Joe Castiglione and Mike Holder, we need to have a little heart-to-heart chat.
Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy, you might want to listen up, too.
Heck, if we're getting all the decision makers in our state's college athletics scene involved, we'd probably better bring David Boren, Burns Hargis, even Boone Pickens on board for this discussion.
We need to talk about this head-coach-in-waiting phenomenon.
You know how this works â€” a program hires or promotes someone to work as an assistant now and to take over the top spot in the future.
Or at least that's how it's supposed to work.
Over the weekend, Will Muschamp went from head coach in waiting at Texas to head coach at Florida. Now, Dana Holgorsen is leaving Oklahoma State to be the head coach in waiting at West Virginia, but it sounds like the current head coach there isn't too keen on the idea. That should make for a healthy work environment.
Wonder what the first staff meeting is going to be like.
â€œAs a concept, the head-coach-in-waiting scenario may sound like a simple or reasonable strategy â€¦,â€ Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. â€œHowever, this approach creates many more leadership issues or challenges than most realize.â€
It boils down to this: Who's the boss?
â€œIt's a disaster waiting to happen,â€ former Oklahoma State football coach Pat Jones said. â€œIt opens so many cans of worms.â€
Who handles discipline? What's the on-field philosophy? Who makes the rules? What players are recruited? What is the long-term plan?
â€œWe can think of a hundred different scenarios that happen every day,â€ Jones said.
Why in the world does anyone do this whole coach-in-waiting thing?
Handing off the head-coaching reins is nothing new, of course, but for decades, it happened behind the scenes, head coaches grooming their protÃ©gÃ©s and readying their programs for the transition.
Now, successors are officially designated and publicly announced. There are press conferences. There are legal contracts.
Sometimes, things go as planned.
Wisconsin football made a smooth transition from Barry Alvarez to Bret Bielema a few years back. Ditto for Texas Tech basketball going from Bob Knight to son Pat. The best head-coach-in-waiting move in recent years was Oregon football going from Mike Bellotti to Chip Kelly, who now has the Ducks playing for a national championship.
But often, the head-coach-in-waiting setup turns into a mess.
Pay attention, all you decision makers. This is important.
In late 2007, Arizona announced that Kevin O'Neill would succeed legendary basketball coach Lute Olsen, but things got weird shortly thereafter. Olsen took a leave of absence. O'Neill served as the interim coach. Then when Olsen returned, the two had a very public, very bizarre falling out.
O'Neill, who never signed a contract for the next season or for the coach-in-waiting deal, left.
Then came the fiasco at Florida State.
The Seminoles hired Jimbo Fisher in late 2007 to one day replace the aging Bobby Bowden. It seemed like such a good idea. Other programs were using Bowden's age against Florida State in recruiting. What better way to promise continuity to recruits than by having a plan in place?
Sounds great, right?
Except that well into the second season of the arrangement, Bowden showed no sign of wanting to retire. The man who built Florida State into a powerhouse, the legend who was still winning games wanted to keep coaching.
Florida State had to practically blast him out of the head coach's office with sticks of dynamite.
The whole thing was uncomfortable, unfortunate and unnecessary.
Same goes for what happened at Texas.
Mack Brown was supposedly the one who encouraged the Longhorns to brand Muschamp the head coach in waiting a couple years ago, but the setup apparently didn't work so well. As the losses mounted in Austin this season, the tension spilled over.
Brown blamed everyone but himself after a loss to Iowa State â€” â€œYou can't trust your team. You can't trust your coaches when they're not getting things ready to go.â€
It sure sounded like no one knew who was in charge, not even Brown. Was he supposed to be making the tough decisions and laying down the law? Would anyone pay attention to him if he did?
Are you college Ads and coaches and presidents from our fair state listening?
Texas folks might argue they wouldn't have been able to keep Muschamp these past couple seasons without that designation, that the sought-after defensive coordinator would've gone to Tennessee or some other school to be a head coach.
Hey, what would've been so wrong with that?
Muschamp always said Texas was the best job in the country. If he really believed that, why not let him go to another school, get some head coaching experience, then hire him back when Brown retired?
That's what Oklahoma State should've done with Sean Sutton. The Cowboys wanted him to succeed his father, Eddie, and not go to SMU or some other head coaching job.
Had he gone, there's no reason he couldn't have returned. Probably would've come back a better coach, too.
Again I ask, why would anyone ever hire a head coach in waiting?
Castiglione admits that there are only a very few scenarios where it would have a chance to work. He says it would have to be necessary and well-defined. What's more, managing the consequences both the good and bad, the known and unknown would have to be agreed upon by everyone.
â€œOtherwise, I don't believe in this hiring strategy,â€ Castiglione said. â€œThe disadvantages far outweigh the advantages and are too numerous to mention.â€
Decision makers, this discussion is really for your benefit. You can avoid the headaches. You can bypass the pitfalls. Hire a head coach only when you need one.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-3314 or at email@example.com. You can also view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.