A year ago, we blew up the coaching landscape in college football. After all that has happened in 2016, it only feels right to do it again.
The goal is once again the same: to have some fun, illustrating how quickly the coaching carousel could spin while remaining within the realm of plausibility.
Mirroring last year, we’ll lay out the particular booms of the dynamite from late November through January, just as they would occur in the real world.
*First disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only.
*Second disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only. Seriously, we pegged exactly one of these hires — Seth Littrell to North Texas — last year.
*Third and final disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only.
With that said, let’s get started.
and As have already been announced, Fresno State and Florida International filled their respective openings with very similar hires — Jeff Tedford and Butch Davis.
Purdue makes significant commitments to upgrade its player-support infrastructure. Les Miles makes significant commitments to update his offensive approach. The Hat now wears black and gold.
The Tigers close as ferociously as they started under Ed Orgeron, winning the Alleva Bowl over Florida and blowing out a struggling Texas A&M team on Thanksgiving night. With six wins in their final seven games and Alabama primed for the College Football Playoff whether or not they beat Tennessee again in the SEC Championship, LSU is the odds on favorite to fill the SEC’s slot in the Sugar Bowl. LSU AD Joe Alleva chooses to reward Orgeron’s service with a contract… for two years at just over $3 million a year. An insulted Oregon goes Cajun on Alleva and storms out of his office.
After another strong start is undone by yet another poor finish, sources at A&M let it be known they’re frustrated with Kevin Sumlin. Pointing to a 7-1 start derailed by a quarterback injury, Sumlin responds by letting it known through his own sources that he’s frustrated by A&M’s frustrations. An impasse develops in College Station.
Following a blowout of Kansas and another close loss — this one to TCU on Black Friday — Mike Perrin holds a hasty, poorly-thought-out press gathering in which he reveals the evaluation of Charlie Strong will continue until after the Longhorns’ bowl game.
Brian Kelly and Jack Swarbrick wrap up a 4-8 season by mutually agreeing it’d be best for both parties to shake hands and walk away — as long as the right situation presents itself. They agree to keep their arrangement under wraps.
With a couple weeks to openly search for his new coach, Georgia State AD Charlie Cobb hires his former colleague in Appalachian State defensive coordinator Nate Woody.
In an emotional press conference after a season-ending win over UNLV, Brian Polian reveals he’s stepping down from his post to take a position running Polian Enterprises.
In his post-game press conference after a Civil War loss to Oregon State, dooming the Ducks to an unthinkable 3-9 finish, Mark Helfrich graciously announces he’s stepping aside for the betterment of the program.
And as Black Sunday arrives, a number of programs announce coaching changes…
New openings: NC State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Rice, UTEP, Northern Illinois, Kent State, Nevada
Still open: Baylor, LSU
Openings filled: Fresno State, Florida International, Georgia State
Total openings: 15
As conference championships get wrapped up across the country, it seems the coaching carousel is only beginning to spin….
The world’s most miserable season mercifully over, Mack Rhoades completes a year-plus of legwork on Sonny Dykes by bringing the Texas native home to the heart of the motherland.
After winning the MAC Championship, P.J. Fleck accepts the MAC trophy in one hand and an NC State contract in the other. Negotiations hit a minor speed bump when NC State AD Debbie Yow explains it’s not physically possible to row the Ohio River from Kalamazoo to Raleigh, but the deal gets done.
Equally dissatisfied with the dry spells they’ve hit in the desert, Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham take separate, covert flights to meet with Cincinnati AD Mike Bohn, only to bump into each other in the lobby of the Dallas airport Hilton. Each assumes the other is there to meet with a different school. Basically, it plays out like this:
When neither lands the job, the scene at the airport plays out like this:
With uncertainty swirling in Baton Rouge, Dan Mullen and Tommy Tuberville check in with Joe Alleva. Just in case.
Told no by Alleva, Tuberville makes a stop in Atlanta. Just in case.
