It’s that time of year that every college football coach has nightmares about, at least the ones who have not won consistently for the past two or three years. Struggling programs are dropping their coaches while successful skippers look to climb the ladder and score their next big gig.
It is affectionately dubbed the “coaching carousel” and it has been going around and around since the end of the regular season.
Here are some of the most notable coaching changes from this year.
Brett Bielema to Arkansas
Replacing: John L. Smith
Arkansas has not had a lot of luck with coaches lately. The school fired Bobby Petrino after uncovering questionable ethical decisions on behalf of the coach, who was found to be in a relationship with a 25-year-old former volleyball player for the school. He also hired the woman to work in the football office. Next came John L. Smith, who didn’t improve the team and has been wrapped up in a contentious bankruptcy case all the while.
Perhaps former Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema will be the answer the Razorbacks need to become a force in the SEC. Before the move, Bielema led the Badgers to three-straight Rose Bowl appearances, including this year.
Butch Jones to Tennessee
Replacing: Derek Dooley
Butch Jones has taken a career path eerily similar to that of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who will be appeared in this year’s BCS National Championship game. Like Kelly, Jones coached at Central Michigan and moved to Cincinnati once Kelly vacated the job. Unfortunately for Jones, there was no coaching vacancy at Notre Dame, so he will now take over at Tennessee.
Jones, who posted a 23-14 record at Cincinnati, will have his work cut out for him at Tennessee. The Volunteers were 4-7 last year and a woeful 0-7 in the SEC.
Dave Doeren to North Carolina State
Replacing: Tom O’Brien
Dave Doeren left Northern Illinois while the going was good, really good. His Huskies earned a bid to the Orange Bowl. This is the first time a team from the Mid-American Conference ever earned a BCS bowl bid. However, Doeren won’t be on the sidelines as he heads to North Carolina State.
The move has some wondering if this is a lateral maneuver for the coach, instead of a step up, especially with the competition level of the MAC reaching arguably its highest level in history.
Bobby Petrino to Western Kentucky
Replacing: Willie Taggart
The embattled coach returns to the game after signing a four-year deal with Western Kentucky that includes a $850,000 salary. Western Kentucky lost Willie Taggart, who took the open head coaching position at South Florida.
Western Kentucky no-doubt hired a great coaching mind, shown in the fact that Petrino went 34-17 at Arkansas before he was fired. The only tradeoff is that the Hilltoppers have to deal with the backlash that comes with the decision to hire a coach that has a less-than-sparkling public image at the moment.
Gus Malzahn to Auburn
Replacing: Gene Chizik
Gus Malzahn’s new gig at Auburn is a homecoming of sorts. Malzahn served as the school’s offensive coordinator in the years that standout quarterback Cam Newton was on the roster. With Malzahn in that role, the Tigers won a BCS championship in 2010.
After a successful tenure at Arkansas State, Malzahn will now take the head coach’s clipboard at a school he is more than familiar with.
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