2022 Coaching Changes (vacancies in post 100)

Well, well, well, I didn’t see this one coming…

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Hindsight is always 20/20. I mean given how the team responded this year with the roster they had…maybe makes sense?

Now the Arkansas watch begins. Does UCLA hand the keys to the Ferrari to the unproven youngster?

Not surprised about Waller.

Would Jordyn want the keys to UCLA? How settled did she get in Arkansas with her fiancée? They didn’t get married yet, did they?

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I dont think she has gotten married yet and I doubt that would be a major obstacle. From what we know, UCLA was her first love, idk how she feels about Arky other than normal coach-speak words. She may love it. If it was me and if UCLA came calling I would have to ask myself, do I want to go the route of a KJ or Bev, taking close to 20 years and then some to maybe win a title and build a championship-caliber program. Or do I go for winning a title within 5 years.

Not sure if she is the “roots down” type person or loyal to my psuedo alma mater?

I know it’s not a long resume, but I think Jordyn did pretty darn well at Arkansas. With the talent at UCLA, she could do even better. Seems like the obvious choice to me.

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Idk, has she really done all that well at Arkansas? I guess she seems to have brought some stability there, and some excitement. But they were at the bottom of the SEC this year, close to the bottom the year prior. Making the post-season has been an improvement. Maybe I am expecting more? I don’t see them getting much better next year. Im just not quite on the Jordyn train although I agree, she does seem like the obvious choice to me too.

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I think coaching changes could be very interesting this year. What ever happened with Clemson… did they hire a coach?

Clemson is still without a coach. They need to pick someone soon so they can start recruiting.

I’m glad I’m not the only wondering about Weiber’s coaching abilities. Arkansas has always been a middle/back of the pack SEC team that would occasionally have a good year and make nationals. They were pretty rough to watch last year. Not that wins and losses really matter in college gymnastics, but they lost to Georgia of all teams. Still, it’s only been 3 years and with the Covid of it all we’ll see if things improve.

I can’t wait to see who UCLA hires. You know whoever it is there will be much drama about it.

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At this point though…do you really want to take on UCLA? It’s like Georgia.
No one can replace Suzanne.
No one can replace Ms. Val.

UCLA is damaged now and will need some repairs. It isn’t just a championship team program that someone is coming into, it has multiple issues that were exposed…and that is just at the surface level.

We see Norah entering the transfer portal and likely Marz will too if she wants to continue her career.

Why would Wieber want to leave a program that she has been successful with to go to UCLA? I can see it happening, but as a blossoming coach I would want to take over a program that does not have history. Look at Cal, Michigan State, and San Jose State for examples.

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Yeah, I only really know about the ex and current elites in NCAA, but that was my first thought too. Big, struggling programmes can be a poisoned chalice.

That was sort of my first thought too, if I were an early career coach, I wouldn’t want to be in the position of leading a high profile but troubled team with high public expectations for future success. That said, Jordyn is an Olympian and clearly not averse to big challenges, and may not share my hesitancy.

It seems like UCLA has a massive attitude problem that extends beyond gymnastics and training. That is always very tough for anyone to sort out. Look at the problems Jay Clark had at Georgia despite having been the assistant coach

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So it’s possibly Wieber? Wieber, I don’t see leaving a program that has become her program. She would be welcomed at UCLA, but she will have some cleaning up to do. Meanwhile, Arkansas is a program on the rise and is getting recruits. Leah Smith was a big name recruit.

Maybe Kyla Ross or Felicia Hano if Wieber doesn’t go for it. But both are really lacking the experience needed. Wieber didn’t have the experience but it was a lower tiered team she took over, not a famous program that has multiple championships and also draws in the top recruits.

Other ideas:
Amy Smith, UCLA alumni, was a contributor to the 97 national championships team, has been a successful head coach at Utah State. She might want to bump up to a national contender team give the “lower status” of Utah State. Though it is a program that has gained success more each year.

Ashley Johnston (Priess) associate head coach at Auburn. She has been a successful coach for years now and has championship experience under her belt both as a gymnast at Alabama and as AC at Auburn. But. Will she want to leave a team that has had its best season in history and looking to repeat success next year. Clearly she would be next in line to take over Auburn when Jeff Graba sets to retire.

Janelle McDonald, assistant at Cal. Under her leadership they had their first ever NCAA champion with Maya Bordas. Cal’s strength is generally uneven bars. This is her speciality. UCLA could definitely use a strong bars coach since Waller is leaving and he generally oversaw that event. She is also PAC 12 and in state already.

Or perhaps this is the time for the Griffiths to take over a program complete and Courtney promoted to co-head coach. Though they went back to the SEC this year, they were successful at Utah and in the PAC 12 so they know PAC 12 gymnastics.

Marie Case who was interim head coach at UNC and went back to assistant when Durante was hired. Clemson might be more likely for her to obtain as head coach and I would rather take that option. However, that said she is someone that is ready to take over a program.

Finally, Carly Dockendorf has done amazing work with Utah on beam. She’s a former PAC 12 gymnast at Washington, she had coached at Seattle Pacific and now Utah, so she has reasonable coaching experience.

In my opinion it will be a female head coach hired. No way will a male be hired. So it is unlikely for the Griffiths to get the job unless they are co-head coaches.

My three choices are
Amy Smith
Janelle McDonald
Carly Dockendorf

With Janelle being the more likely of the three, unless Smith wants to move up to a high profile program, then she makes the most sense.

