Coach firin’ (and hirin’) season 2012: Goodbyes, hellos and … mustaches
Tommy Tuberville’s sitting by the phone* and Jimmy Sexton’s got that particular sparkle in his eye. It can mean only one thing: The coach firin’ season is upon us once more. We’ll be tracking the carousel of progress, right here, for as long as it takes to stop spinning. Raise a glass to times past, won’t you? * Well, not anymore, but never tell us we don’t have the gift of very specific prophecy through throwaway jokes.
New Mexico State [updated 02.01.2013]
• Who’s out: DeWayne Walker, who jumps to the NFL with less than two weeks remaining between now and Signing Day. And not even for a coordinating gig: Walker will coach defensive backs for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Walker released the following statement through the athletic department: “I really appreciate the opportunity that Dr. Boston and New Mexico State gave me to be a Division I head football coach. Unfortunately, I did not get the program as far as I would have liked from a wins and losses standpoint. But, we do have a better locker room, better kids and a better foundation for the program moving forward. There are a lot of people that I want to thank for their support and will be reaching out to those individuals in the coming days. They have helped me in moving the program forward. I am excited about starting a new chapter in my coaching career, as is my family. I wish New Mexico State great success in the future and wish everyone the best. Go Aggies!” • Who’s in: Doug Martin — the one who played at Kentucky, not the one who played at Boise State. Although if Martin The Younger is really so opposed to his excellent nickname, we’re gonna refer to Martin The Elder as coach Muscle Hamster instead. It’s been a whirlwind courtship for Martin and the Aggies: He was announced as offensive coordinator on January 17, temporarily promoted to interim head coach on January 24 and will be officially announced as DeWayne Walker’s successor on Monday, February 4. Martin’s previous head coaching experience consists of a seven-year stint at Kent State, from 2004-2010.
Oregon [updated 01.21.2013]
• Who’s out: Chip Kelly, who sent the sporting sphere into a tizzy with his will-he-or-won’t-he-wait-turns-out-he-will dalliances with the NFL. News broke Wednesday afternoon that Kelly will leave the Ducks for a bird of a different breed: the Philadelphia Eagles. Oregon AD Rob Mullens: “I want to thank Chip for his leadership and commitment to building on the Oregon Football foundation of excellence. We have enjoyed incredible success over the past four years. I have great respect for Chip, consider him a friend and wish him the best of luck in the NFL. Oregon Athletics has executed two successful head coach transitions in the past eighteen years and each time we continued our ascent. We are focused on identifying a leader who is the right fit to guide Oregon Football.” We don’t have a particular duck in this race, but college football as a whole has just gotten a little paler. • Who’s in: As expected, Oregon moved over the weekend to promote Kelly’s offensive coordinator, Mark Helfrich, to succeed him as head coach. Helfrich, a native Oregonian who played his college ball at Southern Oregon, first served on the Ducks’ staff as a graduate assistant in 1997, and has worked as Oregon’s offensive coordinator since 2009.
Syracuse [updated 01.09.2013]
• Who’s out: Doug Marrone, who has become the season’s first college coach poached by the NFL. Marrone, a ‘Cuse alum who landed his first head coaching gig with the Orange in 2009, will replace Chan Gailey at Buffalo. • Who’s in: And just like that, Syracuse closes the loop. Scott Shafer, the Orange’s defensive coordinator for the past four seasons, will succeed Marrone. Shafer is a career defensive assistant, with experience at NIU, Illinois, Western Michigan and Michigan.
Nevada [updated 01.09.2013]
• Who’s out: Chris Ault, who’s already called a Friday press conference to address the “future and direction of the Wolf Pack football program,” will reportedly use that space to announce his retirement, according to Bruce Feldman. Ault quarterbacked for the Wolf Pack and has spent his entire collegiate head coaching career at the head of the ‘Pack, in three separate stints. Related interesting reading: Chris Brown’s lengthy piece, published yesterday, on the growth of Ault’s Pistol offense in the NFL. • Who’s in: Texas A&M assistant Brian Polian as been confirmed as Ault’s successor and will be formally introduced at Nevada this week. Currently the Aggies’ tight ends coach and special teams coordinator, Polian has built up quite the journeyman resume, with stops at Stanford, Notre Dame, Central Florida, Buffalo and Baylor since the turn of the century. He spent the biggest chunk of the past dozen years with the Fighting Irish, coaching in various capacities (special teams, defensive backs, linebackers and safeties) over five seasons.
