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Projecting the 2012-13 College Football Coaching Carousel

Below are my projections of where 23 college football coaches will land next season. Keep in mind these picks are well before we know for sure who gets fired, who retires, and who leaves for other openings. There is still four weeks left in the regular season, plus there are conference championships and bowl games, but here is my best shot at where all the coaches will end up landing, in alphabetical order by school.

Some of these are pretty far-fetched scenarios, and some are downright crazy. Most of them are simply a guess, and some are just funny to think about. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy them, and maybe one or two will actually end up happening. Discuss your own thoughts in the comment section below.


Air Force: Ron Zook

Troy Calhoun takes Kansas State job after Bill Snyder wins BCS bowl and retires; Ron Zook leaves the CBS Sports Network to return to coaching.

Arkansas: Gus Malzahn
John L. Smith’s contract is not retained, and Malzahn leaves Arkansas St. to coach the Razorbacks.

Arkansas State: Gene Chizik
Gus Malzahn leaves for Arkansas, but recommends school to hire his old boss at Auburn, Gene Chizik (fired by Auburn).

Army: Skip Holtz

Holtz is fired at South Florida, but Army is attracted to the name-recognition and visibility that Dr. Lou’s son would give their program, and he is hired at West Point.

Auburn: Bobby Petrino

Gene Chizik is fired, Nick Saban wins another national title at Alabama, and Auburn feels pressured to make the controversial hire of Bobby Petrino.

Boston College: Steve Addazio

Frank Spaziani is fired; Steve Addazio leaves Temple, but stays in the northeast (originally from Connecticut) to coach at Boston College.

California: Brent Pease

Jeff Tedford resigns under pressure; Florida wins the SEC East, and Gators’ offensive coordinator Brent Pease is rewarded with a head-coaching job at Cal.

Cincinnati: Frank Solich

Frank Beamer retires after 26 years at Virginia Tech; Butch Jones leaves for Virginia Tech job, and Cincinnati hires its third-straight coach from the MAC by hiring Ohio’s Frank Solich.

Colorado: Jeff Tedford

Jeff Tedford resigns from California after 10 seasons, but stays in Pac-12 after accepting Colorado job.

Duke: Willie Taggart

David Cutcliffe takes Duke to the ACC Championship game, and gets a new offer somewhere else (keep reading). Duke then hires Willie Taggart from WKU, who knows a thing or two about winning with higher academic standards from his days at Stanford.

Indiana: John L. Smith

John L. Smith’s contract isn’t retained at Arkansas, but the poor guy still needs money to pay off debt and goes back to the Big Ten to take the dreaded Indiana job.

Kansas State: Troy Calhoun

As mentioned earlier, Bill Snyder ends his career with a BCS bowl win and decides to retire; Kansas State hires Troy Calhoun from Air Force.

Kentucky: David Cutcliffe

The hire may not be the sexiest, but Cutcliffe has won in the SEC before and now he’s won at a basketball school in which fans have much less football interest than even Kentucky. The fit makes sense, and it is reasonably likely to happen. Why would he leave current situation for UK? Duke isn’t getting any better than they are now. Kentucky at its best (possibly Brooks era), is still a lot better than Duke at its best (right now). The fan support is also much better at UK, if you simply win 6+ games a year.

Louisiana-Lafayette: Paul Petrino

Bobby’s brother has kept the Razorbacks offense going this season, but the defense has been pitiful; Paul gets promotion at Louisiana-Lafayette and brings most of Arkansas staff with him.

Louisiana Tech: Derek Dooley

Derek Dooley goes back to where he came from before short stint at Tennessee; if not here, it’s likely he ends up somewhere else back in the Sun Belt, where he’s had success before.

Mississippi State: Sonny Dykes

Dan Mullen leaves for bigger paycheck at higher-profile SEC East school, and Mississippi State hires Sonny Dykes from Louisiana Tech.

Ohio: Jim Tressel

Ohio University appeals to NCAA to hire state-legend Jim Tressel as Bobcats coach; OU wins appeal and waits patiently while Tressel sits out NCAA mandated 5 games.

South Florida: John Gruden

John Gruden leaves ESPN for vacant USF job; Gruden returns to the city and stadium where he once coached the NFL’s Buccaneers.

Tennessee: Dan Mullen

Tennessee fires Derek Dooley and doesn’t go the same route of hiring up-and-coming, smaller conference coach, and makes Dan Mullen one of the highest-paid coaches in the country.

