Chart: The length of each FBS head coaching search

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday February 20, 2017




How long does it take to conduct a coaching search? It depends on several factors.

It depends on the timing, on the quality of the job, on the athletic director and more. Barring something unforeseen (which happened a year ago), this year’s FBS head coaching carousel finished with 21 changes — an average number, but there were many twists and turns. Here’s how long each search took, based on official days of changes:


It’s no surprise that teams who made changes during the season had a longer process. Most of them had to wait for the season play out — but that wasn’t the case for everyone. FIU and Fresno State hired their coaches before the season ended, rare to see once, let alone twice. But Butch Davis was in broadcasting, and Jeff Tedford was just a consultant at Washington, so it worked out.

For some schools, a move catches them completely off-guard. Others know their coach is a hot commodity and probably won’t be around very long. Every athletic director keeps a list of names in case a change is made. There is usually back-channel talk, getting negotiations worked out before moves become official. 

Last year, there were 28 FBS head coaching changes (not including Baylor). Seven of those openings were filled within a week (25 percent). This year, nine of 21 were filled within a week (42 percent). One reason for that was fewer in-season changes. In 2015, there were 11 in-season changes. In 2016, there were five (or six if you include Baylor).

Only 3 of 21 hires this year came after the new year (14 percent). That’s slightly down from last year. Here’s the month-by-month breakdown of the last three head coaching carousel hires.

2016-17
November: 4
December: 14
January: 3

2015-16
November: 5
December: 18
January: 4
February: 0
March: 1

2014-15
November: 2
December: 12
January: 0
February: 1

How have the schools caught by surprise responded? Western Michigan thought they would have P.J. Fleck for another year, but a late change at Minnesota saw Fleck move there. WMU’s hire came after the dead period ended, but they had Tim Lester within a week. Lester was a finalist for the job four years ago.

Last year, Bronco Mendenhall’s departure for Virginia was a surprise. BYU hired Kalani Sitake as his replacement 15 days later. Illinois made a change in March last year when a new athletic director came in, but he hired Lovie Smith within a few days.

Two years ago, Dan Enos left Central Michigan the week before Signing Day. CMU’s search lasted through Signing Day and more than two weeks long, but they landed John Bonamego, a coach who made it clear he’s not looking to jump, and has now reached two bowl games in two years.

Wisconsin’s been caught off-guard twice. When Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, Barry Alvarez hired Gary Andersen a week later. When Andersen went to Oregon State, Alvarez hired Paul Chryst a week later. Both surprises, but a plan was in place both times.  

What about schools who know their coach could be gone soon? They needed a plan. This year, that group included USF, Temple, Western Kentucky and Houston. USF had Charlie Strong within a few days, Temple hired Jeff Collins in a week, and WKU had Mike Sanford in nine days. Houston’s search dragged a bit longer and included some high-profile names like Lane Kiffin. It played out publicly and ended with Major Applewhite’s promotion 13 days later.

The relatively-new winter recruiting dead period leads to schools making a change quicker and hiring a new coach quicker. Only time will tell which schools made the right decision, but it’s always more important to make sure you get the right hire instead of the quick one.

Of these new 21 head coaches, nearly each one has completed their staff. Keep track of new FBS staffs here.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 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 chris@coachingsearch.com.

Chart: The length of each FBS head coaching search

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday February 20, 2017




How long does it take to conduct a coaching search? It depends on several factors.

It depends on the timing, on the quality of the job, on the athletic director and more. Barring something unforeseen (which happened a year ago), this year’s FBS head coaching carousel finished with 21 changes — an average number, but there were many twists and turns. Here’s how long each search took, based on official days of changes:


It’s no surprise that teams who made changes during the season had a longer process. Most of them had to wait for the season play out — but that wasn’t the case for everyone. FIU and Fresno State hired their coaches before the season ended, rare to see once, let alone twice. But Butch Davis was in broadcasting, and Jeff Tedford was just a consultant at Washington, so it worked out.

For some schools, a move catches them completely off-guard. Others know their coach is a hot commodity and probably won’t be around very long. Every athletic director keeps a list of names in case a change is made. There is usually back-channel talk, getting negotiations worked out before moves become official. 

Last year, there were 28 FBS head coaching changes (not including Baylor). Seven of those openings were filled within a week (25 percent). This year, nine of 21 were filled within a week (42 percent). One reason for that was fewer in-season changes. In 2015, there were 11 in-season changes. In 2016, there were five (or six if you include Baylor).

Only 3 of 21 hires this year came after the new year (14 percent). That’s slightly down from last year. Here’s the month-by-month breakdown of the last three head coaching carousel hires.

2016-17
November: 4
December: 14
January: 3

2015-16
November: 5
December: 18
January: 4
February: 0
March: 1

2014-15
November: 2
December: 12
January: 0
February: 1

How have the schools caught by surprise responded? Western Michigan thought they would have P.J. Fleck for another year, but a late change at Minnesota saw Fleck move there. WMU’s hire came after the dead period ended, but they had Tim Lester within a week. Lester was a finalist for the job four years ago.

Last year, Bronco Mendenhall’s departure for Virginia was a surprise. BYU hired Kalani Sitake as his replacement 15 days later. Illinois made a change in March last year when a new athletic director came in, but he hired Lovie Smith within a few days.

Two years ago, Dan Enos left Central Michigan the week before Signing Day. CMU’s search lasted through Signing Day and more than two weeks long, but they landed John Bonamego, a coach who made it clear he’s not looking to jump, and has now reached two bowl games in two years.

Wisconsin’s been caught off-guard twice. When Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, Barry Alvarez hired Gary Andersen a week later. When Andersen went to Oregon State, Alvarez hired Paul Chryst a week later. Both surprises, but a plan was in place both times.  

What about schools who know their coach could be gone soon? They needed a plan. This year, that group included USF, Temple, Western Kentucky and Houston. USF had Charlie Strong within a few days, Temple hired Jeff Collins in a week, and WKU had Mike Sanford in nine days. Houston’s search dragged a bit longer and included some high-profile names like Lane Kiffin. It played out publicly and ended with Major Applewhite’s promotion 13 days later.

The relatively-new winter recruiting dead period leads to schools making a change quicker and hiring a new coach quicker. Only time will tell which schools made the right decision, but it’s always more important to make sure you get the right hire instead of the quick one.

Of these new 21 head coaches, nearly each one has completed their staff. Keep track of new FBS staffs here.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 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 chris@coachingsearch.com.