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CFB Coaching Carousel 2022: Who Replaces Coaches on the Hot Seat?

Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina

College football as a whole is undergoing a massive transformation, with Playoff expansion, NIL, and conference realignment all impacting the sport. The coaching profession is also undergoing significant changes, with more jobs opening than ever before and money being thrown around like nothing. Less than a month into the season, we have three head coaching vacancies at Power Five schools, and it's likely that number is only going to grow over the coming weeks. Another hectic coaching carousel appears to be on the horizon, and it's always fun to speculate which coaches may be heading where over the offseason. I decided to try my luck guessing which direction in each program will go in at head man.


Arizona State Sun Devils

Out: Herm Edwards

In: Jeff Grimes, Baylor OC

Arizona State has been considered a sleeping giant by many in the college football world, but enters an uncertain future following the conclusion of the Herm Edwards experiment. The program resides at a massive, well-known institution in a beautiful state with plenty of football talent. However, it's unclear what the future looks like for AD Ray Anderson, and the program could be in store for NCAA penalties as a result of past infractions by Herm and staff. I have no doubt they will swing at some big names, but I believe Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes makes a lot of sense. The 54-year old has never been a head coach, but he has proven experience throughout the world of college football. Grimes was an OL coach for two decades before earning the BYU OC job, where he helped develop Zach Wilson into the No. 2 overall pick. That work earned him the same position on Dave Aranda's staff, where he engineered an impressive offensive turnaround in 2021. He's one of the top assistant coaches in college football right now and also has past Arizona State ties, serving as OL coach in Tempe from 2001-2003. Add to that his deep ties in the state of Texas, which could open up recruiting grounds throughout the Southwest for ASU, and Grimes checks a lot of boxes. He might not be as flashy as some of the other names that will be thrown out there, but flashy certainly doesn't always mean better.

Other Names to Watch: Hugh Freeze (Liberty HC), Kenny Dillingham (Oregon OC), Tom Herman (former Texas HC), Bronco Mendenhall (former BYU & Virginia HC), Troy Taylor (Sacramento State HC)

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Out: Geoff Collins

In: Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina HC

Georgia Tech is one of the more intriguing jobs on the market this offseason. On one hand, it's a Power Five school located in a rich recruiting area with a tradition of success. On the other, it has stringent academic requirements and is still transitioning away from the triple-option era. Plus, the other Power Five program in the state just happens to be dominant at the moment. Georgia Tech will still have plenty of interest, and Deion Sanders' name has been tossed around by a lot of the college football public, but I believe Coastal Carolina's Jamey Chadwell is a perfect fit. Chadwell has made his rounds as head coach in the Southeast, coaching at Division II North Greenville, Delta State, Charleston Southern, and now Coastal. He is 94-54 overall with a 34-19 mark as full-time head man with the Chanticleers, including two straight 11-win campaigns. It seems like only a matter of time before he takes a swing at a Power Five program, and the timing could work out well. With QB Grayson McCall set to graduate after this season and the Sun Belt getting more difficult, it's hard to know what Coastal's ceiling is in the long-term. He gets an opportunity to take the jump at the right moment with a solid program. Plus, his unique scheme would be a nice fit with the Yellow Jackets, who never acclimated to Geoff Collins' pro-style offense the way he hoped.

Other Names to Watch: Deion Sanders (Jackson State HC), Bill O'Brien (Alabama OC), Curt Cignetti (James Madison HC), Kendal Briles (Arkansas OC), Patrick Toney (Florida DC)

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Out: Scott Frost

In: Lance Leipold, Kansas HC

The Scott Frost hire seemed to be the ideal decision for Nebraska following the frustrations of the Mike Riley era. He was a former quarterback during the height of the Nebraska dynasty who had quickly ascended his way up the collegiate coaching ranks. His return home to Lincoln seemed like the beginning of something special, the "prodigal son" coming back to lead his alma mater back to glory. Four-plus seasons later, with a 16-31 record to show for it, the Cornhuskers are searching for someone new. There will be big names tossed around here, but the reality is that this job is not what it once was. The program has clearly slipped, and recruiting talent to Nebraska has become significantly more difficult in the modern era of college football. Even so, this is a school with unwavering fan support and rich tradition that should be better than the product that has been put out there in recent years. I believe Lance Leipold is the right guy to lead the program back into Big Ten Title contention. All the current Kansas head man does is win; he went 109-6 at his alma mater, Wisconsin-Whitewater, before turning around Buffalo. Just a year-and-a-half into his tenure with Kansas, Leipold has gone 6-10 and has the Jayhawks off to their best start in over a decade. If he keeps it up, it's only a matter of time before even more schools came calling, but I like the fit with him at Nebraska. He would do a good job handling the massive expectations of the job and building back a winning culture with the 'Huskers.