Texas: Kirby Smart

Mack Brown pressured into retirement and Texas hires Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart after Crimson Tide win second-consecutive crystal ball.

Virginia: Mark Hudspeth

Virginia fires Mike London and hires Mark Hudspeth from Louisiana-Lafayette.

Virginia Tech: Butch Jones

Frank Beamer retires after 26 years at Virginia Tech, and the Hokies hire Butch Jones from Cincinnati, who defeated Virginia Tech earlier this season.

Western Kentucky: Joker Phillips

Willie Taggart leaves and Joker Phillips takes another job in the state, just 20 minutes away from his hometown of Franklin, KY, after being let go or “resigning” from Kentucky. Injuries and youth aren’t enough to save Joker’s job at UK, but they may be enough to convince AD’s at a Sun Belt or other smaller conference school that he can have success as a head coach in a better conference situation (not in the SEC).

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

73 Comments for Projecting the 2012-13 College Football Coaching Carousel

  1. WKU alumni
    10:02 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    No way WKU would have Joker.

  2. matt
    10:04 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    bobby p cant coach at auburn next year…has a one year non compete with sec west

  3. barn
    10:06 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    joker will wind up as an asst somewhere, if indeed he does leave after this year. why would anyone want him as hc? he really doesn’t have a resume which qualifies hims as one, does he? what could wku have possibly seen in joker to want him as their hc?

  4. Insider
    10:07 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Moma Petrino does not want Bobby at Auburn so its not happening. We would actually have a good shot at him if Mitch would give it a go. Unfortunately thats not happening either.

  5. mb78
    10:09 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Unless Louisville really coughs up the cash (and they might), not sure how they keep Strong away from the 3 big SEC wolves (Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee) that will come calling.

    Adjust Strong to, say, Arkansas, Taggart to Louisville, and someone off the reject heep (Malzhan?) to Duke, and that seems about right

  6. Pharmboy
    10:11 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    There is too much wrong here to address everything, but I will say this. Florida is not winning SEC east. All Georgia has to do is beat auburn and ole miss and they win the east.

  7. Greenwell
    10:11 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Charlie Strong? James Franklin?

  8. Insider
    10:13 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Strong is not going to be as hot of a commodity as some seem to think. I dont expect any SEC school to come after him unless they strike out on their top choices.

  9. Booyakasha!
    10:14 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Butch Davis will be coaching Arkansas next year.

  10. SoCal Will
    10:14 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    People at Oregon are praying you are right about Texas. The Longhorns are poised to pay whatever it takes for their choice. Cutcliffe would be Brooks II – Nashville, Memphis, memphis, Nashville…..

  11. Yab
    10:15 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    If Barnhart does not hire Petrino, I’ll give up on UK forever.

  12. Kneel
    10:15 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    It is becoming a real scenario that John Gruden ends up at Tennessee, and it makes me sick.

  13. Tom Sellecks Mustache
    10:15 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    John Gruden to USF just because he used to coach in Tampa? Not buying it.

  14. rainman
    10:19 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    And UK fans are expected to be happy with the way things are,
    and be happy little campers with all the mediocrity!!

  15. tj
    10:21 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Good effort but Bud Foster is the heir to VTech

  16. Pat
    10:21 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    If Beamer does retire from Virginia Tech, Bud Foster would probably take over at head coach.

  17. Mitch Barnfart
    10:22 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Ya’ll are giving me way to much credit here. I’m searching the rest homes as I type this for our next coach. I am wondering if Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are up to the challenge? EEEEEVVVILLLL!!!!!

  18. No to Cutcliffe
    10:23 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    No. UK cannot hire someone just because they’ve coached in the SEC previously. Go get someone who can walk into a recruit’s house and generate interest or just keep what you’ve got. Spurrier might have coached there, but spurrier was alos a Heisman winner at Florida.

  19. jj
    10:23 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    i hope this post was meant as a joke…

  20. JLP
    10:23 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    I’d take the Vest – if we could get him – over Bobby P. Neither likely in my opinion. I would lean to X and O guy over noted recruiter, especially if they are pass and wide-open oriented. Let the assistants recruit. UK will never win on talent but they might have success with more unconventional offense and decent defense.

