Early signing day is barely five weeks away (Wednesday, Dec. 15). There's your answer as to why nine schools have already changed coaches and two of those schools -- Texas Tech with Joey McGuire, Georgia Southern with Clay Helton -- have already filled their openings.
Recruiting is everything, particularly when judging which coach is going to lead your program in the future. Impatience has become the operative philosophy for athletic directors these days. Three of the nine coaches who lost their jobs did so before the completion of their third seasons.
Below, we offer our opinions on the seven FBS jobs currently open, not only who should be hired at each school but who will actually be hired.
Once again, recruiting is everything.
Ed Orgeron reached a separation agreement with LSU on Oct. 17 but is being allowed to finish the season. Reportedly, Orgeron's problems weren't just on the field where he was 9-8 since a 15-0 national championship season in 2019. Question: If Orgeron was so bad, why is he still coaching?
Who LSU should hire -- Mel Tucker, Michigan State coach: It's simple math for a coach who has yet to complete a second season in the big chair: Michigan State was a better job than Colorado, and LSU is a better job than Michigan State. In fact, LSU is one of the best in the country. Tucker might not be the home run hire some expect from athletic director Scott Woodward, but think of Tucker as a lot like Steve Sarkisian last year when he was hired by Texas: He's the best name left on the board that LSU can get. (The Tigers would obviously be hoping for a better starting record than 4-5, of course.)
Who LSU will hire -- Mel Tucker, Michigan State coach: Sure, James Franklin is a favorite, but he probably won't pass muster as Penn State's season is trending toward 7-5. Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell is not a fit considering his Ohio-based background. That leaves Tucker, an SEC veteran who coached defensive backs for Nick Saban for one year in 2000. Word on the street is that Tucker will accept an interview if contacted. Tucker is a studious, fast-rising talent who could quickly get LSU back on top.
Who will be the next LSU coach? Visit Geaux247 now to see the latest Hot Board covering the LSU coaching search, including which candidates who are making almost $10 million per year could be headed to Death Valley, all from Tiger insider Sonny Shipp.
Clay Helton was fired two games into his seventh season with the Trojans. Last week, he was named coach at Georgia Southern. USC interim coach Donte Williams has gone 3-4 since Helton's firing. With Oregon pulling away in the Pac-12 and other conference programs playing with the physicality USC used to be known for (see: Utah), the administration figured it was time for a makeover. At 4-5, the Trojans face the possibility of only their second losing season since 2000.
Who USC should hire -- Luke Fickell, Cincinnati coach: Fickell is the candidate who most resembles what every USC fan longs for -- the days of Pete Carroll. Fickell has brought a stoic excellence to a Bearcats program that is challenging for a College Football Playoff spot.
Who USC will hire -- Luke Fickell, Cincinnati coach: It will take some convincing, but the guess here is that Fickell will be lured West, especially if Cincinnati is left out of the playoff. There has to be a feeling of hitting your head against a cement ceiling for Fickell even with the Bearcats headed to the Big 12 soon. USC would allow him immediate access to elite athletes in a league that would be easier to win than another potential suitor, LSU in the SEC. The key figure in the transaction is his wife, Amy Fickell, who along with her six children will have to be persuaded to accept a culture shift in Southern California.
Gary Patterson and TCU mutually parted ways Oct. 31. In his 21st season, Patterson carved out a legendary career at TCU but only had two winning seasons since 2016. Most troubling, the defense that made G.P. famous had faltered lately.
Who TCU should hire -- Sonny Dykes, SMU coach: This one is too easy. Dykes has seen the most sustained success of any SMU coach since the program suffered the death penalty in 1987. Sources told CBS Sports that Patterson was pushed out so the school could get in line ahead of Texas Tech for Dyke's services. Word is that Dykes preferred TCU to Tech, anyway. This hire will be interesting with Dykes coming from a bitter rival. Hey, but if he can win, who cares?
