The college football coaching carousel is one of the most exciting times on the college football calendar. The great teams have given their fanbase something to cheer for all year and now the bad teams have something to look forward to too. Over the weekend Gus Malzahn was fired from Auburn and (given $21.7 million on the way out) opened one of the best coaching jobs in the country. So, who is the favorite to fill the role and who might be next to go?
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Kevin Sumlin, Arizona
Lovie Smith, Illinois
Will Muschamp, South Carolina
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
There are credible rumors that Michigan has offered Harbaugh a new extension (current deal ends after the 2021 season) but with a reduced salary and smaller buyout. Not exactly a vote of confidence in Ann Arbor. While the Michigan Man may decide to stay, there are also rumors that multiple NFL teams have reached out to the former 49ers coach. I wouldn’t be shocked if Harbaugh took a new job in the NFL…maybe even in Detroit?
Tom Herman, Texas
Texas AD Chris Del Conte made comments about Tom Herman being the Texas coach but they were still very vague and didn’t exactly answer the questions. Del Conte was quoted saying “There’s been a lot of speculation about the future of our football coach. My policy is to wait until the end of the season before evaluating and commenting on our football program and coaches. With the close of the regular season, I want to reiterate that Herman is our coach.” Many people are getting caught up on the “Herman is our coach” part of the quote. Well, Del Conte is just stating a fact and that fact could change after the season is over and Del Conte evaluates who is actually interested in the Texas football coaching job. And if he wants to payout Herman and his staff for $27 million. Which I don’t think UT will. Welcome back to the 40 acres Coach Herman!
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee
Tennessee and Jeremy Pruitt agreed to a new extension before the season started and now the Vols might have a bit of buyers remorse. Tennessee lost six straight games before defeating Vandy and currently have a 3-6 record with only Texas A&M left on the schedule. Not exactly the year they expected in Knoxville. Tennessee could end up with it’s choice of coach if it moves on from Pruitt and I can’t imagine Hugh Freeze turning down that job. *Whispers* even though Luke Fickell would be a much better hire!
Due for a new gig:
Hugh Freeze, Head coach, Liberty
Hugh Freeze is the hottest coaching candidate after leading Liberty to an 8-5 record in 2019 and a 9-1 record in 2020. But the coach comes with controversy after “resigning” from Ole Miss after a phone call scandal – on top of recruiting scandals. There is no question Freeze can win, but at what cost? I expect Freeze to be coaching in the SEC in 2021, whether at Tennessee (if the job opens) or Auburn.
Matt Campbell, Head coach, Iowa State
Iowa State will be playing for it’s first Big 12 title this Saturday and Matt Campbell will be coaching for even more than a Big 12 Championship. Campbell has been a hot name in the coaching cycle, college and NFL, for years but has refused to leave Iowa State. Would a conference championship be enough for Campbell to feel like he could leave? With Breece Hall and possibly Brock Purdy coming back in 2021 would Campbell go for a Big 12 repeat? It’s all up to Campbell and what he wants to do but I can guarantee Campbell will have plenty of job offers this winter, but I don’t know if he’ll take any of them.
Billy Napier, Head coach, Louisiana
Louisiana was a laughing stock in college football for years but Billy Napier has this program humming right now and he could be in a prime spot to leave with many of his Ragin’ Cajuns leaving after this season. Napier has coached under Nick Saban at Alabama and Dabo Swinney at Clemson and knows what it takes to build a great program. Which is why he is one of my top coaching candidates this cycle and would be a dream landing for many programs. I know Tennessee, Auburn and Michigan will want to bring in a big name coaching candidate but Naoier should top their lists.
Lane Kiffin, Head coach, Ole Miss
Is the Lane Train headed out of Ole Miss? Kiffin has already been rumored to Auburn but I’m not sure he would jump ship after just one year at Ole Miss. *record scratch* Wait, he left Tennessee after one season to take the USC job! Ok, Kiffin could leave Ole Miss but I think we can cross him out for the Tennessee job and I’m doubtful that Auburn would try to take a coach from the inside the conference. My prediction: The Lane Train stays in Oxford for another year. No guarantees after that though.
