News broke last week that Micah Shrewsberry would be departing Penn State to take over at Notre Dame. This isn’t to say whether he should have stayed or left, but rather, hopefully, a quick thought on coaching in major college sports.
Gone are the days of the Joe Paternos of the world, sticking at a single location for 40+ years. Nowadays, if you’re good, you’re gone, always on to the next big thing.
Or, if you’re good, you’re flirting with “the next big thing” with the hopes to leverage more from your current employer - money, facilities, NIL, assistant coaching salaries, etc.
On the football side of things, Lions fans had been spoiled with the continuity of the Paterno regime, hauling in consistent top 10 teams over decades. Then we had Bill O’Brien before the hotshot James Franklin came to town. Ever since his arrival, he lit a fire under the administration, acquiring more money for himself, his assistant coaches, his facilities, and now NIL. Some of that was simple hard-earned rewards for a job well done, and some of it was dealing with “Franklin to USC” or “Franklin to LSU” or “Franklin to Wherever” shenanigans every year.
But that’s how coaching is today. Dog eat dog, and if you’re not trying to get a leg up, you’re left behind.
Basketbros hadn’t really had much to worry about because, well, the team wasn’t all that good. Muddle through a .500 season and hope for the NIT was considered a highlight more often than not.
Then, Micah Shrewsberry came to town.
It was obvious very quickly that Shrews was a different animal. Smart, energetic, tactical, recruiter. It all fit, especially at a place like Penn State where expectations were low.
And here we stand, two years later, coming off the best season the Lions have had in 12 years (seriously, what were YOU doing in 2011?), and Micah Shrewsberry took his success on the road.
As the saying goes, easy come, easy go.
Not that the success of this season was easy to come by. Any Penn State fan can tell you success on the court has been anything but.
But, like it or not, college coaching will almost always see a revolving door of coaches. Now, it’s up to Pat Kraft to put up or shut up (and rumors of $4M per year is certainly putting up). It appears the AD is on board with making the basketball program respectable, and so perhaps additional success is in the future. If it is, the next coach will likely end up leaving (or leveraging a bunch more money out of the gig).
Nothing else us fans can do aside from enjoy the ride, thank the coaches for their contributions to Penn State athletics, and root for the next one that comes in through that revolving door.
Because like it or not, it’s just a matter of time before they go right back out the way they came in.