We are entering one of the most active off-season for power five coaches in recent memory. We have seen seven power five coaches fired before Thanksgiving and we are bound to see more. Texas Tech hired Joey McGuire already who was an assistant coach on the Baylor staff. We are expected to see more coaches hire before the end of the season which has been a result of the early signing period. Firing a coach after the bowl season can set a program behind with recruiting and has become more rare in recent years.
LSU – Dave Aranda: The current rumors are focused on Lincoln Riley but I think he is leveraging the situation to get a better contract at Oklahoma. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman tweeted he does not believe Lincoln Riley will be heading to LSU. The next best viable option for LSU is Baylor’s Dave Aranda. The former LSU defensive coordinator has seen success as the Baylor head coach. Aranda went 2-7 in his first season but quickly turned around the program to have the Bears sitting at 8-2. Aranda helped recruit many of the current players on LSU’s roster and would help continue LSU’s recruiting dominance in Louisiana and the southeast. Mel Tucker was an interesting candidate until he agreed to a $95 million extension. Lane Kiffin is another intriguing candidate for the Tigers. Kiffin has been known to be an offensive guru who can help make LSU an offensive powerhouse. Ole Miss will do what they can to match any contract Kiffin would be offered.
TCU – Sonny Dykes: TCU is not a national brand and needs to recruit the state of Texas well. Why not go after one of the best recruiters in the state of Texas? Dykes is on pace to sign the top four recruits in the history of SMU football (since recruiting rankings have been monitored). Dykes has been able to sell recruits the ability to play in Dallas and where is TCU located? The campus is located in Fort Worth, an approximate 41 miles from SMU’s campus. We have seen SMU take a step forward under Dykes boasting a 30-16 record. SMU has the money to potentially match TCU which could cause him to second guess leaving the Mustangs. If Dykes falls through, I would look for TCU to approach Billy Napier at Louisiana and I believe Napier would take the job. Napier is 37-12 at Louisiana and shown to be a consistent winner in the Sun Belt. Napier has nearly reached his ceiling at Louisiana. He may hold out for a bigger job, but how big is the job he wants?
USC – Luke Fickell: If you held a gun to my head and force me to make me choose, I would say Luke Fickell but I have about 8% confidence this actually happens. I believe it will be a coach who is currently off the radar. The next coach for USC does not need to be someone with California ties, they have to surround themselves with coaches who have California ties though. Mike Bohn is the Athletic Director for USC and he came from none other than Cincinnati. Bohn hired Fickell to be the Bearcats head coach and I expect him to make a push for Fickell to be the next Trojans head coach. One caveat to this hypothetical hiring is the ending to the Cincinnati season. Should the Bearcats make they playoffs, I find it highly unlikely Fickell would leave. Cincinnati would match any potential pay raise Fickell would be offered. James Franklin is an interesting case but he is 13-11 over his last 24 games. USC may not want to commit the money to Franklin who has been underwhelming the last two seasons. Franklin has proven to be an ace recruiter but his game management skills have been notably subpar. USC should also look at Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson. Clawson has seen success at each coaching stop and has more than 20 years of head coaching experience. Clawson may not be the biggest name but he is a winner.
Virginia Tech – Jamey Chadwell: The Hokies first call should be to Shane Beamer and when he says no, then the administration can move on. No coach knows the tradition better than the son of legendary head coach, Frank Beamer. I believe Beamer ultimately stays at South Carolina. Jamey Chadwell has seen incredible success at Coastal Carolina and has reached his ceiling. Chadwell is 19-3 over the last two seasons. He has spent most of his coaching career in the Carolina region and Tennessee area giving him a familiarity with the recruiting landscape. If Chadwell were to leave for another university, he must pay Coastal Carolina $1.15 million which would be affordable assuming he would see a hefty pay raise in his first season. Hugh Freeze is a sleeper for the Virginia Tech job. Freeze used to coach at Ole Miss and enjoyed his time in the SEC. Rumors have swirled saying Freeze is interested in moving to another power five job and Virginia Tech could be a good fit for him. Freeze has been recruiting the DMV area and the Hokies are in a position to win immediately with the lack of elite teams in the ACC.
Washington – Joe Moorhead: I believe Joe Moorhead did not get a real chance to succeed at Mississippi State. Moorhead went 14-12 in two seasons including making a bowl game in both years. Over the course of the past few years, Moorhead has been known as an offensive genius which has helped build explosive offenses. The current Oregon offensive coordinator has begun to recruit the pacific northwest which will help him in his ability to compete. Jimmy Lake’s teams struggled offensively which is why I believe the Huskies will look for an offensive minded coach. Moorhead was widely successful at the FCS level going 38-13 with Fordham. Kalani Sitake is a candidate to watch for in the search. Sitake finished 11-1 last season and after losing the most production in all of college football, has turned in an 8-2 season. BYU’s pending move to the Big 12 could keep Kalani remain in Provo.
Washington State – Kalen DeBoer: Kalen DeBoer has only been the Fresno State head coach for two seasons but has seen long term success as a head football coach. DeBoer is currently 11-6 at Fresno State but he was also the head coach at Sioux Falls, an NAIA program, for five seasons. DeBoer won three national championships and lost another one while at Sioux Falls. Alex Grinch could be an option for the Cougars. Grinch is a former Washington State defensive coordinator who coached under Mike Leach. Grinch boasted one of the top secondaries in the country while working at Washington State. He has seen his fair share of ups and downs at Ohio State and Oklahoma. He has still been considered a rising star in the industry and could look to make the leap to being a head coach this off-season.