With a dozen openings already on the books still a week and a half ahead of Thanksgiving, the potential is there for this to be one of the most active coaching markets in recent memory. Being that coaching markets is our forte, we thought we’d conduct a thought experiment as to how wild this year’s coaching carousel can possible and (somewhat) realistically spin.
In short, what would happen if the coaching market went nuclear this winter? What events would have to take place for that to happen? We’ll lay out our case in stages, mimicking the chain reaction powers the coaching change cycle we see every year.
* First disclaimer: this is for entertainment purposes only.
* Second disclaimer: this is for entertainment purposes only.
* Third and final disclaimer: seriously, this is for entertainment purposes only.
Immediately after losing a hard fought ACC Championship to Clemson, Larry Fedora hops in Whit Babcock’s waiting getaway car outside Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium and the two make like bandits for Blacksburg.
After weeks of deadlock with The U’s old guard pulling for Butch Davis and the Uncle Luke/former players faction pining for Mario Cristobal, the two sides compromise on Charlie Strong, who says yes before Miami AD Blake James finishes offering the job.
Rick George vacates his post as Colorado’s AD to return to his alma mater. His first act of business is to hire the antithesis of Tim Beckman. George works quickly, plucking Dino Babers away from Bowling Green.
For only the second time since (seemingly) 1927, USC goes outside the USC family and hires James Franklin away from Penn State. Across town, “son of…” can be heard quite loudly on UCLA’s campus. Game on.
Recognizing the benefit a stable head coach position brings a program, Mack Rhoades hires Memphis’s Justin Fuente. Fuente largely keeps the pieces in tact and should go on to build upon Gary Pinkel’s success.
As soon as Fedora heads north, his offensive coordinator Seth Littrell calls North Texas and accepts the job, checking all the boxes the Mean Green need checking while fulfilling the added bonus of looking like Coach Taylor.
New openings: Texas, Penn State, North Carolina, Bowling Green and Georgia (plus Colorado’s AD position).
Still open: Central Florida, Louisiana-Monroe.
Total openings: 17.
Athletic directors and search committees are “working tirelessly” to make the best decisions for their programs.
Meanwhile, the good folks at Virginia, Rutgers, Tulane and oh, so many more programs are about to visit with their athletic directors. Oh, and we’re sensing a dark moment in the force. We may be about to lose another legend.
FIRST AND SECOND WEEK OF DECEMBER
Tired of the Piscataway Clown Show, a Rutgers booster gathers Julie Hermann, takes her to the president Robert Barchi’s office and says, “President Barchi, I will allow you to fill in that check for whatever amount you need on one condition: I want P.J. Fleck here. Tomorrow.”
They say things come in threes, and the retirements of Steve Spurrier and Frank Beamer nudge 76-year-old Bill Snyder out the door a second time. Don’t worry, he comes back and takes the job again in 2024, 2039 and 2060.
Inspired by what they saw at Rutgers, Georgia’s most powerful group of boosters and tells Jere Morehead, “To hell with his buyout. Let’s get him Jimbo Fisher here.” The men, with more wealth between them than the nation of Georgia, then shared a hearty round of barking.
Buffalo’s Danny White nabs the athletics director’s job and wastes no time interviewing Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and Alabama assistant head coach Mario Cristobal. All three impress, but Marshall head coach Doc Holliday blows White away and lands the job.
The Hoos draw a who’s who of interest, ultimately interviewing James Madison’s Everett Withers, former Texas coach Mack Brown and former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, but ultimately break the mold with a smart, young hire in Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren.
18 hires in the books (including Tracy Claeys at Minnesota).
Open at this time: Florida State, Louisiana Monroe, Kansas State, Western Michigan, Mississippi State, Memphis, Marshall & Houston.
And what’s that, the NFL season’s ending soon and they’d like to line up some interviews? Stay tuned…
LAST HALF OF DECEMBER/EARLY JANUARY
The coaching carousel slows a bit after recruiting closes and the holidays arrive, but then spins with a vengeance shortly afterward.
Faced with its first coaching search in 40 years, Florida State takes its time, looks far and wide, eventually landing on Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez. Dalvin Cook immediately books a room in New York for the 2016 Heisman ceremony.
With Cal in a bowl game, the program on good footing and Jared Goff off to the NFL, Sonny Dykes hangs a “Mission Accomplished” banner across off the Memorial Stadium facade and returns to the motherland.
One former Bob Stoops assistant turned ACC coordinator has already nabbed his first head job (Seth Littrell at North Texas), and now another joins him as Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables heads home to run his alma mater.
UCLA’s coaching search is short. There’s a good reason for that. Within an hour and a half of Mora’s departure, Todd Graham has already set up camp in the head coach’s office and signed himself to a six-year contract.
27 hires in the books
Open at this time: Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas State, California, Western Michigan.
Just as it feels like the coaching market is beginning to cool down, the NFL makes a couple changes and would like to speak with a some prominent college coaches…
A couple NFL changes shake up the college landscape. And with recruiting now open again, schools with openings have to work quicker than ever to fill them.
Just as we predicted in September, Tom Coughlin steps down as the New York Giants’ head coach, but only after an unexpected NFC East championship and a Wild Card upset of the Green Bay Packers. Brian Kelly immediately aborts a 1,500-mile recruiting trip to take the job.
Greg Byrne decides to stay on the offensive side of the ball, but wants someone who will put roots down in Tucson and make the Arizona job his own. TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham fits the bill.
The pattern is clear: Arkansas State hires a young offensive coordinator, wins the Sun Belt and watches that coach leave for a bigger job. Rinse and repeat. In keeping with tradition, A-State replaces Blake Anderson with Gus Malzahn protege and former Red Wolves assistant Rhett Lashlee.
That’s 41 new hires on the books touching every conference – and somehow Bobby Petrino wasn’t among them.
With every FBS job now filled, the college football community catches its breath, pops a bowl of popcorn and settles in on its collective couch for a nice, quiet evening of Super Bowl viewing…
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4
The entire football community watches the New England Patriots take a 27-23 decision over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, then drops their jaws in astonishment as, upon accepting the Lombardi Trophy, Bill Belichick says, “Jim, it’s been a long road for me. Now that I have my fifth Super Bowl, I think I’ve come to the end of that road. This is it for me.”
THREE DAYS LATER
A plane owned by Patriots owner Robert Kraft is spotted picking up a passenger at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport….
– THE END –