Thoughts on the College Coaching Carousel

The coaching carousel has almost come to a complete stop and now is as good of time as ever to look around and share some thoughts. The most impactful change personally was Michigan firing offensive coordinator Al Borges and replacing him with Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, so that’s the best place to start.

Doug Nussmeier to Michigan as Offensive Coordinator

Nussmeier is just 43 and spent two seasons working under Nick Saban at Alabama. Prior to that he spent three seasons as an offensive coordinator at Washington. He is definitely a big name coordinator hire and got a handsome raise to come to Michigan. Many people are still questioning why he would make this “lateral” move just for a pay raise. Some of the arguments seem to include the difficulty of working with Nick Saban, which seems to somewhat be his reputation. Others have said that if Nussmeier wants a head coaching job, proving he could fix the horrible Michigan offense is exactly the way to prove his worth. Either way, this should be viewed as a short term hire (3 years tops) but is nevertheless a huge pickup for the Wolverines who had just about as bad of an offense as that high-profile of a program could.

Head Coaching Hires

  • Charlie Strong, Texas – Strong has a great track record as a coordinator at Florida and head coach at Louisville. He is the kind of proven “big name” Texas had to get. It’s impossible to know (as of now) how far down the list Strong was, but if he can mesh with the culture there he should do very well.
  • Steve Sarkisian, USC – Sarkisian was doing OK at Washington, but not blowing the doors off people, and he was probably one really bad season away from being fired at a moments notice. That didn’t stop USC from reaching back to the Pete Carroll/Lane Kiffin tree and grabbing another for Trojan coordinator. Not a bad hire, but USC should have set their sights higher.
  • Chris Petersen, Washington – Chris Petersen’s name has been thrown around for every big job for the last few years, including USC and Texas. There are probably some who consider this an upgrade from Sarkisian. It’s possible no one won the coaching offseason quite like Washington.
  • James Franklin, Penn St. – If there is another contender for “best hire” it has to be Penn St. They grabbed Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin who has been a rising star in the last year. Franklin’s named was tossed around for Texas, USC and NFL jobs in the last month. Whether any of those rumors are true remains unknown, but after having success in the SEC at Vandy, Franklin is exactly what Penn St. needed.
  • Bobby Petrino, Louisville – No hire came more out of left field than this one. The guys on the Solid Verbal podcast seemed convinced this was a panic hire by a team unprepared for their coach to leave. Petrino had success at Louisville before, but a lot has happened since then. This one is amusing for now, and could be a train wreck later.

More Coordinator Shuffling

Coordinator shuffling seems to be happening at a much more frequent rate, and nothing makes this more apparent than this season.

  • Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia – After riding a well-stocked defense to a National Championship in his first season in the role, Pruitt left Florida St. to take the same position at Georgia. Pruitt is 40, and went to Alabama where he served as a defensive assistant for 6 years. It’s strange he would go back to the SEC so soon, but maybe he hopes he can become the “coach in waiting” behind Mark Richt.
  • Todd Grantham, Louisville – Pruitt is replacing Todd Grantham, four years after Grantham took the job but was unable to improve defensively as time wore on. Grantham moves over to Louisville where he will get a huge salary bump. Grantham made a good decision, but it’s yet to see if he is worth the money.
  • Lane Kiffin, Alabama – This one seems a bit bizarre. There are rumors that Nussmeier leaving involved the fact that Saban already wanted Kiffin instead. Kiffin has had three disastrous attempts at being a head coach, but he was always a good offensive mind and recruiter. Add to it that Saban can probably keep him in line and this is a good opportunity for Kiffin to fix his reputation.