The four-year rule was never official. It was never written or codified in any meaningful way. It was just one of those understandings. A new college football coach needed some time to recruit and develop his players and reshape the culture of a program in his own image.
The rule of thumb was always four years. By then seniors would have played every college down under one coachs leadership, and boosters would have a good idea what sort of man they had on their hands.
Win in four or hit the door, was the saying back in the day.
Now its Win in one or you might be done.
That is a bit of an exaggeration, but no one doubts that the grace period for new coaches has grown precipitously shorter over the years.
Derek Dooley is just the latest example. Forget the mess Dooley inherited after Lane Kiffins inglorious single season in Knoxville, and forget the facilities upgrades Tennessee needed in order for the Vols to compete in the high-stakes SEC recruiting wars (upgrades that wer...