Who TCU will hire -- Sonny Dykes, SMU coach: This grand reentry into Power Five should be more successful than the last time. Dykes went 19-30 at California before being fired in 2016. He is familiar with TCU having worked as analyst under Patterson in 2017. Dykes reportedly has a contract extension on his desk to stay at SMU and could end up being the highest paid Group of Five coach. Houston's Dana Holgorsen has that honor making $4 million per year.
Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants were fired Oct. 20 after refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to meet a state and university mandate. Rolovich had applied for a religious exemption to remain unvaccinated but was denied.
Who Washington State should hire -- Jake Dickert, Washington State defensive coordinator: Dickert is currently 1-1 as the interim coach. The 38-year old former Wisconsin-Stevens Point receiver considers himself more than an interim. "I may have acting head coaching before my name; I like to say I'm the 'interviewing' head coach," Dickert told CBS Sports. The Cougars have completely bought into Dickert since Rolovich's firing, narrowly losing to BYU before winning at Arizona State. Dickert has built a defense that leads the Pac-12 in takeaways (20) and is tied for second nationally in recovered fumbles (12). "Every day, I've been preparing for this moment," Dickert said.
Who Washington State will hire -- Jay Norvell, Nevada coach: The former Oklahoma assistant under Bob Stoops is 32-24 in his fifth season with the Wolf Pack. Norvell runs an uptempo offense that would dovetail nicely after what Mike Leach and Rolovich had installed. Nevada quarterback Carson Strong has gone from three-star recruit to projected first-round draft choice.
Randy Edsall abruptly retired two games into his fourth season with the Huskies. It was his second stint with UConn. The school is considering a move to Conference USA. That move alone would make this job more attractive than it is at the moment. The Huskies are 24-40-1 in their history as an independent.
Who UConn should hire -- Joe Moorhead, Oregon offensive coordinator: A disclaimer up front. This is a pipe dream. Moorhead has remade himself at Oregon, which is contending for a playoff spot. But he did spent three years at UConn before his career took off at Fordham in 2012. He is considered one of the brightest offensive minds in the game.
Who UConn will hire -- Al Golden, Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach: It's been six years since Golden left frustrated at Miami. The Hurricanes never could get over the hump during his five seasons. UConn might be a good fit for Golden, who succeeded at Temple and has been an NFL assistant since 2016. Only Randy Shannon, Golden and Mark Richt have won as many as nine games at Miami since 2009.
Walt Bell was fired after having gone 2-23 overall, 1-8 late in his third season. Offensive line coach Alex Miller, a former UMass player, is the interim coach.
Who UMass should hire -- Bob Chesney, Holy Cross coach: Whatever it takes, UMass should throw the bank at Chesney if he's interested. The Minutemen have a budding star in their midst. Edsall stepped down shortly after Holy Cross embarrassed UConn 38-28 in the season opener. Chesney didn't need that result to get his name out there, but it certainly helped. The 44-year-old has led the Crusaders to the FCS playoffs in two of his three seasons. The drawback is Chesney has no FBS experience. Not even close.
Who UMass will hire -- Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Cohen: He's getting some buzz as of late. Cohen is a former UMass quarterback who wore No 12 like every other kid in New England (Tom Brady ring a bell?). Kentucky's offense is improved in Cohen's first season. He's only 36 and has never been a head coach but has NFL and SEC experience.
Tom Arth was fired after going 3-24 through 2 ½ seasons. Maybe it wasn't fair. It's Akron. The coach Arth replaced, Terry Bowden, led the Zips to the only bowl win in their history. Nothing is fair at Akron.
Who Akron should hire -- Charlie Frye, Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach: No idea if Frye is interested, particularly with the NFL season ongoing and set to end well after the college season, but the Zips could do worse than the greatest quarterback in their history. From 2001-04, Frye broke 54 school records. A name like Frye returning to Akron could be a boon for recruiting.
Who Akron will hire -- Vince Kehres, Toledo co-defensive coordinator: The son of college football's all-time winningest coach deserves a look. Larry Kehres won 93% of his games in 27 seasons at Division III Mount Union. Vince took over for his dad and won a pair of Division III titles. His Toledo defenses have been second-best in the MAC in 2020 and 2021. In this case, bloodlines should matter.