With today being the end of the regular season for college football, I’ve decided to blog about some of my thoughts on what the upcoming coaching carousel will look like. In short, I believe we will have fewer openings in comparison to years’ past, and that Texas & LSU will be the two biggest jobs to have opened up– and both have reached a conclusion, with LSU making Ed O the permanent H.C. and Texas nabbing Tom Herman from Houston.
Currently Open Jobs
Baylor, the job that has been open the longest, is a really tough one to predict. Tons of media reports are pegging SMU’s Chad Morris for the job, but I don’t buy it. First off, I’d much rather live in Highland Park then in Waco, and I’m sure he feels the same way. Secondly, I think he’s waiting for Texas A&M to eventually open up (his alma mater), as Kevin Sumlin’s days are likely numbered. To conclude, I just don’t see him leaving what he has at SMU for a tough rebuilding job in Waco. The next logical candidate would be Larry Fedora, which might just happen. I do think Fedora wants to return to a job in the states of Texas or Oklahoma, but Baylor might not be his first choice. He’s got a great gig at UNC going for him, and he’s done quite well there (exception: N.C. State). He might pass and wait to see if Oklahoma State opens up in a couple years, as there’s visible friction between Mike Gundy and the school’s boosters. Philip Montgomery is another viable option, as the former Briles assistant has done phenomenally at Tulsa. But I have a good feeling that Mack Rhoades (the school’s new A.D.) will want to pick someone with no ties to Art Briles given how tenuous the situation is there. And there’s a fair chance Coach Monty wouldn’t even want the job, given how the school has scapegoated his old mentor through the past year. There’s a chance they give Jim Grobe another year or two to clean up the mess if those three coaches pass. Or they could go for a “hotshot” assistant such as Lincoln Riley or Doug Meacham.. I really don’t know.
I think I have a clearer idea about what Houston, which just opened up this morning after Tom Herman departed for Texas, plans to do. They’ve hired a search firm, which makes me think they’ll go after a bigger name coach. Sure, Major Applewhite and Todd Orlando are viable internal candidates to get the full-time gig. But I have a feeling they’ll look elsewhere. Houston remains committed to building a big football program that will eventually compete in the Big 12. They were willing to give Herman a $5mil/yr salary, and I predict they’ll be willing to throw that kind of money at other coaches. Dana Holgorsen, a former UH assistant, is a real candidate for this job. He seems somewhat disgruntled at West Virginia, as he started off this year firmly on the Hot Seat with the shaky support of AD Shane Lyons. Houston would be really wise to gauge his interest. Sonny Dykes is in a similar position, with Cal being an obviously awkward fit for him. If Houston throws a lot of money his way, I’d imagine he would at least listen. Mike Leach is another big-name coach who might have some interest in returning to Texas, especially if he thinks he can get Houston into the Big 12. They might also ponder an Art Briles return, but I think he’s more likely to rebuild his career in the NFL than at the college level. Other names to watch include Lincoln Riley, Doug Meacham, and Sterlin Gilbert if they go the coordinator route.
Purdue seems to be close to finishing their coaching search, yet just about no one has much of a clue who their main target is. There are reports that it’s WMU’s P.J. Fleck, but I don’t buy it. Fleck has something special going on with the undefeated WMU Broncos, and I don’t think he’ll begin looking for a bigger job until after the MAC title game. It might be Kevin Sumlin, if Texas A&M is willing to make some sort of deal with Purdue officials to reduce his buyout number. But I don’t think he’s their guy either. It could be Les Miles, who it seems has been advocating for the job for the last few months. It also could be Brock Spack, who interviewed with officials last week. It’ll be interesting to watch this one play out. They might have a ‘secret guy’ that no one knows about right now.
Georgia State is in the early stages of their coaching search. Jeff Scott is my current prediction, as he has done a spectacular job at Clemson and he’s got strong ties to the southeast recruiting region needed to succeed there. Jamey Chadwell, Will Hall, Bobby Lamb, Shawn Elliott, and Bryan McClendon have also been buzzed about for this opening, among others. Point blank, it’s really early to begin speculating on this one. They’re using a search firm, so I expect it to be a relatively quiet search. But as always, I’ll keep y’all posted on this one.
State of the Fringe Jobs
Here’s my current and final Hot Seat Radar for the year…
(1) Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati (+1)
(2) David Bailiff, Rice (+1)
(3) Paul Haynes, Kent State (+1)
(4) Sean Kugler, UTEP (+11)
(5) Ron Caragher, San Jose State (NEW)
(6) Mark Helfrich, Oregon (+3)
(7) Doug Martin, New Mexico State (-)
(8) Charlie Partridge, FAU (-2)
(9) Brian Polian, Nevada (NEW)
(10) Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette (NEW)
(11) Lance Leipold, Buffalo (-1)
(12) Rich Rodriguez, Arizona (-7)
(13) Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (-2)
(14) Steve Addazio, Boston College (-6)
(15) Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (-3)
I believe that the first three jobs are near-locks to open up. Tommy Tuberville is despised by his fan base, while David Bailiff and Paul Haynes have repeatedly disappointed and have gotten enough time to turn things around. I’ll be very surprised if all three aren’t fired this weekend.
I believe the next four jobs are about 50/50 to open up, with Ron Caragher at SJSU being the most likely to be canned. I’ve got no idea what Oregon is planning, to be honest. Rob Mullens has been keeping things to himself, and I’d expect his final decision to come after today’s Oregon State game. Even though I don’t agree with the call, I’m leaning that NMSU retains Doug Martin simply because it’s very hard to win there. And I think Partridge is probably more likely to stay than go, because he’s only been there for a short time. In short, I could see all four opening up, but I can also see all four getting another year to turn things around.
I think Brian Polian and Mark Hudpseth are safe for another year, but you never know. About 75% sure that both return to their jobs next season, unless they depart for another job this offseason, most likely in the form of an NFL or Power 5 assistant job.
I’d be somewhat surprised if Lance Leipold or Rich Rodriguez are fired this weekend, but stranger things have happened. Both definitely deserve to start next year on the hot seat if they return as head coaches.
Kliff Kingsbury, Steve Addazio, and Kevin Sumlin are near-locks to return as head coaches for various reasons, but each should start next year firmly on the hot seat.