I don't pretend to know David Marsh very well. I've met him a couple of times. But it appears there are many people out there who also don't know David Marsh very well weighing in with rumors about what he might do. A lot of those people were shocked to hear that he would take over as Head Coach of UC San Diego.
Marsh, who's coaching resume means that he has had his name floated for every "extra super high profile" coaching opening for what seems like over a decade, is probably not what a lot of people expected to take over a program transitioning from Division 2 to Division 1 swimming.
But Marsh to UC San Diego makes a ton of sense, and speaks to the changes in the landscape since Marsh left college coaching to incubate a pro group in Charlotte, North Carolina. Let's tick off some obvious reasons why this move makes sense
1. San Diego is by all accounts a lovely place to live. Beautiful weather year round. One of the trickiest aspects of building professional swimming is making places to have professional swimming attractive to adult athletes, while balancing that areas that are attractive to people in their 20s and 30s are often expensive.
But my guess is that San Diego will be a much better draw for professional swimming talent than Charlotte was, even if it appears that Charlotte will continue to have professional swimmers.
2. The Bob Bowman affect. There are only a few truly creative people in charge of hiring swim coaches in the college system. One such person is Ray Anderson of ASU, who went for broke to get Bob Bowman to cross the country and take over a struggling team. Bowman's instant success has essentially provided a model for what Marsh will be doing in San Diego.
3. UC San Diego will see a talent boom in coaching. Likewise, San Diego will be an attractive destination for coaches, and now doubly attractive with David Marsh running the show. As I once said in a video, being a head coach of a combined program is far more about managerial skill than coaching skill.
David Marsh is perhaps swimming's top manager. He has figured out how to scale his own coaching ability by finding great coaches to work for him and putting them in positions to be really successful. A great example from the very successful Charlotte training group was that he had Bob Groseth, a vastly overqualified assistant coach, roaming the pool deck with him.
You can expect UC San Diego to be an even better platform for Marsh to put coaches in strong positions to be successful and find a way to create positively imbalanced situations like Groseth's.
It will be exciting to see what happens in the next few years in NCAA Division 1 Swimming, as there are for the first time in my memory five or more teams who are honestly pulling out all the stops to win a NCAA Championship.
Want creative ideas on hiring to make your team better? Write me!