  21. John Wilmhoff
    10:26 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Just to clarify, I don’t think Joker is going to be pursued by anyone as a head coach, even a Sun Belt school. It’s likely that he does end up having to go back to being a coordinator first before he gets another HC job, but Sun Belt jobs aren’t easy to project. I’d also suspect that it’s not uncommon for a Sun Belt school to end up hiring someone who is 5th or 6th, or lower, on their desired list. Joker wouldn’t be at the top of anyone’s list, but if a school like Western is told no by all of their top choices, Joker would be a conceivable safe hire. He isn’t going to get the school in trouble or embarrass them off the field. Joker may have connections there. I don’t think he’d do bad in a situation like at Western. Simply a guess.

    As for Strong, I think he definitely leaves Louisville in the next couple of years, but maybe not this year. I certainly considered him though for some of those SEC jobs. If nobody takes a chance on Petrino, Strong may be the next one considered.

  22. Chi-TownCat
    10:26 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    DUKE isn’t going to acc champ game that game is Fsu’s to lose..

  23. Lahinch02
    10:30 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch will make many inquiries and find little interest from all the big names. Amount of money will be irrelevant. If Petrino feigns interest it will be to use UK as a bargaining chip. No matter who is hired many will complain that UK won’t spend the money. Truly, this program cannot achieve a consistent 4&4 in the SEC. If you think so, tell me where those wins are, please. So, 7&5 will always be a solid season. Occasionally an 8&4 … but, truly 6&6 will be no cinch with 8 SEC games. Music City Bowl is better than no bowl at all!

  24. UK Homer
    10:30 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    I like this post and think this is the next step for UK football other than crossing our fingers for W’s these final games. We need to OFFICIALLY start thinking of a new HC. I don’t agree with Cutcliffe since 1) I don’t like him due to a personal experience on Duke’s campus, and 2) UK is no reward for his winning ways at Duke. He should go somewhere better/easier. Coaching carousels rarely result in all participants landing at their next jobs the following season, so understandably this post is more to get us talking than actually being realistic. Go Cayts and keep posts like this coming!

  25. Idiots
    10:32 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    #20, Tressel is far from a pass first guy. He’s a big 10
    guy, 3 yards and a cloud of dust.

  26. bluefan
    10:33 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Why can’t we at UK pursue Paul Petrino?

  27. dave
    10:35 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    solich starts over at UC at the ripe age of 69?
    gruden to USF?
    IU puts up 49 on tOSU, 31 @Ill, 27 on MSU, but fire their 2nd former OC at miami/ok. HC for john l?
    LT re-hires dooley?
    no todd berry?
    why would cutcliffe even leave duke for UK?
    good effort

  28. JB
    10:37 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Enough with the Tennessee retread’s!!! UT forced Randy Sanders to resign and didn’t hire Cutcliffe when Fulmer was fired. We DO NOT need either of them. UK needs a young energetic coach that can recruit and runs an offense that’s fun to watch but also cares about the defensive side of the ball. The only thing we need from Tennessee is more players like Randall Cobb.

  29. Tucker
    10:42 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Dumb subject. How much effort did you actually put in this.

  30. JLP
    10:43 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    #24, I certainly know that. But as a “big name” he might be able to assemble the talent to at least compete in the SEC. I think we could use someone like an up-and-coming Rich Rod or a Kelly clone. But in all honesty, it will be a successful coach from a smaller football conference or an established name on the downward side of his career (like a Brooks).

  31. Shawon
    10:46 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    This post was done in KSR-style ridiculousness. I thought Tomlin wrote it.

  32. WKU
    10:49 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    No way in hell that WKU hires Joker Phillips. Even if Taggart leaves (I don’t think it would be for Duke anyway) I doubt they are going to hire anyone that used to be associated with UK or UL. Same reason that WKU is never going to hire Pelphrey, Ford, Macy, or any other UK alumni who are terrible basketball coaches.

