At this very moment we have 10 head coaching vacancies in FBS football. If you factor in the candidates on the Hot Seat (and we will) plus the coaches who leave their current gigs we're going to see a lot of openings this off-season. On a recent edition of The Audible, Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman mentioned he expects as many as 35 new head coaches for next year.
Seem crazy? It might not after you read this article.
First, let's power rank the current openings.
3. Virginia Tech
4. South Carolina
9. North Texas
Most would agree that USC is the top job on the market and it's likely to stay that way no matter what happens during the rest of the season. Only 3 to 5 other jobs could even claim the same level of prestige and pay-off that controlling the Trojans entails.
There's an argument for the worst opening right now and I've give the nod to Hawaii. It's an isolated job (for real, though) with little administrative support and Norm Chow just went 4-25 in the Mountain West. It's a big rebuild for the next coach--who might be June Jones, as he's interested in returning again. North Texas has at least had some consistent success in recent years and there's always all that Lone Star State talent to mine for a new coach.
I'd listen to arguments for Virginia Tech being above Miami. If you're an up and coming coach like Tom Herman or Justin Fuente I'd recommend going to Blacksburg. You're in the easier ACC division with lower fan expectations, the support (fans, stadium, etc.) is better, and you can realistically win 28 games over the next 3 years to boost your resume and jump to an elite job. If you're taking the Miami job, all that Florida talent is enticing but you've got a host of other problems: culture, support, bigger expectations, and you've got to ultimately start beating Clemson and Florida State who are machines right now.
I'd stay away from the South Carolina job if I were a hot up and coming coach. The prestige and money of the SEC would be enticing as is the continued foggy situation in the SEC East. Still, you're not out-recruiting the three traditional powers and Florida looks like it's about to turn the corner much quicker than believed. Being able to strike gold again like Spurrier between 2011-13 seems very unrealistic. And if you're not doing that what are you going to do? Always losing 4 games every year?
I've got Minnesota as the top ranked Big Ten job based on expectations and Jerry Kill leaving a nice foundation to work with in the future. Maryland looks like a ball of yuck with just enough expectations, surrounding talent, and Kevin Plank by your side but where are you going with 3 of the game's best coaches in your division? If you're Illinois what are you selling, exactly? It's either the 12th, 13th, or 14th most appealing job in the Big Ten and I'd argue it's closer to 14th than 12th.
UCF is an intriguing buy low program right now, after all they might go 0-12 this season. There isn't a track record of coaching success there--damn George O'Leary was there for 11.5 seasons--which might make someone hesitate walking into that situation. Still, with all the talent around you, the decade of success, well the Golden Knights should be a program regularly competing for AAC titles. This is an appealing job.
HOT SEAT POWER RANKINGS
1. Mark Richt, Georgia (141-51)
2. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia (31-27)
3. Mike London, Virginia (26-43)
4. Kyle Flood, Rutgers (25-20)
5. Scott Shafer, Syracuse (13-20)
6. Kevin Wilson, Indiana (18-38)
7. Terry Bowden, Akron (14-30)
8. Larry Coker, UTSA (24-30)
9. Curtis Johnson, Tulane (14-31)
10. Paul Petrino, Idaho (5-26)
11. Doug Martin, New Mexico State (5-27)
*Charlie Strong, Texas (9-12)
*Mike Riley, Nebraska (3-6)
Most of these jobs are about to come open, although some of them probably won't. Just yesterday I had to remove Purdue's Darrell Hazell who is being promised a 4th-year in West Lafayette even though he's 2-18 in Big Ten play. The administration must have really liked that win over Nebraska!
This feels like different hot seat rumors for Mark Richt who has lost 3 out of 4 and in an in-season snap shot has the Bulldogs looking terrible. Will they finally pull the trigger? What if the Dawgs win out and go 10-3? It wouldn't be that crazy--is he still gone? It's not a great situation to be in but my feeling is that it's time to move on. Fifteen years is plenty of time for someone who hasn't won a major bowl game in 8 seasons and has continued to disappoint in a post-Urban Meyer at Florida world.
Holgo has been getting some hot seat rumors although he's someone who probably sticks around next year. Losing 4 straight will do that to you. But, he just played all the best teams in the Big 12 in a row so he still has plenty of time to go 8-4 and take some pressure off his job.
Mike London is probably done but who knows if he has another job saving win left in the tank. He's already notched 2 ACC wins and it wouldn't shock me if he does save his job again.
Kyle Flood's record at Rutgers is better than you think but they want him gone and gone quickly. I actually think this is a sneaky decent place to coach IF it wasn't in the Big Ten East.
I've added Strong and Riley because, while most expect them both to be back next year, this is college football and you really never know what could happen. It's just not working out for Charlie Strong at Texas and he should leave. His pride will prevent him from doing it but he should just bolt for Miami. We're all probably overreacting to Riley's start at Nebraska. He's lost 5 games by a combined 13 points but when you lose the way you do at Purdue things can get ugly quickly.