Coaching buzz: Latest on the open jobs, hot seats, cooling seats and bargain candidates

Coaching buzz: Latest on the open jobs, hot seats, cooling seats and bargain candidates

Latest news on open positions, hot seats, cooling seats, and cheap candidates in coaching.

The coaching carousel had worn out its shocks and struts by this point in the 2022 college football season and needed new ones.

Five teams from the Power Conference had already changed their head coaches: Nebraska, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Colorado, and, shockingly, Wisconsin.
The long-awaited dismissal of Bryan Harsin would soon be followed by a sixth team, Auburn.
Early adjustments had established a pattern.
However, the coaching cycle this year has been relatively quiet thus far and might continue to be.

Northwestern and Michigan State are two Big Ten teams that are looking for coaches, but neither position became available due to performance on the field.
Talk of additional potential changes is starting to spread, including at some institutions like Arkansas that weren’t on the preseason hot seat radar. But generally speaking, the market appears to be in a wait-and-see mode.
While some coaches have put the brakes on hot seat talk with strong starts, others are in desperate need of a victory right now.

Soon, as it always does, the carousel will begin to spin, and there will be some surprises.
Here is a look at the two current openings, the top candidates for this cycle, the coaches under the most pressure, and the assistants who have helped their profiles the most in the early going of the season as the season draws to a close.

Northwestern and Michigan State both have open positions.

Normally, it would be advantageous for both schools to have an early lead in their searches, but the peculiar circumstances surrounding each coaching change make matters a little more challenging. Former Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who was fired on July 10 after allegations of hazing in the program became public, filed a $130 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the school on Thursday. Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault awareness speaker, filed a sexual misconduct complaint against former Michigan State coach Mel Tucker, and the university fired him last month after looking into it.
Mel Tucker has made it clear he will follow suit.
Prior to the full mobilization of searches, campus issues may need to be resolved.

Although neither program is in the best of health, the financial benefits of working for the Big Ten — a total annual salary of about $70 million — make both openings appealing.

Apparently on the radar for openings in the Big Ten and SEC, a coach told me, “I’m happy here, I’m not looking around.”.
“But you have to be open because the Big Ten and SEC have split apart.

Northwestern’s president Michael Schill and athletic director Derrick Gragg are still at odds with one another.
The board of trustees met in person for the first time last month following Fitzgerald’s dismissal and the fallout from the hazing investigation.
Some trustees reportedly expressed disapproval of how the university handled the situation and expressed concern that Gragg was in charge of the coaching search.
However, sources claimed that Gragg’s position is currently secure. He has been working with DHR International, a search firm, to fill coaching positions since the summer and will do so going forward with the football opening.

‘Major lawsuit’ filed by Pat Fitzgerald against Northwestern.

Lawyer Dan K.
For the sake of former coach Pat Fitzgerald’s wrongful dismissal, Webb declares a “major lawsuit” against Northwestern.

Most likely, the school will look for seasoned head coaches who can stabilize the program.
It would make sense for Troy Calhoun of the Air Force, Willie Fritz of Tulane, Lance Leipold of Kansas, Dave Clawson of Wake Forest, and others. But after a 3-3 start, I’m told interim coach David Braun has a real chance to keep the job.
Braun’s eligibility for the bowl game and Northwestern’s manageable final schedule may be sufficient.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Tucker’s opposition to his termination for cause affects MSU’s search.
Even though former Spartans cornerback Alan Haller has served the school in a variety of capacities since the late 1990s, he hasn’t hired a football coach there.
MSU’s vetting process must be flawless, as it cannot hire someone with even the slightest hint of a character red flag. Would he be more likely to pursue candidates with MSU ties, such as Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi and Colorado analyst Pat Shurmur, or true outsiders?

Although Elko and Dickert might be more competitive at MSU, there may be some candidate overlap for the positions, including Kansas’ Leipold, Jake Dickert of Washington State, and Mike Elko of Duke.

hottest seats.

The positions that might become available at this time aren’t always the ones that popped up earlier in the season.
A few under fire coaches have had encouraging starts, while others who didn’t experience immediate pressure before the season are now feeling it.
The following six jobs were the subjects of a survey I conducted among coaching agents to determine which was most and least likely to become available.
The results were wildly disparate, adding to the cycle’s mystique.

Here is where I currently stand:.