  33. Will
    10:57 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    I really don’t know why Matt Jones or anyone else thinks Cutcliffe would leave Duke for Kentucky.
    1) Duke has actually shown an effort to improve the facilities of their football program and an investment to seeing the program succeed going forward. Cutcliffe is largely getting what he is asking for there. This stands in stark contrast to what Brooks and Joker have experienced at UK with bonding and University Administrative support.
    2) Duke is an easier program to succeed at. North Carolina actually produces a good amount of talent each year and the ACC is infinitely easier than the SEC as a conference.
    3) Unless Mitch throws a large sum of money at him (Mitch is neither creative enough nor persuasive enough for this to even work let alone actually do it) there’s simply no way Cutcliffe would consider the job. It’s a lateral move AT BEST, to be honest. Mitch botched the basketball hire when left up to him and only got Calipari because Cal basically sold HIM and the rest of the search party on bringing him in. Mitch couldn’t get Donovan either time, and is responsible for the worst basketball coach Kentucky has had in over 60 years. No small feat at the winningest program in history. Also, while Brooks worked out in the long run, that search for the football program was also a joke as we got turned down by just about everyone we pursued. Mitch is great with the non-revenue sports and thats cute but when it comes to the two most important programs for any DI school, he has a very spotty if not sub-par record with hires. Basically, he won’t be able to sell David Cutcliffe on coming here. Nor anyone else that might actually be an upgrade to Joker Phillips. The result will be we get potentially worse coach then we have now. Or one that isn’t good enough to overcome the slide we’ve witnessed the last 3 seasons. They too will eventually be fired.

  34. Beatle Bum
    10:57 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Wherd will Jay Gruden be? And, Jon Gruden will be at Tennessee before USF.

  35. Beatle Bum
    10:58 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Nor sure a non-compete is enforceable after you fire the man.

  36. Beatle Bum
    11:04 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Six year deal for Gruden at UT. Dooley fired soon.

  37. Panama
    11:05 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Kentucky needs to jump on Troy Calhoun, AF Academy. Very intelligent and former OC with the Houston Texans. A big time NO to Cutcliffe. He left Ole Miss in a big mess….did not recruit.

  38. Mr T
    11:14 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Joker will be at UK next season. He is not going anywhere but he will not be the head coach.

  39. GoBigBlue25
    11:38 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    I think Tennessee will end up with Jon Gruden and I think David cutcliffe would be a good fit at Kentucky. He can win games and has an exciting offense. I also think he could get us back to about what Rich Brooks had us at but we would have to hire another coach in 5-10 years.

  40. BigDog
    12:02 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Jon Gruden was hated by his players at Oakland and Tampa. The Bucs paid hlm his salary for his first 3 years of broadcasting just to get rid of him. I think he is happy broadcasting but I hope he does in up at UT so they can waste more money.

  41. WOW
    12:08 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    This post is embarrassing…

  42. Hop
    12:16 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Don’t forget about Chris Hatcher from Murray

  43. snarkster
    12:24 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Cutcliffe would be better than Fulmer, but I’d rather have Butch Jones from Cincy ifn they can’t land a bigger fish. No way WKU would take UK’s hand-me-down – especially after WillieT beat Joker in his own stadium. Joker ends up a co-ordinator somewhere in college or (more likely) ends up a position coach for some pro team.

  44. Cat Fan and TB Fan
    12:43 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    It pains me to type this as a UK fan and a Buccaneers fan but I’m pretty sure Gruden will be the Vols coach next season. He was a Grad Assistant there and his wife was a cheerleader there. He’s going to coach at UT and it’s gonna be hard to love him so much.

  45. SeoulCat
    1:46 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Cutcliffe? Are you insane? The masses would lynch Mitch if pulled a stunt like that. No way that happens. It’ll be Dykes, Smart, or maybe even Leach.

  46. SeoulCat
    1:46 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    *he pulled

  47. UKBlue1!
    3:42 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Cutliffe? WTH!

  48. btowncatfan
    7:23 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Dykes and Smart will hold out for better jobs than UK. Charlie Strong to Arkansas, Willie Taggert to UL. As for UK, I don’t know who the hell we could get.

  49. Dee
    7:41 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    WOW….what a waste of my time….maybe BTI doesn’t suck

  50. BobbyPsNeckBrace
    7:47 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    #32 WHY would ANY D-1 coach want to stoop so low as to enter the boneyard known as Commonwealth????
    UK needs to swap conferences with WKU.

  51. Matt
    8:05 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Taggart LOVES wku. I think it will take something big to get him to leave there. Of course he will be one of the hottest coaches on the market the off season, and for good reason, but he has a million ties to WKU and they will do whatever it takes down there in BG to keep him. If taggart does leave, it will be somewhere better than Duke. and to #49 he won’t be going to UL. Taggart isn’t much of a fan of in any in state schools except for his own. Also, i don’t think western would take a shot at Joker, and i certainly don’t think the fans of wku would really like it all that much

  52. knowitall
    8:21 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    #28 you are right on point. nothing else needs be said. excitement from an offense that kids will want to play in and a hard-nosed defensive attitude. cutcliffe/tuberville/tressel old news in sub-par conferences. a hire of one of those three will be “bill curry version 2.0”

  53. plowboy
    8:40 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I just want anyone who can bring the passing game back to ky.

