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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Coaching Moves

An “Unprecedented” F.B.S. Hiring Cycle

Only 17 staffs in college football have not had a coaching change this off-season including only 5 non-BCS programs. http://t.co/Xn4HpxzXWed Feb 08 02:52:31 via web

All legwork here belongs to the indispensable Pete Roussel, whose Twitter account, seen above, is one of the must-follow feeds for every college football fan. I suggest making both Pete’s Twitter feed and his Web site one of your daily visits, especially if, like me, you’re interested in seeing how this current hiring cycle wraps up over the next three or four weeks. Pete’s always at the forefront; again, his work is nearly indispensable. For example, take note of a story he published yesterday on the vast number of coaching changes on the F.B.S. level, not merely at head coach but also at the coordinator and position coach level.

There will be 26 new head coaches in the F.B.S. in 2012. One, former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, did not take on his new position until Monday, right after his team lost to the Giants, 21-17, in the Super Bowl. You may have watched the game.

The number of moves on an assistant level is positively mind-boggling. Instead of focusing on which programs did make a move, consider how many F.B.S. schools, as of today, bring back the same nine assistant coaches who were on staff at the end of last season: 17.

Seventeen. That’s out of 120 — or 124, depending on how you’re counting — meaning that less than 15 percent of the F.B.S. made zero coaching moves whatsoever since the end of the 2011 season. More than 85 percent of the country will have at least one new coach in 2012. It’s almost hard to believe; Pete, in his post, calls this fact “unprecedented.”

“As you know,” wrote Pete, “I have followed coaching movement every day for over four years and I can tell you, there have never been as many coaching changes as we have seen this year.”

Here are the 17 programs sticking with the status quo: B.Y.U., Colorado, Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Oregon, Texas, U.N.L.V, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Only five of those programs, as Pete notes, play in a non-B.C.S. conference.

The only team that stands out, to be honest, is U.N.L.V., which has lost 21 games over Bobby Hauck’s first two seasons. And the Rebels aren’t entirely immune from coaching moves; rather than firing coaches, however, Hauck is simply moving his assistants around.

U.N.L.V. promoted defensive backs coach J.D. Williams and tight ends coach Brent Meyers to defensive and offensive coordinator, respectively, while former coordinators Kraig Paulson and Rob Phenicie were demoted to position coach duties. Paulson will coach the linebackers while Phenicie will now handle only the Rebels’ quarterbacks.

When it comes to the rest of the list, each program can fall into one of three categories: a relatively new staff, as in the case of Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Michigan or Miami (Ohio); a staff coming off a wildly successful season, as at Michigan State or Oregon; or a staff serving at a school well-known for its commitment to continuity, as at Northwestern or Virginia Tech.

Some teams fit into multiple categories. In addition to winning a Pac-12 title last fall, Oregon is known for rarely making coaching changes — unless a position coach lands a promotion elsewhere. Until last winter, Mack Brown never made moves at Texas unless, as in Eugene, one of his loyal assistants landed a step up the ladder from another F.B.S. program.

Out of 120 schools, only 17 will return the same nine assistants, not to mention its head coach, from last fall. It’s almost hard to believe. It’s unprecedented, in fact. Could more than 100 programs actually believe the grass is greener on the other side?

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  1. Adam Nettina says:

    Virtually 18, if you count Navy, which lost one assistant, an up-and-comer who recruited the mid-Atlantic (Napoleon Sykes) but was involved in duties as an assistant to an assitant. I think you’re right in saying it’s mind boggling, but not all of it comes from turnover. Just look at how the game is growing. Programs, at every level from the NAIA to the FBS, are expanding and moving up. The scholarship increase in recent years means teams just have to have more coaches, and the number of programs fielding teams is going to demand coaches be hired. What’ll be interesting, in my mind, is whether we see this trend take one of two routes: A) grabbing coaches from existing and established staffs accross multiple levels of NCAA football, or B) A mining of the high school ranks for the new “best and brightest.”

  2. M Meyer says:

    It’s still hard to believe that Iowa is not one of those 17 schools.

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