Boston College: Jeff Hafley’s inclusion on preseason hot seat lists made some sense, but the school isn’t in the best financial position to fire a coach who is under contract through the 2026 campaign.
The Eagles’ season was largely derailed by injuries last year, but this year’s squad started with a loss to Northern Illinois before defeating FCS Holy Cross and then-winless Virginia by just three points.
For a coach in his fourth season, the trajectory is uncertain, but Hafley’s team gave Florida State a good fight in a narrow Week 3 loss and earned a respectable road victory at Army on Saturday to move to 3-3.
Blake James, the athletic director, did not hire Hafley, and it appears that he prefers to choose the head coach instead.


Indiana: For head coaches who need to succeed, a coordinator change can be either a spark or a warning sign.
The selection made by Tom Allen on Oct.
In the coming weeks, as IU tries to get back on track, it will be examined why it made decision No. 1 to fire offensive coordinator Walt Bell, whose team had fallen to 111th nationally in scoring. Allen has only gone 8–21 since a No. In 2020, 12 APs complete. He is still owed more than $20 million from the contract he signed following that cut-short season, but that sum drastically decreases on December 1. 1, 2024.
A source in the business remarked, “It’s a lot of money for Indiana football.”.
Although television revenue continues to flow in, Indiana, like all other Big Ten teams, can justifiably justify a costly coaching change if the team cannot be redirected without one.

Houston: Dana Holgorsen has taken offense when ESPN and others have listed him on lists like this one, and he is correct that a contract that runs through 2027 may make a change impossible, particularly after Houston switched from the AAC to the Big 12.
Houston, however, has been brave in letting go of coaches who don’t really excel (Tony Levine, Major Applewhite), and the team (currently 3-5) may be on the verge of its third losing campaign in as many seasons under Holgorsen.
According to a source in the industry, “It’s a lot of money to pay, but they’re a mess.”.
The Cougars’ first two Big 12 games were lost by a combined score of 85-41, and Houston suffered its first loss to Rice since 2010.
Houston’s game against 4-1 West Virginia on Thursday, the institution Holgorsen voluntarily left for a Group of 5 position, will be crucial before facing Texas at home and Kansas State on the road.

Mississippi State: When head coach Mike Leach unexpectedly passed away in December, the school made the logical decision to elevate defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to that position. Arnett, who had never held the position of head coach, was given a very modest contract worth $3 million annually, the lowest pay in the SEC, with a 50% guarantee if the institution changes its mind.
Law in Mississippi State limits his agreement to four years.
By SEC standards, the change “wouldn’t cost them really anything,” according to a coaching agent.
Despite two losses coming to Alabama and LSU, the team is 3-3 overall but 0-3 in SEC games. Mississippi State can make a change without incurring exorbitant financial costs, and athletic director Zac Selmon, who was appointed a few weeks after Arnett was promoted, would have the freedom to pick the right candidate. The period immediately following a holiday week is important because Mississippi State travels to Arkansas before hosting Auburn.

Dave Aranda guided Baylor to the Big 12 championship and a No. 1 ranking two years ago.
A 5 AP finish.
He appeared to be the long-term solution in Waco, Texas, but he turned down numerous Pac-12 opportunities to stay there.
However, after ranking No. 1, Baylor lost its final four games to finish 6-7.
Number 10 in the preseason standings.
In order to avoid a 1-4 start, the Bears needed the biggest comeback in team history at UCF after losing their season opener to Texas State (28 points down in the second quarter).
Despite playing at home on Saturday, Baylor was unable to overcome Texas Tech’s momentum and lost 39–14.
While hearing Aranda’s name mentioned alongside the hot seat contenders is still a little disconcerting, he needs a strong finish.
A reliable source in the sector said, “The bottom would really have to fall out.”.

Sam Pittman, an unorthodox hire who has no prior head coaching or coordinator experience in the FBS, was hired by Arkansas.
Despite this, Arkansas managed to compete in the all-SEC schedule in 2020 and finished 9-4 with a No. 21 AP complete in 2021.
However, Pittman has had trouble after a 3-0 start to the previous season, going 6-10 to finish with a 21-21 record overall.
The overall record matters because Pittman’s contract stipulates that if fired with a losing record, he would only be entitled to 50% of his remaining compensation rather than 75% of it.
However, that contract may not have taken into account Arkansas’ 3-7 2020 campaign due to COVID.
Pittman fits in well at Arkansas thanks to his quaint charm, and athletic director Hunter Yurachek hired him, which usually helps.
But things aren’t going well right now.
Even though their schedule is demanding, a coaching agent said, “I feel like that’s one year away.