Other Names to Watch: Matt Campbell (Iowa State HC), Tom Herman (former Texas HC), Bill O'Brien (Alabama OC), Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers HC), Matt Entz (North Dakota State HC)

Likely To Open

Auburn Tigers

Out: Bryan Harsin

In: Charles Huff (Marshall HC)

Bryan Harsin's hiring at Auburn following the COVID-shortened 2020 season was always a strange one. Harsin was coaching at his alma mater, Boise State, at the time and hadn't spent very much time in the Southeast, with the lone exception being a pit stop at Arkansas State. Even so, Auburn decided to bring him on, and just one-in-a-half years later, things are not in a good spot. After a solid start in 2021, things fell apart late in the year, and rumors of misconduct between Harsin and an Auburn staffer nearly led to his dismissal over the offseason. He kept his job and has Auburn off to a 3-1 start, but it's clear that Harsin is not liked by the major power players at the school, and the schedule upcoming is brutal. This is probably a 5-6 win team in 2022, which likely isn't enough to secure Harsin a third year on The Plains. With his tenure looking doomed, Auburn is likely to go a more traditional route with their next hire. Enter Charles Huff, widely known as one of the best recruiters in the collegiate game right now, and the current Marshall head coach. Huff is young, just 39 years of age, but he's had a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and should become a household name. He's spent time at several big-time programs and also a year in the NFL, before landing at Alabama as associate head coach and RB coach. Following two seasons learning under Nick Saban, Huff took over at Marshall, where he is off to a 9-8 start that included a landmark win over Notre Dame this year. Some may think this is still a bit early considering he's been a head coach for just 17 games, but this gives Auburn a rising name who has the recruiting chops to go head-to-head with all the other power players in the Southeast.

Other Names to Watch: Deion Sanders (Jackson State HC), Bill O'Brien (Alabama OC), Rhett Lashlee (SMU HC), Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina HC), Jeff Lebby (Oklahoma OC)

Colorado Buffaloes

Out: Karl Dorrell

In: Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs OC

Since taking over as Kanas City offensive coordinator in 2018, Eric Bieniemy has been a regular name in NFL coaching discussions, but remains in the same post. Perhaps he's just waiting for the right opportunity, but at some point he'll make a jump elsewhere. Could that jump be back to the college ranks at his alma mater? Colorado is a school searching for a new identity, hoping for a fresh start after years of mediocrity since their Pac-12 move. Karl Dorrell came in and did a good job during the wacky 2020 season, but the last year-and-a-half has been a disaster and there's little reason to believe he's the guy that can take the program back to glory. Dorrell may still get another year, considering how weird of timing his hiring was, but if Colorado does choose to move on, I love the fit with Bieniemy. The 53-year old is a terrific offensive mind who knows the school and program; he not only played there, but had two coaching stints in Boulder, one as RB coach in the early 2000s and one as OC from 2011-2012. I believe this is a program that needs to get back to their roots, and Bieniemy fits the mold. There may be an adjustment period as he learns the recruiting game, but this is a school that will need a different energy on the recruiting trail to be successful anyways. 