Oregon and Tom Herman hold long, productive discussions, and Oregon makes clear the job is Herman if he wants it. Herman expresses his appreciation, but says he’s going to wait to see how things play out closer to home before making a decision.
In searching for a new identity, the Owls co-opt one of the best ones out there. Rice hires Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren, a visiting professor to bring his “Intellectual Brutality” seminar to Houston.
San Jose State hires West Coast native and Cleveland Browns run game coordinator/running backs coach Kirby Wilson.
Announcing a newfound interest in Che Guevara, Mike Leach realizes he needs to live in Berkeley in order to properly understand the Marxist revolutionary. He accepts the Cal job.
North Dakota State is stunned in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, and stunned again when Chris Klieman leaves for Northern Illinois.
Washington State completes what is believed to be the first season in college football history where its running backs rush for 1,500 yards, catch for 1,000 yards and account for 30 touchdowns. Washington State’s running backs coach? Former Nevada assistant and Pistol guru Jim Mastro. The Wolf Pack bring one of the Pistol’s innovators back home.
After giving Tuberville the “thanks but no thanks,” Georgia Tech stays on the offensive side of the ball and rips a page from Georgia, and South Carolina, and Florida by hiring Alabama coordinator Lane Kiffin.
The comical situation with Rodriguez and Graham convinces Bohn and the Bearcats’ brass that they’re thinking about their coaching vacancy from the wrong angle. Cincinnati reverses course and hires Neal Brown away from Troy.
Tommy Tuberville pitched Cincinnati on the possibility he could carry the university into the ACC. To his shock and awe, the exact same pitch works at Boston College.
Sitting around Waco with a phone that’s not ringing and a staff that needs jobs, Art Briles dives in to rebuild his reputation while rebuilding UTEP football. The Miners can live with the blowback knowing the wins will come and the public’s attention is short.
New openings: Western Michigan, Washington State, Troy
Openings filled: Baylor, NC State, California, Cincinnati, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Nevada, Rice, Northern Illinois, San Jose State, UTEP
Still open: LSU, Oregon, Kent State
Total openings: 19
As the holidays arrive, it seems the coaching carousel is spinning to a close. But with major bowl games and the end of the NFL season upon us, seasoned veterans of this business know better…
LATE DECEMBER/FIRST FEW DAYS OF JANUARY
After a Liberty Bowl loss to Ole Miss in which his Longhorns just… can’t… make… the plays, a crestfallen Mike Perrin announces Charlie Strong will not return for a fourth season. Texas representatives make their way to Houston.
The Aggies crush a going-through-the-motions Baylor team in the Texas Bowl, and Sumlin announces after the game that he’ll be back in Houston next season — as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. A&M representatives stick around in Houston.
An awkward scene breaks out in the Superdome as cameras catch an irate Orgeron screaming at Alleva. It’s revealed after the Tigers’ Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma that Alleva isn’t budging on his low-ball offer. Coach O storms out into the Louisiana night, and Alleva gets Jack Swarbrick on the horn.
Beyond fed up with the Oklahoma faithful’s tepid reaction to yet another Big 12 championship and Sugar Bowl win, Bob Stoops secures a generous, lengthy offer from the Cleveland Browns, desperate for stability after it’s decided Hue Jackson can’t recover from an 0-16 debut. Oklahoma representatives make their way to Houston.
After watching a position coach with a good pedigree take the program heights never before seen, Western Michigan hires another position coach — this one with experience at Notre Dame and Ohio State. Longtime assistant Tony Alford becomes Western Michigan’s next head coach.
The Flashes pull off a coup by pulling defensive coordinator extraordinaire Mel Tucker home to Northeast Ohio for his first full-time head coaching job.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Oregon AD Rob Mullens, Phil Knight and other Ducks power-brokers huddle in Eugene. Bryan Harsin rebuffs them, unwilling to compete against his mentor in Seattle. Scott Frost isn’t comfortable taking his old boss’s job. Feeling pinned in, Oregon shocks the nation by hiring another offense-minded, Nike-connected coach with a proven ability to convince players to leave their sunshine-soaked homes to play up north. Oregon hires Dana Holgorsen.