The positions of Nevada (Ken Wilson), Northern Illinois (Thomas Hammock), UTEP (Dana Dimel), Ball State (Mike Neu), Middle Tennessee (Rick Stockstill), Arkansas State (Butch Jones), New Mexico (Danny Gonzales), and San Jose State (Brent Brennan) are among those being watched.
Group of 5: There will be movement here.
Although Mike Houston of East Carolina is under contract until November 2026, he is only 1-4 this year.
East Carolina “has no money,” according to a reliable source.
“They may have to endure it for a full year.
But being this awful is not acceptable. San Diego State is in trouble at 2-4, but coach Brady Hoke should be safe with a few victories left in the game.

seat cooling.

The good news is about to be revealed.
The chances of a few coaches who were on the hot seat lists before the season have increased.
All of these coaches will still need to put in strong second-half efforts because none of them are completely secure.

West Virginia’s Neal Brown was in need of a quick start due to a challenging September schedule and a disappointing 2022 campaign.
Since his 2019 arrival at West Virginia, he has never won more than six games, and the man who hired him, athletic director Shane Lyons, was forced out in November.
However, Brown and his team, which was projected to place last in the Big 12, finished the month of September 4-1 thanks to a strong defensive effort.
In a weak league, WVU needs to keep winning, but Brown is on track to lock up his spot for 2024.
A coaching agent said, “They could go 8-4, 9-3.”.
“He ought to keep his job.
His exit from the spotlight was coached.

Dino Babers, of Syracuse: Babers has had two consecutive successful starts to the season, and he is in a rut.
Prior to suffering back-to-back lopsided defeats to Clemson and No. 1, Syracuse won its first four games, including a victory on the road at Purdue.
South Carolina.
It’s certainly understandable that Syracuse would lose three straight games to the ACC’s top team, Florida State, but Syracuse dropped its final six games of the previous season after starting the year 6-0. The Orange are generally performing well, particularly on defense under coach Rocky Long, but Babers may need a strong showing against teams that can be defeated (Virginia Tech, Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest).

Eliah Drinkwitz, Missouri: Prior to the season, he may not have been a clear-cut hot seat candidate, but the short contract extension he received last season was met with skepticism in the business.
Drinkwitz was not hired by Desiree Reed-Francois, the athletic director, and a disappointing 2023 campaign might have put some pressure on her. But prior to Saturday’s loss to LSU, Missouri had a 5-0 record. Brady Cook, one of the best quarterbacks in the country with 1,879 pass yards and 13 touchdowns, and a strong defense.
Even though the remaining schedule is challenging, Drinkwitz has guaranteed his position barring a catastrophe.

Negotiable candidates.

A select group of seasoned coaches who may be available for hire but aren’t necessarily at the peak of their appeal are a potential relevant component of the upcoming coaching cycle.
Even though success is frequently transient, athletic directors and boosters love to hire candidates when they’re hot.
The four coaches listed below may not be in high demand now, but they could prove to be huge hits in the future.

MAC Coach of the Year awards were given to Matt Campbell of Iowa State in 2015.
He has won the Big 12 Coach of the Year award three times.
The 43-year-old Campbell has helped Iowa State achieve unprecedented consistency and an AP No. In 2020, nine finish.
Every year from 2017 to 2021, Iowa State qualified for bowl games and never placed lower than fourth in the Big 12.
But the team underperformed in 2021 and has only managed a 7-11 record over the previous 1.5 seasons. Campbell has been a target for positions with greater profile than those that are open right now, but he has remained committed to ISU.
If a school can overlook the recent difficulties, he would still be a great hire.

Pat Narduzzi, Pitt: In 2021, under his leadership, Pitt won the ACC championship and five times finished first or second in the Coastal Division.
His pipeline of NFL players has resulted in notable victories, such as the 2016 road upset of eventual national champion Clemson.
Pitt has two straight seasons in which they placed in the AP Top 25, but their current campaign—in which the Panthers are currently 1-4—has not gone well at all. Narduzzi, 57, has a contract with Pitt through 2030, but he may be open to a jump as he appears to have reached the limit of his capabilities there.

