College Football Coaching Changes 2013

By Eye on College Football staff

Stay up-to-date on all the college football coaching changes throughout the 2013 season. See who is out, who is in and who the next candidates are at all the FBS job openings.

BIG TEN

Penn State

OUT: Bill O'Brien, hired by the NFL's Houston Texans after two seasons in Happy Valley. Desite severe roster issues caused by NCAA sanctions and transfers, O'Brien guided Penn State to back-to-back winning seasons, finishing 15-9 overall.

IN: James Franklin, who guided Vanderbilt to unprecedented back-to-back nine-wins seasons and -- at a program team that had appeared in one bowl since 1982 -- to three postseason berths in a row.

WHAT WE THINK: Given the ongoing NCAA handicaps and long shadow still cast by Joe Paterno, there was reason to think the Nittany Lions might have to settle for a second-rate hire. Not so much: Franklin is one of the hottest coaching properties in football, having taken a Vandy job that had killed the careers of nearly all who'd come before him and making it work -- sensationally -- to the tune of arguably the two best seasons in Commodore football history. Critics can point out that Franklin has taken advantage of a weaker-than-usual SEC East and hasn't launched the 'Dores into true SEC contention a la, say, Art Briles, but these are nitpicks. Franklin is a relentless recruiter and terrific motivator who flashed an eye for talent in building his staff (defensive coordinator John Shoop is one of the most underrated assistants in the FBS), and for three consecutive seasons put together a fundamentally-sound team that played well above its natural talente level. In short, there's not a box on Penn State's list that Franklin (a Pennsylvanie native to boot) doesn't check.

BIG 12

Texas

OUT: Mack Brown, who resigned as part of a "mutual decision" after 16 seasons in charge of the Longhorns. Brown won the 2005 national championship and won 158 games in Austin, but had felt mounting pressure after going just 18-17 in the Big 12 the past four seasons.

IN: Louisville's Charlie Strong, expected to be named the Longhorns' head coach Sunday, Jan. 5. Strong revived a staggering Cardinals program, going 37-15 in four years, defeating Florida in the 2012 Sugar Bowl, and going 12-1 in the 2013 season.

WHAT WE THINK: For the Longhorn faithful who believed their team had a legitimate shot at Nick Saban, Strong will be seen as something of a letdown, and it's true that nearly all of the offensive fireworks generated under Strong's watch in Louisville came with Teddy Bridgewater's once-in-a-decade fingerprints on them. No matter: Strong remains one of the sharpest defensive minds in college football, as well as a masterful recruiter, leader and program-builder who exudes confidence and class. Strong isn't a Pete Carroll-style megawatt TV star, but it's difficult -- maybe impossible -- to imagine a coach of Strong's quiet solidity failing in Austin with the immense amount of resources (and Lone Star state blue-chips) available to him. Whatever that particularly optimistic portion of the Lognhorn fanbase thinks, AD Steve Patterson and the Texas brass got this right.

PAC-12

USC

OUT: Lane Kiffin, who was 4-7 in his last 11 games, including 3-2 this year. Kiffin exits with a four-year record of 28-15.

IN: Bruce Feldman is reporting that Washington's Steve Sarkisian will be the named the new head coach. A former USC offensive coordinator, he spent five seasons at Washington and led the Huskies to a 34-29 record after taking over a program that went 0-12 in 2008.

WHAT WE THINK: There's no doubting Sarkisian's Seattle salvage job, but rebuilding the once-proud Huskies into solidity is a very different task from taking the Trojans from their current solidity back into the national title conversation -- and Sarkisian's four consecutive 5-4 Pac-12 finishes raise doubts about whether his ceiling is that high. But Sarkisian is familiar with the program, will recruit as well as USC always does, and has shown a knack for making excellent staffing decisions. And with Kevin Sumlin out of the picture, did USC have a slam dunk hire available anyway?

Washington

OUT: Steve Sarkisian. After five seasons at Washington, Bruce Feldman reported that he will take the job at USC.

