Forecasting college football’s coaching carousel — Hugh Freeze, Steve Sarkisian, Jim Harbaugh and more

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?

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Engineer Jim McDonald: ‘Getting to university was the start of this journey’

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, 63, was elected president of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2019. One of Scotland’s most accomplished engineers, he has been principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde since 2009 and co-chairs the Scottish government’s Energy Advisory Board. He was knighted in 2012 for services to education, engineering and the economy.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
To be like my dad. He was my hero. I lost him when I was 12.

Private school or state school? University or straight into work?
I was brought up and educated in Govan, the shipbuilding district in the heart of Glasgow. State schools: primary schools, St Anthony’s and St Constantine’s; secondary, St Gerard’s. I was planning to leave at 16 and go into the shipyards. Advice from my mother and encouragement from my teachers persuaded me to stay on and go to Strathclyde University. I was a graduate apprentice — I got professional experience with the Scottish Electrical Training Scheme. By the time I graduated, I had a good education and was familiar with the world of work.

Who was or still is your mentor?
I have many, from many sources.

How physically fit are you?
Reasonably! I play in a badminton club and, when I’m not travelling, I squeeze in a game of golf on a Sunday morning.

How politically committed are you?
I keep aware of current affairs and key policy matters but I’m not a member of any political party.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
I was always encouraged to do as good a job as I could do and make what I was given better when I left it. I think that’s down to talent and application. I’ve always had ambition for the places where I’ve worked and the people around me. If ambition’s too much about oneself, you can forget to bring along those around you.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
A full head of hair. A fully electric high-performance car.

What’s your biggest extravagance?
Anything to do with my wife and children. I love to buy for my family. Golf-club fees, fishing-club fees and season tickets to Celtic Park.

In what place are you happiest?
At home, or in the countryside or on the water. I live in rural Ayrshire so I walk out of my back door into rolling fields: fresh air, open spaces.

What ambitions do you still have?
To make it possible for as many young people as possible to pursue a career in engineering. To transform engineering outcomes into benefits for society, the economy and sustainability.

What drives you on?
The joy of working with others to solve problems. Wanting to have an impact both as a leader and an engineer.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Becoming vice-chancellor of the university where I was educated. And to be president of the Royal Academy of Engineering is an enormous privilege.

What do you

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