Bo's Words: Wait for the Right Opportunity

Submitted by Clarence Beeks on December 2nd, 2015 at 8:27 PM

Durkin would have been wise to heed Bo's advice:

"What did I do with all this knowledge I acquired from Doyt and Ara and Woody?

I didn't sell myself, that's for sure.  I used it to become the best assistant coach I could be.  I had no qualms about eing an assistant coach, and I thought i was the best offensive line coach there ever was!

I have never applied for a job in my entire life.  I have never, not once, prepared a resume.  I just figured if I worked hard and got really good at this, someone's going to say, "This guy is good," and I'd get plent yof opportunities.  And I was right.

Don't worry about marketing yourself.  Just be good at what you're doing now and enjoy it, and things will take care of themselves.  Yes, I know in some fields you have to get your resume out and all that, but I think it's overestimated.  In most businesses, word gets around pretty fast - and hey, that's what headhunters are for.

That was the final lesson I learned from my days as an assitant coac: Don't waste your time and energy looking for the next job.  Take care of the job you've got now.  If you're good at what you're doing now, they'll find you.  Trust me, word will get out there, and they'll find you.

They always do.

And when that happens, don't jump at the first offer, just because you think it's a promotion.  Being an assistant for a great organization is better than being the head honcho at a place where you're being set up for failure.  You've got to wait for the right opportunity, working for the right people - because if you're impatient, you're going to regret it."

Intro to Chapter 3 of Bo's Lasting Lessons (which, if you have not read it, you owe yourself to do so).  Sure, he's the boss now at Maryland, but this move makes no sense at all from a career trajectory perspective.  Total mistake and the fact that he made it, contrary to Bo's teaching, says to me that he wasn't the right fit for Michigan, anyway.  We'll look back on this in four or five years and this will be spot on.



December 2nd, 2015 at 8:33 PM ^

Really? Bo is not the supreme god of all things Michigan. Do you think Bo told Gary Moeller not to go coach at Illinois? Or Don Nehlen to not go coach at West Virginia?


December 2nd, 2015 at 8:34 PM ^

Ah yes.  Bo leaving his job as a top assistant at OSU for a HC gig at Miami of Ohio is TOTALLY different from Durkin leaving his job as a DC at U of M for a HC gig at Maryland.  Totally different.  Totally.  Right?


December 3rd, 2015 at 8:16 AM ^

See, this is why you are the way you are: Because you think Durkin's move was "completely understandable". 

I mean, I guess in a way you could be right. If Durkin's plan is to be a head coach for 3-4 years then get fired and be a DC again, then its a great plan and its "completely understandable". 

And that goes towards Bo's point: Wait for the right opportunity. Maryland is not that opportunity if you want a long, uninterrupted head coaching career. 

Wolverine Devotee

December 2nd, 2015 at 8:40 PM ^

1. Bo didn't step out the week of The Game. 

2. Woody Hayes was the Miami U head coach once. I'm sure he had his blessing. 

Some of you guys seem to be avoiding the key thing here that everyone is really angry at him for: stepping out the week of the biggest game of the year in SPORTS.

The Barwis Effect

December 2nd, 2015 at 9:02 PM ^

In reply to LJ...

"The Cradle of Coaches is a nickname given to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for producing star football coaches including Earl Blaik, Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bill Arnsparger, George Little, Weeb Ewbank, Sid Gillman, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler, John Pont, Carmen Cozza, Bill Mallory, Jim Tressel, Joe Novak, Ron Zook, Dick Crum, Paul Dietzel, Bill Narduzzi, Randy Walker, John Harbaugh, Gary Moeller, Larry Smith, Dick Tomey, Sean Payton and Terry Hoeppner."

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


December 2nd, 2015 at 9:17 PM ^

1) Most of the guys on that list had not coached there when Bo went.

2) So are you honestly saying that if Durkin were leaving to take the Miami job, in the exact same way, you would see that as a good move?  But this is a bad move?  I won't even touch on the huge differences in salary between the two...

