With only four FBS head coaching vacancies remaining, the coaching carousel has almost concluded. There will still be some moves made when it comes to hiring assistants and all of that jazz, but for the most part all of the fireworks are over with.
The coaching carousel had potential to be epic this year when the brass down in Baton Rouge were considering canning Les Miles and hiring Jimbo Fisher. The administration apparently came to their senses and realized the math didn’t make sense for them to fire Miles and give Fisher a blank check.
Just like any other year, there are winners and losers of the coaching carousel, as some schools made home run hires, while some hit seeing-eye singles or struck out looking.
Here are my winners and losers from the coaching carousel.
The first winner goes to the Cougars, whose head coach was one of the hottest names on the market this year after almost leading his squad to an undefeated season in first year down in Houston. Tom Herman has proved to be a home run hire in year one, and he received a substantial raise to stay put and not head for greener pastures. I thought it would be wise for Herman to stay one more year, but I didn’t think he would actually do with some of the jobs that came open. Enjoy him while you can Houston fans.
The Al Golden era came to an end down in Coral Gables, and the Hurricanes made a home run hire in Mark Richt. The folks at Georgia may have grown impatient with Richt, but he is still a damn good coach who can bring in talent and that’s just what Miami needs right now. I would have loved to have seen Butch Davis get another try at The U, but Richt was too good of a hire to pass up.
The Trojans made the correct decision this time. The last time they were in the market for a coach they let Ed Orgeron walk after he kept that team together and won some ball games. They then proceeded to hire Steve Sarkisian. We all know how that turned out. I mentioned Clay Helton awhile back as a legit option for USC if things went well under his watch, and after getting USC to the Pac-12 title game he was named the head man in charge. Naturally some changes had to be made on the defensive side of the ball, but this was the right hire for USC despite there being some whispers of courting Chip Kelly.
- Virginia Tech
Lets get this straight, it will be very hard to replace a legend like Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech. With that said, Justin Fuente was one of the top names on the market and the Hokies landed him to take over the program. On top of that they convinced one of the best defensive coordinators in the country in Bud Foster to stick around, which is just as huge as the Fuente hire in my opinion. Pairing Fuente’s offense with Foster’s defense could end up being dangerous in the ACC.
- South Carolina
Lets talk about the Gamecocks. They’ve known since about halfway through the season they were going to need to court a new head football coach when Steve Spurrier elected to resign abruptly. Despite all of this they got turned down by Tom Herman, Kirby Smart, and Rich Rodriguez. Yikes. So now they end up with Will Muschamp, who had a less than stellar stint at Florid as the head coach, and had a less than stellar year as the defensive coordinator at Auburn this season. On top of that, Muschamp hired the same exact offensive coordinator that he had at Florida. What is the definition of insanity again? This has the makings of a disaster in my opinion, as the program is in need of a major overhaul and needs someone in charge who can turn it around quickly. As much as I love Coach Boom as a defensive mind, I think this is a poor fit.
I’m just flat out confused on this one. I still don’t know what to make of ECU firing Ruffin McNeal out of the blue, and the firing came at a time that made absolutely no sense at all. The only thing that makes sense in this instance is if they know they can land someone like Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Riley was the offensive coordinator at ECU prior to him leaving for Norman, but is he ready to become a head coach? McNeil had the Pirates bowl eligible for of his six seasons as head coach and that includes the 2014 season when he upset ranked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and scored 70 on North Carolina. If Riley bucks at the idea of taking over for a close friend and got ran off, I have no idea who ECU will target. They better have a plan in place.
The Cougars had been a pretty consistent program under Bronco Mendenhall, but now he has bolted for Virginia. This is very unfortunate for the Cougars, as it comes at the end of the coaching carousel and their choices for coaches will be pretty slim. It is a tough job recruiting to BYU, even though they have had their fair share of talent over the years. They will have to find the right coach, who can mesh in a very unique situation and get the right kind of kids to come to Provo.
Yes, they retained Les Miles, but that’s not why they are losers this go round. The Tigers are losers because the administration and some rouge boosters tried to run off a good coach for another coach who wasn’t much better, and they failed miserably. Instead of firing Miles and paying him fifteen million dollars to go away, Miles is still in charge and the administration looks horrible and in serious need of restructuring. If I was Les Miles, I would be using whatever pull I had to get that athletic director out after the stunt he pulled over the past several weeks.