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Coaching Carousel 2019: Who Should Replace Head Coaches on the Hot Seat?

Chad Morris, Arkansas
While Chris Ash's dismissal at Rutgers officially started the 2019 coaching carousel, the firing this weekend of Willie Taggart really got it spinning. Taggart, who was let go after less than two seasons, shows how difficult leading a program is in modern college football, especially at a place like Florida State. Taggart will not be the last head coach to be removed as the 2019 season begins to wind down. Which positions are going to be available, and which direction will these programs go next?

Rutgers: Chris Ash (fired) Interim: Nunzio Campanile
The Scarlet Knights finally decided it was time to move on from Chris Ash, whose best record in Piscataway was a 4-8 2017. Interim coach Nunzio Campanile probably won't be brought back, so Rutgers should be starting anew with this hire. This is a tough job to sell, as whoever takes over will have to play Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State every year. It is also in a relatively weak recruiting area, especially compared to other Big Ten schools. For that reason, I think a former head coach, Greg Schiano, would make a lot of sense.
Projected Replacement: Greg Schiano (former Rutgers HC, former Ohio State DC)
Schiano is currently unemployed, but he won 67 games with Rutgers from 2001-2011, including a memorable 2006 campaign when they took down No. 3 Louisville. Schiano would probably jump at a chance to run back the "glory days", and the Scarlet Knights might not be able to afford anyone significantly better.
Other Possibility: Butch Jones (former Tennessee HC, Alabama offensive analyst)
Rutgers interviewed Butch Jones for the position this week, and he could make sense. Even though his Tennessee tenure ultimately ended in disappointment, Jones still won big at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He would definitely be able to recruit, something that cannot be said for the former staff.
Others: Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State HC), Lance Leipold (Buffalo HC), Major Applewhite (former Houston HC)

Florida State: Willie Taggart (fired) Interim: Odell Haggins
I thought Florida State would still give Taggart a third year despite a frustrating season. However, a bad loss to rival Miami was the final nail in the coffin, ending the Taggart era after just 21 games. Florida State boosters will have to pay a massive buyout, but that won't stop them from trying to attract some huge names to take over. Any new coach would enter with tough expectations, but a great recruiting area and some talent already in place.
Projected Replacement: Jeff Scott (Clemson co-OC)
Dabo Swinney has done a fine job keeping his coaching staff intact despite Clemson's success, but at some point the staff will have to breakup. Brent Venables is another candidate to finally take his talents elsewhere, but Scott seems like an interesting fit. His father was an assistant at FSU, and he knows this conference. Scott doesn't have head coaching experience at this level, but Swinney was in a similar spot when Clemson hired him away. He would be a fine consolation if the Seminoles aren't willing or able to take a swing at a huge name, such as Bob Stoops.
Other Possibility: Dave Clawson (Wake Forest HC)
Could FSU go inside the division to land Dave Clawson? Clawson isn't a flashy hire, but he is a guy with a resume that includes a lot of success. He came to Wake Forest from Bowling Green and has turned the Demon Deacons into a formidable program who is currently ranked. He also should be cheaper than most others FSU will look into.
Others: P.J. Fleck (Minnesota HC), Willie Fritz (Tulane HC), Jim Leavitt (Florida State analyst), Mark Stoops (Kentucky)

Arkansas: Chad Morris 
It takes time to build program, but Chad Morris has really struggled in his short time with Arkansas. A former Clemson OC who then took over at SMU, Morris is just 4-16 and has yet to win a league game. Making things even worse, the Razorbacks have some bad losses (hello, San Jose State!) and just got beat by 30 to a bad Mississippi State team. Oh, and that sub-.500 Mississippi State team put up 640 yards of total offense.
Projected Replacement: Mike Norvell (Memphis HC)
Mike Norvell has done a tremendous job continuing to lead Memphis after he took over things from Justin Fuente. The Tigers have already won the division twice under his leadership and are in the driver's seat to do it again in 2019. He is going to make the jump at some point, it is a matter of where not when. Norvell played football at Central Arkansas and was a grad assistant there, and a return close to home would be a win for the Razorbacks.
Other Possibility: Willie Fritz (Tulane HC)
Another AAC head coach ready for a promotion, Willie Fritz will be a possibility for this type of job. Fritz has built up both Georgia Southern and recently Tulane, who had won six games in the two years prior to his arrival, where he has now gone 22-24. He may still need a breakthrough season to really convince Arkansas fans, but Fritz has won everywhere he has gone and knows the region very well.
Others: Blake Anderson (Arkansas State HC), Kevin Steele (Auburn DC), Josh Huepel (UCF HC), Bill Clark (UAB HC)

