The search for the next Louisville football coach is in full swing and the pros and cons of seemingly every man who has ever picked up a clipboard are being weighed by the fan base as I type this. One thing I keep hearing and have to address here is that Tom Jurich needs to avoid hiring someone who is going to treat being the front man for Cardinal football as a "stepping stone" job.
Here's the thing: the head football coach position at the University of Louisville is absolutely a stepping stone job.
Here's another thing: 95% of the head coaching positions in college football are stepping stone jobs.
Let's look at the very definition of a "stepping stone"; it's a momentary resting place a person uses to gather his or her self before making another move that will hopefully bring them that much closer to their desired destination.
Now it may come to be that over time a person realizes that the stone where they currently reside is actually more comfortable and suitable to their needs than the haven they'd initially set out for, or a person may stay on a stone for such a long time that they become too old to make the leap anywhere else, but this doesn't change the fact that it was never their intention to end up where they did.
If asked at the beginning of their career, every single man or woman with the desire to coach college football at the Division I level could tell you the one head coaching job they desire above all others. For many, that job is in South Bend. Love or hate the Irish, the head gig at Notre Dame is the most high-profile coaching job there is in football, at any level There's a reason there have been rumors surrounding the possibility of Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer leaving powerhouses Oklahoma and Florida, respectively, to take another job, and there's a reason those rumors weren't automatically rejected as ridiculous.
Of course there are certainly other individuals whose final landing pad lies outside the state of Indiana, but the list of dream jobs is short. Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Penn State and Nebraska are all places where a person with a particular affinity for the program or an elevated appreciation for the history of college football could coach forever and be happy. But still, lately we've seen the eyes of coaches at even these programs of the highest stature wandering when an equally attractive cousin shot them a glance (hi Les, hi Nick).
The point I'm trying to make is that Louisville is one of the vast, vast majority of college football programs that can't afford to waste time looking for the guy who says he wants to be here forever and is willing to take a polygraph test to prove it. This sport, even more so than its basketball counterpart, is one driven by money and power (see: postseason) and every member of its coaching family is fully aware of that.
If you're not Notre Dame, if you're not Michigan, if you're not Ohio State, your coach is using you with the hope that one day he'll have one of those jobs or be that much closer to having one of those jobs. If he says otherwise, he's lying. Accept it now and the betrayal will be that much easier to stomach.
It's time to shelve the illusions of bringing in some young offensive genius who's going to dress himself, his kids and his pretty wife in Cardinal red every day for the rest of his life, walk in the Derby Parade every year and show up at every home game to a standing ovation when he's 85 and retired with a pair of national titles under his belt. This isn't basketball and it isn't 1960.
We all know how much the Petrino ordeal hurt, but the best thing the powers that be at Louisville can do right now is hire the man whom they believe is best suited to win football games right away and get this program back where it was three years ago. And if in four or five years that man has won so much here that he decides he'd love the opportunity to try and win somewhere where he's going to get a little bit more attention and a little bit more money, then you do the exact same thing all over again.
It's not what anyone wants to believe, it's just the way it is.