Picking Coaches for CFB Openings

The amount of FBS jobs open this year is reaching unprecedented levels. There are currently 13 openings (and that’s after several have been filled), and these aren’t basement dwellar programs we are talking about either… Miami, Georgia, USC East and West… This coaching change season is going to shake the college football establishment more firmly than ever before. Let’s examine each opening, and determine if the university made the right choice firing their former head coach and who they should now hire.

 

Miami

Al Golden Fired- Right Decision

It was a foregone conclusion that Golden had to go in Miami. He built one of the worst staffs in football, was a terrible it at Miami, and the results on the field were an embarrassment. Golden is a good person with great integrity (shown in his staying at Miami despite being blindsided by NCAA), but his contract should’ve been terminated last year (or at least his defensive coordinator’s).

 

Who should be the next coach? -Butch Davis (former Miami coach), Tom Herman (current Houston coach), or Mark Richt

There are two easy choices for the U. Butch knows the special circumstances of Miami better than anyone, has rebuilt Miami from worse before, is a proven, veteran winner and program builder, the fanbase would unite around him (much needed with how aggressive Canes fans can be…), and he’d build a great staff. He’s a safe hire who could bring the program back into relevance before riding off into the sunset one last time. Another very different direction they could take (that would be just as good) is hiring Tom Herman. Herman has no connections to Miami, but the man can flat out coach. Ohio State has collapsed without him this year, and in the meantime, he’s reinvigorated a Houston program in eye popping fashion. He’d bring a spread offense that South Florida desperately craves while also carrying excellent recruiting chops, a hot young defensive coordinator (Todd Orlando), and an energetic young personality who could be there for the long run. There’s also a rapidly developing third option… Mark Richt. Richt fits the outline of what Miami wants in its next coach flawlessly- he’s an experienced winner, he has Miami roots (he was a quarterback there under Schenellenberger), he’s a stellar recruiter, and great offensive mind. If Richt wants the job, odds are Miami will give it to him in short fashion. The only question is if he still has a passion for coaching. There have long been rumors of him retiring to a simplistic missionary life after Georgia (he’s a very pious man), and many wonder if he still has that fire in his gut. Regardless, if Miami can’t land a Chip Kelly type coach, they can’t go wrong with Richt, Herman, or Butch.

 

Georgia

Mark Richt fired- Wrong Decision.

I don’t care how great you perceive your program to be, you don’t fire a coach who guides you to consistent ten win seasons in the SEC. Richt has been a model of consistency, and with staff changes at both coordinator spots he could’ve easily brought the program a to a resounding turnaround in 2016. Richt has done too much for the university to simply be cast aside like this. He deserved another year.

 

Who should be the next coach?- Tom Herman, Houston head coach

This was the hardest choice of any on this list. When you fire a coach like Mark Richt, you better be landing a seriously elite talent for your next coach. I was highly tempted to put Jim Tressel (former Ohio State head coach) at this spot, but I think Herman would kill it at Georgia. Yes, I know he just signed a new contract at Houson so this is unlikely, but if I’m Georgia I am still dropping stacks of hundred dollar bills on his house from privately contracted helicopters. Herman would revamp their offense into a high flying yet physical smashmouth spread while building a tremendous staff and doing a phenomenal job recruiting. I have zero doubt in my mind that Herman will be an elite coach someday soon, the question is where… Georgia should make it a priority to make it in Athens. Unfortunately don’t expect it to happen with the ‘Dawgs intent on hiring Kirby Smart (not a bad hire but there are better options) and Herman allegedly waiting for the Texas job to open.

Just for the record, I think Tom Herman is making a huge mistake not taking one of his many offers to become head coach at a major program. He’s done a great job at Houston, but he’s also gotten extremely lucky with timing as he walked into a ready-to-win roster. Next year might not have as sexy results, and as such, the buzz around him might not be as intense. If I was in his shoes, I’d strike while the pan is hot. And if he really craved that Texas job when it inevitably opened, he could still leave wherever he is for it regardless of media backlash.

 

Missouri

Gary Pinkel resigns- Not the university’s decision.

 

Who should they hire?- Promote current defensive coordinator Barry Odom.

Odom has been mentioned a great deal around college football as a head coach candidate, and he deserves the Missouri job. He has done an outstanding job with their defense, is popular with the players, knows the landscape there well, and could build off of what Pinkel created. It would allow them to promote elite defensive line coach Craig Kugligowski to defensive coordinator to retain his phenomenal talent despite the coaching change. Add in a few fresh faces for offensive assistants, and they have a coaching staff that can build off the foundation Pinkel built while improving the status quo.

 

South Carolina

Steve Spurrier resigned- Not the University’s decision (but it was the right one for both sides).

 

Who should they hire?- Kirby Smart, Alabama defensive coordinator

Smart knows the SEC inside and out, is a Nick Saban disciple, would bring a hard nosed defensive identity to the team, and is well regarded around college football. Smart would be a perfect pick in what I anticipate will be a long term rebuild in South Carolina. He can learn on the job as a first time head coach in a low pressure environment while still taking a job with high potential in the SEC with great facilities and fan support.

 

Central Florida

George O’Leary resigned- Not the University’s decision (but definitely the right one for both sides).