Florida International [updated 01.04.2013]
• Who’s out: Mario Cristobal, who took the Panthers to their first two bowl appearances in school history, only to suffer a losing season after and be unceremoniously ousted. We have some strong feelings of disdain for this move. You can read them here. • Who’s in: FIU has announced a press conference for the afternoon of January 4 to introduce Ron Turner as Cristobal’s successor. While he’s not Butch Davis, he’s an NFL colleague of Davis’, and he served as Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks coach last season. Turner last coached at the college level in 2004 at Illinois. Click through for Pete Thamel’s story on the hire.
Utah State [updated 12.20.2012]
• Who’s out: Gary Andersen, taking over for Bret Bielema at Wisconsin and reportedly taking most of his staff with him. Players began tweeting their farewells on Tuesday night:
We were given the tools to succeed by a great man. The next step is to use those tools to continue working. — Kerwynn Williams (@KWill_25) December 19, 2012
• Who’s in: Not every assistant will make the journey to Madison: Offensive coordinator Matt Wells will remain in Logan to take over for Andersen. Wells is a former Aggie quarterback who’s served on the USU football staff since January 2011.
Wisconsin [updated 12.19.2012]
• Who’s out: Bret Bielema, who’s taken the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowls. News of his departure to the SEC to take over at Arkansas broke on Tuesday, December 4. • Who’s in: Not Barry Alvarez, beyond the Rose Bowl, unless all of this is an increasingly elaborate hoax. The Badgers have reportedly tabbed Utah State’s Gary Andersen, an impressive figure on account of having won many football games with the Aggies, and other teams. Stewart Mandel elaborates:
The Aggies were worse than afterthoughts for a decade-plus prior to Andersen’s 2009 arrival from Utah. They’d gone 1-11, 2-10 and 3-9 the previous three seasons. [...] Two years later, in 2010, Andersen’s team put a scare into Oklahoma (losing 31-24) and beat rival BYU for the first time since 1993. A year later, they came within a fluky onside kick of stunning defending national champion Auburn en route to a 7-6 season that culminated in the school’s first bowl trip in 14 years. This season, Utah State went 11-2, won the WAC, knocked off Utah and, more notably now, came within a missed field goal of beating Wisconsin in Madison.
No matter what else happens this bowl season, 2012 will always be the year in which Bret Bielema had to ice Utah State’s kicker for a win, at home.
Kent State [updated 12.18.2012]
• Who’s out: Darrell Hazell, doing his part to help prop up the MAC’s coaching export numbers by taking the Purdue job. • Who’s in: Former Kent State player and secondary coach Paul Haynes, who served as John L. Smith’s defensive coordinator this past season at Arkansas and spent seven seasons prior to that as a defensive assistant at Ohio State. And thanks to his new school bio, we like him already: “Known as ‘Ice’ during his playing days, Haynes walked on at Kent State in the fall of 1987 and went on to play four years for the Golden Flashes. As a freshman, he led the team in interceptions during Kent State’s 7-4 season under Glen Mason.”
Temple [updated 12.17.2012]
• Who’s out: Steve Addazio, whose departure to Boston College was announced December 4. • Who’s in: Matt Rhule, a State College native and former Penn State linebacker who’s in his first season as offensive line coach for the New York Giants. Prior to that he served for six seasons in various assistant coaching capacities on the Owls’ staff, from defensive line to quarterbacks to offensive coordinator. Rhule’s introductory press conference can be viewed on OwlAccess, which is indisputably the best-named college athletics website.