J. Fleck, Minnesota: Fleck, who is only 42 years old, is in his seventh season as the head coach of a FBS team.
In each of the past four full seasons (Minnesota finished 3-4 in 2020), he took over an already strong program and made it even more resilient.
With 11 victories this season, the team had its best year since 1904, and No. Its highest AP finish since 1962 was 10, though.
But given that the Gophers’ record this year is just 3-3, Fleck might be prepared to leave, perhaps for a position at Michigan State.

Jeff Traylor, UTSA: It seems a little strange to include Traylor here given that he has guided UTSA to Conference USA championships in each of the last two seasons. The transition to a new league is typically rocky, and the Road Runners are only 2-3 this fall after suffering single-digit losses to Houston and Army as well as a very demanding nonleague schedule.
Traylor has been loyal to UTSA and accepted a 10-year contract extension in 2021.
However, the 55-year-old could be seduced by the right opportunity, and his overall impact at his first FBS job should be alluring to athletic directors.

Interest is being generated by coaches and coordinators.

For athletic directors, recruitment agencies, and other parties involved in coaching changes, the first half of the season serves as an evaluation period.
Prior to the election cycle really getting going in November, candidates have a chance to stand out and generate some positive buzz.
Only Luke Fickell of Cincinnati and Hugh Freeze of Liberty were the two Group of Five coaches to land Power Five coaching positions in the previous year’s coaching carousel.
This year, will there be more opportunities for Group of 5 coaches?

Here are six coordinators from power conferences and six coaches from Group of 5 who are likely to spark interest.

Sean Lewis, the offensive coordinator for Colorado, gained attention for his work with quarterback Shedeur Sanders and the offense last month as Colorado rose to prominence as college football’s biggest story. Lewis, 37, made the decision to leave his head coaching position at Kent State in favor of a coordinator position under Deion Sanders, and so far, it has paid off.
Colorado, which finished 127th in points and 125th in yards last season, has already surpassed its touchdown total from that campaign.
The offensive line problems Colorado has resulted in haven’t stopped him from improving his system, according to coaches who have praised his work.
He “really started to study more pass game, mesh concepts, different splits, not super wide all the time, play-action,” according to a Pac-12 coordinator.
Sean has undergone significant change.

Manny Diaz, defensive coordinator for Penn State: When Diaz accepted the position at Penn State after three years as head coach of Miami, there was a feeling that he wouldn’t be without another opportunity to oversee his own program for very long. He was fired only after Miami realized it could hire Mario Cristobal.
He went 21-15 there and made three bowl appearances.
When it comes to fewest yards allowed (210.06 YPG) and fewest points allowed (9.06 PPG), PSU’s defense, which is stacked with future NFL stars, is first in the country under Diaz.
Although Ohio State and Michigan will pose bigger challenges, Diaz has once again cemented his reputation as a coach to watch.
The 49-year-old’s profile is even more geographically diverse given that he had never previously worked in the Big Ten.

Ryan Grubb, the offensive coordinator for Washington, was one of the most sought-after candidates for the position last winter.
After speaking with Alabama and Texas A&M, he decided to remain at Washington.
Grubb’s choice appears better now that Washington has kept advancing; the Huskies are second in the FBS in terms of yards per game and third in terms of points per game, trailing only Heisman Trophy contender Michael Penix Jr. Although Grubb, 48, was raised in Iowa and has strong ties to the Midwest, he has lived on the West Coast since 2017.
Given that Washington will continue to be in the national spotlight, he ought to be on the lookout for Power 5 openings.

Andy Kotelnicki, the offensive coordinator for Kansas, earned a $1 million contract after the 2017 season, and as the Wildcats rack up yards and points, his standing keeps rising.
After placing 20th last season, the Jayhawks are currently ranked 23rd nationally in scoring.
An offensive coordinator from the Big 12 told me, “That guy, to me, is doing the best job of any offensive coordinator in the country over the last two years.”.
“Nobody discusses him.
If I’m talking about hot coordinators, that’s the man I’d mention.
For Group of 5 positions, especially those in the Midwest, Kotelnicki ought to be on your radar.

