Heat check: Coaching carousel turns into roller coaster
This coaching carousel is more like a roller coaster and this weekend there was enough action to make those trying to keep up dizzy.
Les Miles is staying at LSU, and Mark Richt is out at Georgia.
Iowa State and Virginia Tech filled their vacancies. Rutgers and Virginia created new ones.
There are currently 15 open jobs in FBS, but that could go up or down at any minute.
Instead of heat checking the AP Top 25, the heat checker surveys the openings, closings, candidates and potential dominos yet to fall as the silly season that started months ago starts spinning fast.
In a cluttered market place, buyers who move quick and decisively usually do well.
Virginia Tech – The day after Frank Beamer's last regular-season game, Justin Fuente from Memphis was announced as his replacement. A marriage of maybe the best young coach available and one of the best jobs on the market. This whole thing could not have worked out better for athletic director Whit Babcock.
Iowa State – Toledo coach Matt Campbell decided to take the toughest job in the Big 12. Credit AD Jamie Pollard for going strong after Campbell, who at 36 becomes the youngest head coach in the Power Five. Seems risky for Campbell, but it's a no-brainer for the Cyclones.
Illinois – With an interim athletic director and chancellor, the Illini basically punted. Bill Cubit, who took over on an interim basis when Tim Beckman was fired before the season, got a two-year deal on Saturday. ''It's not ideal but for now, I don't think it'll put a dagger in the heart of the program,'' interim AD Paul Kowalczyk said about the two-year contract.
Hawaii – The Rainbow Warriors hired former Hawaii quarterback Nick Rolovich on Friday. It's one of the toughest jobs in the country. Best to put it in the hands of someone who knows what he is getting into.
Georgia – The Bulldogs finally parted ways with Mark Richt and maybe it was in everybody's best interest. For all Richt's success in 15 seasons (145-51 with two SEC championships) he never seemed to max out the program's potential. It was a relationship that had grown stale, but that doesn't guarantee the next guy will do better. Former Georgia player and current Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart could be that next guy, though Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen worked at Florida the same time as Bulldogs AD Greg McGarity.
Virginia – The Cavaliers pulled the plug on Mike London after five losing seasons in six years. We could see this one coming for a while so don't be surprised if Virginia has already laid the ground work for a search. An idea: Call Richt and offer him anything he wants. Taking a job with lower expectations but good potential might be the perfect career move for him.
Rutgers – The season went sideways for Kyle Flood before it even started when he was investigated by the school for making improper contact with a professor regarding a player's academic status. He was suspended for three games in September instead of fired, and the team cratered to 4-8. Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is almost certainly NOT taking his old job. Rutgers tried to hire then-FIU coach Mario Cristobal when Schiano left but it didn't work out and Flood got the job. Maybe try again? Though the former Miami assistant and player might have better options.
RANKING THE OPENINGS
1. USC – The jewel of the West Coast. Can it lure Chip Kelly back to school?
2. Georgia – If there is a job that could pull Tom Herman out of Houston after one season and a big raise, this might be it.
3. Miami – Facilities issues. Stadium issues. How much is the private school willing to pay? But so many players right in your backyard.
4. South Carolina – The SEC pays big, but nobody ever won in Columbia the way Steve Spurrier did. Was it an outlier?
5. Missouri – Still hard to tell if being the SEC East school in the Midwest helps or hurts the Tigers.
6. Virginia – There is no reason the Cavaliers should lag this far behind Virginia Tech.
7. Maryland – The Big Ten East is not getting any easier, but the Terps live in the recruiting area the conference wanted so badly to access.
8. UCF – The conference, infrastructure and recruiting base sets up well for a relatively quick turnaround with the right coach – who can use it as a springboard to a Power Five job.
9. Syracuse – In a division with Clemson and Florida State, the goal is to be better than Boston College, Wake Forest and as good as N.C. State and Louisville. Not impossible
10. Rutgers – In a division with Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State, every season could start with four losses.
11. Memphis – Fuente was really good. Don't assume his replacement picks up where he left off.
12. Toledo – Outside of maybe Northern Illinois, it's the best job in the MAC.
13. Tulane – The school is investing in football, but it's still behind AAC West rivals Houston, Memphis, Tulsa, Navy and even SMU. Should pay well, though.
14. North Texas – Good spot for young offensive coordinator to show his stuff.
15. Louisiana Monroe – Have to start somewhere.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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