San Jose State [updated 12.17.2012]
• Who’s out: Mike MacIntyre, bound for Boulder and the vacant Colorado gig. • Who’s in: University of San Diego’s Ron Caragher was announced as MacIntyre’s successor on Monday afternoon. Caragher grew up in the Bay Area, and has spent the past six seasons as head coach of the Toreros.
Western Michigan [updated 12.17.2012]
• Who’s out: Bill Cubit, who first operated at WMU as offensive coordinator from 1997-1999 and was brought back as head coach in 2005. His tenure ended November 17, 2012, shortly after dropping a 29-23 game to Eastern Michigan and falling to 4-8 for the season (2-6 in MAC play). Cubit departs as the fifth-winningest coach in program history and has the second-most MAC wins. He also took the Broncos from 1-10 in 2004 to 7-4 in 2005, which WMU sports info tells us is the biggest one-year turnaround in conference history. • Who’s in: Precisely one month after the announcement of Cubit’s dismissal, the Broncos have settled on P.J. Fleck as their next head coach. (The press conference has been delayed until Tuesday due to some rather pressing family matters.) A former NIU wide receiver and assistant, Fleck joined Greg Schiano’s Rutgers staff in 2010 and followed him to Tampa Bay in 2012, where he coaches the Buccaneers’ receivers. Just 32, Fleck will take over Matt Campbell’s slot as the youngest FBS head coach.
Louisiana Tech [updated 12.14.2012]
• Who’s out: Sonny Dykes, whose Bulldogs put up the nation’s top-scoring offense and squishiest total defense in 2012, has been hired to replace Jeff Tedford at Cal. • Who’s in: Skip Holtz, fired from South Florida on December 2, spent just less than two weeks as a skipper without a ship. Holtz was introduced as the new head coach of the Bulldogs in a December 14 press conference. As Paul Myerberg pointed out yesterday, this hire will give LaTech four consecutive head coaches whose fathers also coached FBS ball.
Texas Tech [updated 12.13.2012]
• Who’s out: Tommy Tuberville, making fast tracks for Cincinnati. Texas Tech held a press conference of its own on December 8, in which athletic director Kirby Hocutt stated, “Tommy and I have talked a number of times since the conclusion of the Baylor game this year, and as recently as yesterday he looked me in the eye and gave me his commitment and dedication to Texas Tech football and leading this football program forward.” Secret maneuverings and hidden motives within the Texas Tech athletic department? Well, we never. • Who’s in: Kliff Kingsbury, who at 33 will become the youngest head coach at an AQ-conference program and the second-youngest head coach in FBS football. The Texas Tech alum and former Red Raiders star quarterback has been coaching at the college level for just five years, serving on Kevin Sumlin’s staffs both at Houston and Texas A&M. Kingsbury was formally introduced on December 14.
Arkansas State [updated 12.13.2012]
• Who’s out: Gus Malzahn, back to Auburn after just one season (and a conference title) at the helm of the Red Wolves. • Who’s in: Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. (Go ahead and wish him the very best of luck at whichever power conference school he’ll jump to after a season with the Red Wolves!) Arkansas State formally introduced its new coach on December 12. Quoth our pals at Burnt Orange Nation: “After another so-so year which saw the program tread water while regional rivals shot up, it will be difficult for UT fans not to view the loss of Harsin as another sign that the Texas program has stalled under Mack Brown …” Harsin departs Austin after two seasons with the Longhorns, following 10 years at Boise State.
