to head the program. Thus began our problems.
When a program decides to go outside of it's stable of coaches for a new head coach, two sources, maybe three open up provide a candidate. A current college coach can be named or a coach from the pros can be chosen. In some instances a retired coach is coaxed out retirement to lead the program. Usually that coach has led the program before and is walking back in, i.e. Bill Snyder at K-State.
Sometimes, a school goes outside the box and gets a JC coach or even a high school coach, like Notre Dame did with Davies. Most of the time this approach doesn't work.
When an experienced outside coach, either college or from the pro's arrives at a new school, he brings with him his team of coaches. Think Lame at SUC. He arrived with a DC, recruiter and himself. They hit the ground running. Most of the time a coach from the pros arrives with a core group of coaches already to go.
When CTS arrived in Westwood, he had no experience as a head coach nor was he familiar with the program he was about to take over. His only familiarity with the program was as a player not as a coach. Since he had been an asst. in the pros, he arrived with a few coaches but nobody had had experience in the college ranks. It was all new to CTS and staff. We all know how this story ends.
Enter CRC. Rick enters Westwood fresh from Baltimore, where he was the OC. He had been out of the college ranks for a few years. He arrives with out a staff and walks into a unique situation. A situation so unique that some of our current problems stem from it.
First, Rick walks in where the DC has been tauted for the head coaches job. Basically, CRN is asked, begged or coerced into keeping Walker because our recruiting class is going to walk if he doesn't keep Walker around. During the selection process, CNC's name is bantered about. A lot of speculation centeres around what a coup it would be to get CNC and rub it in the faces of the Trogans. Rick picks Norm as OC and we all cheer but what did we really get?
Rick had a few vacancies on his staff that he went outside of the program to fill but for all intent and purposes, he stuck with thecore group of CTS's staff. Over the last three years he's had the opportunity to name staff but has chosen to elevate from within.
I spoke of what a unique situation Rick walked into. I think of it as if UCLA was an expansion franchise not an intact football program. KD over his five year tenure basically blew up the program that Donahue built and Toledo inherited. Recruiting was spotty at best. Coaching staff sucked. Alumni relationships rocky. All of this befell CRN upn arriving in Westwood.
Like an expansion franchise, CRN'sfirst priority has been upgrading player personnel.He has built a solid system of recruiting and the dividends are beginning to pay off. He is building a solid infrastructure for our program to thrive in the future. Like most expansion franchises, his on field success hasn't been spectacular but he shows signs of improvement.
The one area that needs improvement is the coaching staff. When you are trying to rebuild and create a program, some areas are neglected or slighted in favor of top priority areas. CRChas had to make do with a collection of his own guys,mostly selected from the asst. hold overs from the previous regime. It's now time for Rick to assemble his own staff, one that reflects his philosophy and football style.
Look at the history of most expansion teams, some take a while to mature while others never do. John McKay while at Tampa Bay said "I had a five year plan..because I had only a five year contract". I hope that Rick is allowed the necessary time rebuilt and recreate our football program. He's on the right track but unfortunately, success is measured in the Wins column. Give him time and I think we will have a program we can all be proud of.