Throughout Chris Scott’s coaching career at Geelong, it has been hard to determine whether the tenure has been successful or not.
Taking over from Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson in 2011, Scott became the first coach since Malcolm Blight in 1997 to win a premiership in his first year. Scott was treated to an ageing but champion team full of stars like Jimmy Bartel, Matthew Scarlett, Paul Chapman, Steve Johnson and others, many of which would win their third flag in five years.
In the eight years following 2011, Scott has led his men to finals in each year except one, playing in 15 finals across that span for just four wins – a win percentage of 26.67% across eight years. That finals record includes five top-four finishes, just a single qualifying final win from those five attempts and four straight losses in preliminary finals over this same span.
Despite the poor finals record, Scott still holds the best winning percentage of any coach in the league, better than even the great Alastair Clarkson, boasting an overall 69.3% winning record from his 215 games at the helm. This percentage is the best of any coach in AFL history that has coached over 100 total games.
But what defines success for Scott?
Where is the line drawn between flat-track bullies at GMHBA Stadium and a successful coach?
Scott’s win percentage as coach has been largely assisted by his record at GMHBA Stadium. The Cats have played 70 games there during his reign as coach for 61 wins – almost a 90% win rate on their home deck.
Every club plays better on their home ground than any other ground around the AFL. But Geelong has built such a fortress down at Kardinia Park that only Sydney and Fremantle have managed to win more than once since 2011 in Geelong (Sydney an impressive four times).
Take away his record at home, and Scott’s statistics become 87 wins from 145 games, a win percentage of 60% – including his finals record. Holding around a 60% win percentage puts Scott in the same category as recently sacked Adelaide coach Don Pyke and ex-Fremantle and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon. This is also a drop of nearly 10% from Scott’s overall record, which makes you ask if his stats as Geelong coach have been heavily inflated by that fortress at GMHBA Stadium.
The main statistic that will always haunt Chris Scott, however, will be his failing finals record. Much discussion surrounded his bizarre decision to remove Rhys Stanley before the opening bounce of their 2019 qualifying final against Collingwood.
Scott made it seem like an error in judgement, believing it was going to rain before copping a perfectly dry game of footy with Mark Blicavs flung into the main ruck role. What made this decision even more bizarre was the ruckman standing on the other side of the circle was arguably the best big man in the league in Brodie Grundy.
However, this was not Scott’s first major blunder in September. In a 2017 qualifying final, Scott decided to drop Dan Menzel – who had booted nearly 40 goals across 17 games – and decided instead to sling Harry Taylor up forward in a game where Geelong would only manage five goals for the night.
In the same year, Geelong would travel to Adelaide for a preliminary final. Scott decided to play Nakia Cockatoo just six weeks after pulling a third hamstring injury for the year. The under-done Cockatoo only managed 60% game time and failed to impact the game.
In their 2018 elimination final, Scott played Jake Kolodjashnij on a wing. Before that game he had only spent one per cent of his career outside the back line.
Scott has outsmarted himself on too many occasions in finals situations, and under pressure, he has failed to prove that he has a solid Plan B to fall back onto when things aren’t going as planned.
When push comes to shove, Scott has had a talented team for his nine years of coaching and only managed to lead them to one grand final. It can be argued whether the 2011 premiership was the result of good coaching or a champion team. Either way, Scott has not enjoyed September success in the past eight years.
So what do you think Cats fans? Are repeated top eight regular season finishes enough for Chris Scott to be considered a successful coach?
Or is time running out for Scott to take the next step and lead them to another grand final?