Southern Miss [updated 12.11.2012]
• Who’s out: Ellis Johnson, hired December 2011. Served briefly in the late 1980s as the Golden Eagles’ DC; plucked from South Carolina after predecessor Larry Fedora’s departure for North Carolina. Fired on November 27, 2012, after steering a program that went 12-2 in 2011, including a bowl victory, into an 0-12 ditch, good for the worst record in FBS. Downtrodden conference-mates UAB and Memphis won games this year. Several, in fact. Each team transitioning into FBS play this season, from semi-mighty UTSA to wee South Alabama, beat somebody. There’s also this depressing stat:
• Who’s in: Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken was introduced at a December 11 press conference. This will be Monken’s first head coaching gig; prior to arriving at Oklahoma State in 2011, he spent several seasons as an offensive assistant with LSU and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ellis Johnson's 3 head coaching gigs (G-Webb, Citadel, USM) lasted 1, 3 and 1 years. 1.67 average has to be a record low.—
Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) November 27, 2012
Colorado [updated 12.11.2012]
• Who’s out: Jon Embree took on the task of digging Colorado out of a Dan Hawkins-shaped well in December 2011. His firing was announced November 25, 2012, which makes him the latest two-season casualty, for those of you scoring at home, and concludes a 1-11 Buffs football season, for those of you who don’t like to count very high. Frosty joint statement from Colorado’s AD, President and Chancellor reads, in part: “We firmly believe a change in the leadership in our football program is in the best interests of the University of Colorado, particularly given our goal to compete at the highest levels of the Pac-12 Conference.” • Who’s in: As reported by Pete Thamel, it’s San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre, who coached the Spartans to a 10-2 record and a Military Bowl berth this season. The Buffs need a(nother) program turnaround, and he’s fresh off executing a fine one with the Spartans. MacIntyre’s first San Jose State team finished 1-12; the Spartans went 5-7 in 2011 and 10-2 in 2012. This year’s crop lost to Stanford by a field goal and suffered just one conference loss, to eventual WAC champ Utah State.
Western Kentucky [updated 12.10.2012]
• Who’s out: Willie Taggart, replacing Skip Holtz at South Florida. • Who’s in: Bobby Petrino. No, for real. We promised we were out of Hawgpanky jokes, and we are. The hire was first reported on the afternoon of December 10, and formally announced in a press conference just hours later. Stewart Mandel says “Petrino may be a complete sleazeball, but he wins football games, which takes precedence over almost everything else on most campuses.” It makes its own kind of sense to us. It’s not like WKU can go into this without being aware of Petrino’s history. The Hilltoppers’ administration clearly wants wins. It’ll get some.
South Florida [updated 12.10.2012]
• Who’s out: Skip Holtz, fired December 2 after his second consecutive losing season with the Bulls. According to USF AD Doug Woolard, “While our program remains young, having just completed our 16th season of competition, our history is rich, and the expectations of coaches, players, students, administrators and fans are high. That is why the past few months have been hard for all of us.” • Who’s in: Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart returns to his home state (Taggart quarterbacked at WKU in his college days but originally hails from Palmetto, Fla.). He leaves the Hilltoppers just before their first-ever postseason appearance in the Little Caesars Bowl.
Cincinnati [updated 12.10.2012]
• Who’s out: Butch Jones, who resigned to take the vacant Tennessee job. • Who’s in: Tommy Tuberville, who’s going to make us have to rethink our entire introduction, the rake. Tubz rejoined Auburn pal Whit Babcock at Cincinnati on December 8. You can read Stewart Mandel’s thoughts on the hire right over here.
UTEP [updated 12.10.2012]
• Who’s out: Mike Price, head coach of the Miners since December 2003, announced his retirement at his weekly media luncheon on November 19, 2012: “We will have all week to hang out together and celebrate, because that’s truly what I want this to be, a celebration this week with our players. This is going to be fun. [...] There is someone else I’d like to thank. That’s my wife of 46 years, Joyce. She wants to talk, but she goes on and on and on [laughs]. She has been with me as a player. She has raised two football players and watched them play little league, Pop Warner, junior high and high school, and then they went into the god awful profession of coaching. For 46 years she has been with me, and now I’m going to spend some time with her and she’s going to come first in my life.” We cannot express in words how much we’re going to miss having Mike Price quotes to pore over every week. Apart from being the Alabama coach that wasn’t, we’ll also remember him for drawing our eyeballs to UTEP. The bizarro upsets and near-upsets! The unabashed glee with which he hoisted that pickaxe! Profiles in Profiteroles’ weekly “Thing UTEP Did This Week” item won’t be the same without him. • Who’s in: Sean Kugler, currently serving as offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be introduced as the new head coach of the Miners on December 10. (We will have many more metal jokes for you at a later date.) Kugler played four years of football for UTEP in the late 1980s, and served on staff with the Miners from 1993-2000.
