Hall of Famers Lament Lack of Patience With Coaches
Former Navy and Virginia coach George Welsh says his hall of fame career would be cut short by today's standards.
Dec. 7, 2004
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - George Welsh was 23-32 in his first five seasons as coach at Navy, and doubts he would have gotten a sixth if he had similar results these days.
"I was out of there in this era," he said.
Navy stuck with Welsh for five more seasons, and he ended his nine-year stay in Annapolis, Md., as the winningest coach in school history with three bowl appearances.
"I think it helped that I was 4-1 against Army and I was an alumnus," Welsh said. "But I don't think that would help much anymore."
He went on to 19 seasons at Virginia, where he again won more games than any coach in school history. He finished his 28-year career with 189 victories and was inducted Tuesday night into the College Football Hall of Fame along with former BYU coach LaVell Edwards and 12 players, including former Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware from Houston.
The other players inducted were Army running back Bob Anderson, Oklahoma defensive lineman Tony Casillas, Tennessee linebacker Frank Emanuel, Southern Mississippi punter Ray Guy, Arkansas guard/linebacker Wayne Harris, California quarterback Joe Kapp, Michigan tight end Jim Mandich, Penn State running back Lydell Mitchell, Auburn defensive tackle Tracy Rocker, Ohio State defensive back Jack Tatum and Southern California tight end Charles Young.
They will be enshrined in South Bend, Ind., in August.
Ten Division I-A college football coaches have been fired this season and two others resigned under pressure. Among those let go were Ron Zook at Florida, Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame and David Cutcliffe at Mississippi, all of whom had winning records at their schools. Zook and Willingham were fired after just three seasons.
Welsh and Edwards, who coached at BYU for 29 years, said the current win-now atmosphere has gotten so feverish that it's difficult for coaches to get a fair shot.
"I think it's the money," Welsh said. "I think there's too much outside influence and too much pressure on the athletic directors and the presidents to change.
Edwards had just one losing season and won 257 games and a national title in 1984. But his salary never approached the $2 million a year that coaches such as LSU's Nick Saban and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops pull in. Urban Meyer became the latest to enter that income bracket when he was officially introduced Tuesday as Zook's replacement at Florida.
"You don't pay a million a year and expect to have patience," Edwards said.
Now, even schools outside the perennial national title contenders pay salaries in the millions and expect to not just win, but to win big fast.
"I don't think there's any question that it's not a healthy situation," he said.
Welsh said he was particularly disturbed by the firing of Willingham.
"When I see Notre Dame and it's the first time they didn't honor a coach's contract, it just makes you wonder," he said.
Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, who was being honored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame for his time as Bulldogs an athletic director, said the dismissal of Cutcliffe at Ole Miss was the coaching move that caught his attention.
Mississippi had its first losing record under Cutcliffe this season after five years of at least seven wins.
Dooley agreed with his fellow Hall of Fame coaches about salaries and outside influences, and added another reason for the quick triggers is fewer ADs have been coaches.
"Maybe they tend to have less patience than a coach who has been there," Dooley said.