  54. bluesince66
    8:59 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Must have written this before Florida got shut down. Why would yoou want Brent Pease if that’s the best he can do with FLORIDA talent. Have to agree with the don’t wants on Cutcliffe and Tressell. Tubberville might not be so bad.

  55. Agtopper
    9:05 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    No thanks, we are not the dumping grounds for UK.

  56. CharlieStrong
    9:23 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    #21 NOT gunna happen. I am not about to be flushed down that crapper known as Commonwealth Stadium.
    I’ve seen more teeth in a Jack ‘O Lantern…

  57. owesco
    9:26 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I think there’s one big name left off this list and it’s Mark Stoops. I would much rather see UK pursue him over Cutcliffe.

  58. The champ
    9:47 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Get the checkbook out and spend some money mitch b. No more over the hill coaches or young coaches from a smaller school. Get a real coach . Why would keep making The same mistake!!!

  59. CardFanIdiot
    9:54 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    58 thanks for coming here and trolling the comment section for any mention of your stupid birds. Your comprehension skills are off (of course they are, you’re a Lousiville fan). 21 did not say Strong would come here, he said if the other SEC schools don’t take a chance on Petrino, they would consider Strong. I don’t think counting teeth is a part of the job description for a football coach, but if it is, Charlie would be perfect for your description of UK fans, since he can only count to 5.

  60. Blueneck
    9:54 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Hire The Vest!!! I’ll take one in blue.

  61. Greg
    10:35 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I’m really hoping this is supposed to be a comedy post, because if it’s not then it is about as ridiculous as could be. This is definitely not an “in the know” post. The idea Texas is getting Kirby Smart..? Try Tennessee is getting Kirby Smart. The ADept has been pushing him inside since the off-season. Dan Mullen at Tennessee…? No way, why would he leave somewhere he’s having success at to go inter-conf to Tennessee? What about Charlie Strong? You really think he’s going unoticed? And Jim Tressel to Ohio U..? haha, yes this has to be a comedy post.

  62. Bob
    10:36 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I assumed this was written by Tomlin… Good job, good effort

  63. Lucas
    10:50 am October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I honestly don’t see Strong going to any SEC school right now. He has put Louisville in a position to not only play in a BCS game, but to potentially compete for a national championship soon. A #10 BCS ranking with the young team they have shows they have a bright future. However, once Teddy and their other great sophomores graduate, if Louisville is still in the BE I don’t think he’ll stay.

  64. rocky top
    12:35 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Tennessee’s List: (in this exact order)
    1) Jon Gruden
    2) Bobby Petrino
    3) Charlie Strong
    4) Dan Mullen

  65. CharlieStrong
    1:24 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    #61 Well so far y’all are only able to count to ONE…win.
    #65 I can tell you are no UK grad. Too much common sense.

  66. Greg
    2:08 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    . Hope you’ve sobered up since this AM’s hangover column. If you think that ANY D-1 school will hire Joseph Phillips as HC, then I have a really shiny bridge for sale! (cheap). a-GA-in….CHEAP! .

  67. STEVE!
    2:36 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Joker will take Tom Leach’s spot as play-by-play announcer for UK football and basketball.

    Mitch doesn’t have any contacts other than in Oregon (Rich Brooks) and Tennessee (hired two foot ball assistants from there and got two recommendations from Pat Summitt for Women’s basketball coaches), so we will probably get somebody from one of those backgrounds.

  68. TheBigToe
    3:30 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    I didn’t bother reading the other 69 comments, and I am sure someone already covered it, but dude, you’re an idiot.

  69. LadyLuck
    3:57 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    #70 “What he said.”

  70. DCCat
    11:56 pm October 29, 2012 Permalink

    Petrino? All who want him are crazy. Sure, he wins, but at what cost. He broke the law at his last job. Left Atlanta BEFORE the end if the season. Left U if L with significant player issues. Nothing redeeming about the man. Hopefully, Mitch stays away…

  71. BigRedBlob
    8:34 am October 30, 2012 Permalink

    You’re not dumping your trash on my campus!!!