 

Who should they hire?- Mario Cristobal, Alabama offensive line coach

Cristobal is one of the best recruiters in football, has huge South Florida connections, and has built a program in the sunshine state from scratch before (FIU). He’s the perfect choice for UCF before he moves on to a bigger job.

 

Southern California

Steve Sarkisian fired- Right Decision, but should’ve been a softer, more amicable split. They would’ve been regarded as more reasonable if they had phrased it as “mutually part ways” or something to that extent.

 

Who should they hire?- Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles head coach.

It’s no secret that the Kelly-Eagles experiment has been an unadulterated disaster. Kelly is a great coach, but he is a horrific general manager. The two are headed for a split, and Kelly will have to choose between returning to his college stomping grounds or potentially to the Tennessee Titans. USC should back up a Brinks truck to his house. Pat Haden needs to get over his obsession with the pro-style offensive scheme, and go after Kelly. He’s a proven winner in the Pac 12, he’ll bring an exciting offense beloved by California recruits, he’s a big name coach who will energize the fanbase, and he’d revamp the program in a hurry. Kelly is a perfect fit in a big time program like USC.

 

UPDATE: INTERIM HEAD COACH CLAY HELTON RETAINED AS HEAD COACH GOING FOWARD

This is a hire that’ll certainly raise a few eyebrows around the coaching landscape. Most expected USC to go hard for an elite coach (in typical California style), but instead Pat Haden has made the very conservative decision to retain Helton. My gut reaction to this was at first negative, but the more I contemplate it, the better I like this hire. He’s had enough success this season to warrant a second look, the players have rallied around him, he’ll salvage a great recruiting class, he knows USC very well, and he gives the program some stability which they desperately require. Honestly, I don’t see Helton as a national title quality coach, but I could picture him rebuilding USC through the end of a sanction ridden era to consistent 9-10 win territory with a capable staff around him. This is actually a pretty decent hire, but don’t expect the fans or USC alums to react well to it.

 

Virginia

Mike London resigns- Right Decision to force him out, at the end of the day he simply didn’t win enough.

 

Who should they hire? John “Doc” Holliday, head coach Marshall

Holliday would kill it at Virginia. He’s built Marshall into a consummate winner, has tons of Virginia connections (he was a coach at West Virginia for twenty years), and is the kind of elite recruiter they need. Virginia is a rich recruiting ground, and Holliday would take full advantage of it with his prowess in that realm. He’s a veteran coach who knows how to rebuild a program and recruit plus he has tons of ties to the area. He’s the perfect choice.

 

Maryland

Randy Edsall fired- Right decision. Edsall failed at resurrecting the program, and there was little reason to give him more chances.

 

Who should they hire?- Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin gives many college football fans gag reflex, but he’s a great choice here. Maryland has potential as a program in a fairly talent rich area with great facilities and fans. Kiffin would give the program a swaggerful, offense oriented identity while bringing his knowledge of program building under Saban. He’d revamp their offense while cleaning up on recruiting. Kiffin would be a great pick here.

 

Tulane

Curtis Johnson fired- Right Decision.

 

Who should they hire?- Rob Ryan, former defensive coordinator New Orleans Saints

This is a weird choice, but in so many ways it simply feels right. Ryan might seem left field, but rumor has it he covets the job (he loves the area) and the his name has been tossed around in high circles. Ryan is a great defensive coach with NFL pedigree and swag. He’d give the program a true identity and a healthy dose of energy. He could be great here.

 

Syracuse

Scott Shafer fired- Right Decision. He had done a miserable job building off of what Doug Marrone built.

 

Who should they hire?-Ed Orgeron, defensive line coach LSU

I was tempted to write Marrone here, but he’s more likely to land an NFL job. Orgeron is an experienced, veteran coach with great defense and recruiting chops. He’s a beloved players coach who would bring some excitement to a dull Syracuse program while building a winner with great recruiting and stellar defense. He’s learnt since his Ole Miss disaster, and he did a great job as USC interim head coach.

 

Rutgers

Kyle Flood fired- Right decision, both on and off the field Flood has been a disaster.

 

Who should they hire?-Greg Schiano, former Rutgers and Tampa Bay head coach

I’d be surprised if Schiano didn’t land a higher profile job (he deserves it), but if he misses out, Rutgers should sweep in quickly. Schiano has rebuilt this program in riveting fashion once before, and he could easily do it again. He’s a great coach, and Rutgers would be lucky to land him.

 

North Texas

Dan McCarney fired- Right decision, no Texas team should ever be this bad.

 

Who should they hire?-Kendal Briles, offensive coordinator Baylor

North Texas needs a Texas coach who can recruit the talent laden area. Briles is that guy. He is (shockingly) an Art Briles disciple who has done a tremendous job with the Baylor offense while cleaning up in recruiting. This would be his big break, and he’d bring a great offense, energy, and recruiting prowess to the program.

 

University of Louisiana Monroe

Todd Berry fired- Right decision.

 

Who should they hire?- Frank Wilson, LSU running backs coach

Like North Texas, ULM is in a talent rich state. They need a great recruiter who can take advantage to that. Wilson is one of the best recruiters in the nation, and he’d do a phenomenal job luring Louisiana talent to ULM. This is a great fit for both sides.

 

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The coaching carousel whirlwind continues. We’ll keep you posted with all the updates!