The state of the coaching carousel entering the weekend

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday November 24, 2016




As we reach Thanksgiving weekend, the coaching carousel is about to hit full swing. Here’s a breakdown of where things stand.

There are currently 4 FBS head coaching jobs open, and Texas is expected to open, but many more are coming. With regular seasons ending this weekend, Sunday is going to be a crazy day, so make sure you’re following the Coaching Search Ticker.

Before we hit the weekend, here’s where things stand with the open jobs, possible candidates and what could be next.

- Baylor: Jim Grobe has been the interim coach since Art Briles was dismissed in the summer due to the sexual assault scandal, and it’s made for a strange situation for the staff. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles recently met with the NCAA about possible recruiting violations, and Baylor still only has 2 commitments in its recruiting class with a lame-duck staff.

The scandal still hangs over the program, but athletic director Mack Rhoades has to find a coach. In terms of style, he's wants an offensive head coach. There’s a new stadium, and coaches know that Baylor is willing to pay big money if you win, as Art Briles made more than $4 million annually. SMU’s Chad Morris is considered a candidate. Other names to watch could include Sonny Dykes, Mike MacIntyre, Larry Fedora and Lincoln Riley. Former Baylor assistant Philip Montgomery has done well at Tulsa, but does Baylor want to cut itself off from the Briles tree? Coaches also may wait to see how things shake out at Texas.

- Georgia State: A lot of possible names have been thrown around, but there’s not much known yet. AD Charlie Cobb says there’s a budget of about $1.6 million for a head coach and his assistants. The school is located in Atlanta and is turning Turner Field into a new stadium, so there’s a lot to like about the job’s potential.

Cobb spent nine years as Appalachian State’s athletic director, so ties there are worth watching, including South Carolina offensive line coach (and former App State assistant) Shawn Elliott. Other possibilities include Power 5 coordinators Rhett Lashlee, Chip Lindsey, Bryan McClendon and Jeff Scott. If Georgia State again looks for lower-level head coaches, options could include Charleston Southern’s Jamey Chadwell, Jacksonville State’s John Grass and West Georgia’s Will Hall.

- LSU: This search has been going on for months, since Les Miles was dismissed early in the season. After reports LSU was planning to push hard for Jimbo Fisher this weekend, that search has shifted to Tom Herman, as Chris Low reports Fisher has opted to stay at Florida State. Talks with Herman have been advanced, and the sides will reportedly meet on Saturday. Will Texas make a move? If Herman to LSU doesn't happen and Fisher is out of the mix, what are the other options? After a blowout win over Texas A&M, The Advocate reports Ed Orgeron is the Plan B. Orgeron met with LSU officials Friday morning, and Lane Kiffin is reportedly atop his list of potential offensive coordinators. 

If LSU decides to open up more, they could go after Larry Fedora, Mike Gundy, Mike MacIntyre or Justin Fuente. Would Brian Kelly look to move on from Notre Dame? Whoever the next coach is, school leaders would like him to keep defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who has produced a top-10 defense for the Tigers and is in the first year of a three-year deal. 

- Purdue: The school hopes to name a coach as soon as this weekend. Illinois State head coach Brock Spack, former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson and Les Miles have reportedly met with school officials. P.J. Fleck remains a target, but Sports Illustrated reports he won’t entertain job inquiries until after the regular season, which could be after the MAC championship game on Dec. 2. Another thought after Thursday night: Could Kevin Sumlin take a look at his alma mater?

Purdue has indicated it wants to invest more in the staff, and a new football building is currently being built. It’ll likely be the only Big Ten opening this year.

- Texas: After last week's loss to Kansas, anonymous school officials implied that Charlie Strong would be let go, but they wouldn't make it official. Instead of an announcement last week that would let Strong go out peacefully and let UT move forward, this week has been awkward and made the school look unorganized. Now, if Herman chooses LSU because Texas couldn't make a decision, Texas looks even worse. The Horns wrap up the regular season against TCU on Friday. An announcement was expected after, but now there are reports Strong could keep the job with a good performance. (UPDATE: Texas lost 31-9). Never a shortage of drama in Austin.

What if Texas doesn’t get Herman but still makes a change? This is the first real football coaching search for UT’s brass. Would Gary Patterson or Mike Gundy be willing to leave their situations? Larry Fedora and Bryan Harsin could get a look. How much does the handling of the Strong situation play against UT?

- Fresno State and Florida International have already named head coaches. The Sporting News reports Butch Davis at FIU already plans to hire former Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins as offensive coordinator and former Memphis safeties coach Brent Guy as defensive coordinator. Don’t be surprised if Davis hires assistants with University of Miami ties.

- What’s next? A number of jobs will open this weekend as regular seasons end. Some schools to keep an eye on for a decision either way include Oregon, NC State (UPDATE, NC State beat UNC on Friday), Boston College, Cincinnati, FAU, UTEP, Rice, UMass, Kent State, San Jose State and New Mexico State. People have asked about Notre Dame since the NCAA handed down penalties, but AD Jack Swarbrick knew of the situation when he said last month that Brian Kelly would return in 2017, not to mention Kelly signed a new 6-year contract in January. At Kansas State, is this the year Bill Snyder steps away?

- Oregon: If Oregon makes a change, where could they look? UCF’s Scott Frost is a natural fit after one year, taking UCF from winless to a bowl game, and he has a relationship with Phil Knight. Boise State’s Bryan Harsin is another offensive head coach out west. Tom Herman has West Coast ties. Would P.J. Fleck draw interest?

- Texas A&M: Thursday night’s blowout home loss to LSU brought Sumlin’s name to the forefront again with the Herman sweepstakes, but USA Today’s Dan Wolken noted Friday morning, “The sense around Kevin Sumlin’s camp is that he is likely safe at Texas A&M despite last night’s disaster.” Sumlin has yet to post a winning SEC record since 2012. Hot starts for four straight years have been followed by fizzles to finish. Remember when the Aggies were No. 4 in the playoff rankings this year? Sumlin's buyout this year is $15 million.

- Group of Five: There’s always a domino effect. Filling Power 5 jobs with Group of Five coaches would open more jobs. It depends how many P5 jobs open, but coaches to watch for a possible move up (outside of Herman and Fleck) include Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson, Appalachian State’s Scott Satterfield, Troy’s Neal Brown, Wyoming’s Craig Bohl, LA Tech’s Skip Holtz, Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm, Temple’s Matt Rhule and South Florida’s Willie Taggart. This could be a year where G5 schools keep successful coaches because of a lack of openings. On the other hand, perhaps a P5 school on the fence makes a change because of the market. 

- Assistants: Notre Dame and Louisiana-Lafayette are already looking for new defensive coordinators, and many more assistant openings are coming. Keep track of open FBS assistant jobs here.

- FCS: Current FCS openings include Abilene Christian, Delaware, Howard, Lamar and UC Davis.

- NFL: There are no NFL jobs open yet, but there will be. The Rams and Jeff Fisher never came together on a planned extension. Would Brian Kelly or Bob Stoops be interested in the NFL? Teams will inquire about Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw, but neither has shown any inclination to go back to the NFL. As for Chip Kelly, he's made it clear he's not interested in returning to college football, but his first year with the 49ers has been rough. He said he's not yet had any conversations with the team about returning next year. Also, something something Jon Gruden, just because it wouldn't be a coaching carousel without #GRUMORS.

It’s going to be a wild weekend, and the carousel always has a few surprises. Make sure you bookmark the Coaching Search Ticker for the latest news.

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.