POSTED: November 28, 2021

Coaching Carousel

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Coaching Carousel

November 28th

Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley named USC head coach

From ESPN … Six years ago, then-USC athletic director Pat Haden ushered a handful of reporters into an unglamorous conference room and announced that the school was putting Steve Sarkisian on an indefinite leave of absence. Sarkisian would be eventually fired, but on that Sunday, Haden announced that Clay Helton would be the interim coach.

It was a pivotal moment. Helton had no head-coaching experience, but his lack of baggage was appealing to the program and his affability and stability made him the ideal candidate to save face. Yet USC needed to save more than just face. It needed to revive its football program. Six years later, Helton failed to do that and is gone. So are Haden and his successor, Lynn Swann.

That’s been the USC story for the past decade: a game of musical chairs at the top, while the guy calling the shots on the field was not able to get USC to the top. But new athletic director Mike Bohn has ushered in a clean slate and, now, a blockbuster hire. By landing Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to be the Trojans’ next head coach, USC has officially kick-started a new era. So, how does Riley fit at USC, and what are the challenges and opportunities that await him?

What are the expectations for Riley at USC?

A home run hire brings with it home run expectations. Had USC hired a less accomplished coach, it could be viewed as reshaping a program that’s fallen on hard times over the past decade. With Riley in tow, however, the expectations for success will be more or less immediate. It’s clear that the message USC wanted to send by hiring Riley is that the Trojans are ready to win again at all costs.

The fact that Riley took the job signals, in part, that USC is still one of the best jobs out there. The name brand and infrastructure have taken plenty of hits, but USC’s position on the West Coast and in a conference that’s begging for a team to truly dominate it makes the potential sky high. It’s why the immediate expectations are a Pac-12 title, at the very least, and certainly a College Football Playoff berth sooner rather than later. Riley has led Oklahoma to three playoff appearances in four years, while USC has yet to even sniff the playoff. And it’s safe to say that it’ll be easier to make it back there in the Pac-12 than with Oklahoma once the Sooners join the SEC.

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to get USC back on top, and it won’t be overnight, but Riley’s pedigree, on and off the field, means the Trojans are primed to take the fast lane back to success.

What does it mean for the Pac-12?

As the prestige of the Pac-12 eroded over the past several years, the common solution for its troubles always revolved around USC. While there have been other schools that have experienced high-level success in the past decades — most notably Oregon, Washington and Stanford — none of them has remotely enough cachet to resonate nationally in the same way USC can when it hits on all cylinders.

The Pete Carroll-era Trojans are the prime example, of course, and as exciting as Oregon’s Chip Kelly teams were and as well as Mario Cristobal has recruited recently, it’s just different when it’s happening in Los Angeles. A dominant USC has the potential to increase the value of the conference’s media rights deals. It adds a layer of credibility to the conference that doesn’t currently exist. If USC reaches its potential, it will force other schools to make investments to try to keep up.

With Riley on board, those things seem not only possible, but are the expectation. His arrival will undoubtedly make it more difficult for teams to win the Pac-12, but the trickle-down effect should help the entire conference improve its footing compared to the rest of the county

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Washington State takes the “interim” tag off: Jake Dickert named head coach

From ESPN … Washington State has named Jake Dickert its permanent head coach, with the two sides agreeing in principle on a five-year contract, the school announced Saturday night.

Dickert will be introduced at a formal news conference next week, the school said.

“We are thrilled to have Jake Dickert step into the head coaching role,” WSU president Kirk Schulz said. “Coach Dickert was able to bring together a team that has been through so much in the past two seasons and inspire them to not only keep going, but to fight harder. Coach Dickert loves Pullman, understands what it means to be a Coug, and most importantly, puts his players first. He is an asset to this program, and to WSU.”

Dickert, in his second season as WSU’s defensive coordinator, was elevated to acting head coach Oct. 18 after the school fired Nick Rolovich for not complying with the state’s vaccine mandate. Rolovich, in his second season at Washington State, and four other assistants, refused to comply with the deadline for vaccines set by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Since taking over as acting coach, Dickert has guided Washington State to a 3-2 record, capped by the school’s most lopsided Apple Cup victory ever, a 40-13 triumph over Washington on Friday night in Seattle.

Dickert, 38, came to Washington State after three years at Wyoming, including one as defensive coordinator. A Wisconsin native and former Wisconsin-Stevens Point wide receiver, Dickert had never been a head coach before replacing Rolovich and only started coaching in the FBS in 2017.


November 27th

Note … There are (at least) three Pac-12 coaching vacancies to be filled in the next few weeks. USC, Washington, and Washington State will be making decisions which will affect the conference – and CU – for years to come. We’ll be using this heading for stories on Pac-12 coaching rumors, as well as those concerning TCU (CU’s next opponent, opening the season against the Horned Frogs next September), and other national stories.

