Alex Magleby is stepping down as USA 7s coach, and the reasons he outlined both on NBC and with RUGBYMag.com explain the move.
Speculations that he is dissatisfied with the direction of the team, or is unsure how the team can get better are unfounded. As Magleby told RUGBYMag.com, “We’re not only going to qualify for the Olympics; we’re going to win gold.”
Optimistic words, for sure.
Magleby is stepping down because it is tough to be a professional coach in America. And if you have family on one coast and your job on the other, and your job requires you to be out of the country for at least nine weeks, then it doesn’t matter if you think you can win or not. And it doesn’t matter if you are winning or if you’re paid a good wage; sometimes there are other considerations.
Magleby’s wife is working on her career as a doctor, and they are looking at growing their family. He wants to be home.
Now USA Rugby has to find a replacement. When they needed to find a replacement for Al Caravelli, Magleby seemed a logical choice. Now? It’s hard to think of the likely domestic candidates. There just aren’t that many American-based 7s coaches who project to the international level. This might be because of lack of experience, or the fact their job is more that of team assembler than Xs and Os coach, or that the way they succeed domestically is not how you win on the IRB circuit.
We asked Magleby about that issue, and he rejected it.
“If you think I failed, then you could argue we’re not producing good coaches, but if you think I succeeded or did a good job, then there have to be other coaches in America who can do it.”
OK, well here’s a really expanded list of American coaches who might be in the conversation. Of these, most are a year or two or three away, but it might be a good idea to think about them.
Out top three:
Pacheco is definitely someone Magleby supports, and Walker is probably the one guy with the combination of organization and on-field coaching experience that approximates what is required with the Eagles.
Hawkins? A bold move but not completely out of the realm of possibility. He has been coaching, and his role with the team now is as a leader. He has the team’s respect, and he’s opinionated, which is good because a coach who was a recent player shouldn’t be worried about making (or retaining) friends. Hawkins would almost certainly have to stop playing to do this job though.
Some other names:
I won’t go through all of these. It’s a list of best available, sprinkled with those who might do really, really well. You know we love McCoy, and appointing her would be a unique move, to say the least, but I think if there is one woman around who could be the first to coach an international men’s team, it would be her.
Domestic guys in the pipeline:
These are relatively recent players trying to develop their skills as coaches. Of these, Osborne vaulted himself to the forefront with Life’s excellent performance at the CRC. These guys are not Head Coach candidates, but candidates to be in the coaching system, to be mentored, and to be an Eagle coach at some point.
How great would it be to have a Polynesian head coach some day?
Former New Zealand captain Eric Rush symbolizes all those New Zealanders wondering when Gordon Tietjens will retire.
Gollings is an intriguing possibility. He has settled in Seattle with Serevi. He is mostly unfamiliar with the American system, but gaining knowledge all the time, and he has a ton of knowledge. He’s been talked about a lot.
Friday coached England, and now Kenya. He is intelligent, passionate, and the relatively high-profile USA job might appeal to him. If these guys, or any one of the legion of overseas candidates, were to get the job, they would need a support staff over and above Andy Katoa to help navigate American 7s waters.
But they will have the Olympic Development Programs to help them, and a relatively settled squad upon which to build. It might work out.
But there’s still a lot to be said for the list, small as it is, of domestic candidates.
Serevi - why not? The greatest 7s player in the world, based in the USA< devoted to the game ... again, there's a question as to what kind of coach do you want. Serevi is not an admin guy. Fine, find an admin guy and set him loose.
That's the question then, what kind of guy will coach the team? Will be be all things, as Magleby and Caravelli were, or will he just worry about coaching the team, and leave the administration, budgeting, and player development to others? And can USA Rugby afford to hire two or three guys for the job?