Coaching swaps sparked by scandal have led to sorry seasons

BY AP • July 21, 2017

Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze resigned instead of being fired Thursday for what Ole Miss called a pattern of personal misconduct.

Preseason practice is set to open in Oxford, Mississippi, in weeks. The Rebels are a month and a half away from starting the season against South Alabama.

This is no time for a coaching change, but offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations that Ole Miss said had nothing to do with Freeze being forced out.

These types of scandal-driven offseason coaching changes have become somewhat common in college football. History shows teams that endure unusual upheaval do not fare well.

Here are some notable offseason changes and how those seasons turned out.

Art Briles, Baylor. After an external investigation found the school mishandled sexual assault claims, some against football players, Baylor's board of trustees began the process to fire Briles on May 26, 2016.

Temporary replacement: Jim Grobe.

Result: The Bears opened the season ranked No. 23 and started 6-0, and then lost six straight. They won their bowl game to finish 7-6.

Tim Beckman, Illinois. Fired on Aug. 28, 2015, after an external investigation found he mishandled player injuries.

Temporary replacement: Bill Cubit.

Result: The Illini had shown some progress in the previous season under Beckman and started 4-1, but dropped six of their final seven games to finish 5-7.

Jim Tressel, Ohio State. Resigned on May 30, 2011, after it was revealed he lied about NCAA violations, involving players trading equipment and memorabilia for cash and tattoos.

Temporary replacement: Luke Fickell.

Result: The Buckeyes went 6-6 and 3-5 in the Big Ten. The administration did not self-impose a bowl ban when it had the opportunity and the Buckeyes lost the Gator Bowl to Florida to finish with a losing record. The next year Ohio State had to serve an NCAA-handed-down postseason ban when Urban Meyer's first team went 12-0.

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas. Fired on April 11, 2012, for lying to school officials about his relationship with a woman who was involved in a motorcycle accident with him.

Temporary replacement: John L. Smith.

Result: The Razorbacks had high hopes coming off an 11-win season, but they tanked, going 4-8.

Butch Davis, North Carolina. Fired on July 27, 2011, amid an NCAA investigation about players receiving improper benefits and academic misconduct.

Temporary replacement: Everett Withers.

Result: The Tar Heels started 5-1 before losing four of six to finish the regular season. They completed a lackluster year by losing to Missouri in the Independence Bowl and ended up 7-6.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at


More college football coverage:

in this topic

share story