While in the interim between the regular and Bowl seasons, the annual “Coaching Carousel” begins to spin. This year is no different, and we have already seen a slue of newcomers, many of which are filling holes that were vacated as a result of dramatic departures.
Probably the most notable is the resignation of living-legend Bobby Bowden. Although it was Bowden who announced his retirement, you must not have been paying attention if you don’t believe he was forced out. Since Mark Richt, took the head coaching position at Georgia following the 2000 season, things have been shaky for Bowden and the Seminoles. Bowden tapped his son, Jeff, to take over the Offensive Coordinator position, and that ended with the Boosters buying out the younger Bowden’s contract. But that was long after students all but revolted, at one point creating a website that accepted donations to give to the school that took Jeff off their hands (oh so affectionately named "firejeffbowden.com"). Jimbo Fisher was hired to replace Bowden in 2006, and now will replace his father in early 2010. Following a 6-6 regular season, with rumors of discord amongst the coaches, many thought it was time for Bobby to hand the reigns over to Jimbo. Bowden was given an option to stay for one more year, but relinquish much of the control over the team to Fisher. He declined their offer, and was essentially forced out. But that was an easy head coaching position to fill, because FSU would have owed Fisher $5million had they not named him head coach by January, 2011.
On the other hand, filling the void left by Charlie Weis at Notre Dame wasn’t so easy. Much like those at FSU, the Irish Boosters and fans were less than pleased with a 6-6 regular season, after going 7-6 in 2008, and 3-9 in 2007. With the firing of Weis came many rumors of Urban Meyer, Jon Gruden, and Tony Dungy, with the most attention going to the possibility of either Bob Stoops or Jim Harbaugh taking the job. Notre Dame ended up going with Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly – and current Bearcat players blasted him in the media for it. Needless to say, with Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen leaving early for the NFL, Kelly will have a lot of work to do.
Speaking of work, Turner Gill has a bunch of it if he wants to create a football dynasty, as he promised the Kansas faithful during a press conference Monday. Gill is taking over for Mark Mangino following his forced resignation/buyout. There have been many reports of impropriety by Mangino when dealing with his student-athletes, but none of which sounded to be as bad as what Bobby Knight seemed to have done both at Indiana and Texas Tech. Either way, this was another situation that was surrounded by drama, giving Buffalo’s head coach an opportunity to play with the big boys. The hiring of Gill also is notable for the fact that he is African-American. It is another sign that schools are making a conscious effort to interview minority coaches, and in this case, hire one.
Other examples of such efforts can be seen in Virginia (hired Richmond HC, Mike London), Western Kentucky (hired Stanford RB coach, Willie Taggart), and Memphis (hired LSU RB coach, Larry Porter). But the most notable might be in Louisville, who hired Florida DC Charlie Strong. After beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant for UF in 1983, Strong became the first African-American coordinator in SEC history when he was hired as the DC for South Carolina in ’99. When Urban Meyer took over following the 2004 season, Strong was the only member of Ron Zook’s staff retained. January of this year, he was vocal about his beliefs that his race played a part in the fact that he hadn’t yet been offered a head coaching position. He no longer has to worry about that.
Overall, out of the 14 coaching vacancies following the 2009 season 9 have been filled; 5 by African-Americans. Looks like some progress.
But that leaves 6 spots yet to be filled, and we will have to wait and see how that all pans out. Some of the more notable rumors include(d):
-Marshall: FSU O-Line coach, Rick Trickett (staying put in Tallahassee), and Central Michigan HC Butch Jones (hired by Cincinnati on Wednesday).
-San Jose State: UCLA OC, Norm Chow to San Jose State (Chow shot that one down, quickly). Alabama assistant, Jim McElwain reported to have turned down an offer on Monday.
-Buffalo: Cincinnati OC Jeff Quinn (Quinn is coaching the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl), Boise State OC Bryan Harsin and Yale HC Tom Williams.
-Cincinnati: OC Jeff Quinn, East Carolina HC Skip Holtz, Temple HC Al Golden (withdrew Tuesday morning), and Central Michigan HC Butch Jones (interviewed Tuesday; hired Wednesday).
-UNLV: Former TCU, Alabama, and Texas A&M coach Dennis Fanchione, and Jacksonville Jaguars OC Dirk Koetter.
-Louisiana-Monroe: UNLV OC Todd Berry is reported on Tuesday to have accepted the position.
The Bowls start on Monday. Be sure to fill out your online Pick ‘Em entries!