IN: Boise State's Chris Petersen, who finally leaves the Broncos after one of the most dominant runs in FBS coaching history: 92-12 over eight seasons, 57-6 in the WAC and MW, two BCS bowl wins, five seasons of 12 wins or more.

WHAT WE THINK: Petersen's hire is being hailed as a coup for the Huskies, and understandably so, given how many other programs failed to pry him out of Boise. But there's still some doubt surrounding the hire, given the shaky track record of other Bronco coaches to make the BCS leap (Dan Hawkins, Dirk Koetter) and that Petersen's team has been vastly more mortal the past two seasons. (Petersen has been called a slam-dunk upgrade on Sarkisian in some quarters, even though Sarkisian's team crushed Petersen's 38-6 just this season.) But none of that much matters: if you have a chance to bring aboard a coach with a mind-boggling track record like Petersen's, you hire first and ask any questions later.

SEC

Vanderbilt

OUT: James Franklin, who took the Penn State job after leading the 'Dores to three consecutive bowl games.

IN: Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason, who spent four seasons in Palo Alto after arriving from the Minnesota Vikings and guided the Cardinal to top-15 finishes in scoring defense and yards-per-play allowed each of the past two seasons.

WHAT WE THINK: Franklin's departure may have ruffled the feathers of many Commodore supporters, but Mason's hire shows how large the debt of gratitude they owe him is all the same. At what point in the last 50 years would one of the nation's brightest up-and-coming assistants -- one with a sterling track record both of on-field production and off-field recruiting and leadership -- have risked his career by leaving a back-to-back Pac-12 champion for Nashville? Never, that's at what point. But now, Mason seems ready to maintain Franklin's momentum, and maybe do even more.

ACC

Louisville

OUT: Charlie Strong, who leaves for Texas after rescusing the Cards from Steve Kragthorpe's reign of error and going 37-15 in four seasons.

IN: None other than Bobby Petrino, whose previous stint with the Cardinals yielded a 41-9 record over four seasons and culminated in an Orange Bowl championship. Petrino most recently coached Western Kentucky to an 8-4 record in his lone season in Bowling Green.

WHAT WE THINK: Say this much: it won't matter if Petrino's past causes him problems in recruiting, or how badly the media slams athletic director Tom Jurich, or how difficult the Cards' upgraded ACC schedule might be -- Petrino is going to win football games, and lots of them, because that's what he's done his entire career, at every stop, without fail. Is that worth making the face of your program the walking avatar of modern coaching dishonesty, of asking the student-athletes who wear the university's colors to let themselves be led by arguably the biggest mercenary in all of college athletics? Louisville has said yes, and that will work out a-OK on the football field. Just don't ask us about the rest of it.

Wake Forest

OUT: Jim Grobe has resigned after 13 seasons, compiling a 77-82 record highlighted by the Demon Deacons' remarkable ACC championship season of 2006. Wake failed to make a bowl game four of the past five seasons.

IN: Dave Clawson, fresh off a 10-3 season and Bowling Green's first MAC title since 1992. Clawson went 32-31 in his five seasons at BGSU but improved the team's record each of the past three seasons.

WHAT WE THINK: It's easy to see why the Deacons chose Clawson, who won't bring a pinball-machine offense and may not promise an overnight turnaround, but has proven himself a master of methodically rebuilding programs step-by-fundamental-step into contention. (Before BGSU, he achieved similar results at FCS Fordham and Richmond.) It's the perfect, Grobe-ian approach for Wake, and if Clawson can bring along respected defensive coordinator Mike Elko, so much the better.

GROUP OF FIVE

UAB

OUT: Garrick McGee, who -- ouch -- accepted Bobby Petrino's offer to become Louisville's offensive coordinator after two seasons in Birmingham and a 5-19 record.

IN: Bill Clark, a record-setting 11-4 in his lone season as head coach at nearby FCS Jacksonville State.