Luke Fickell, Head coach, Cincinnati
Why the hell are people not talking about the job Luke Fickell has done at Cincinnati? Fickell took over a decimated Cincinnati program, after Tommy Tuberville cashed out in his final coaching gig, and now has the Bearcats undefeated and the top of their conference. Fickell is a Big Ten guy but he is also an Ohio State guy – so I don’t think he will get, or want, the Michigan job but he should be considered for every other open job. Including Tennessee. Fickell has proven he can recruit and build and Tennessee should put Fickell and Napier at the top of their coaching request – assuming they move on from Pruitt.
Steve Sarkisian, OC, Alabama
The last time Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin competed for a job Sark spoke so highly of Kiffin that Kiffin got the job. Maybe that happens in Auburn this season? Sark is a hot coaching candidate after creating a dynamite offense at Alabama and getting a win in the Iron Bowl over Auburn. Auburn must have liked what they saw on the opposing sideline because Sark is heavily rumored to Auburn. My big question with these former Alabama assistants (Napier, Kiffin, Sark) is would they want to go to Auburn? Would they want to compete against Saban or are they waiting for Slick Nick to hang it up and take over the Crimson Tide? I’m not buying into the Auburn hype for the former ‘Bama assistant coaches. They might be on the move but not to Auburn.
Scott Satterfield, Head coach, Louisville
Louisville landed a great coach in Scott Satterfield just two years ago but now the coach might be on the move again. Satterfield looked phenomenal in 2019 but the Cardinals have struggled in 2020 and Satterfield has already been in discussion with other universities (South Carolina) this coaching cycle. It’s no secret Louisville is less than happy about Satterfield talking with South Carolina but I think the two sides can make amends and keep Satterfield in Louisville…for one more year.
Tom Allen, Head coach, Indiana
Indiana has been the biggest surprise team in 2020 and Tom Allen will get his chance to at least interview for some big time programs. If he wants. Allen is an Indiana guy and may want to continue to build in Bloomington. Bigger programs may also want to see another year of what Allen can do with the Hoosiers. My guess is that Allen stays in Indiana for a while.
Jamey Chadwell, Head coach, Coastal Carolina
The Chanticleers have been a fan favorite of the college football world with their crazy field and flowing mullets but Jamey Chadwell has been quietly building that program since 2017. Chadwell will get some warranted attention this winter but don’t expect big programs to come knocking. We all love the Chants but Chadwell’s next step will be at a school like Cincinnati, Louisville or maybe Iowa State. No SEC love coming Chadwell’s way just yet.
Tony Elliot, OC, Clemson and Brent Venables, DC, Clemson
The Clemson coordinators have been very popular names for years now but they’re also two of the top paid coordinators in CFB and have been patiently waiting for the right job opportunity. Is Auburn a good enough spot to land one of the two Tigers? Not if Michigan is on the board. Michigan has struggled on offense for…forever, and desperately needs someone with new life. That person is Tony Elliot. Michigan consistently puts out a good defense but lacks life on offense – where Elliot can shine. Venables can be the opposite and may be a good fit for Auburn, but Auburn has the same problem. They need consistency and life on offense and Venables is a defensive mastermind. Plus, Auburn might be able to retain DC Kevin Steele and pair him with Tony Elliot. Congratulations to the Clemson Tigers, you should get Venables back for another year.
Auburn: Billy Napier, Louisiana
Tennessee: Hugh Freeze, Liberty
Michigan: Tony Elliot, Clemson (OC)
Jim Harbaugh: To the NFL
Matt Campbell: To the NFL
Luke Fickell: Iowa State if Campbell leaves
Tom Allen: Stays at Indiana
Steve Sarkisian: Stays at Alabama
Lane Kiffin: Stay at Ole Miss
Scott Satterfield: Stays at Louisville