Originally written on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 10/22/14
Ncaa-football-oregon
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 were just completed this year). You can even forget the injuries that led to a disappointing sophomore season for the young head coach. Dooley didnt get the wins, so he was shown the door before the end of year three. Joker Phillips also lasted less than three at Kentucky. John L. Smith will in all likelihood be out at Arkansas in one, and at least one more SEC change is possible by seasons end. This year the average tenure of an SEC coach was 4.8 years with Mark Richt and Gary Pinkel skewing the average upward with 11-year stints at Georgia and Missouri. Next year, if nothing else changes, that average will drop to 4.6. That puts the SEC in the middle of the major conferences when it comes to coaching tenures. The Big 12 leads with an average of 8.5 years, but Mack Brown and Bob Stoops push that number northward. The Big East is the worst with an average tenure of only 2.4 years, while conferences like the ACC are one Frank Beamer retirement away from plummeting near the bottom of the pile. The reasons are simple. College football has become, in some cases, a nine-figure investment for athletic departments and the donors that keep them afloat. Head coaching salaries stretch upwards of 100 times the medium household income in the United States, which means that performance is expected much quicker than in the old days when the coach at Notre Dame couldnt make more than the college president, who was a priest. Now, Nick Sabans compensation package is worth 45 million over eight years. As long as Alabama wins championships, its worth it. But the moment the Tide fall below eight wins a season, you can bet that somebody is going to run the numbers. The other reason for the shortened working life of a head coach is the success others have had in a relatively short period of time. James Franklin will lead former cellar-dweller Vanderbilt to its second consecutive bowl game and could potentially give the Commodores their first nine-win season. Kevin Sumlin could win 11 in his debut at Texas A&M. And SEC rookie Hugh Freeze, while still one win away from bowl eligibility at Ole Miss, has injected enthusiasm and optimism into a program that had neither one short year ago. Whoever takes over at Tennessee will no doubt have a lot of support and a wonderful honeymoon. The same will be true at Kentucky and Arkansas. But if recently history is a guide, the good-feeling grace period wont last long. It rarely does. Wins are the only job security.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Royals take Game 2 to even series with Giants

Report: Roger Goodell will have to testify in Ray Rice case

Blake Griffin accused of slapping man in Las Vegas club

Ronda Rousey to face Cat Zingano at UFC 182

Report: Zach Mettenberger to start for Titans over Locker

LaMarr Woodley likely done for season with biceps injury

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Some Seahawks think Wilson isn’t 'black enough'

Darrelle Revis sent home for being late, misses practice

Report: Texas to pay scholarship athletes $10K per year

Report: Widespread academic fraud occurred at North Carolina

NHL postpones Senators/Leafs game after Ottawa shootings

Lions send player home from London after cutting him

WATCH: Giants pitcher yells at Salvador Perez after HR

Will Muschamp's head coaching job posted on Craigslist

Miss California USA would like to date Eric Hosmer

WATCH: Eric Bledsoe sends Clipper flying with sick move

Kiffin's mom fears for son's safety in return to Tennessee

WATCH: Penguins perform 'O Canada' following tragedy

WATCH: Cutest grandma challenges Dwyane Wade to game of one-on-one

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

Porn star: No one parties harder than Sebastian Janikowski

Outrageous college football predictions: Week 9

World Series Game 2 Preview: Giants vs. Royals

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Porn star: No one parties like Janikowski

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

The San Francisco Giants are zombies

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

NFL players who could be traded by the deadline

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.