WHAT WE THINK: Clark's resume is as thin as any FBS hire in quite a while, with just one season of collegiate head coaching under his belt and only five before that as a collegiate assistant. But the decision makes sense for the Blazers anyway; to have any chance of success given the program's lack of administrative and fan support, UAB must be able to recruit the top in-state "sleepers" missed by Auburn and Alabama. And Clark -- the coach who turned Prattville High School into a national power and has spent all six of his college coaching seasons in-state -- should be able to do that better than anyone.

Arkansas State

OUT: Bryan Harsin, who leaves after one season in Jonesboro with a 7-5 record. Harsin is the third consecutive Red Wolves coach to spend only one season at Arkansas State, following Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn.

IN: Blake Anderson, Larry Fedora's offensive coordinator dating back to his Southern Miss tenure. In his two seasons at North Carolina, Anderson's offenses finished 14th and 44th in total offense.

WHAT WE THINK: The Red Wolves have had great success (if not great continuity) in hiring young offensive up-and-comers, and Anderson snugly fits the mold established by Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, and Harsin before him. Though Anderson must prove he can reproduce Fedora's play-calling and game-planning acumen without his mentor, it's not hard to envision ASU under Anderson riding yet another high-powered offense to its now-customary place near the top of the Sun Belt.

Army

OUT: Rich Ellerson, who snapped a 14-season bowl drought in 2010 but went 8-28 in his three succeeding seasons and finished 0-5 against Navy, extending the Knight's losing streak against their archrivals to 12 games.

IN: Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken, the former Navy assistant who went 38-16 in four seasons with the Eagles, went to three FCS semifinals, and memorably upset Florida in 2013.

WHAT WE THINK: Given Army's academic demands off the field and triple-option requirements on it, the Knights' potential pool of candidates is as shallow as any team's in the FBS -- meaning Monken's resume, an impressive one even without his option expertise, made him a virtual no-brainer.

Boise State

OUT: Chris Petersen, whose 92-12 mark in eight seasons in Boise represents arguably the best-ever run for a team outside college football's traditional power conferences.

IN: Per Jeremy Fowler, the job goes to Arkansas State's Bryan Harsin. The former Boise State and Texas offensive coordinator went 7-5 in his only season in Jonesboro, winning a share of the Sun Belt title.

WHAT WE THINK: You can't argue that Harsin isn't a known quantity in Boise, where he helped mastermind some of Petersen's best offenses and developed the likes of Kellen Moore. His lone year at Arkansas State was a success, too (if not quite as a smashing one as Hugh Freeze's or Gus Malzahn's). But his offenses at Texas were merely OK; if he can restore the Broncos' potency on that side of the ball without a superstar like Moore remains to be seen.

Bowling Green

OUT: Dave Clawson, who accepted the Wake Forest job after upsetting Northern Illinois for the MAC title.

IN: Eastern Illinois's Dino Babers, 19-6 in two seasons as a head coach after four as an assistant under Art Briles at Baylor.

WHAT WE THINK: Though his high-flying Briles-inspired offense will be a wrenching philosophy shift from Clawson's recent defensively inspired teams, Babers was one of the hottest names in the FCS coaching ranks, thanks to an attack that made Jimmy Garropolo the Walter Payton Award winner and took the Panthers to a 12-2 2013 record. The Falcons may have pulled off a legitimate coup.

Connecticut

OUT: Paul Pasqualoni, who was 10-18 as the head coach. He was fired after the Huskies lost 41-12 to Buffalo.

IN: Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who has overseen Notre Dame's defense since 2010.

WHAT WE THINK: While reports say that Michigan State's Pat Narduzzi was UConn's first choice, Diaco is a pretty good consolation prize. Like Narduzzi, Diaco is a Broyles Award winner and helped lead a dynamic defense in South Bend. The 40-year old Diaco will also bring a level of energy to the UConn program it needs and will get people excited about where the Huskies can go.

Eastern Michigan

OUT: Ron English. The school announced Nov. 9 that English was fired in part over "wholly inappropriate language" used in comments to the team. English leaves the school with an 11-46 record over four seasons and the first nine games of 2013.

