It happens every year and will happen again next season, but for now the carousel ride that is the whirlwind of coaching changes in college football has slowed down and seems to have ended for now.
With East Carolina finding their replacement for Skip Holtz, who left for South Florida, there are no more head coaching vacancies in college football. though the head coaching spots are all filled right now, keep an eye on the Oakland Raiders, just in case. With Al Davis interviewing head coaching candidates while Tom Cable is still employed for the job, no coach is off limits. Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh has already turned down the job according to reports.
It has already been a crazy off-season for college football fans. We have seen three coaches get fired after some rather disturbing investigations involving alleged abuse from head coaches against players had surfaced in Florida, Texas and Kansas. Mark Mangino (Kansas), Mike Leach (Texas Tech) and Jim Leavitt (South Florida) were all relieved of their head coaching duties after being accused of some form of abuse against either an individual player (Leach and Leavitt) or the team (Mangino). Three openings in two BCS conferences (Big XII and Big East) were made available, but that is just the start of our crazy off-season.
Whether he was ready or not Florida State coaching icon Bobby Bowden stepped down from his familiar role as head coach, but the Seminoles already had a replacement in-line with Jimbo Fisher. For Florida State and Kentucky, who saw Joker Phillips fill the shoes as coach-in-waiting of Rob Brooks after his retirement, they avoided the mass hysteria of the head coaching search that 20 other programs embarked upon in recent months.
While the Lane Kiffin drama of leaving Tennessee for USC has taken recent headlines, the most notable coaching change is still probably the one that took place in South Bend, Indiana. When Notre Dame fired Charlie Weis the Irish were set to take major headlines in the sport until they found their replacement. He may not have left in the best light from Cincinnati, but Brian Kelly became the next head coach at a university that views itself in a bigger spotlight than any other institution. With all of the head coaching changes made though it appears that Notre Dame will come out on top with the best addition on the sidelines, but will Kelly finally bring Notre Dame back to have some major impact on college football?
Eleven BCS schools, including Notre Dame, have made coaching changes. and we almost saw a 12th change. Had Urban Meyer decided to follow through with stepping down at Florida we would have seen new head coaches at Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, USC, Tennessee – some of the biggest names in college football – all in one off-season. And had Meyer left who knows what ripple effect that would have caused.
Still some things remain constant. Joe Paterno is hanging on at Penn State. Bob Stoops is still in Oklahoma. Nick Saban is sticking at Alabama, for at least one more year.
Coaches to Watch – PRO
So with all of these changes made already, who should fans be keeping an eye on for the next go-around? The popular choices are Boise State’s Chris Petersen, TCU’s Gary Patterson, and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham. All three have lead non-BCS conference teams to the BCS, but Petersen has the most impressive resume so far. With a pair of BCS victories Petersen is now fifth in most BCS victories by one coach. That would be one more than Paterno and Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), the same number as Stoops. Petersen has more BCS victories than Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Nebraska, Oregon, Alabama (although they did win a championship recently), Michigan, Florida State, and Tennessee.
All three coaches look to be in a good situation where they currently are, but when a big program comes knocking it is hard to pass up. Another coach that has recently been building some steam is Temple head coach Al Golden and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. Both look like ideal candidates for a pair of Big Ten schools in the future, but a stop somewhere else along the way may not be out of the question. Golden has long been rumored to be a candidate for the Penn State job when (if?) Paterno decides to call it a career. Harbaugh, a Michigan man, could be a possible successor for whenever the Wolverines decide enough is enough with Rich Rodriguez.
Bo Pelini at Nebraska may not be heading anywhere else soon, but he has done a great job so far at Nebraska, and his stock is rising every week that Nebraska picks up wins. The 2010 season could be a great one for the Cornhuskers and if it is, Pelini will be the man given all the credit.
Coaches to Watch – CON
While it is fun to evaluate coaches on the rise, which coaches are on the most pressure to perform next season? I already alluded to Michigan’s Rodriguez. Since coming to Michigan things have not quite played out the way Rodriguez expected them too in the Big Ten. I firmly believe that he can succeed at Michigan though if given the time. He has been stuck with some young talent that needs time t develop in to his system, but if Michigan finds themselves home for a third straight bowl season, the experiment in Ann Arbor could be put to a painful end.
It is hard to imagine but Stoops could be under some pressure in Oklahoma. the 2009 season, although riddled with injuries, could have gone better. Should it have? With a freshman quarterback for essentially the entire season the Sooners plunged out of the top 25 after starting in position for the BCS Championship game. I think Oklahoma will be back next season to Top 25 level of play, but Stoops needs to win big, especially after Texas has become he team to bat in the Big XII. Stoops is the kind of guy who could be targeted by an NFL team though but he will need a solid season in 2010 to ensure that teams are looking in his direction.
What coaches do you think will be on the hot seat in 2010? What coaches will take the college football world by storm? Who should be fired, or hired? Who will be the next coach to leave for the NFL? Let me know your thoughts on the entire coaching universe down below in the comments section.
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