Tennessee [updated 12.07.2012]
• Who’s out: Derek Dooley, who plugged the dam on Rocky Top following the return of Lane Kiffin to Southern California. He was fired November 18, 2012, on the heels of a blowout loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville, the program’s first road loss to the Commodores in 30 years. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney coached the Vols’ final game against Kentucky. Happy trails, pants. • Who’s in: Butch Jones of Cincinnati, taking a job not previously held by Brian Kelly for the first time in his head coaching career. No word as of yet on what color pants he will don on game days.
Cal [updated 12.06.2012]
• Who’s out: Jeff Tedford, who lasted an astonishing (for this era) 11 seasons. The school announced his departure on November 20, 2012, following the conclusion of a 3-9 regular season, the Bears’ second losing campaign in three years. Per the glowing press release announcing his dismissal: “Tedford both won more games than any previous Cal coach, setting the mark with his 75th victory, a 63-12 decision over Presbyterian on Sept. 17, 2012. He also owns school records for most bowl wins (5), most games coached (139) and most conference victories (50), while he is tied with Pappy Waldorf for most Big Game wins (7).” Also looks uncannily like John Wayne in certain lights. • Who’s in: One of our bloggy favorites, and one of yours, too, if you’re into pointsplosions. We won’t get to see Sonny Dykes‘ Louisiana Tech offense operate this postseason, but next year he’ll be in the same division as Mike Leach and the same conference as Rich Rodriguez. (Cal’s new offense is already being referred to as the #BearRaid; please keep that going.) What we’re interested to know now: Whether Tony Franklin will head to the Bay Area with his boss as reported, and who Dykes’ DC will be. Because, well, the Bears are gonna need a good DC.
Purdue [updated 12.05.2012]
• Who’s out: Danny Hope, elevated from his second stint as a Boilermakers assistant following the 2008 season, as the designated successor to Joe Tiller. Hope was let go on November 25, 2012, after four seasons resulting in a 22-27 record (13-19 in Big Ten play). And while memories of beating Ohio State and Michigan in the same 2009 season may fade, that mustache is eternal. • Who’s in: Kent State’s Darrell Hazell, who just took the Golden Flashes to within an overtime period of a BCS game. KENT STATE. On paper, it’s a hire that should make Purdue fans quite happy, and one that makes Matt Hinton an unassailable prophet:
Danny Hope out at Purdue. Winning coach in the MAC Championship Game has the option to take the job or pass it to the loser. — Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) November 25, 2012
Arkansas [updated 12.04.2012]
• Who’s out: John L. Smith, brought back to Fayetteville last April, to fill in the smoking crater left by Bobby Petrino. Arkansas announced on Nov. 24 that Smith will not continue to serve as head coach past the end of his current contract: “Smith was hired to a 10-month contract last April and his employment agreement runs through Feb. 23, 2013. Smith will remain in the department as a consultant through the completion of his 10-month contract. Smith will be reassigned to assist with the transition to the new coaching staff once a new head coach is named. All assistant coaches have the option to remain a part of the football staff pending the hiring of a new head coach.” Every time he opened his mouth in front of a camera since he got here has been a magical moment, and for that, from our nonpartisan standpoint, he will be missed. • Who’s in: Bret Bielema, head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, one of the last people you’d think would end up there, and one of the best people, from an entertainment standpoint, to put in the same division as Les Miles and Nick Saban. Not a bad day’s work, Jeff Long. Andy Staples calls this move another blow to Big Ten perception.
