Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/19/12

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 30: Head coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers watches on against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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 falls 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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Joe Mauer: Concussions blurred vision, affected hitting

LeBron James says Kevin Love-Celtics trade rumor is false

Michael Jordan gifts Kobe Bryant full set of Air Jordans

Bethune-Cookman football player killed at party

Former UFC heavyweight Kevin Randleman dead at 44

WATCH: Chelsea scores three goals in less than 20 minutes

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Broncos safety Shiloh Keo arrested for DUI

Mountain West admits error, says Boise St. shot was good

WATCH: John Calipari loses his mind, gets ejected

Former Clemson star Tajh Boyd to speak at John Kasich rally

Peyton Manning's alleged not-so-wholesome image

Hawks not shopping Al Horford at NBA trade deadline

Drake has Kentucky edition of custom ‘OVO’ Air Jordan 8s

QUIZ: Name every NBA All-Star Game MVP

Watch rare footage of Stephen Curry from 2001-02 emerges

Check out this custom camouflage Oregon helmet

Ejected John Calipari tweets “they don’t need me and I love it”

Popovich would 'buy ticket' to watch Warriors play

Jamal Murray destroyed South Carolina defender with dunk

WATCH: Lon Kruger gets Oklahoma hoops squad hype for Kansas test

Texas signee glad he didn’t pick Texas A&M after alleged racism

Dallas Stars have passed the early tests in February

Could Matt Forte become the revival for Patriots run game?

Are the Celtics legimate contenders in the East?

WATCH: Jabari Parker is no joke at NBA Rising Stars Challenge

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker