‘Tis the season to be firing.
We started this week with the dismissal of Rob Ryan which was surprising only because it didn’t happen before the Saints boarded their plane for the flight back from Washington.
Then on Wednesday the Houston Rockets dismissed Hall of Famer Kevin McHale just 11 games following a season when his team reached the Western Conference finals.
On the same day comes the news, broken by my highly-esteemed colleague Scott Rabalais, that Les Miles is coaching for his job on Saturday at Ole Miss and next week against Texas A&M.
You can pretty much say the same thing about Curtis Johnson, who needs victories, or at least good showings Saturday against SMU and next week against Tulsa to impress Tulane’s new athletic director, whose hiring is expected in the first week in December.
And we don’t know what the Sean Payton’s job status will be as the rest of the Saints season plays out.
It goes with the territory. Coaches are hired to be fired.
Going into his final season at LSU, Gerry DiNardo compared his situation to his favorite line from the movies, Hyman Roth in Godfather II declaring, “This is the business we’ve chosen.”
The funny thing is, the local coach with the most security right now is the one with the worst record.
The Pelicans may be 1-11 but Alvin Gentry isn’t going anywhere.
When you have 13 of 14 players returning from the final roster of last season, but have nights like Wednesday in Oklahoma City when six of them, representing 63 percent of the scoring from that returning group out due to either injury or illness, you can hardly blame the coach.
At least not yet.
But it’s worth remembering that Gentry has his job because the Pelicans dismissed Monty Williams after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
So nobody’s ever 100 percent secure.
However, it appears that the grace period coaches are getting is growing shorter.
The season isn’t over yet and there have been 11 FBS coaches either fired or announcing their retirement along with two changes in the NFL plus McHale’s.
Lots more to come.
Blame it on the impatience of the internet age.
Social media is unrelenting and overwhelming negative. Perhaps its influence is overrated. But neither can it be ignored.
The creation of the College Football Playoffs has doubled the expectation level at schools with the capabilities of making the final four, especially ones like LSU which have been there before.
Former Tigers Athletic Director Skip Bertman talks about “championship malaise,” the notion that once you’ve tasted the title, nothing else will ever again satisfy your fan base.
And for Miles, who also can never shake the notion that he’s been more lucky than good, the level of dissatisfaction never goes away.
His recruiting classes are always rated among the best in the country. There are more ex-LSU players in the NFL than any other school, so he must be doing a good job of developing the blue chippers.
But when you have so many letdowns in big games — and because of Miles’ success the Tigers are in more of them than just about anybody — well, somebody’s not completing the job.
Never mind that the SEC West is the toughest division in football. Just look at the level of commitment the rest of the schools have made, and not just Alabama.
After 11 seasons, it may just be that Miles has reached his peak and that the Tigers are about to go into decline. Perhaps he sees that and is ready to move on as well.
But is there someone else out there who could not only arrest that decline but figure out a way to beat Nick Saban?
Absolutely. But as Michigan found out with Brady Hoke. Florida with Will Muschamp and USC with Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, hiring the guy to take you to the top is easier said than done.
Nothing’s ever comes easy at Tulane where the new A.D. will be making a quick decision, unless that decision’s already been made.
CJ’s team finally showed the capacity to make the plays when it had to in last Saturday’s victory at Army. That’s something that had been missing earlier.
And SMU and Tulsa are Tulane’s two peer institutions in the AAC. In a league where the overall bar has been raised, the Wave has at least should be competitive with them.
Beyond that, judgment must be made if Johnson can make the changes needed to make Tulane a contender on the league level.
And if not, who’s out there able to make that happen?
The Saints are an even bigger head-scratcher.
NFL coaches rarely last at one place for more than a decade, and Payton is exactly at that mark.
The Saints are in transition top to bottom. That’s a challenge for someone who already has more than head coaching duties on his plate.
Payton has two years remaining on his contract, but there could be mutual parting of the ways if another team is willing to pony up some fair compensation.
In 2002, Tampa Bay gave up two first-round draft picks, two No. 2s and cash to get Jon Gruden from Oakland. But that’s the kind of deal only a desperate team would make.
Think San Diego or maybe Detroit or Indianapolis, all of which currently have coaches.
Interesting times ahead.