USC: Clay Helton
Even though USC has dealt with a lot of adversity due to injuries this season, a 5-4 record following their 5-7 2018 simply won't cut it. Helton did have some moments, winning 21 games between 2016-2017 and the Pac-12, but the Trojans have really fallen off. There are some huge names that are going to be rumored for this type of job, namely Urban Meyer and James Franklin, but I see USC settling on somebody else at the end of the day.
Projected Replacement: Bryan Harsin (Boise State HC)
Bryan Harsin has done a terrific job leading Boise State in the post-Chris Petersen era, as the Broncos have gone 59-16 under his leadership, including two Mountain West Titles. Harsin continues to land some under-the-radar talent and develop it into NFL players, which isn't easy, even at a well-respected Group of Five school like Boise. It might be hard to pull Harsin away from his alma mater, but the right offer could bring him to Southern California. He is another guy that isn't a "flashy" hire but a smart, effective hire.
Other Possibility: Graham Harrell (USC OC)
Brought in from North Texas over the off-season following Kliff Kingsbury's abrupt departure, Graham Harrell has done a really job with this Trojan offense, as they are averaging 30.4 PPG despite playing a backup quarterback. It might make sense for 'SC to establish some continuity at this position by simply bringing in Harrell, who is going to get a head coaching gig somewhere. Harrell has learned under some respected coaches, namely Mike Leach, who he played and has coached under.
Others: Jack Del Rio (former USC LB, former Oakland Raiders HC), Jimmy Lake (Washington co-DC), Jeff Tedford (Fresno State HC), Andy Avalos (Oregon DC)

Vanderbilt: Derek Mason
Following James Franklin at a place like Vanderbilt is a lot to ask no matter who you are, and Derek Mason has done a fine job. After just seven victories in Mason's first two seasons, Vanderbilt has gone to two bowls and had their moments. However, a 2-6 start to 2019 that includes a bad loss to UNLV makes it clear this program just isn't going to get over the top with Mason. It probably is time to move on, and there are still plenty of options, even at a school without the football tradition of others in the SEC.
Projected Replacement: Clark Lea (Notre Dame DC)
Following Mike Elko's departure to take over the defensive coordinator job at Texas A&M, Clark Lea took over the Irish defense, and they've continued to be terrific. They rank highly in both points and yards allowed, and are well-known for getting after the QB with a ferocious pass rush. Lea is in line for a promotion, and it just so happens he is a Vanderbilt alum. He'd love to return to Nashville and take over a job that isn't easy, but has some potential. This is a great recruiting area, and the school's academic bonafides are obvious.
Other Possibility: Jeff Fisher (former Tennessee Titans HC)
Even though his NFL coaching career fizzled out with the St. Louis Rams, Jeff Fisher is still very popular in Nashville, as the former head man for the Tennessee Titans. In fact, there were rumors just this week he would be a top candidate for the job if Mason is indeed let go. Fisher does not have any college football coaching experience, but he could be the outside-the-box hire that ends up working out.
Others: Willie Fritz (Tulane HC), Mike MacIntrye (Ole Miss DC), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy HC)

Mississippi State: Joe Moorhead
Even though he earned a lot of respect for his work as Penn State offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead was always a little bit of a weird hire for Mississippi State. He had no experience in the SEC, and had spent his entire coaching career in the Northeast. It hasn't made it easy Moorhead has had to follow up a Miss. State legend like Dan Mullen, but a 4-5 2019 just won't cut it anymore in Starkville, particularly with the talent on this roster. Moorhead has been rumored for the Rutgers job, which would make sense considering his ties to the region.
Projected Replacement: Todd Grantham (Florida DC)
Would Mississippi State turn back to the Dan Mullen coaching tree to go with a guy like Todd Grantham? Grantham served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator under Mullen in Starkville, prior to joining him in Gainesville. He continues to do a terrific job with the Florida defense and has a lot of experience in the SEC, spending time with Georgia as well. Going with a proven SEC guy just makes sense for Mississippi State, but it would be interesting to see if Grantham would take this job.
Other Possibility: Bill Clark (UAB HC)
Bill Clark has done an excellent job with UAB, sticking with the program during their financial problems and two-year hiatus and leading them in a brand new direction. Since UAB's return, they are 25-10 under Clark and won the Conference USA last season. As a guy with a bunch of experience coaching in the Southeast, Clark makes sense for a SEC program looking for a rising name. Pulling him away from UAB might be tough considering how committed he appears to be to the position, but dollars talk.
Others: Lane Kiffin (Florida Atlantic HC), Blake Anderson (Arkansas State HC), Mike Leach (Washington State HC), Skip Holtz (Louisiana Tech HC)

Other Jobs That Could Open
UCLA: Chip Kelly
South Florida: Charlie Strong
Ole Miss: Matt Luke
BYU: Kalani Sitake
Tennessee: Jeremy Pruitt
Arizona: Kevin Sumlin

NFL? Coaches Who Could Be Turning Pro
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
Matt Campbell, Iowa State
Matt Rhule, Baylor
David Shaw, Stanford

Other Rising Coaches To Watch
Brent Venables, Clemson DC
Alex Grinch, Oklahoma DC
Tony Elliott, Clemson co-OC
Mike Elko, Texas A&M DC
Joe Brady, LSU Passing Game Coordinator
Jim Leonhard, Wisconsin DC
Steve Sarkisian, Alabama OC
Sean Gleeson, Oklahoma State OC

1 comment:

Karok said...

Thankss for posting this

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