As the coaching carousel began to turn early this year with some high profile dismissals like Gus Malzahn at Auburn, Kevin Sumlin at Arizona, Tom Herman at Texas, and Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee, one of the first thoughts I had was how some programs were going to land a top-notch coordinator by bringing these former head coaches in.
However, despite the ability to get one of these guys for bargain (as nearly every single guy on our list is due a nice buyout), none of them have landed new roles of of yet - at least officially.
These are all guys that share impressive track records as coordinators and position coaches before climbing the ladder to head coach. Tom Herman had an absolutely epic run with three different quarterbacks during Ohio State's 2014 National Title run, Chad Morris' offenses at Clemson were as innovative as any in the country at the time, and Doc Holliday has put some really impressive defenses on the field in his decade at Marshall.
As staffs have continued to fill up, though, it has become clear that these guys aren't going to land those high-profile coordinator roles. Some of them very well may wind up in the NFL as a position coach (like former Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt landing with the Giants), or perhaps join another college football program in an analyst or quality control role like Will Muschamp has done at Georgia.
Others will opt to take a year away from the sidelines and perhaps opt to make a run at jobs with the grind of the COVID season securely in the rearview mirror.
Regardless of when (or if) they opt to come back to college football, we wanted to highlight some of the top coaches in football that haven't landed new roles yet, for whatever reasons those may be.
For the sake of this list, we focused on guys with head coach or coordinator experience in 2020, and the list is in no particular order.
2020 Job: Auburn Offensive Coordinator
Previous Experience: Arkansas (HC), SMU (HC), Clemson (OC)
After setting all kids of offensive records at Clemson and leading one of the most exciting modern offenses of its time, Chad Morris went 14-22 rebuilding the program at MSU before being let go after a 4-18 start with the Razorbacks. Morris has deep roots in Texas dating back to his days as a head high school coach with stops at Stephenville and Lake Travis, and it is going to be fascinating to see where the next step of his career takes him.
Could he reunite with Gus Malzahn at UCF? We'll see...
2020 Job: Arizona Head Coach (9-20 overall)
Previous Experience: Texas A&M (HC), Houston (HC), Oklahoma (Co-OC / WRs), Texas A&M (AHC / OC / WRs).
Sumlin's experience in the Desert wasn't what anyone had hoped for. After going 35-17 at Houston and then 51-26 at Texas A&M, a 9-20 mark in two-plus seasons in Tuscon was a disappointment. However, as both a coordinator and position coach working directly with every position but the running backs during his tenure as an assistant, a team looking to invest more in their offense would be smart to pick up Sumlin. He's got roots in the Air Raid, and had spread guru Noel Mazzone as his offensive coordinator at both Texas A&M and Arizona.
2020 Job: Texas Head Coach (32-18 overall)
Previous Experience: Houston (OC), Ohio State (OC / QBs), Iowa State (OC / QBs)
Herman's time in Austin was filled with ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments that are hard to fully grasp. However, his time at Houston, where he went 22-4 over two seasons, was a rousing success that has set a (perhaps impossibly) high bar for the program, and his ability as a play caller at Iowa State caught the eye of Urban Meyer, who brought him to Columbus to revamp the Ohio State offense and his fingerprints are still on the Buckeyes offense to this day. He'll have his pick of jobs soon enough.
2020 Job: Marshall Head Coach (85-54 overall)
Previous Experience: West Virginia (AHC / TEs), Florida (AHC / Safeties), NC State (AHC / WRs)
At 63 years old, Marshall decided not to renew the contract of Holliday despite a year where they won the division and fielded one of the stingiest defenses in college football. With deep ties to West Virginia, and plenty of good football left in him, as his last year at Marshall showed, a program would be smart to snatch Doc up, and soon.
2020 Job: Penn State Offensive Coordinator
Previous Experience: Minnesota (OC), Western Michigan (OC), Rutgers (co-OC / QBs)
Ciarrocca's time at Penn State lasted just one difficult year as the Nittany Lions limped to a 4-5 season. James Franklin decided to bring in Mike Yurcich to take the reigns of the offense, and that put Ciarrocca on the market just two years removed from helping Minnesota average 34 points per game, good for 21st nationally. His offenses at both Western Michigan and Minnesota made the most of their personnel, and a program is going to be better by bringing him in.
2020 Job: Baylor Offensive Coordinator
Previous Experience: Texas (analyst), North Carolina (HC), Southern Miss (HC), Oklahoma State (OC), Florida (OC), MTSU (OC)
When Dave Aranda landed his first head coaching job at Baylor, he tabbed Fedora to come to Waco to run his offense. The partnership lasted just one year, but Fedora has a solid track record of explosive offenses as both a play-caller (Oklahoma State, Florida, and MTSU) and as a head coach at UNC and Southern Miss.
2020 Job: Kentucky Offensive Coordinator
Previous Experience: Cincinnati (OC), Florida State (OC)
Universally regarded as one of the "good guys" in the profession, Gran's time at Kentucky ended back in December after five seasons and that tenure included a 10-3 season in 2018 where they beat the Florida Gators for the first time in decades to get a huge monkey off the program's back. Gran's Kentucky teams always seemed to be able to run the ball well, and he adjusted admirably back in 2019 when they were forced to move a an electric receiver (Lynn Bowden Jr) to quarterback after having their top two options hurt. Gran has worked for some of the blue bloods of college football including Miami, Ole Miss, Auburn, Tennessee and Florida State, and at 55, he also has a lot of good football ahead of him.
Also deserving of recognition: Bob Diaco (Purdue and former Notre Dame DC), Mark Helfrich (Bears OC - 2018-19 and Oregon HC 2013-16).