McGruber writes "The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an article (http://chronicle.com/blogs/bottomline/the-tricky-economics-of-firing-a-football-coach/) that summarizes a research paper from Social Science Quarterly titled "Pushing 'Reset': The Conditional Effects of Coaching Replacements on College Football Performance" (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2012.00929.x/full).
In their paper, authors E. Scott Adler1, Michael J. Berry, and David Doherty assessed the effects of coaching replacements on college football team performance. Using data from 1997 to 2010, they used matching techniques to compare the performance of football programs that canned their head coach to those where the coach was retained. Their analysis had two major innovations over existing literature: they considered how entry conditions moderate the effects of coaching replacements and also examined team performance for several years following the replacement to assess its effects.
The authors found that for particularly sucky teams, coach replacements have little effect on team performance as measured against comparably sucky teams that did not replace their coach. However, for teams with middling records—that is, teams where entry conditions for a new coach appear to be more favorable—replacing the head coach appears to result in worse performance over subsequent years than comparable teams who retained their coach. Their finding suggest that the relatively common decision to fire head college football coaches for poor team performance may be ill advised — while losing football teams may improve their records after they hire a new coach, drastic improvement is rare. Teams that win about half of their games, by contrast, may lose more games after a new head coach arrives, compared with teams with similar records that don’t make a change."
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