SMU and former Cal coach Sonny Dykes to be named TCU coach (CU’s first game of 2022 season)

From ESPN … SMU coach Sonny Dykes will be the new head coach at TCU, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Dykes, 51, is 30-17 in four seasons at SMU, including 25-9 in the past three seasons. In 2019, Dykes led SMU to a 10-2 season, becoming the first Mustangs coach to win 10 games in a season since Bobby Collins in 1984, prior to the NCAA’s “death penalty” for the program. His .659 winning percentage is the second best in school history behind Collins among coaches who worked at SMU for more than two seasons.

Dykes replaces Gary Patterson, who was fired on Oct. 31 after 24 seasons in Fort Worth and 21 as the head coach. Dykes spent the 2017 season as an offensive analyst at TCU under Patterson.

Sources told ESPN that Miami offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is the front-runner to replace Dykes at SMU, and an agreement could arrive in the next few days. Lashlee served as SMU’s offensive coordinator in 2018-19 under Dykes.

The son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, Sonny Dykes has extensive connections in the state, and rebuilt SMU with a focus on players in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, which could benefit him at his new job 40 miles away.

The move is certain to add a new wrinkle to the Iron Skillet rivalry between the two teams, which has been played 100 times. Dykes and SMU won the past two, including this season, when a scuffle happened after the game when SMU player Rashee Rice tried to plant the Mustangs’ flag on the Horned Frogs’ turf.

This will be Dykes’ fourth head-coaching job. He went 22-15 in three seasons at Louisiana Tech and was the 2011 WAC Coach of the Year. He then went 19-30 at Cal in four seasons, progressing from one win in 2013 to an 8-5 finish in 2015, but was fired after going 5-7 in 2016.


November 26th

First, here are the 14 current FBS coaching changes (there were 17 in 2020; after 24 in 2019). Look for more additions to this list in the coming days …

AkronTom ArthTBD
FIUButch DavisTBD
FloridaDan MullenTBD
Georgia SouthernChad Lunsford / Kevin Whitley (i)Clay Helton
LSUEd OrgeronTBD
TCUGary Patterson / Jerry Kill (i)TBD
Texas TechMatt Wells / Sonny Cumbie (i)Joey McGuire
TroyChip LindseyTBD
UConnRandy Edsall / Lou Spanos (i)Jim Mora
UMassWalt BellTBD
USCClay Helton / Donte Williams (i)TBD
Virginia TechJustin FuenteTBD
WashingtonJimmy LakeTBD
Washington StateNick Rolovich / Jake Dickert (i)TBD

November 25th

Wilner: If Utah wins trip to Rose Bowl, Whittingham will retire 

From the San Jose Mercury News

*** Arizona State
Coach: Herm Edwards
State of play: Sloppy. The four-loss Sun Devils have struggled to execute consistently on the field as they await the outcome of the NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting transgressions. They have one victory over a ranked opponent and thus far haven’t come close to making the competitive leap they sought when Edwards took over. In fact, his winning percentage in conference games is worse than that of his predecessor, Todd Graham, over an equivalent span.
What’s next: We continue to believe a change is more likely than not, either because Edwards decides to retire or is forced out. Recruiting is in the gutter because of the threat of sanctions, and a barrage of players could transfer out as soon as the season ends. Essentially, the program is frozen in place waiting for Edwards or the NCAA or both. What a mess.
Chance of vacancy: 75%

*** Utah
Coach: Kyle Whittingham
State of play: Pretty damn good. The Utes are fresh off a wipeout of No. 3 Oregon, perhaps the most impressive victory of their decade in the conference. They have won the South for the third consecutive non-COVID season and will face the North winner in Las Vegas for that long-sought championship.
What’s next: Our projections for a vacancy have increased dramatically in recent days, all thanks to the result Saturday night. Whittingham is now one game from leading the university to its first-ever Rose Bowl. Also, he has endured the deaths of two players; he turned 62 yesterday; he has loads of grandkids in the Salt Lake City area; and he just became the winningest coach in school history. Our opinion: If the Utes win the conference championship, the Rose Bowl will be his final game.
Chance of vacancy: 65%

*** Cal
Coach: Justin Wilcox
State of play: Good, and getting better rapidly. The Bears have won three consecutive games not impacted by COVID, including the right cross administered to Stanford. Beat UCLA (difficult) and USC (not difficult), and they will qualify for a bowl berth after starting 1-5. Aside from Utah, no team has improved more than Cal since early October.
What’s next: Maybe nothing, maybe everything. Wilcox is deeply frustrated with the COVID situation, and we don’t blame him. There have been approximately 800 major college games played this fall. Only two were impacted by COVID: Cal at Arizona, and Cal vs. USC. Yet the Bears are 99% vaccinated. Is the frustration enough to prompt a move if a better job comes calling (hello, Washington)? We suspect it is.
Chance of vacancy: 45%

Report: Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell staying; no interest in USC

From Cincinnati’s …  One of college football’s top insiders says University of Cincinnati Head Football Coach Luke Fickell could be staying with the Bearcats.