Other Names to Watch: Troy Calhoun (Air Force HC), Ricky Rahne (Old Dominion HC), Alex Grinch (USC DC), Craig Bohl (Wyoming HC), Matt Wells (former Texas Tech HC, Oklahoma analyst)

West Virginia Mountaineers

Out: Neal Brown

In: Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky HC

Neal Brown looked like the perfect guy to lead West Virginia football in a new direction following Dana Holgorsen's departure to Houston, but it looks like Year Four could be his final in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are 19-20 under Brown's leadership and have finished .500 or below each year in Big 12 play. They currently sit at 2-2, but it's difficult to find a bowl berth with their remaining schedule, which still includes Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. It's likely West Virginia will move on over the offseason and throw their hats in the ring, but there's no obvious replacement. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell has quickly worked his way up the college football coaching world, but what are the chances WVU goes in that direction after firing Brown? No, this feels to me like a situation where they try and bring in a rising Group of Five name and I'm surprised Western Kentucky's Tyson Helton isn't getting more attention. The younger brother of former USC and current Georgia Southern head man Clay, Tyson is in his fourth season with Western Kentucky. He's gone 26-17 overall with the Hilltoppers, 18-6 in the conference, and has led them to three straight bowl games. Even after playing for a C-USA Title in 2021, his 2022 team has the chance to be his best yet, fresh off a 73-0 pounding of Florida International. Two other reasons to believe Helton could be in store for a jump: he knows the landscape in the area and should be able to recruit, and WKU has become somewhat of a breeding ground for future Power Five coaches. Since 2010, WKU has sent Willie Taggart, Bobby Petrino, Jeff Brohm to P5 jobs and it feels like only a matter of time before Helton is next.

Other Names to Watch: Dan Mullen (former Florida HC), Curt Cignetti (James Madison HC), Zack Kittley (Texas Tech OC), Jeff Lebby (Oklahoma OC), Tony Gibson (NC State DC)

Jobs That May Open

Boston College (Jeff Hafley) -- After spending several seasons in the NFL and one at Ohio State, Jeff Hafley appeared ready to replace Steve Addazio on Chestnut Hill. After impressing with a 6-5 record in 2020, Hafley and Boston College have gone 7-9, including a 2-8 mark in the conference. They don't look like a bowl team this year and the recruiting has trailed off after some early successes. BC brass is still likely to give Hafley a fourth year unless things really go downhill, but this seat is warming fast.

Names to Watch: Manny Diaz (Penn State DC), Chris Creighton (Eastern Michigan HC), Al Washington (Ohio State LB coach), Jeff Monken (Army HC)

California (Justin Wilcox) -- Cal doesn't exactly have a ton of money to be throwing around, but it's fair to wonder if Justin Wilcox is going to start feeling some heat soon. He is 29-29 since taking over in Berkeley with a 16-25 conference record, although the 3-1 start to 2022 indicates the program could be moving in the direction after two lost years due to COVID-19.

Names to Watch: Troy Taylor (Sacramento State HC), Brent Brennan (San Jose State HC), Kenny Dillingham (Oregon OC), Chris Petersen (former Boise State & Washington HC)

Louisville (Scott Satterfield) -- Scott Satterfield engineered an amazing turnaround in 2019, taking Louisville from two wins to eight. Since then, he is 12-16 and has rubbed Louisville fans the wrong way, due to off-field drama. The Cardinals should be a better program than what we've seen under him, and a strong recruiting class might not save him.

Names to Watch: Jeff Brohm (Purdue HC), Tyson Helton (Western Kentucky HC), Deion Sanders (Jackson State HC), Charles Huff (Marshall HC), Charlie Strong (Miami LB coach)

Missouri (Ei Drinkwitz) -- Taking over any SEC program is notoriously difficult, but doing so in the middle of a pandemic? Eli Drinkwitz did a fine job guiding Missouri to a 5-5 record during the 2020 season, but hasn't quite been able to build on it. He's currently 13-14 overall in Columbia and with a brutal schedule coming up, could miss the postseason in the ever-important Year Three.

Names to Watch: Bill O'Brien (Alabama OC), Todd Monken (Georgia OC), Tom Herman (former Texas HC), Sean Lewis (Kent State HC)

Stanford (David Shaw) -- David Shaw is a Stanford legend, an alum who guided the program to years of consistent success following the departure of Jim Harbaugh. However, the harsh reality is that the program has slipped significantly in recent years and now resides near the bottom of the Pac-12. Since the 9-4 2018, Shaw and the Cardinal have gone 12-21; it feels like only a matter of time before Stanford brass decide a change is needed.

Names to Watch: Derek Mason (Oklahoma State HC), Brent Brennan (San Jose State HC), Marcus Arroyo (UNLV HC), Tim DeRuyter (Texas Tech DC)

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