Weighing an opportunity to bring a program back from the dead or turn the key on a Sun Belt champion, Bill Clark leaves UAB for Troy.
Mike Leach was an outside the box hire. Washington State lives outside the box. So does Joe Moglia. The CEO-turned-Coastal Carolina head coach is headed to the Palouse.
New openings: Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, West Virginia, UAB
Openings filled: Western Michigan, Kent State, Oregon, Washington State
Still open: LSU
Total openings: 24
It’s getting late in the game, which means the stakes are going up. Missing on a hire in early December is costly. Missing in January? That could be deadly. Which makes three regional rivals circling around the same candidate all the more entertaining…
LSU introduces Brian Kelly as head coach.
vs vs Tensions are high. They’re higher than high. Each school weighs out its positives and its pledges before Tom Herman, while at the same time weighing the cost of staying in the bidding, thereby running the risk of losing out in very public fashion to two local rivals.
UAB doesn’t just need a coach. UAB needs a savior. Ed Orgeron doesn’t just want to coach. He has been called to be somebody’s savior. Coach O accepts the UAB job.
Oklahoma pulls out of the Tom Herman sweepstakes, promoting Lincoln Riley to become head coach.
It’s a dynamic that’s written a thousand country songs: “You feel betrayed, I feel backstabbed. We’ve both said and done some things we regret. But, damnit, we were made for each other!” Rich Rodriguez returns for West Virginia.
Fearful of the damage of losing an Old West shootout to A&M, Texas hires North Carolina’s Larry Fedora and denies they were ever interested in Tom Herman in the first place.
A&M signs Tom Herman to a 7-year, $50 million contract. Fully guaranteed.
Hiring an offensive mind with Texas ties worked out for the Heels the last time around. Their next coach checks both of those boxes — and he’s a proven recruiter in ACC country, too. North Carolina hires Chad Morris.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Houston moves quickly to install defensive coordinator Todd Orlando as head coach.
New openings: Notre Dame, North Carolina, Houston, Arizona, SMU
Openings filled: UAB, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, West Virginia, North Carolina, Houston
Still open: None
Total openings: 29
With the Notre Dame job open, there is potential for another round of explosions across the landscape. However, sources indicate Swarbrick has a specific and unexpected candidate in mind…
Lane Kiffin tries to make it work at Georgia Tech, but it just doesn’t feel right. Competing against Kirby, Muschamp and Dabo doesn’t sound as much fun as he first thought, and he misses being out West. Lane jumps ship at Georgia Tech and replaces Rich Rod at Arizona.
Though the two are crosstown rivals, TCU and SMU have developed a sibling-like relationship throughout Gary Patterson’s tenure in Fort Worth. That continues as the Ponies hire TCU co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham to replace Chad Morris.
Blown away by the staff he’s aligned in his season away from the game, Notre Dame hires a former NFL head coach. The Father Tom Coughlin era is born.
Though they express outward disappointment with Lane’s decision, behind closed doors Georgia Tech feels an overwhelming sense of relief. The Yellow Jackets thought they wanted to change offensive systems, but realized after hiring Kiffin that they’re an option school at heart. Blessed with the opportunity to make a second hire, new Georgia Tech AD Todd Stansbury hires Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper.
New openings: None
Openings filled: Arizona, SMU, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech
Total openings: 33
With every job filled and recruiting entering a dead period, coaches, administrators and agents exhale a well-earned and collective sigh as they settle in to watch the Seahawks and Patriots meet in the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons.
But as the game heads to halftime, Jay Glazer breaks into FOX’s coverage to report Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke are butting heads in San Francisco while Twitter bursts into flames when a photo of Jim Irsay and Andrew Luck greeting Jim Harbaugh at the Indianapolis airport…
— THE END —