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It's Really More Like A Coaching Bumper Cars

When we become King of America, one of the first things we're going to do is outlaw the hiring of new college football head coaches until the day after the national championship game. Every year there are at least four bowl games in which one or both of the teams are playing with either a fired head coach, an interim head coach in charge for just this one game since the previous head guy got the ax at the end of the regular season, or a head coach who has already accepted another job and is now coaching in his last game at Upper Mid-level U.

We've never been able to understand how Utah players managed to get up for the Fiesta Bowl in '04 after seeing their head coach, the guy who had surely preached cohesiveness and working towards a common goal, appearing at a Florida basketball game decked out in Gator garb just days before the biggest game of their lives.

Maybe it was just that Pitt sucked.

Regardless, the postseason is what players bust their asses for the entire offseason, they buy into the goals that their coaches set for them and then the coaches bolt right when they're on the precipice of achieveing these goals. It just doesn't seem fair, and something should be done. Like castration.

The first of the many holiday fire and hires was completed on Monday when Michigan hired now former Cincinnati head coach Mark Dantonio to replace the shamed John L. Smith who was fired on Nov. 1.

Dantonio's five-year contract will pay more than double what he was earning at Cincinnati, but his annual salary is still lower than the $1.6 million that MSU paid Smith. MSU will pay Dantonio $1.1 million per year, consisting of a $600,000 base salary and $500,000 in supplemental income, including apparel deals, media engagements and personal appearances.

Incentives also will be given for on-field and academic performances, the highest of which is a $375,000 bonus for a national championship. He'll make at least $75,000 if the Spartans advance to any bowl game, and more depending on the prestige of the game.

He also received a $200,000 signing bonus to help buy out his contract at Cincinnati, which ran through 2010.

The team that Dantonio is abandoning (yes, the word choice is appropriate) is 7-5 and will be coached defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi in their yet-to-be-determined bowl game.

---In other coaching news:

-Mike Shula got the somewhat surprising ax on Monday, and the endless rumors about possible saviors have already begun. Of course Bobby Petrino has been mentioned, but the 'Bama internet contingency seem to think that West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez is their guy.

--Texas assistant Gene Chizak is in at Iowa State, and unsurprisingly Dirk Koetter and Chuck Amato are out at Arizona State and NC State respectively.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.