The Barwis Effect

December 2nd, 2015 at 9:31 PM ^

"Most of the guys on that list had had not coached there..."

Earl Blaik, Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bill Arnsparger, George Little, Weeb Ewbank, Sid Gillman, Ara Parseghian, John Pont, and Carmen Cozza.

That's a who's who of college football coaches and they were all there prior to Schembechler.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


December 2nd, 2015 at 9:14 PM ^

Yes. Totally different. College football and the hiring of coaches was a lot different 50 years ago. Also I'd add that leaving out monetary issues, sometimes taking a non-power five job can long-term be better than taking a lesser power five team. For example, Tom Herman's name has been coming up for some really good power five jobs. On the other hand, if Durkin goes 4-8, 5-7, 6-6 the next three years, he may be back in a DC position and never sniff a top flight power five program. Note, however, I said I'm leaving out money in my discussion. My suspicion is that Durkin's getting at least 2.5 million and if that suspicion is correct, it would be awfully hard to say no.

Clarence Beeks

December 2nd, 2015 at 9:27 PM ^

Bingo. This post is spot on. Screams short term money. The Herman example is perfect. Career development is a long game (if you're doing it right) and the money will (long term) come from doing it right over the long haul. Herman will keep winning at Houston, and will keep coming up in major searches, as long as he's there. A string of 8-4 seasons at Maryland aren't going to bring the major jobs that some people think they will, at least not with long term success and open arms and excitement (see: reaction to Brady Hoke's hiring at Michigan).

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


December 3rd, 2015 at 9:32 AM ^

Durkin was on a 3yr $800k per contract: ~2.4mm.

He's going to get at least 5 years guaranteed to be a new head coach (they all do, argue its for "recruiting stability".  At $2.5mm per, that's $12.5mm total.  Life changing money.

I would take that offer if it meant coaching in NFL Europe.


December 3rd, 2015 at 12:42 AM ^

Bo played one year under Hayes at Miami, was a GA under Woody at OSU in '51, then was Hayes's assistant for five years at OSU until he took the HC job at his alma mater. 

Durkin was with Harbaugh for three years at Stanford, but just one at Michigan.

Do these differences mean that Durkin did something wrong by taking the Maryland job? Of course not. Nobody should have been surprised that Durkin left; I'm certainly not.

However, it's also the case that Durkin didn't demonstrate any particular loyalty to Michigan football—staying another year or two would have greatly aided the team and Harbaugh—but he did what he wanted to do for his career. That's his right and he doesn't deserve some of the hate being expressed here, but neither do I feel any reason to blow him kisses as he takes the reins of one of our opponents. 

In case anybody is curious, here are the most notable of Bo's assistants who left for HC or assistant gigs elsewhere:

Gary Moeller: 2 years with Bo at Miami, 8 years with Bo at UM before leaving for Illinois HC job

Jim Young: 5 years with Bo at Miami, 4 years with Bo at UM before leaving for AZ HC job

Larry Smith: 2 years with Bo at Miami, 4 years with Bo at UM before leaving with Young for AZ

Bill McCartney: 8 years with Bo at UM before leaving for Colorado HC job

Don Nehlen: 3 years with Bo at UM before leaving for HC gig at WVU

Les Miles: 2 years as GA to Bo, 8 years as assistant to Bo before leaving for the OC job at Okie St.

Clarence Beeks

December 3rd, 2015 at 1:36 AM ^

Great post, Don, as always. The outlining of Bo's assistants is a great add and I think goes to what a lot of the displeasure is with this situation. Those were all much better jobs (by the standards of the time, not now) than Maryland is now. This one just doesn't seem to be, although there are a lot who seem to think so. I just don't see it, as it's a program that was consistently denigrated on this board by everyone prior to Durkin's name being tied to them in the initial reporting. My sense of that isn't that they are Durkin apologists, but rather that they think it's in Michigan's interest that Durkin be seen as leaving for a great job. Personally, as I've said before here, this job doesn't seem to match his career trajectory and is just a weird fit. My "he didn't really belong here" wasn't intended as hate, but rather more a reflection of what I see as a lack of loyalty and poor judgement (neither of which I want to be associated with the program that I care about).

