Here at the O’Zone, we frequently find ourselves in heated sports debates. So, like any blogger worth their word processor, the best way to hash it out is with the written word. Each week, a pair of O’Zone writers will take turns defending one side of the latest divisive topics in the sports world, and you, the reader, will determine the winner. This week, we ask the question, should teams fire coaches in the middle of the season?
Point: Teams aren’t wrong in firing coaches midseason
The recent firing of LSU coach Les Miles has raised a debate among a few of us at the O’Zone: Should teams fire their coaches mid-season?
To me, the answer is yes. Obviously, these firings have to be judged on a case-by-case basis. But, generally speaking, if management doesn’t like the performance on the field, sometimes the best thing to do is to get a new leader to instill some drive into his players.
Let’s delve into the Miles fiasco before I provide you with an example of why giving coaches the axe can be beneficial.
Miles has been LSU’s coach since 2005. Sure, he had a successful tenure, but at a certain point in time, if teams aren’t living up to a certain standard, consequences have to be handed out.
LSU has a strong tradition of winning and contending for championships, something Miles hasn’t done in nearly 10 years. That sounds like a harsh statement, considering the fact that winning a title once every 10 years would be an outstanding accomplishment for 99 percent of college programs.
However, LSU isn’t one of those programs.
Excluding Alabama’s 21-0 beat down of LSU in the 2007 BCS championship game, Miles has gone a mediocre 3-3 in his past six postseason games.
What’s more, Miles hasn’t finished a season ranked higher than 14 since 2011.
LSU players have already stated they feel guilty for the firing of their coach. Don’t be surprised to see them come out Saturday with an extra fire under their bellies. Sometimes adversity leads to growth.
The firing also gives LSU the opportunity to see if their interim, Ed Orgeron, is their coach of the future.
In reality, LSU will likely pursue a big-name coach to name as its next leader, but there are plenty of circumstances where the interim keeps the job.
Take Earl Watson of the Phoenix Suns, for example. Watson was hired as an assistant coach in 2015 but filled in as head coach after Jeff Hornacek was fired. Watson coached for the final 31 games of the season, proving to the Suns’ front office that he was capable of maintaining his new position.
Watson held a 9-24 record in those games but the Suns dealt with injuries to some of their best players and competed in a loaded Eastern Conference.
Instead of opting to sign a high profile, expensive coach in the offseason like Tom Thibedeau or Scott Brooks, the Suns went with a guy who the players were comfortable with. Watson is familiar with the system and his players have vouched for him. Perhaps the same will happen for Orgeron at LSU.
But only time will tell.
Counterpoint: Let ’em finish
Digital Sports Editor
I have a professor that tells us he will not believe any of our arguments unless we have our own research to back it up. Well, here’s me telling you my experience.
I had three different coaches during my four-year high school baseball career. Every year, we were forced to learn a new system. It took an entire offseason, plus that first year was also a learning experience and it was hard to ever feel comfortable and get in a groove.
Let’s be honest, a new football system is much harder to learn than high school baseball. We learned a few new signs, warmed up differently and may have bunted a little more. Even those small changes took adjustment.
What happens when you have less than a week to adjust? Now granted, Orgeron was already in the system, but he’s still a different person with new beliefs. Our second coach had the motto “Invictus.” When we told our new coach that, he responded, “What the hell does that mean?”
Point is, teams have the same mindset as their coach. It’s something they’re taught and it almost becomes their personality. With a new coach, that’s all changed. The brainwashing must start all over. And if they don’t keep Orgeron around, which the Tigers most likely won’t, the cycle starts over again.
Second, momentum is key in every sport. LSU prepared all offseason under Miles, and some for maybe even four years. Now, the season pretty much doesn’t matter. The big dogs up top thought the man you put enough faith in to live in swampy Louisiana for four years wasn’t good enough to get you through the season. Miles has kept LSU as a national threat his entire tenure, shouldn’t that earn him enough respect to finish a season and try to turn it around?
With that being said, Oklahoma State is struggling and I’m sure any Cowboys fan will let you sleep on their couch if you’d like to make a trip to Stillwater, Miles.
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