Auburn [updated 12.04.2012]
• Who’s out: Gene Chizik, who was hired in December 2008 to replace Tommy Tuberville. Derided in some corners as “5-19 Gene,” Chizik promptly led the Tigers to three consecutive winning seasons, each ending in a bowl victory … which brings us to 2012. Chizik’s firing was announced on November 25, at the close of a 3-9 campaign and shortly following a 49-0 obliteration by Alabama in the Iron Bowl. His claim to fame is right there in the very first sentence of his official school bio: “Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, in his fourth year has led the program to more wins (30) than any coach in the school’s rich football history in their first three seasons, including the program’s first national championship in over 50 years, when his Tigers won the 2010 BCS National Championship.” Nasty business, football. • Who’s in: None other than Gus Malzahn, back on the Plains to see if he can recreate some of that title run magic. Stewart Mandel wonders if memories of the Chizik administration will eventually just blur into nothingness.
Boston College [updated 12.04.2012]
• Who’s out: Frank Spaziani, promoted from defensive coordinator in January 2009 and fired November 25, 2012, after recording six wins in two seasons. Is it possible that the most memorable aspect of his tenure might be what happened right before he was hired? • Who’s in: Reported by SI’s Pete Thamel and since made official by BC’s AD: Temple head coach Steve Addazio, who took over for Al Golden after Golden’s departure for Miami two seasons ago, will replace Spaziani. Before you ask, we’re pretty sure this was Montel Harris’ last year of eligibility, which is a shame, because that would’ve been a hilarious package deal.
Idaho [updated 12.04.2012]
• Who’s out: Robb Akey, hired December 2006 and fired October 21, 2012, amid a 1-7 season mark and the program staring down the hard road of conference independence in 2013. His claim to fame, besides his mustache? His perfect (1-0) record in bowl games, earned in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl in a manner impossible to forget: We’ll always have Boise, Coach Dr. Teeth. • Who’s in: Paul Petrino, brother of Bobby and former offensive coordinator at Arkansas, Illinois and Louisville, was announced as Akey’s successor on December 3, and is actually making a return to Moscow. He served three seasons as an assistant with the Vandals in the early 1990s.
North Carolina State [updated 12.03.2012]
• Who’s out: Tom O’Brien, who replaced Chuck Amato in December 2006, was fired on November 25, 2012, after six seasons, 40 wins and 35 losses. Nothing he accomplished in Raleigh was quite so remarkable as putting together multiple consecutive bowl seasons at his previous program, Boston College. And isn’t that the problem? When we think of O’Brien at all, it’s usually as The Guy Who Incubated Russell Wilson. • Who’s in: Dave Doeren, whom some of you may recognize as the guy who just got Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl. Now he gets to winter in Raleigh instead of Miami! Ah, the perils of career advancement.
Northern Illinois [updated 12.03.2012]
• Who’s out: Dave Doeren, who ascended from coordinating Bret Bielema’s defenses at Wisconsin just two seasons ago to take the head job at NIU, resigned from the Huskies to take over for the ousted Tom O’Brien at North Carolina State. • Who’s in: Doeren’s hiring was announced December 1, and by December 2 the Huskies already had a replacement lined up. Offensive coordinator Rod Carey, who took over for Mike Dunbar after Week 1, has been promoted to the top position, and we’ll get a look at him right away: His first task will be to coach the first-ever MAC team to appear in a BCS game, when the Huskies face Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Georgia State [updated 12.03.2012]
• Who’s out: They’re not technically on our beat yet, but the Panthers announced a 2013 move to the Sun Belt back in April, and Bill Curry announced he’d retire following the 2012 season, so by the time Georgia State does come under our watch it’ll have a new guy. Also, this is a great excuse to repost this video. We are going to miss Bill Curry very much. • Who’s in: Trent Miles, current head coach at Indiana State, will be announced as Curry’s successor on Monday, December 3.
Kentucky [updated 11.27.2012]
• Who’s out: Joker Phillips, hired January 2010. Fired November 4, 2012, a decision that Mitch Barnhart apparently came to while perfecting his Jordan Catalano lean. (Yes, that’s the firing announcement. You just have to read way, way down.) We will admit to being biased in this regard, but we will always admire how Phillips broke a Tennessee winning streak over the Wildcats that had stretched more than a quarter century with a wide receiver playing quarterback. • Who’s in: Mark Stoops, brother of Bob and Mike. Stoops has spent the past three seasons as Florida State’s defensive coordinator, following a six-year stint at Arizona.