Bowling Green and Reductive Coach Searches Part 2

Bowling Green moved on from head coach Mike Jinks in October and began the search for their next coach.  They were determined to not make the same mistakes that got them into this mess and hired a search firm, Turnkey Search.  Some great reporting by Nicholas Piotrowicz at the Toledo Blade got the emails that were exchanged during the search.

Despite going with a search firm, the people making the final decisions were still pretty reductive in their search.  They landed on Scot Loeffler, who has strong ties to the area and a vision that aligns with the leaders of the athletic department, according to the Toledo Blade article.  All of the candidates that were known to have interviewed all had ties to Ohio or nearby states.  Some of the other candidates were very interesting and who knows why or who ended the discussion about them.

Lots of Interest

Since the Bowling Green job was the first to open, anyone looking for a head coaching gig at the G5 level threw their name in.  The names came from all sorts of sources, from agents, friends, search agencies, and I’m sure others.  I counted 17 names listed in the article.  Creative Arts Agency provided a list of names that were a really interesting group of coaches that should have made it to an interview. The head coaches from that group were Jim McElwain, Pete Lembo, Beau Baldwin, and Will Healy.

The Interviewees

The Bowling Green Athletic Director Bob Moosbrugger interviewed at least Scot Loeffler, Carl Pelini, Brian Polian, and Greg Studrawa.  That’s not exactly a murder’s row of head coach prospects.  We know that Loeffler hasn’t been in charge of high flying offenses in his career.  Carl Pelini is the current defensive coordinator and although the defense has struggled immensely, I can see interviewing someone on staff to give them a fair shake.  Brian Polian was a head coach at Nevada from 2013 to 2016 and went 23-27.  Most recently he was the special teams coordinator at Notre Dame.  Greg Studrawa is the offensive line coach at Ohio State.

The only one with head coach experience was underwhelming, and both coaches with coordinator experience lead bad units.  All of the coaches either work, or have worked in the rust belt, and that seemed to be a major key.  It’s a great way to take the best candidate off the table.  To turn around a program or maintain the level of success anywhere, make the best hire when you need to make a hire.  Reducing the applicant pool by who has worked in the area is a fantastic way to miss on the best coach.

Ohio experience at Bowling Green is important, but it’s far from the most important.  A good coach can figure out the rust belt.  The group of coaches mentioned earlier from Creative Arts Agency is an exciting group but they all lack Ohio experience.  Jim McElwain was working for Michigan, so maybe he’s an exception but at the end of the day he was not their guy.

Creative Arts Agency Group

Let’s take one more look at the group from Creative Arts Agency.  Jim McElwain is a proven coach that took the Central Michigan job.  He is obviously willing to coach at a MAC school.  Pete Lembo is a former Ball State coach, and his record isn’t great at 33-29.  He might be the weakest of the group, but his lower division record (79-36 at Lehigh and Elon) suggest he’s good coach.  Ball State is a hard job and he still went 10-3 in his third year there.

Beau Baldwin coached at FCS power Eastern Washington and won a national championship there.  His total record was 85-32 over 9 seasons.  Baldwin oversaw the red field being created, and is a good coach.  He’s from the west coast.  Apparently that’s a deal breaker.

The last of this group is Will Healy.  Healy is only 33 years old, and is thought to be some kind of genius.  His coaching record is not great, 13-21 at Austin Peay, but it’s a little misleading.  Since 2011 the Governors went 6-41.  That’s bad.  So when a 31 year old coach takes over and goes 0-11 in his first season it can be disappointing but maybe not surprising.  The next year, Healy ripped off an 8-4 season and finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference.  The following season went only 5-6, but in the mean time he put together the top recruiting classes in the Ohio Valley Conference and top 10 in the FCS in general.  That might be worth an interview.

I don’t know if the interest waned from the coaches side or the BGSU Athletic Department, but if they didn’t pursue McElwain, Baldwin, or Healy at all then massive mistakes were made.  It could all end up fine with Loeffler, but cutting off most of the coaching pool because they don’t have strong ties to Ohio seems foolish.  The jobs that these coaches are working for the 2019 season are not  significantly better than Bowling Green Head Coach. If any of them were Bowling Green’s guy they could’ve been in the mix.  For what seems to be misguided reasons, the Falcons went another direction.

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