All along you knew it was a lie, yet you repeated it all the same. That's why we lie to ourselves, after all -- for the comfort. An emotional blanket to get us through the tough times.
And, boy, were there tough times last year. Survive this, you told yourself, and you can survive anything. Endure the storm of night, and morning will reward you with clear skies and calm seas.
Surviving one crisis does not prevent another, yet you repeated the lie all the same. And when the cold winds arrived once again, there was no more denying it.
Arrive they did, bitter and angry, with a bite that cut right through the warmest clothing. Early, too. Earlier than last year. Earlier than ever, it seems. No matter how many sweet lies you told yourself throughout spring and summer, winter was always there. Lurking. Brooding. As the night grows longer and the air gets colder, the truth you can no longer deny is here. Nuclear Winter is back.
As in previous editions, the goal here is to have some fun while illustrating how quickly the coaching carousel could spin in the most entertaining way possible — while remaining tethered to the realm of plausibility.
*First disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only.
*Second disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only.
*Third and final disclaimer: This is for entertainment purposes only.
Nuclear Winter can take a toll on coaches, readers and families. We remind athletic directors that this exercise is just for fun and not all of these hires would be considered wise for your own professional longevity.
And with all that said, let us begin.
Miami: When Miami loses to lowly Florida State for the first time in five years, Miami announces Manny Diaz will finish the season but will not return afterward.
Virginia Tech: A win over Miami temporarily calms the waters, but a loss to Virginia -- his second in three years... and VT's second in 18 years -- is the end for the 6-year Justin Fuente era in Blacksburg.
Duke: David Cutcliffe announces his retirement moments after falling to Miami to close the season. Moments after that, all the coaches in the Arch Manning Sweepstakes -- Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Dabo Swinney and Steve Sarkisian -- are on the phone to get Cut in as a special advisor.
Miami: Warren Sapp, Ken Dorsey, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Jeremy Shockey sit down for dinner at Prime 112. The table is set for six. The five of them wait 10 minutes, then 15, then 20. Finally, Sapp fires off an impatient text to their sixth, Michael Irvin. "I'm on my way," Irvin replies, "and we're going to need another chair."
Georgia Tech: Geoff Collins is informed following his team's 38-3 loss to Georgia, in which his Jackets covered the spread, that his services will no longer be needed. He heads to Waffle House.
FIU: Butch Davis announces his retirement at the exact moment FIU AD Pete Garcia informs him his expiring contract won't be renewed.
UCLA: That UCLA-LSU game that felt so monumental to open the season was rendered fully irrelevant by season's end when Chip Kelly's contract is bought out following five straight losses to close the season.
Colorado State: Colorado State announces Steve Addazio won't be renewed, and also that it'd like a refund for all the money it paid Urban Meyer for his consulting services.
TCU: When he brings a Heim Barbecue cup with him to the podium to talk over his team's win over Tulsa, Sonny Dykes confirmed what we all suspected -- he's moving to Fort Worth.
Washington: When Jen Cohen announces Jimmy Lake will not be retained for a third season, she makes no effort to shoot down rumors Washington will try to recruit Chris Petersen back to the sidelines.
LSU: The state of Louisiana is spun on its head when Mel Tucker, fresh off a stunning upset of Ohio State and an 11-1 regular season, signs a brand new contract. Eight years, $60 million, fully guaranteed, with a $25 million buyout should he take another college job.
Arizona State: "Y'all didn't seriously think we would keep Herm through very obvious NCAA rules violations, did you?" AD Ray Anderson says, incredulously, when the coach doesn't appear for his final postgame press conference. Arizona State is open.
Florida: When Florida State stuns another archrival, UF and Dan Mullen mutually part ways. Unlike every other time schools announce that and it isn't really true, Florida and Mullen's parting really is mutual.
Syracuse: Jim Boeheim's basketball team tips off against Indiana in a packed Carrier Dome at 7 p.m. local time on Nov. 30. Syracuse football announces Dino Babers' firing at 7:15.
Washington State: Wazzu comes to terms with Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Bucking a recent trend, he will not leave his current team for his future team before season's end. Oregon heads to the Pac-12 Championship against Utah ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. At the press conference, Wazzu AD Pat Chun says Moorhead shot to No. 1 on the list his Oregon offense tried to run up the score on Washington.
USC: When James Franklin removes himself from contention with a 7-5 finish, Matt Campbell signs a lifetime extension at Iowa State, and USC makes no effort at pursuing Luke Fickell following Cincinnati's stunning loss at East Carolina, frantic USC fans reason Mario Cristobal is on the hook... or Bohn has Urban lined up.
Miami: Michael Irvin finally arrives -- it was a long dinner, plenty of appetizers -- with his guest. "Before you say anything," the Pro Football Hall of Famer bellows, "at least hear the man out." Through the doorway walks Deion Sanders.