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That is the consequence of pushing the team way beyond the competition floor but into social media and expecting viral routines every year. Plus the push to be social justice advocates.
This is all great and good to have, but IMO the championships focus has diminished and its almost as if the athletes are distracted by other motivations other than gymnastics.

That blame comes back to Ms. Val though and not Waller, who I suspect was trying to get the focus back on gymnastics, but found himself involved in athlete drama and unfortunately did not handle it well. Ms. Val would have had a pow wow with the team and gotten Jeffrey and whomever else to apologize and had a big kumbaya moment/ life lesson. Waller wanted to move on and work on the gymnastics part of the program, not the social emotional program which is clearly what more of the athletes wanted, per Marz’ feedback. The team wants a “nurturer”.

Now, there is a sort of underlying privilege IMO. Yes, they are students first. However, they are also athletes that have been given wonderful opportunities (that they have earned) that others can only dream of. They still need to remember that they are student -athletes and that both are important. They were given an athletic scholarship for that purpose.

You could see a major difference between UCLA the last few years who seemed to just want to have fun (which can happen) and the fire in Oklahoma at Nationals this year who wanted to win and prove a point.

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Idk, if I would go as far as Georgia. The UCLA squad is pretty darn talented on paper even with Marz and Norah possibly leaving. Georgia on the other hand…

Why would Wieber want to leave Arky? Here are some of my reasons:

  • While she has stabilized the Arkansas program, they are not some up and coming juggernaut and I am not quite sold on the narrative that she is doing an amazing job and is the next Val/KJ/Bev, etc. So making a move while one is “hot” is just purely market/business sense (although I have heard UCLA doesn’t have $ to pay top dollar?)

  • Lets face it, it would probably take 20 years to get Arkansas to the level of UCLA, if ever. Look at all the current programs that have come up Florida, Oklahoma, then Michigan, all those programs got there after their coaches were there for extended periods of time.

  • Related to that, UCLA is her home, her alma mater, if they do offer her the position and she rejects it, would she ever get the opportunity again in her career? Some people consider it their dream job to work for their university.

  • She was very well liked at UCLA by everyone athletes and administrators while she was there. Maybe she is just the right stabilizing force needed to bring everyone together and move forward?

I have no idea how Jordan genuinely feels about Arkansas and UCLA but looking from the outside, there are plenty of rational and compelling reasons why she might go, regardless of the current environment in the program. Of course who knows where UCLA is going to go with coaching search?

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I think you misunderstood me. I was not comparing Georgia to UCLA in terms of talent. I was comparing decades of tradition with polarizing coaches who were the face of the team. Suzanne WAS Georgia gymnastics. Vas WAS UCLA gymnastics. You cannot replace that.

That said, Georgia HAS had talent that has been squandered or just plain injured out.
Emily Schild, Rachel Luckas, Sabrina Vega, Victoria Ngyuen, Hailey De Jong to name a few.

Also, at some point Chris and Jordyn are going to want to establish themselves someplace as a home base if they want to raise a family. I guess UCLA could be that home base of operations.

One thing that Wieber is great at is recruiting. So that would be a big plus for UCLA if they want to continue the tradition.

Gotcha, that makes more sense. One definitely does not want to be the one that follows a coaching legend. You see that all the time in college football.

I would want someone with no previous UCLA/Val ties to become the new HC, but I’m not all that familiar with UCLA to know if they would really value having an alumni in that position. If it has to be an alumni, then Amy Smith seems like a smart choice because she has more coaching experience than Jordyn and has actually improved USU. However, at least one gymnast has come out about her poor experience at USU under Smith. There’s also been something like 20 gymnasts who have left the team since she took over which is worryingly high. So it seems that an Amy Smith hire could be a scandal waiting to happen.

As much as I like Arkansas, I don’t know if Jordyn’s results there have necessarily indicated she would be a top hire. Ark has been a consistent top 20 team and it has stayed that way, but recruiting has massively improved. This season they were inconsistent and were lucky to make it into the regional finals, when on paper they should’ve been contending for nationals. (It’s also worth noting that floor, was Ark’s worst ranked event this year.) Also, if Jordyn is looking pragmatically then she would be earning more and have a better quality of life in NW Arkansas compared to SoCal. IIRC Jordyn is on about $150k compared to Waller who is reportedly on $170k.

It’s also interesting to see how much CW has been crucified by the gymternet on Twitter and Reddit, when he was pretty well liked prior to the AJ incident. Imo he handled the situation badly and in a way that alienated some of the team, but he was most likely acting under the instructions of people higher up in the athletic department. Results were pretty poor until later on in the season, but I thought with UCLA missing nationals by a tiny margin may have been enough to justify a contract extension.

I also think the UCLA athletic department happily hung Waller out to dry when their own policies, actions, and inactions were also to blame. If I had a reasonably comfortable job elsewhere, I would think hard about whether or not I’d be willing to work for those people.

I think Jordyn’s results have been fine. Uneven, but fine. She’s a young head coach who had to navigate the pandemic; it was never fair to expect her to show up and put Arkansas in major contention in just a couple of years. I do raise my eyebrows at her hiring a bunch of pals, but at the same time, I don’t think many seasoned ACs would be especially keen to work for a 25 year old.

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UCLA posted the job listing for HC earlier. It says the application process closes in a week so I’m assuming they already have someone willing to take the position.

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