In: Chris Creighton, who comes to EMU from Drake University in Iowa. Creighton's entire coaching career has been spent below the FBS level, but in the 44-year old's 17 years as a head coach his teams have gone 139-46.

WHAT WE THINK: Eastern Michigan hasn't had a winning season since 1990 and has the second-longest bowl drought in FBS, making this one of the hardest jobs in Division I. Creighton's stellar overall record at multiple stops suggests he'll have as strong a shot as any candidate, but the step up in difficulty from Drake's non-scholarship Pioneer League to digging out of the MAC cellar is drastic.

Florida Atlantic

OUT: Carl Pelini, who engineered some improvement but was still just 5-15 in less than two seasons as the head coach at FAU. Pelini initially resigned over 'illegal drug use', but eventually had his resignation withdrawn and was officially fired for cause for different reasons.

IN: Charlie Partridge, Arkansas defensive line coach and longtime Bret Bielema assistant. Partridge will be a first-time head coach.

WHAT WE THINK: Partridge played a major role in the development of some truly fearsome Wisconsin defensive lines (and defenses) and is a South Florida native who should be able to enjoy some healthy recruiting success in Boca Raton. But Partridge has also never risen above the rank of position coach, making his coordinating hires absolutely critical.

UMass

OUT: Charley Molnar, 2-22 in two mostly miserable seasons as the Minutemen completed their transition from FCS to FBS.

IN: Mark Whipple, successful UMass head coach from 1998-2003, has returned for his second stint with the Minutemen.

WHAT WE THINK: Whipple joins Petrino as coaches returning for a second round with their former employer, but UMass is in a very different position than Louisville. After a painful transition to FBS play, Whipple knows the school and area well enough to help the program get readjusted in the MAC. There's no guarantee he can match his previous success, but the task of rebuilding was an uphill climb for whoever took the job.

Miami (Ohio)

OUT: Don Treadwell, 8-21 since becoming head coach in 2011 and 0-5 when he was fired midseason. The RedHawks finished the season 0-12.

IN: Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, a longtime Brian Kelly assistant and Kelly's highly successful successor at D-II Grand Valley State.

WHAT WE THINK: Martin's 74-7 mark at GVSU and pair of D-II titles suggest he won't be overwhelmed by adopting the head coach's duties, and has likely picked up a thing or two from Kelly. Martin's versatile, too, having coached both sides of the ball in South Bend. Bottom line: the RedHawks just hired the top assistant from a national power that's gone 20-5 the past two seasons. Hard to see how they could have done any better.

Western Kentucky

OUT: Bobby Petrino, who (predictably) spent a single season in Bowling Green before heading to Louisville, going 8-4 overall and 4-3 in the Sun Belt with wins over Navy, Kentucky, and Arkansas State.

IN: The Hilltoppers job wasn't on the market long, as only a few hours later the school promoted offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm to head coach.

WHAT WE THINK: It certainly makes sense. You have to think that when WKU hired Bobby Petrino it knew his departure was a distinct possibility. Since Brohm ran the Hilltoppers offense under Petrino keeping him on board means WKU can maintain what Petrino started rather than completely starting over for the second year in a row.

Wyoming

OUT: Dave Christensen, 27-35 in five seasons in Laramie. Christensen took the Cowboys to the New Mexico Bowl twice in three seasons, but went 4-8 and 5-7 in 2012 and 2013 with losing Mountain West records.

IN: North Dakota State's Craig Bohl, winner of the last two FCS titles and owner of a 41-2 record since 2011.

WHAT WE THINK: Though the Cowboys had mixed results with their last dip into the FCS pool -- Montana's Joe Glenn went 30-41 in his five seasons last decade -- Bohl's incredible results with the Bison and familiarity with the Rocky Mountain region make him an easy choice. His physical, clock-killing offense (remember the game-winning drive at Kansas State?) and punishing defense could also be a successful change-of-pace in a still largely offense-driven league.

 
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