The following schools also announce changes in the season's final days: New Mexico State, Texas State, Tulsa, UNLV
Jobs already filled: Georgia Southern, Texas Tech
Jobs filled: TCU, Washington State
New openings: Arizona State, Colorado State, Duke, Florida, FIU, Georgia Tech, Miami, New Mexico State, SMU, Syracuse, Texas State, Tulsa, UCLA, UNLV, Virginia Tech, Washington
Still open: Akron, LSU, UConn, UMass, USC
Total openings: 25
The first moves are a mere warning of what's to come. Grab your neighbors and your loved ones and take shelter now. While you still can.
Penn State: James Franklin returns home late from a recruiting trip. The girls are in bed and his his wife, Fumi, is watching the local news. The weatherman says a blizzard will hit Central Pennsylvania within 36 hours, and the 10-day forecast doesn't rise above 20 degrees. On her iPad, Fumi scrolls through photos of Los Angeles. James slides his phone out of his pocket and texts his agent.
Temple: Newly-hired Owls AD Arthur Johnson negotiates Rod Carey's buyout down from $4.2 million to a more manageable $3 million, all paid immediately. Twenty-four hours later, former Owls co-defensive coordinator Fran Brown returns as head coach.
Duke: He had his eyes on his alma mater, but with Dave Clawson set to return to Wake Forest, Josh Gattis hops on the next best option and takes the Duke job.
Georgia Tech: Coaching moves are often all about timing. And this time around, former industrial engineer Tony Elliott is ready to become Georgia Tech head coach Tony Elliott.
Miami: By the end of the dinner at Prime 112 -- in retrospect, that should've been a tell, shouldn't it? -- five of the Cane greats are on board, and only Sapp is against. He calls AD Blake James who, feeling his power slip away with each word out of Sapp's mouth, schedules an emergency meeting with president Julio Frenk. "I've got a plan," James tells his boss, "but it'll be expensive."
Florida: When Florida has the right coach, it's an unstoppable juggernaut. When it doesn't, it's an out of control mess. The right coach is an offensive coach, in more ways than one: he's at the cutting edge of the game's Xs and Os, and he's not afraid to piss people off. The right coach is Lane Kiffin.
LSU: No one thought he could do it, which made Scott Woodward want to pull it off (and pay) that much more. Jimbo Fisher is a Tiger.
Syracuse: Missing the College Football Playoff caused Nick Saban to "encourage" many of his assistants to find work elsewhere. Bill O'Brien takes the Syracuse job and brings former Orange head coach Doug Marrone along as his offensive coordinator.
Texas State: The previous coach all but passed on high school recruiting, the new coach has been doing nothing but recruiting high school recruits for months. David Beaty is a Bobcat.
Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech wastes no time moving after the top coach on their board. Jamey Chadwell and his flowing, mullet-like locks are Hokies.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars lose to the Tennessee Titans to fall to 2-11. Urban Meyer has endured more losses in one NFL season than he did in seven at Ohio State. Physically gaunt and his eyes vacant, Urban looks like a husk of the man we once knew. "I'm retiring," he says. "I just can't do it anymore. I'm done for good this time."
Ole Miss: Ole Miss moves quickly to scoop up the most overqualified coach on the board, a guy with an intimate knowledge of the landscape in the 'Sip with a history of success in the SEC. Hugh Freeze is a Rebel once again.
Coastal Carolina: Coastal Carolina is rolling, and so the defending Sun Belt champions keep their spread option game going by bringing Kendal Briles to the teal turf.
UConn: UConn needs experience and knowledge of how to build a program in the Northeast. They get both of those in Al Golden.
UMass: A former FCS coach of the year, Minnesota co-defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak gets back to his Northeastern roots and takes the UMass job.
Colorado State: The Rams make the move they should've made the last time around. Former Ram Tony Alford is now the Head Ram.
USC: James Franklin attempts to reengage with USC, but Mike Bohn has his eyes set on Mario Cristobal and Chris Petersen.
New Mexico State: Taken aback by the lack of interest in the position, New Mexico State re-hires Doug Martin.
Arizona State: Ray Anderson moves quickly to secure former Sun Devil coordinator Jay Norvell.
SMU: Fired by proxy at Miami, Rhett Lashlee doesn't stay out of coaching for long. He's the new head Mustang at SMU.
Tulsa: The run on Arkansas coordinators continues when Barry Odom takes the Tulsa job.
Nevada: Nevada returns to its roots, bringing Oregon running backs coach Jim Mastro back home.
USC: "You've built your own Hall of Fame legacy, but this place can bring you the one thing you don't have -- and something no one else can offer you," USC AD Mike Bohn tells Chris Petersen. Win a national championship, retire like a king and you'll be remembered forever as one of the greatest coaches of all-time." He needs to think it over.
