What happens when a coach is too good at his job, setting Kent State fans' expectations to strange horizons they've never seen? The coach leaves, putting the team and its fanbase back into an uncomfortable purgatory. But it gets better.
Just kidding. It doesn't get better at all! Here, cry into this bucket.
This is a new feeling for any Kent State fan under the age of 35. It's raw and tastes like abandonment. The last time anybody plucked a Golden Flashes coach was Glen Mason in 1987, who went to Kansas and eventually Minnesota. Then came the likes of Dick Crum, Pete Cordelli, Jim Corrigall, Dean Pees and Doug Martin — only one (Pees) who could sneak them into a winning season.
For most other MAC fans, we didn't really bat an eye. This is standard practice. Northern Illinois has gone through this twice, and Jeff Compher even anticipated he was going to hire a new coach this month. I got my first flavor of coach poaching when Urban Meyer left Bowling Green for Utah after the 2002 season. Just darn near everybody in the league has had this happen to them, sometimes multiple times, and it's simply how the coaching flowchart goes, and it's the function of the Mid-American Conference: get a new coach, and if he does well, he moves on. If not, he gets fired and they try again.
Yes, the turnover is ridiculous. We're in a place where only five of 13 coaches are entering their fourth year: Jeff Quinn, Dan Enos, Ron English are going into their fourth, Dave Clawson is entering his fifth and Frank Solich heads into year nine — the grizzled, crusty exception that proves the rule.
We didn't choose this legacy but few people do. The MAC even acknowledges the trend:
Next college football season 26 of 124 FBS head coaches (21%) would be either current or former MAC head coaches.— Ken Mather (@KenMather_MAC) December 5, 2012
Big Ten–Meyer (OSU), Hoke (Mich), Kill (Minn), Beckman (Ill), Hazell (Pur); Big East-Jones (Cin); Ind-Kelly (ND)— Ken Mather (@KenMather_MAC) December 5, 2012
SEC-Saban (Ala), Pinkel (Mizz); ACC-Golden (Mia), Addazio (BC), Doeren (NCState), Grobe (WF)— Ken Mather (@KenMather_MAC) December 5, 2012
It's no use fighting the trend, and don't these coaches deserve the money coming to them?
I don't know if this means loyalty is dead, but opportunity still thrives. I don't have much advice to tell any players who feel backstabbed or abandoned by Hazell or Doeren, but just know that even in the real world, bosses and supervisors can fluidly change and may not last for more than a few years, either due to job change or promotion. It means that they were good, and so are you. And the same applies here: Hazell would not have left for Purdue if something special didn't happen at Kent State, and unless Hazell is the next Bear Bryant, the success happened due to everyone involved, and it can still manifest itself in Kent.
Which means we must shrug and look toward his replacement, whoever that may be. Using the tried-and-true method, offensive coordinator Brian Rock would be a very logical choice.