Two major schools have already announced plans to make changes and several more have to be on the verge of such decisions. As a result, it appears this winter will be one of the more active ones in recent years as far as head coaching changes are concerned. The changes are likely to hit the state of Florida pretty hard and the SEC could well see its first change(s) in a couple of years.
Interestingly enough, many around the country are crediting (or is it blaming) UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley for the mid-season firings of John Bunting (North Carolina) and John L. Smith (Michigan State). Not that it’s Foley’s fault those guys were told this year would be their last at their current position; that would be absurd. But Florida’s decision to clarify Ron Zook’s status in mid-October 2004 cleared the way for an open and thorough evaluation of the coaching marketplace. As a result, Florida was in great position to hire the hottest young coach in the country, staving off a last minute bid by Notre Dame.
North Carolina and Michigan State thus have a leg up on others as they begin looking to find the right guy to take their respective programs into the future. As a result, other schools that are considering making a move may find the need to speed up the decision-making process so that if they do make a change, they can start looking around in the very near future. There are several current head coaches whose schools must be conducting that evaluation as we speak.
Tommy West, Memphis —– The Tigers are 1-and-7 this year putting him below the .500 mark in his six-year tenure. This could be the perfect fit for former Gator coordinator Larry Fedora whose Oklahoma State offense is lighting it up.
Larry Coker, Miami —– Despite a 58-and-13 overall record, Coker is portrayed as a goner by most in South Florida. If that’s the case, the Hurricanes will be looking into A-list candidates like Greg Shiano, Dave Wannstedt, Butch Davis, maybe even Bobby Petrino. The “U” needs this to be a popular choice.
Don Strock, F-I-U —– The rumble didn’t help, but the overall record of 15-and-37 is much more of a factor. Perhaps ‘Canes defensive coordinator Randy Shannon would be interested? That would make a lot of sense.
Rich Brooks, Kentucky —– This is a tough move to make if Brooks can beat Vandy and Louisiana-Monroe to become bowl eligible. Still, Brooks is 14-and-29 overall and all of his prior conference wins (6 in four years) have come against Vanderbilt and the Mississippi schools. Yesterday’s win over Georgia, however, should help him immeasurably. David Cutcliff should be their first call.
Watson Brown, UAB —– The Blazers are kinda stuck in quicksand and while Brown has been solid they don’t appear to be going anywhere. 63-and-75 in year 13 is not encouraging. I would strongly suggest Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges for this one.
Ted Roof, Duke —– Yes, I know that it’s Duke but 5-and-31 is unacceptable anywhere. Louisville QB Coach Jeff Brohm might be worth a shot here.
Howard Schnellenberger, Florida Atlantic —– He convinced people they could have a program there and made it a reality. Now it’s time for a younger man to step in. FAU is 5-and-15 the last two seasons and seems to have hit the proverbial wall. This might be a great chance for Charlie Strong to get a head coaching opportunity.
I suspect most of those changes will take place and the domino effect caused by the changes could be fascinating. Of course all of the jobs on that list combined would be completely overshadowed if either Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno decided to move on.