It’s just about time to start one of the least favorite but most interesting times of year: The coaching carousel. As a Group of 5 conference, Mountain West head and assistant coaches get offers and leave each season for more prestigious and higher-paying new jobs. It’s just how it is in the college football landscape.
Three, maybe four teams already have coaching openings at the time of this writing (Maryland, Kansas, and Louisville. Rumors leaked on Colorado as well but nothing is official yet). By the end of the month, many more schools will have vacancies as well. This post is an attempt to get ready for coaching carousel season by looking at the likelihood each MWC will have their coach leave, either by getting an offer somewhere else or getting fired by the school. Percentages are listed but it’s not an exact number by any means. It’s more just a estimation of both their relationship and success with their current school as well as how attractive they may look to schools who will be looking for a new coach.
Note: Never say never in this game, so no 0% or 100% listings here today.
Troy Calhoun: 99%
If Calhoun wanted to leave, he likely would’ve done it by now. He has a good thing going coaching at his alma mater and has built a program that is usually on the verge of being bowl eligible. For an academy school, that’s about as consistent as one can hope for. Maybe one day he gets an offer he can’t refuse but it would come as a huge surprise.
Bryan Harsin: 60%
His name pops up for Power 5 jobs every single year and despite not meeting expectations, this season will be no different. One year, the magic job will open up and lure him away. It may not be this year, but it’s always looming. Think he stays at least one more year and tries to have a big year with a weaker 2019 schedule and cash in, but what do I know.
Mike Bobo: 66%
This year has been about as bad as could possible be for Bobo and his Rams this season. Based on this year alone, there’s no way he should return. However, tenures aren’t made on one year, good or bad. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: Bobo has enough of a track record to get a mulligan for this season. Yes, you can make a joke about the 7-5 road block being his track record, but he should still get a pass for this year. That and his high buyout. But do a repeat performance next year and it’s time to move on.
Jeff Tedford: 35%
Obviously, this is due to the tremendous success Tedford and the program have had the past two seasons. He’s sure to have suitors this winter, as all successful Group of 5 coaches seems to have each year. Tedford does like Fresno, so it’s doubtful he will just jump at any opportunity (but someone else on this list might). However, he figures to be on the short list for most openings, so it’s likely one of those tempts he enough to start talking details. This will be an extremely interesting storyline to follow come coaching carousel season.
Nick Rolovich: 99%
Hawaii loves Rolo. Rolo loves Hawaii. MWCConnection loves Rolo (not relevant but accurate). He’s doing well there, but not well enough to be poached. He’s committed to the program so he won’t be fired for the foreseeable future. Along with Calhoun, he’s the most likely on this list to return.
Jay Norvell: 90%
Norvell has had a great second season as head coach. I’d put him right on or maybe even slightly ahead of schedule with building his program. Similar to above, it’s a good marriage between Norvell and the Nevada. While he’s had a successful year, I don’t think it’s successful enough to jump to other pastures, but I could see him on a lower tier of some team’s wish list. Now in a year or two, that might be a different story. For now, enjoy this sweet spot of winning without fear of a coach leaving Wolf Pack fans.
Bob Davie: 5%
Davie’s days are numbered. They probably should’ve been last winter with the allegations, but he held on. A very inconsistent and disappointing season, now capped with a player suspended for fighting a teammate has occurred this year. Between on and off the field issues, there’s no reason for New Mexico to bring him back. He led them to a bowl and should get credit for some nice games/seasons. They may fall back into total obscurity without him, but it’s time to move on. It would be a shock to see him still employed by the end of the month.
San Diego State
Rocky Long: 90%
He’s the most successful coach they’ve had. Winning season after winning season. Bowl game after bowl game. Reload each year. It’s a perfect fit and given his age, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Rocky doesn’t retire as an Aztec. The only question is when, which is the only reason 99% isn’t listed here.
San Jose State
Brent Brennan: 85%
It would be pretty surprising to see Brennan going anywhere this year. The Spartans aren’t winning for starters. And he’s too young into his tenure to be fired. This site has long said that Brennan is building a nice foundation to the program and is interested to see how things look in year 3 (and hopefully in year 4). Also, his unrelenting optimism seems to make him a good fit for this program and one would imagine the school knows this.
Tony Sanchez: 40%
Sanchez has improved every year before now. But 2018 was supposed to be the year they leap into a bowl and they have lost some winnable games that are halting that quest. I’m a believer in new coaches getting three years to show improvement and four to show results. He checked off the three year box, but not the four year box. He probably stays but his seat will be mighty hot in 2019.
Matt Wells: 35%
Wells has turned in a remarkable season. He has now come full circle; going from a top coaching candidate to hot seat and now back to a popular name. I think this time he takes the best offer he gets, selling high on himself and not risking another downturn. Perhaps the opening jobs don’t view him as a top candidate but I think he takes what he can get this time around.
Craig Bohl: 75%
Nothing against Wyoming, but it is interesting that Bohl’s name doesn’t come up more often for coaching vacancies. Maybe they are just off the radar in Laramie. But he’s brought success and consistency to a program that was in dire need of it. Though this season was an expected step back, Bohl’s time in Wyoming doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. Perhaps he gets some offers but doubtful he is on a sideline other than the Cowboys next season.
Your turn: What did we get right and what did we get wrong? Leave a comment in the discussion below.