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports said on Wednesday he’d heard Fickell will remain in Cincinnati and that UC’s recruits have been told as such.

Fickell has been a rumored candidate for nearly every significant head coaching job going back 18 months, due in large part to his success in Clifton.

He would have his pick of options this year. More jobs are open than at any time in recent memory, including USC, Florida, LSU, Virginia Tech, TCU, Washington and Washington State.

… But there’s good reason for him to stay in Cincinnati. His 2020 contract extension places him in the mid-tier of Power Five head coaches, and he figures to get a pay bump when UC goes to the Big12.

The university is spending, too, being already a quarter of the way to a $100 million fundraising goal announced last week for facility improvements including an indoor practice field (located… somewhere.)

The question on nearly everyone’s mind is: What about USC?

Southern Cal’s athletic director, Mike Bohn, had the same role at UC when Fickell arrived in 2016. It might follow that Fickell, if he were to go anywhere, would be predisposed to join Bohn to LA. But that logic isn’t exactly airtight—or evidentiary. There’s been no report either side is seriously interested in the other.

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Baylor’s Dave Aranda says he has no interest in USC job

From … Dave Aranda’s year two turnaround at Baylor naturally was going to make him a target for other jobs.

With jobs like LSU and USC open, Aranda’s name has been brought up at both places, among others.

However, Aranda shared recently on FOX with Joe Klatt that the fit for him at Baylor is something special, adding “I love it here, and this is where I want to be.”

Klatt asked Aranda how he’s been dealing with the speculation with his name attached to some big-time jobs in college football.

“I’m as open as honest as I can be with the team, and I am going to address it again today in our team meeting.

“I love it here, and this is where I want to be, and I think the fit here at Baylor is so strong.”

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Mel Tucker finalizes fully guaranteed $95 million contract

From ESPN … Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday agreed to a 10-year deal worth $95 million to remain with the Spartans, the school announced.

The new contract, which made headlines around college football last week leading up to the Spartans’ game at Ohio State, makes Tucker one of the highest-paid coaches in the sport and comes four days before Michigan State closes its regular season.

Tucker can thank a group of Spartans donors — Mat Ishbia, Steve St. Andre, Brian Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn — who gathered to help complete the deal this month, as Michigan State takes a turn toward recruiting.

“Every day I wake up feeling humbled to be the Head Football Coach at Michigan State,” Tucker wrote in a letter posted on his official Twitter account. “It is my privilege to work alongside our student athletes, coaches and staff who embody our culture of hard work, discipline, and excellence — on and off the field.”

Tucker’s contract is fully guaranteed. His buyout to leave Michigan State remains unchanged from his original contract: $2.5 million with annual decreases by $500,000.

Continue reading story here


8 Replies to “Coaching Carousel”

  1. That seems like a great hire at usc. I guess Bohn couldn’t wait for fickell, if he even wanted the job. So who slides where? Uw and Florida and lsu still on the hunt, at least for the bigger gigs.

    As to CU I wonder if any other changes happen? Really curious who the next OC will be. Langsdorf? Other?

    Seems having that dialed soon would be prudent with signing day two weeks out.

    Go Buffs

  2. I’m absolutely loving Oklahoma shooting itself in the foot moving to the SEC, with Riley somehow getting poached to USC with the move to the SEC rumored to be the main reason. Which is unfortunate for CU obviously, but hilarious to see OU and UT screw themselves with their greed when they have everything they want in the BigXII

  3. Wow
    “As the Carousel Turns” my have higher ratings than all the other soap operas. (are there still soap operas out there?)
    Standing room only and the ones who are able to get off for another job will most likely find themselves about 2 tiers down from their previous job.
    The hot new coaches are finally wising up and staying where the grass is green enough and knowing those dream jobs can easily turn into nightmares. I’m sure they have done the math as well. 3 or 4 million for a good number of years is better than 6 or 8 for a year and a half with all those petulant fans and boosters.
    So if you are LSU, USC, Florida, Washington et al who ya gonna call? Places like USC and LSU are the real “coach busters”….pretty much like Nebraska….who had some help from the Buffs as a “coach buster.” (snicker)
    Could ….Gasp…..Mickey mac and HWSRN find better jobs? Maybe HWSRN has no more kids at a playing age. Mickey’s D at Memphis is doing all that hot but these days that doesnt seem to make a difference.
    I coached a middle school team one year and the parents killed it for me even though we killed it on the field. You get 30 ahead and put in some second stringers and the parents of the first stringers come down on you for limiting their kid’s stats. Then you have the parents who are forcing their kids to play to make men out of them when they really dont want to play.
    Why o why couldn’t I see the coming salaries? Even the peter principle coaches making millions.
    Back in those days a head D1 coach didnt make that much more than the owner of a successful plumbing shop.

    1. Honestly MacIntyre would be a great hire at a G5 school. Hell. The last few years have made me wish we never fired him here!

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