Home 2021 Coaching Carousel: Tracking the Head Coach Openings and Hires

2021 Coaching Carousel: Tracking the Head Coach Openings and Hires

by Connor Jackson

Photo courtesy of Georgia Southern athletics

The 2020 coaching carousel was one for the ages, but the 2021 cycle has already seen some shocking moves.

With Power 5 jobs like LSU and USC opening up, there is set to be chaos as we get closer and closer to December.

Here is a running list of all the movement in head coach openings at the FBS level, including grades for each new hire:

Connecticut | Former Coach: Randy Edsall | New Coach: Jim Mora Jr. | Grade: B+

His prime may be behind him, but Jim Mora Jr. is as good of a hire as Connecticut can make. Not only does Mora have experience as a Power 5 head coach, but he also has spent four years in the NFL as the head man. There have been ups and downs, but Mora has compiled a cumulative record of 77-63 in his career.

He has been out of coaching since 2017, but his national track record — both as a recruiter and a coach — is great for UConn. For Mora, this is the least amount of pressure he will have had in his career.

USC | Old Coach: Clay Helton | New Coach: Lincoln Riley | Grade: A+

USC was tired of losing. So what did they do? They went out and hired one of the best coaches in all of football.

The hire has instantly made an impact on the trail for the Trojans.

Georgia Southern | Old Coach: Chad Lunsford | New Coach: Clay Helton | Grade: A

USC and Clay Helton parted ways after seven seasons in which Helton went 46-24. Fortunately for Helton, he landed right back on his feet by replacing Chad Lunsford at Georgia Southern.

For Helton, he can take the marginal success he had at USC and translate it to a job that has much lower expectations and pressure. On top of that, he gets to return to the South. For Georgia Southern, it is able to get its hands on a coach who has had some very successful moments at the highest level of college football.

LSU | Old Coach: Ed Orgeron | New Coach: Brian Kelly | Grade: A

Chip Kelly is an elite recruiter and happens to be the winningest coach in Notre Dame history. Some people seem to not be so high on the hire, and I am not sure why.

LSU wanted a big fish, and they got one after a long and stressful search.

Washington State | Old Coach: Nick Rolovich | New Coach: Jake Dickert | Grade: B

After going 3-2 and beating Washington as interim head coach, Dickert was given the full-time position.

Dickert brought stability to an otherwise unstable situation, and that gives Wazzu something to build on, even though Dickert is far from proven.

Texas Tech | Old Coach: Matt Wells | New Coach: Joey McGuire | Grade: B

There are a lot of unknowns about Joey McGuire, but the hiring has been a big hit for recruits across the state of Texas.

McGuire, who has served on Baylor’s staff since 2017, went 141-42 as the head coach of Cedar Hill High School in Texas. His multiple decades of work behind the scenes in the state give him tons of potential as a recruiter.

Wells was fired after going 13-17 in three years at Texas Tech.

TCU | Old Coach: Gary Patterson | New Coach: Sonny Dykes | Grade: B

Dykes was seen as one of the favorites for the job since the beginning of the search.

Dykes has some ties in the Dallas area after working at SMU. It isn’t a flashy hire, but it is a move that should pay off on the recruiting trail.

Akron | Old Coach: Tom Arth | New Coach: TBD

Arth was fired from Akron earlier this season after compiling a 3-24 record in three years.

Massachusetts | Old Coach: Walt Bell | New Coach: Don Brown | Grade: A

Brown was the head coach for some of the glory days for Umass football, and now he is back.

Brown is beloved in Amherst, and the fan reaction tells you all you need to know about this one.

FIU | Old Coach: Butch Davis | New Coach: TBD

Davis was fired from FIU after going 24-30 in five seasons.

Virginia Tech | Old Coach: Justin Fuente | New Coach: TBD

Fuente was fired after going 43-31 in six seasons.

Washington | Old Coach: Jimmy Lake | New Coach: Kalen DeBoer | Grade: B

DeBoer has a 79-9 record as a head coach, so he is clearly a winner.

Is he a sure thing? Hard to tell, as he has no previous PO5 coaching experience.

Florida | Old Coach: Dan Mullen | New Coach: Billy Napier | Grade: A

Billy Napier had been the hottest name in coaching searches for years. Now, he has finally landed a big job.

Napier is an elite recruiter, and that is exactly what Florida needs to clean up the mess left behind by Dan Mullen.

Troy | Old Coach: Chip Lindsey | New Coach: TBD

Lindsey was fired after going 15-19 in three seasons. He never finished with a winning record at Troy.

Louisiana Tech | Old Coach: Skip Holtz | New Coach: TBD

After a 3-9 campaign, Louisiana Tech and Skip Holtz called it quits after 8 years.

Louisiana | Old Coach: Billy Napier | New Coach: TBD

Napier took the Florida job after going 39-12 at ULL.

SMU | Old Coach: Sonny Dykes | New Coach: Rhett Lashlee | Grade: B+

Lashlee has never been an HC before, but he has connections to SMU and an impressive track record as a coordinator at Auburn and Miami.

It should be a smooth transition from Dykes to Lashlee.

Oklahoma | Old Coach: Lincoln Riley | New Coach: TBD

In the most shocking news so far, Riley left to take the USC job.

Riley finished with a 55-10 record in Norman.

Temple | Old Coach: Rod Carey | New Coach: TBD

Carey was fired after going 12-20 in three seasons at Temple.

Duke | Old Coach: David Cutcliffe | New Coach: TBD

Cutcliffe is out at Duke after 15 years.

Fresno State | Old Coach: Kalen DeBoer | New Coach: TBD

DeBoer took the Washington job after two years at Fresno State.

Notre Dame | Old Coach: Brian Kelly | New Coach: TBD

After 12 years at Notre Dame, the news broke that Brian Kelly had accepted the LSU head coaching job.

Colorado State | Old Coach: Steve Addazio | New Coach: Jay Norvell | Grade: A

Norvell was mentioned for some PO5 jobs the last few years, so Colorado State clearly landed a coach out of their league.

Virginia | Old Coach: Bronco Mendenhall | New Coach: TBD

Mendenhall stepped down after six years as head coach.

Oregon | Old Coach: Mario Cristobal | New Coach: TBD

Cristobal left Oregon after going 35-13 in five years to be Miami’s new head coach.

Miami | Old Coach: Manny Diaz | New Coach: Mario Cristobal | Grade: A

By hiring Cristobal, it shows that Miami is willing to make a commitment to winning, at least financially. It also helps that Cristobal is a proven winner.