In one of the wildest and weirdest weekends ever for college football coaching changes, here’s what happened, and here’s where everything stands … for now.
In case you missed the storm this holiday weekend, where were you?
It was one of the weirdest and most controversial few days in the history of college football coaching hirings and firings – not even including South Alabama letting go of Joey Jones and Rice canning David Bailiff. In case you missed something – or need to catch up – here’s what went on.
Deep breath … here we go.
Tennessee Tried To Hire Greg Schiano And …
An all-timer of a coaching hire disaster, it was sad, it was angry, it was frightening, and it was every worst nightmare possible for a powerhouse football program desperately looking for some semblance of stability after years of mediocrity.
Early Sunday morning, it became rumored that Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was on the verge of being named the next Tennessee head coach.
And then all hell broke loose on social media.
With the flames fanned by a few high-profile media types who won’t be mentioned here, Schiano’s association with Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky mess became – depending on how you see this – either the reason some Vol fans wanted no part of Schiano, or a convenient excuse to want someone else as the head football coach.
But as Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports painstakingly detailed, only part of the entire Penn State/Schiano story seemed to be getting through. A very, very vocal portion of the Tennessee fans, though, wanted none of it – their minds were set.
Some Tennessee fans wanted Jon Gruden, and threw a fit that the program didn’t get him.
Some just didn’t want Schiano because they didn’t think he was a good enough football coach. Some were angry about the Penn State ties and hearsay. Some were mad that it seemed like the program was missing out on other top prospects. And some Tennessee fans were mad, just because they were mad.
There were protests, screams, yells, arguments, and in the end, the situation became so toxic that the deal fizzled. And now, Tennessee has to scramble to find a coach who wants to step into this situation and this environment.
Oh yes, this will be interesting.
UCLA Hired Chip Kelly
It was as if the pressure became cranked up big-time for all of the other major programs after UCLA got one of the biggest names and head coaching prospects out there.
Whether this works or not, the Bruins, at least, did what they had to do to make a big, giant splash, and they did so at a relatively reasonable price.
Florida appeared interested, and some thought Tennessee would’ve liked him. Nope – he’s a Pac-12 coach and seems to be at the right spot. Which meant the attention fell on Florida, and …
Florida Hired Dan Mullen
The former Gator offensive coordinator did a fantastic job at Mississippi State after making his name as an assistant under Urban Meyer. It’s the right fit.
He’s young, he knows the SEC, and he was more than prepared for a next-step-up job. He might not be Chip Kelly in terms of overall brand name, and Scott Frost might be the WOW guy at the moment, but he was a good get – especially if the reports are true that Tennessee was interested.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the SEC …
Ole Miss Hired Matt Luke
It all came true for the interim head man who gushed and gushed and gushed about this being his dream job.
Luke steadied the ship after the problems following the Hugh Freeze era and the NCAA-imposed year off, overcame the loss of the star starting quarterback – Shea Patterson – midway through the season, and still went 6-6 with an Egg Bowl win over archival Mississippi State.
Now he goes from stopgap to full-time – he’s getting his shot.
Texas A&M Fired Kevin Sumlin
But don’t cry any tears for him. He’s getting an over $10 million buyout and is rumored to be the next head coach at any one of a number of openings, most specifically ….
Arizona State Fired Todd Graham
Graham was fine, and he appeared to have things heading in the right direction after a clunker of a 2016 season. ASU went 7-5, it was going bowling, it beat Washington, it beat rival Arizona, and …
Not good enough.
Maybe it’s because of the pressure put on the rest of the Pac-12 South by the Chip Kelly hire, or maybe the program has outsized expectations, but it wants to do better. The odds are that it’ll be Sumlin, but the program will want to do something big.
But back to the SEC …
Arkansas Fired Bret Bielema
It had to happen. He wasn’t able to get his style of power offense and nasty defense going on a consistent basis, and the results just weren’t there in a horrible 4-8 season to close things out.
The hot rumor was that Auburn head man Gus Malzahn might want to come back to his old stomping grounds, but he’s a little busy at the moment trying to win a national title.
The new scuttlebutt? Washington State’s Mike Leach, who might be a right fit for Nebraska to pair up with his old Wazzu athletic director, Bill Moos, but …
Nebraska Fired Mike Riley
One of the nicest, most likable head coaches in college football, he simply didn’t win enough. He went out with the utmost grace and class, and now …
Nebraska & Scott Frost Seems Imminent
Everyone appears to be handling this the right way – if Frost really wants the job, of course.
Frost grew up in Nebraska, was a star quarterback who won a piece of a national title for the Huskers, and probably should’ve been the hire instead of Riley a few years ago. However, he’s in the midst of a dream season at UCF, and he has an American Athletic Conference title to play for this week.
And Nebraska has been respectful of that.
Nebraska isn’t talking and Frost isn’t saying a word. There’s no massive hurry here, but nervous Husker fans aren’t going to relax until this is a done deal.
But that wasn’t all. The Big 12 decided to have some fun …
Texas Tech Keeping Kliff Kingsbury
It’s not that Texas Tech fans don’t want him to succeed – he’s the handsome face of the program and a favorite son – but his tenure has been just okay.
But he got the Red Raiders to a bowl game this year, and he beat Texas to do it. He’ll get another year and another shot, but the program had better do something splashy in 2018.
However, in the weirdest, wackiest, wildest weekend of coaching carousel craziness ever, nothing – not even the Schiano mess – could top this …
Kansas Keeping David Beaty
3-33 in three years, 1-26 in the Big 12, no wins this season over an FBS team, and with all 11 losses in double-digit blowouts, the program is going to stick it out and see if this whole thing might just turnaround …
And the coaching change season is just getting rolling.