By the numbers: A breakdown of the FBS head coaching changes

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday February 21, 2017

With the FBS head coaching carousel wrapped up, where did this year’s hires come from, and how does it compare to past years?

If you include Baylor, this year's cycle started with Art Briles' dismissal in May and ended with Justin Wilcox's hiring at Cal in mid-January.

There were 21 changes. The average over the last 10 years is 23 changes. 

2016: 21
2015: 28
2014: 15
2013: 20
2012: 31
2011: 28
2010: 24
2009: 23
2008: 22
2007: 18

Schools hired assistants, sitting coaches, consultants, research assistants and more. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at some of the trends from this FBS cycle:

- 3: Three new head coaches were promoted from within: Major Applewhite at Houston, Tom Allen at Indiana and Ed Orgeron at LSU. Last year, there were five coaches promoted.

- 5: Five schools hired a sitting FBS head coach: Baylor (Matt Rhule), Minnesota (P.J. Fleck), Oregon (Willie Taggart), Purdue (Jeff Brohm), Texas (Tom Herman). Last year, there were also five.

- 3: Three schools hired coaches who were out of work: FIU hired Butch Davis, who was in media, USF hired Charlie Strong after he was let go at Texas, and Western Michigan hired Tim Lester, who wasn’t retained at Purdue. All three had previous head coaching experience.

- 5: Five schools hired external coordinators: Cal (Justin Wilcox), Cincinnati (Luke Fickell), FAU (Lane Kiffin), Temple (Matt Rhule) and Western Kentucky (Mike Sanford). That’s 23 percent. Last year, there were 11 (39 percent).

- 1: There was one coach who came from the NFL. That’s Randy Edsall, who was a research assistant for the Detroit Lions and returned to UConn. Last year, one FBS coach came from the NFL, and there were two the year before. At least one FBS head coach has come from the NFL for seven straight years.

- 3: Three schools hired an external position coach: Georgia State (Shawn Elliott), Nevada (Jay Norvell) and San Jose State (Brent Brennan).

- 1: Jeff Tedford was the only coach to move up to head coach from an off-field role. He was consulting at Washington when Fresno State hired him.

- 0: Zero of the 21 changes involved hiring an FCS coach as a head coach. Last year, there were three. However, three new coaches hired a sitting FCS head coach as an assistant. Indiana State head coach Mike Sanford joined the Western Kentucky staff, Elon head coach Rich Skrosky joined FIU, and Beau Baldwin joined Cal.

- 8: Eight schools hired a coach without a full season of college head coaching experience: Cal, Georgia State, Houston, Indiana, Nevada, SJSU, Temple and WKU (38 percent). Last year, 17 of 28 hires (60 percent) had no full-time head coaching experience.

- 5: Five coaches were dismissed during the season (not including Baylor). Last year, there were 11. That’s a drop from 39 percent to 23 percent.

- 0: Zero FBS head coaches left for an assistant job. Last year, two sitting coaches left to become assistants, with Pete Lembo going to Maryland and Todd Monken going to the Tampa Bay Bucs.

- 10: Ten of the new coaches have previous experience at the school. That includes Justin Wilcox (Cal), Randy Edsall (UConn), Jeff Tedford (Fresno), Major Applewite (Houston), Tom Allen (Indiana), Ed Orgeron (LSU), Brent Brennan (SJSU), Tom Herman (Texas), Mike Sanford (WKU) and Tim Lester (Western Michigan). That’s nearly 50 percent. Last year, 12 of the 28 did (42 percent). Around 1/3 of sitting FBS head coaches have previous experience, but that number will increase in 2017.

- 22-4: Tom Herman’s record in two years at Houston. Texas is 10-14 in the last two years.

- 45.5: The points per game by Jeff Brohm’s Western Kentucky offense, No. 1 in the country. He takes over a Purdue offense that was 100 spots lower, at 24.6 ppg.

- 34: Mike Sanford’s age, making him the youngest head coach in FBS.

- 114-34: Les Miles’ record at LSU. He was dismissed after a 2-2 start to this season and didn’t land a new head coaching job.

- 3,067: The distance in miles between Tampa and Eugene. That’s how far Willie Taggart has moved from USF to Oregon.

- 19: Years Luke Fickell spent at Ohio State as a player and coach.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to