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


December 3rd, 2015 at 8:59 AM ^

Maryland going forward has the possibility to be one of the better teams in the B1G.


They will always have a hard time with PSU, OSU and Michigan - but they're in a higher talent area than any team other than PSU/OSU, they have better resources than most of the B1G if they choose to spend them (Under Armour money), and it's a low pressure situation, No one expects them to win 10 games a year.

Outside of tradition - Maryland is a better job than Nebraska. Better talent pool, more money to spend...

rob f

December 3rd, 2015 at 6:12 PM ^

a much more fertile recruiting area than Nebraska, I still wouldn't consider it a better job.  Maryland, despite having so much local talent, is still a basketball-first school.  They have very little football tradition and a 2nd-rate stadium.  Nebraska may have little in local talent to recruit, but football is King there and always will be.  They have first-rate football facilities and arguably one of the 10 best college football stadiums in the country to go with that rich tradition---and they play in the very winnable and competetively balanced B1G West.

Other than an occasional outlier season, the best Maryland can do on a regular basis short-term (5 years +/-) in the B1G East is probably 5th place out of 7 teams.  Michigan, OSU, PSU, and MSU will nearly always finish above the Terps, with IU (as long as Kevin Wilson is HC) giving them a run for the #5 position.   Long-term, I could see them competing for 4th with MSU once MD retires, but that would be their ceiling, IMO.



December 3rd, 2015 at 10:36 AM ^

I'm gonna disagree with you on that point, if we just look at won-loss history. Illinois was a complete dumpster fire when Mo took that job. Arizona was just a WAC school when Young went there, with only 6 winning season out of the previous 20. West Virginia was an independent with a handful of Liberty and Peach Bowls and the Backyard Brawl with Pitt and not much else in its history when Nehlen went there. Colorado had two conference titles in its history in the Big 8 when McCartney took the Buffaloes job, with his immediate predecessor Chuck Fairbanks winning a total of 7 games in three seasons.

I don't think Maryland looks much different or worse in comparison.

The competitive situation Maryland is in, with OSU, UM, and PSU in the same division, is not good, but then the expectations at Maryland aren't the same either.

If I'd been Durkin, though, I would have waited either for a better situated P5 program, or taken a job at a lower profile conference where he could cut his teeth as a HC. The list of hotshot coordinators on either side of the ball who've been total failures as head coach is a very long one, and there's no guarantee that Durkin will be a success as HC.

Clarence Beeks

December 3rd, 2015 at 10:54 AM ^

Thanks for the clarification.  My memory of that time period (especially at the time I wrote that last night) is apparently terrible.  I think, though, that lack of history and their situations do make them (arguably) better situations than this job because they were (relatively) blank slates with tons of room to go up.  Maryland, though, is going to always be tough sledding.

Completely agree on your last paragraph.  That was the overall point that I was trying to make (that I think the Bo quote matches well with), but this has gone a lot of different directions in this thread.

901 P

December 2nd, 2015 at 8:55 PM ^

I don't know that I'd agree that Bo's remarks on this subject are necessarily wise or timeless. Some of what he says in the quote at the top of this thread makes sense, but other elements strike me as terrible job advice. I mean this in particular:

"I have never applied for a job in my entire life.  I have never, not once, prepared a resume.  

Is this really useful advice career/professional advice for most people? 

And people have been expressing a lot of certainty that, professionally, this is a terrible move for Durkin. I mean, I can see arguments for and agains, but I think it is a little premature to be insisting that this is bound to be disastrous. That strikes me as wishful thinking more than anything else.