Given Utah’s offensive limitations without quarterback Cam Rising (knee), defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley is not a new name to those who follow talented coordinators, but this season, Scalley has produced some of his best work.
Although their offense ranks 117th in the country in terms of points scored (19.2 points per game), the Utes have not given up more than 21 points in any game and are tied for fifth in scoring defense.
At Utah, where he played and has coached his entire career, Scalley, 44, has long been considered Kyle Whittingham’s replacement.
However, he might soon come to be viewed by others as a program leader.

A strong first half, highlighted by Saturday’s thrilling victory over Texas, could be used by Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to attract more head-coaching interest.
Before returning to his alma mater last year with coach Brent Venables, Lebby, 39, enjoyed success as a coordinator at both UCF and Ole Miss.
Oklahoma’s offense wasn’t terrible in 2022, but it dropped from No. In the final season under coach Lincoln Riley, the team finished eighth nationally in scoring. The Sooners destroyed a talented Texas defense to take the Big 12 lead and move up to fourth in the nation in scoring. Lebby might be a good fit for a number of open positions in the SEC or Big 12.

Coach Curt Cignetti of James Madison: His 108-34 career record in college (all divisions) should make his success this year no surprise.
However, a 5-0 start after an 8-3 season, JMU’s first in the FBS, has increased attention around Cignetti, 62, whose winning percentage at the school (.
After Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama, and North Dakota State, the number of 852 since 2019 is fifth in Division I.
Before becoming a head coach, Cignetti held positions at Alabama, Pitt, and NC State.
If the Dukes keep winning, he may have one more significant coaching opportunity.

Jamey Chadwell, the head coach at Liberty: From 2020 to 2022, he coached Coastal Carolina to a 31-game winning streak and some Power 5 buzz.
However, he ultimately chose to stay in the Group of 5 after accepting a more lucrative offer from Liberty.
Before tonight’s match against Jacksonville State, Chadwell, 46, had won the Flames’ first five games under his leadership.
He has a 36-6 record since the year 2020 and a 104-57 overall record as a college coach.
The only criticism of Chadwell is that he has no prior Power 5 experience, but it appears that this will soon change.

Charles Huff is the head coach at Marshall.
He previously held assistant coaching positions with three different teams in the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC. The 40-year-old is 20-11 while playing for Marshall, and his victories over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame last year stand out.
Last week, Marshall came very close to defeating NC State. Huff has some significant Sun Belt games coming up, including games on Saturday against Georgia State and in October.
James Madison faces 19 people. But as one of the few aspiring Black head coaches in the market, he will attract Power 5 interest.

Coach Rich Rodriguez of Jacksonville State: Jacksonville State is 5-1 in its inaugural FBS and Conference USA season, giving new life to RichRod’s winding and fascinating coaching journey.
With 80 points scored in its last two games, his team has started to flex offensively and has won in a variety of ways.
In addition to playing South Carolina in an all-Gamecocks matchup in November, Jacksonville State can record a milestone victory tonight against unbeaten Liberty. 4.
While the 60-year-old Rodriguez has some baggage, his overall record as a college coach is 177-122-2.
It certainly seems possible that there will be one more Power 5 chance.

Barry Odom is the coach at UNLV.
It was unexpected that UNLV fired Marcus Arroyo despite a three-win improvement, but Odom has shown himself to be a capable replacement thus far.
The Rebels are 4-1 under the former Missouri head coach, and for the first time in program history, the offense has scored 40 points in three straight contests.
It should be noted that UNLV began 4-1 last season before finishing 5-7, but Odom has the team well-positioned as a potential Mountain West surprise contender.
Odom, 46, did okay at Missouri (25-25), and he would undoubtedly be deserving of another Power 5 opportunity, perhaps in the Big 12.

The Cowboys aren’t unbeaten, but arguably no Group of 5 team has had a better first half than Wyoming, according to coach Craig Bohl.
To start the season, Wyoming overcame a 17-0 deficit to shock Texas Tech in overtime.
The following week, in Laramie, Wyoming defeated Fresno State despite being tied 10-10 at the half.
Bohl, who has been at Wyoming since 2014, could end his career there at the age of 65.
He might still have one major move left, though.
Apart from the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Bohl has won six or more games every year since 2016.
He has three FCS championships at North Dakota State and an overall record of 161-89 as a college coach.


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