Andy Enfield: Fewer Coaches Go From First Time NCAA Success to a Promotion Than You Might Think


Andy Enfield was hired by USC late last night, going from basically starting up a Florida Gulf Coast program to a Pac-12 job seemingly overnight. Andy Glockner has a great breakdown of Enfield’s background and why the hire is more than just about a guy who had a run in the tournament.

Let’s look back at the other coaches hired after upset wins in the tournament for the first time. I went back through the previous fifteen NCAA Tournaments, and found all schools outside the Atlantic-1o, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, Mountain West, Pac-12, and SEC that won a game as a 10 seed or worse. Then, for each coach, determined if that was their first NCAA win (not necessarily first appearance), and also to see if the coach moved to a new job the next season.

While people may think teams hire the “hot” tournament coach, it actually does not happen right away that frequently. Of the 44 potential cases, only 11 coaches moved to a new program the following offseason. Fewer than half (20 of 44) moved up to a new job in the next three years. [Note: coaches like John Groce, who went to Illinois after Ohio’s run, are not included in the immediate group that left because he first won a game previously when Ohio upset Georgetown].

Here are the other eleven coaches since the 1998 tournament to change schools the year after winning a tournament game for the first time.

The most recent two cases, Steve Donohue and Darrin Horn, haven’t worked out yet (Horn is already gone from South Carolina, Donohue is still at Boston College). The third is in the Final Four.

What this list, and looking at the other schools that get a job, is that schools aren’t generally swayed by immediate results, at least one or two games in a tournament. Some of the names on that list had been building a program for a while before starting to break through; others were hired almost immediately after turning a team into a tournament winner. I’m going to guess that factors in the interview process, other experiences, and team building expertise played some input.

The group as a whole averaged making the tournament in 38% of their seasons at the new school. To put that in some perspective, 45% of all BCS conference schools have made the tournament in the last five years. However, when you consider that these coaches aren’t getting jobs at the schools that perenially are in the top ten when they arrive, their performance is at least decent compared to expectations.

Schools that have gone after the tournament Cinderellas haven’t really reached as a group, and so the evidence that they are too swayed by those results in a vacuum is minimal. Of course, Enfield is an extreme case, as the coach of the first 15 seed ever to reach the Sweet Sixteen. I think there is at least as good a chance they are getting the next Thad Matta or Bruce Pearl as they are the next Darrin Horn.

[photo via USA Today Sports Images]