With USC Open and Texas to Follow, This Isn't the Year to Look for a Head Coach
There’s a storm coming comin’ in. And this storm will be awash with faulty message board rumors, press conferences, press releases, denials, moving trucks and more money than we could possibly imagine. Although the offseason is still in the distance—and thank goodness for that—the momentum is building.
Lane Kiffin is out at USC, and Mack Brown’s fate at Texas is all but sealed with new leadership on the horizon. Two of college football’s most desirable institutions will soon be in the market for new coaches. One is a certainty, the other just a matter of time.
The impact on both schools will be the story of the college football offseason, but it won’t be the only story. Other universities pondering similar changes in leadership will do so knowing that 2013 will not present the most optimal conditions to go head-coach hunting.
At the very least, the frenzy is beginning to build and the pecking order is taking shape. And if a team beyond the big two wants first crack at the head coaching free-agent wire, then it might be best to wait one more year.
One thing can be certain: A lot of rich college football coaches are about to become slightly richer, regardless of whether they change zip codes or not.
With openings at two of college football’s most desirable jobs, leverage is about to become the most valuable commodity. Familiar star-studded names will be linked to each of these jobs. Some, like Boise State’s Chris Petersen, could be linked to both.
In turn, teams hoping to hang on to their head coach will attempt to eliminate any potential interest in leaving. They will tack on a few more zeros to a contract, give access to that private jet and sweeten an already sweetheart deal.
This is a given, a yearly ritual that is now anticipated And the best job in the country isn’t that of the head coach who negotiates country club memberships and new sponsorship deals but rather that of the agent who is poised to capitalize on that fresh ink.
As rumors for USC's next move mount and the rumors over Mack Brown’s status and potential replacements begin to increase in volume, there will be other teams in the news. Like USC, Connecticut got a jump on its head coaching search. The Huskies fired Paul Pasqualoni after his 0-4 start—capped off with a 41-12 loss to Buffalo.
Of course, Connecticut will be operating with slightly different hiring expectations than USC or Texas (if and when the job opens), but other teams will join the mix. The “hot seat” season is just getting started, which means the rumors over coaching fires will only heat up.
What does the future hold for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State? The Bulldogs already have three losses, and the month of November could prove to be the knockout punch.
Mississippi State will finish with games at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, home against Alabama, at Arkansas and end with Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
The Egg Bowl could prove to be a vital game for Mullen’s future if his fate isn’t already decided by then. His seat will likely be hot. With that schedule, it's hard to envision a different scenario.
Another seat that is already emitting smoke—and a situation that will be fascinating to track—is that of Bo Pelini.
2013 has been rough to say the least for the Nebraska head coach. Although the Cornhuskers have only lost one game, the defense has again had its struggles on a big stage (see: UCLA). Even with the lack of defense, however, the schedule sets up well for the Cornhuskers to win a significant portion of their remaining games.
Perhaps the bigger concern for Pelini is the aftermath of the audio that surfaced on Deadspin in which he ripped fans following a win. Yes, it is more than two years old and received more attention than it should have, but it did not sit well with the a lot of people. Some in the stands, some behind closed doors.
Regardless of how his team finishes, Nebraska could most certainly head in a different direction.
Those are just a few of the notable schools that have a jump on the others in the hot seat department Others will follow with lackluster finishes. And then, of course, there are the unforeseen departures.
Will a coach (or coaches) leave for the NFL? Will someone unexpectedly retire? (Don’t even bring up the prospects of a motorcycle ride gone astray, because we don’t need anymore of those). But things happen, and change has become the norm.
Should the prospects of USC and Texas taking over the spotlight put teams in a position to avoid change? Of course not. These decisions will rest on what happened rather than who can fill the void first and foremost. But for the likes of Nebraska and Mississippi State—or whatever programs decide to head in a different direction—they will suddenly be tossed into a tank with bigger fish that have an appetite.
It’s not just USC and Texas, either. What about the coaches who could leave other programs for Austin or L.A.? Those vacancies (if they come from the college ranks) will likely be high-profile and demand high-profile hires to fill them.
The domino effect that ensues will have a significant impact on the many coaches and schools rumored to be involved and those who actually are. The money will be excessive and the rumors never-ending, and the poor message board servers will struggle to survive.
USC, and eventually Texas, will only be replacing two openings. But the impact of such hires will have far-reaching effects on teams that have yet to enter the conversation.
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