7 College Football Programs That Should Trade in Their Head Coach

Michael Carroll@mjcarroll531Featured ColumnistJune 12, 2013

7 College Football Programs That Should Trade in Their Head Coach

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    When something gets traded in, for example a car, that thing had its best days and needs to get replaced for a newer, more serviceable thing.

    The FBS coaches that should get traded in are not performing as well as they should at their respective schools. The amount of money these coaches earn is not translating to success on the field. They have worn out their welcomes.

    When compiling this list of seven programs that should trade in their head coach, I considered: salary, years as head coach for the program, and on-field success (with an emphasis on recent on-field success).

    I limited the available candidates to two criteria: the candidate has been the program’s head coach since 2009, and the program has played at least one season in its current conference. Programs in the newly-created American Athletic Conference were ineligible, even if they played in the Big East in 2012.

    Why these criteria? I think it’s unfair to give up on a head coach after just four years or less, and there are too many unknowns for programs joining new conferences.

    I received salary information from http://www.coacheshotseat.com/SalariesContracts.htm

    With that, on to the list. Feel free to debate in the comments section below.

Georgia Tech

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    Head Coach: Paul Johnson, 6th season

    Salary: $2.75 million


    Georgia Tech only played in the 2012 ACC Championship Game because North Carolina and Miami (FL) were ineligible. The Yellow Jackets finished third in the Coastal Division behind the Tar Heels and the Hurricanes. That’s not something Georgia Tech should feel great about.

    Georgia Tech has not finished a season ranked in the AP Top 25 since 2009. Since Paul Johnson arrived in Atlanta for the 2008 season, the Yellow Jackets have gone just 1-4 in bowl games (granted that bowl win came in 2012).

    A head coach with a 21-19 record over the last three seasons should not earn the 20th-highest salary amongst his FBS peers, but that’s happening right now with Johnson.

    Georgia Tech should look for a candidate with a cheaper price tag.


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    Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz, 15th season

    Salary: $3.9 million


    Kirk Ferentz has brought inconsistency to the Iowa program, and no athletic department should reward inconsistency with the sixth-highest salary in FBS.

    Under Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have finished three straight years unranked in the final AP poll three times: 1999-2001, 2005-07, and 2010-12. Ferentz’s best years with Iowa came almost 10 years ago, when they finished 8th in the final AP poll every year from 2002-04. The trend suggests the Hawkeyes will have a Top 25-caliber 2013, but they should sensibly trade in Ferentz rather than hope history repeats itself.

    Ferentz did a nice job of keeping Iowa relevant after replacing legend Hayden Fry, but now the program should search for a more consistent coach.


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    Head Coach: Gary Pinkel, 13th season

    Salary: $2.75 million


    After just one season in the SEC, Missouri does not look ready to compete in college football’s strongest conference. The Tigers appear to be one of the worst teams in the SEC again heading into 2013. Missouri should take a look into reconsidering Gary Pinkel’s status as head coach.

    Pinkel kept Missouri in the Top 25 discussion pretty consistently from 2003 to 2011, and 2012 was the program’s first losing season since 2004.

    It’s hard to judge whether the SEC or Pinkel had a bigger impact on the Tigers’ struggles, but they aren’t returning to the Big 12 anytime soon. Head coaches take much of the blame when their teams do poorly, anyway.

    I think it would serve Missouri well to seek out a head coaching candidate with more SEC experience; Pinkel had no SEC coaching experience in any capacity prior to 2012.


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    Head Coach: Mack Brown, 16th season

    Salary: $5.4 million


    The 2010s have not been as successful as the 2000s for Mack Brown and Texas. Brown had an outstanding run at Texas, but that run should end.

    In 2010, the Longhorns finished outside of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1997, the season before Brown was hired. This happened again in 2011 before Texas “rebounded” to finish 19th in the 2012 final AP poll.

    Brown won the 2005 national championship at Texas and finished in the Top 5 of the final AP poll four other times. He has the second-most games coached and wins at Texas, but a pedestrian 22-16 record over the last three seasons should not satisfy a program capable of annually competing for Big 12 championships and national championships.

    The Longhorns should not continue to pay Brown over five million dollars a year for these kinds of results. Only Nick Saban of Alabama earns more than Brown among FBS head coaches, but Saban's worth every penny.

Virginia Tech

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    Head Coach: Frank Beamer, 27th season

    Salary: $2.5 million


    Frank Beamer has spent more years as Virginia Tech’s head coach than his players have spent years on Earth. Beamer, who has coached the 15th-most games in major college football history (322)—all at his alma mater—is arguably the face of the university. Life without Beamer as head coach of the Hokies would feel very different, but it is a life that should come very soon.

    In 2012, Virginia Tech had its fewest wins (seven) since 1997 (also seven). Was this just a blip in an otherwise historically good career for Beamer, or did this signal a necessary change? I think the latter.

    The Hokies have gone to a bowl game every season since 1993, but they have a .450 winning percentage in those games. The record drops to 1-5 in BCS bowls. The bigger the spotlight, the bigger Beamer's struggles seem to get.

    The Hokies have lost a step in recruiting as of late as well. I wrote before about how Virginia Tech needs to do a better job of keeping the state’s best high school talent home, and perhaps 2013 is a more important year than ever to do that.

    Coaches Hot Seat thinks Beamer’s future at Tech looks pretty safe, but the program should not hesitate to look elsewhere for a head coach if Beamer cannot get the Hokies back into the college football elite.

Wake Forest

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    Head Coach: Jim Grobe, 13th season

    Salary: $2.4 million


    Wake Forest needs to realize that 2006 was an anomaly, and not the norm, for the program. Aside from then, the Demon Deacons have not played like a respectable BCS program under Jim Grobe.

    Grobe has not led the program to a .500 record since 2008, which was also the last time the Demon Deacons won a bowl game.

    Athlon Sports suggests Wake Forest could have its best season in a few years in 2013, but I think the writing’s already on the wall for Grobe.

    According to Coaches Hot Seat, Grobe earns roughly as much money as coaches like Will Muschamp of Florida and David Shaw of Stanford. This suggests how much Wake Forest overpays for a mediocre coach at best. It’s time to change that.


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    Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian, 5th season

    Salary: $2.5 million


    Steve Sarkisian has done nothing at Washington to make people forget about the Rick Neuheisel era, which ended in 2002. The Huskies are capable of hiring a stronger head coaching candidate than Sarkisian despite playing middle-of-the-pack football in the Pac-12 last season.

    Coaches Hot Seat thinks Sarkisian, with his 26-25 record at Washington, has the ninth-hottest seat in FBS. I’m not that hard on Sarkisian, but the Huskies should consider moving on from a coach with three straight 7-6 seasons and no Top 25 finishes in the final AP poll.

    Seattle has not been as glorious of a destination for head coaches since Don James left after the 1992 season, but Washington owes itself a head coach who can return the program among the college football elite.

    With Oregon and Stanford also in the Pac-12 North, Washington’s chances of winning a division championship, let alone a conference championship, look slim even if the Huskies got a better head coach. It’s worth a shot, though. At the very least, the athletic department should not pay its head football coach $2.5 million a year to go 7-6.


    As always, thanks for reading, and check me out on Twitter at @MCarroll_Philly!