UCLA: "We all know you want to coach ball and be left alone. Elsewhere, the college football coach is the biggest celebrity in town," UCLA AD Martin Jarmond tells Chris Petersen. "Here? Not even in the top 1,000. You're perfectly anonymous." He needs to think it over.
Washington: "You built this place up once, and you're the only one who can do it again," Washington AD Jen Cohen tells Chris Petersen. He needs to think it over.
Oregon: Oregon reaches the College Football Playoff as the No. 4 seed -- Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma are the others -- and presents Mario Cristobal with a Godfather contract offer: a rolling 12-year, $120 million contract, fully guaranteed. He tells AD Rob Mullens he wants to get through the Ducks' Playoff run before plotting his next move.
Jobs filled: Arizona State, Colorado State, Duke, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, Nevada, New Mexico State, SMU, Temple, Texas State, Tulsa, UConn, UMass, Virginia Tech
New openings: Coastal Carolina, Liberty, Nevada, Ole Miss, Syracuse, Temple, Texas A&M
Still open: FIU, Liberty, Miami, UCLA, USC, Washington
Total openings: 32
The carousel takes a brief pause for the Christmas holidays and bowl season, but once the calendar flips to 2022, a new round of cold winds begin to blow....
Texas A&M: "We value loyalty, and we know you do, too," Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork says. "We know you're in a tough spot, but we also want you to know we mean business. That's why we're going to give you the exact same deal Jimbo has." His heart and his head torn, Jeff Traylor's head wins out. When Bjork gets to page two of his presentation, Traylor's heart pipes down. Gary Patterson is on board as the highest-paid defensive coordinator in college football history, and Dan Mullen is aboard as the highest-paid offensive coordinator in college football history. Both men have it written into their contract that they never have to speak to the media.
UTSA: A finalist the last time around, Missouri running backs coach Curtis Luper lands the UTSA job.
Akron: Akron needs players, it lacks excitement, it grasps for direction. It gets all three when hiring Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson as head coach with Buckeyes defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs -- scapegoated when Ohio State loses to Georgia in the CFP title game -- as his shotgun rider.
UCLA: Sensing his position with Chris Petersen slipping, Jarmond inks a deal with a guy who feels his position within his own household slipping. James Franklin is a Bruin.
Washington: "I worked too hard to watch this place slip." Chris Petersen is Washington's head coach once again.
Liberty: Flames AD Ian McCaw works the Baylor connection to hire Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
Miami: With his Ducks in town to play Georgia in an Orange Bowl semifinal, AD Blake James plans a nighttime meeting in a boat off Biscayne Bay. There, Mario Cristobal takes in the grandeur of a kingdom he once dreamed would be his, standing before him. He verbally agrees, and the two plan to reconvene following the game.
Oregon: At 83 years old, Phil Knight has everything a man could want -- except the things you can't buy. He wants his Ducks to win a national championship, and he wants Nike to remain the preeminent sportswear brand on the globe. Simple pleasures, right? So when he gets word that Cristobal has agreed in principle to take the Miami job -- an Adidas school -- Knight Godfathers the original Godfather offer. A rolling 10-year contract that guarantees he'll perpetually remain among the five highest-paid coaches in college football, and a small but not insignificant stake in Nike. Cristobal hires Stewy Hosseini to negotiate the particulars.
FIU: FIU travels up the turnpike to Tallahassee to hire Willie Simmons away from Florida A&M.
Penn State: When Ryan Day doesn't nibble at the Raiders job (which eventually goes to Eric Bieniemy), Matt Campbell can't wait out his dream job and figures he can't pass up a job that's dream job adjacent. This former Pitt Panther is now the head Nittany Lion.
Iowa State: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. When Campbell leaves for State College, Iowa State turns to another Son of Mount Union, hiring Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
Miami: When the administration's play to bring Cristobal back to South Florida fails, Michael Irvin recruits Sapp, Andre Johnson and The Rock to his cause. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the former Seminole is now a Cane. Deion Sanders is the head coach at Miami.
Miami Dolphins: Michigan State assumed when LSU hired Jimbo that it was safe to bring Mel Tucker back another season. It assumed wrong. Impressed by how quickly he built up the Spartans, the Dolphins hire him to do the same in Miami.
Michigan State: The last time Michigan State hired Cincinnati's coach, it worked out okay. At $6 million per season, the Spartans hire Luke Fickell away from the Bearcats.
Cincinnati: Within the hour, Marcus Freeman is on US-31 South to Cincinnati.
USC: He can't live with football, and he can't live without it. The 37th and final opening of the 2021-22 FBS head coaching cycle is filled by none other than Urban Meyer.
-- THE END --