The week immediately following the end of the regular season is always crazy crazy, as the coaching carousel really heats up.
But with so much movement early – specifically at LSU and Purdue, which fired coaches mid-season – this week has been relatively quiet.
While a few jobs have already been filled, one or two more might still come open and by our count, seven jobs are currently vacant. So where does the coaching carousel stand at this point, mid-day Tuesday? Here’s everything you need to know.
Texas: Filled (hired Tom Herman as head coach Saturday)
After a long drawn out, nationwide search produced Charlie Strong as the school’s head coach three years ago, this time around, Texas moved quickly. They fired Strong Saturday (after a disappointing 5-7 finish) and had Herman signed, sealed and delivered as their new head coach by the end of the day. His introductory press conference was met with almost universal praise.
We all know what Herman brings to Austin. The former UT grad assistant went 22-4 in two seasons at Houston, won a national title as an offensive coordinator at Ohio State in 2014, and is one of college football’s best recruiters.
The question now: After being touted as a future coaching star in the mold of Saban or Meyer, his acumen took a hit after a 9-3 regular season this year. It leads to the question: For all the hype, is he really the next great coaching football coach? Or just another good one?
LSU: Filled (hired Ed Orgeron as head coach Saturday)
The big winner in Herman going to Texas was clearly Orgeron, who was essentially gift-wrapped the LSU position after the school’s other top candidate chose Austin instead.
This was the right move for LSU, as the coaching market was thin on quality candidates behind Herman. Giving the job to Orgeron – a guy the players know and respect – made a lot more sense than trying to overpay (and potentially getting turned down) by second-tier candidates like Larry Fedora or Willie Taggart.
Oh, and the fact that Orgeron took a hometown discount, and now can overpay for an offensive coordinator (helllllllllllo Lane Kiffin) doesn’t hurt either.
Although Herman is gone, he left Houston in great shape going forward. Last year the Cougars signed the top class ever for a non-Power 5 school, and with former Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen sitting out as a transfer, this team shouldn’t miss a beat going into next season. Houston could end up with a better-than-expected prospect as their next head coach.
There’s a chance that the Cougars’ administration tries to keep the positive momentum going with someone off Herman’s staff. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has taken over on an interim basis and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite could be in the mix as well.
If the Cougars go outside “the family” could this be the head coaching landing spot for Kiffin? Take an offensive genius looking for a second chance and a roster flush with talent on that side of the ball, and could be a match made in heaven. If the Cougars hired Kiffin, they would unquestionably remain in the spotlight going forward.
Darrell Hazell was fired by Purdue months ago, and things have been relatively quiet in West Lafayette since then. Former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson (who spent time coaching at Purdue) was reportedly interviewed. Current Illinois State coach Brock Spack, who many thought would be interested, had some harsh words to the contrary.
The hot rumor is that Purdue has zeroed in on Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck -- who has said publicly (confirmed by his AD) that he won’t discuss any job until after this weekend’s MAC Championship. So is he really interested and just waiting? Or is this his way of saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to Purdue, as he hopes a bigger offer comes along?
If the Boilermakers can’t get Fleck, could this be Les Miles’ landing spot? The Boilermakers could do a lot worse than hiring a guy who has major ties to the Big Ten, is a dogged recruiter, and oh, by the way, also won a national championship a few years back.
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Oregon: Mark Helfrich remains the head coach (for now)
Maybe the most intriguing thing left to happen on the market remains at Oregon, where the Ducks are trying to figure out what’s next, after a disastrous 4-8 season. AD Rob Mullens is set to meet with Mark Helfrich later this week, which has led to confusion across the country. If Mullens was going to fire Helfrich, why not just do it following last weekend’s ‘Civil War’ loss to Oregon State?
Only Mullens knows, but one thing to consider is this: Fleck has been publicly tied to this job (if it opens) and he has also said (as stated above) that he won’t talk to any school until after the MAC Championship game. If that’s the case, is there any chance that Mullens is stringing out Helfrich’s firing, to wait for Fleck to become available (insert thinking-face emoji here)?
Baylor: One game left, but will be vacant
The smoldering grease fire that has been the 2016 Baylor football season will finally, mercifully come to an end this Saturday. But while the off-the-field drama continues to unfold in Waco, the drama on the field will continue as well. With Jim Grobe removing his name as a full-time coaching candidate going forward, where do the Bears turn?
Early signs pointed towards SMU’s Chad Morris, but that seems to have cooled, and now no one is sure what the Bears will do. Could they take a home run shot at Fedora, a Texas native who spent five years at the school as an assistant? Mike MacIntyre has extensive ties to Texas, but it also feels like he’ll get a fat raise and stay at Colorado. Could this be the landing spot for Miles? Phillip Montogmery is having boat loads of success at Tulsa, but would Baylor dare hire someone directly off Art Briles’ coaching tree?
Furthermore, for all the hype, how appealing is the actual Baylor job at this point? Remember, last year’s recruiting class was gutted following Briles’ firing and this year’s class has just one commit, meaning a major rebuilding project is underway. And that’s without the possibility that the NCAA somehow steps in and hands down sanctions. It also means that this job could be harder to fill than anyone realizes.
There are no obvious answers. If the school wants to go with a proven winner they could tab Beau Baldwin, who has won 10 or more games at Eastern Washington in three of the last four years (including 10 this season). Or if they’re looking for a hot shot assistant, maybe Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox? Wilcox was named a Broyles award finalist, as the Badgers currently rank in the Top 10 nationally in both scoring defense and total defense this year.
San Jose State: Vacant
Ron Cargaher was canned after four years at the school this weekend and there are no obvious replacements. Wilcox has been listed many places. You’d think that USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin – one of the best recruiters on the West Coast, and a guy who has helped revitalize the Trojans’ offense this year – should get a call. In a bizarro world, some are even calling for former San Jose State quarterback Jeff Garcia – yeah, that guy – to get the job.
San Jose State AD Gene Bleymaier spent 30 years at Boise State, including during the height of the Chris Petersen run a few years back. Don’t be surprised if a couple long-time Petersen assistants like offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith or co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake get a look. Heck, Petersen was already asked about it on Monday.
Florida Atlantic: Vacant
After three seasons Charlie Patridge was fired and it’s hard to know exactly where the school will go. The names most commonly floated with the gig include current Florida Gators defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and Gators’ linebacker coach and former Miami coach Randy Shannon. Could this also be the landing spot for Ohio State’s Luke Fickell?
With Butch Davis (a former Miami coach and uber-talent evaluator) now at Florida International, whoever gets this job better be able to recruit South Florida. If not, they’ll get left behind really quick.
Georgia State: Vacant
Trent Miles was quietly fired a few weeks ago, and there hasn’t been a ton of movement on the gig since. Early reports indicate that Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker – who once served as an interim coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars – is the favorite to get the job.