We know the college football coaching carousel will be limited this year. The only question is: How much?
Financial challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic are real. When combined with reduced game schedules and coach-friendly contracts, schools will need extreme motivation to make changes in the coming weeks.
This past weekend wasn’t very good for those rooting for carousel craziness. The thought of 10-15 coaching changes, half of a typical coaching cycle, seems highly unlikely.
So let’s speculate instead. Last year, when things were normal but the upcoming carousel looked a little dull, I put together a list of hypotheticals. Too many people didn’t read the operative word — “hypothetical”– but it was fun to forecast what could happen.
What follows isn’t necessarily a prediction, but a rundown of potential carousel nuggets (spicy ones!), based on what industry sources are telling me. Though it’s unlikely all of these send the carousel spinning, something will. Even a pandemic won’t stop some coaching movement.
“There’s a path,” a source said, “that this thing could open up.”
Let’s walk that path together.
Second chances for Sarkisian and Freeze?
The off-field problems that cost Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Liberty coach Hugh Freeze the opportunities to lead Power 5 programs are not the same. Sarkisian’s struggles with alcoholism led to his departure from USC. Freeze, meanwhile, resigned from Ole Miss in July 2017 amid personal conduct issues that included calls to a female escort service.
But Sarkisian and Freeze are thriving in their current roles. Sarkisian oversees arguably the nation’s most explosive offense and has molded quarterback Mac Jones into a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Liberty on Saturday improved to 6-0, giving Freeze a 14-5 record with the Flames, an FBS independent. Former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis is blossoming under Freeze, who has produced top offenses throughout his career.
Both men are excellent offensive playcallers and recruiters. Both have SEC experience. Could a major opportunity be on the horizon?