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College football coaching carousel predictions: Who should and will get hired for every major opening

Syndication: The Clarion-Ledger
Hannah Mattix/Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK

Who should fill each open coaching spot this year?

It’s time for everyone’s favorite time of the year: college football coaching carousel season!

With the regular season over for most of the college football world (Army-Navy will be played Dec. 10), the college football world will be looking towards teams who need to fill coaching spots. At the Power Five and Group of Five level there are a bunch of jobs that are open now, and could potentially be open in the future.

Let’s go through the current job openings, and see who might get hired and who I would hire.

Colorado

Who I think they will hire: Deion Sanders, HC, Jackson State

Who I think they should hire: Tom Herman, Offensive Analyst, Chicago Bears

Colorado is kind of an interesting job. I don’t think they’re necessarily the sleeping giant people think they are, but they’re in a good location on the West Coast that can harvest a lot of recruits. Colorado just needs to get the engine going at this point. Under Karl Dorrell, they could barely get the keys in the car. The offense was putrid and it felt like there was no energy in the program.

Deion Sanders is the perfect guy to bring in energy to a program, but I have Sanders taking a job somewhere else. Tom Herman would be a good candidate to get Colorado’s engine going. He brought Houston to national relevance, going 22-4 and 12-4 in the AAC, and when he moved up to Texas, the record on. the surface is fine (32-18).

Herman got fired from Texas because of recruiting slipping and missing out on the Big 12 title game. Herman’s worst year recruiting (17th nationally) would be perfect at Colorado, and there’s no pressure to win a title game right away. Herman at Colorado would give the Buffaloes a chance to get off first base.

New Mexico State v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Cincinnati

Who I think they will hire: Jim Leonhard, DC, Wisconsin

Who I think they should hire: Jim Leonhard, DC, Wisconsin

In a shocker, Wisconsin hired Cincinnati HC Luke Fickell to run the Badgers. With the Bearcats going to the Big 12 as soon as next year, momentum needs to be kept up. Fickell was the perfect coach for Cincinnati, bringing a hard-nosed attitude and defense with working wonders in recruiting and the transfer portal. The next head coach needs to have that ability, while still being able to execute on the field.

How about a little trade, shall we? Wisconsin gets Fickell, and Cincinnati gets Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. The one snag in this idea is that Fickell has been open to Leonhard staying on as defensive coordinator, and has met with Leonhard already.

However, I think Leonhard wants a head coaching gig, and Cincinnati is a great place for him. Ohio is right in a recruiting hotbed, with access to the east coast and midwest parts of the country, Leonhard can build Cincinnati in his image.

On the field, Jim Leonhard is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. This year, Wisconsin slipped to 32nd in opponent points per game after a stretch where they finished in the top five more often than they finished outside the top 10. Leonhard knows how to coach up a defense, and in the Big 12, having a good defense is crucial.

Leonhard would be a great guy to lead Cinicnnati into a new era in a new conference.

Stanford

Who I think they will hire: Dave Clawson, HC, Wake Forest

Who I think they should hire: Dave Clawson, HC, Wake Forest

Stanford is in a REALLY rough spot right now. The recruiting has fallen off, and the offense no longer can grind teams into dust like the Stanford teams of old. David Shaw resigned in a move many expected, but the challenge for Stanford is recruiting and winning as an academic school in an NIL era. There are avenues for Stanford to get back to being competent, but the right coach has to be there.

Dave Clawson seems like a great fit at Stanford. Clawson has brought Wake Forest’s football program to life, making a bowl game in seven straight years. Clawson has an offense that while very gimmicky, is very effective. So effective that Stanford is actually using the offense without the success. Clawson knows how to build a program and would help Stanford get back to being at least competent.

USF

Who I think they will hire: Jamey Chadwell, HC, Coastal Carolina

Who I think they should hire: Deion Sanders, HC, Jackson State

Ok, now THIS is the job I have Deion Sanders taking.

We all know who Deion Sanders is. Pro Football Hall of Famer, Florida State football legend, and Fort Meyers, FL native. Fort Meyers is about two hours south of Tampa, where USF is currently dead in the water as a football program. Former HC Jeff Scott went 4-26 with the Bulls, and the Bulls got worse and worse every season.

The Bulls are in the process of getting their own stadium, which will help the program, but the football program needs someone who will not only bring energy but be successful.

Deion Sanders does both of those, and USF is the perfect jump from Jackson State to the FBS level. Sanders recruiting his hometown will work wonders for the Bulls, and the hope is that when he leaves, Jackson State QB Shedeur Sanders (his son) and do-everything star Travis Hunter (the former ESPN number one recruit) will follow. Most importantly, USF will give Deion time. Jeff Scott got almost three years to build a program, and Deion will get more time to build USF in his image.

This is a perfect match, no notes.

Central Michigan v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

FAU

Who I think they will hire: Kendal Briles, OC, Arkansas

Who I think they should hire: Ja’Juan Seider, RBs Coach, Penn State

Homerism aside, FAU is a VERY good job. Located in South Florida in the middle of Palm Beach County and Broward County, the Owls are in a perfect position for long term success recruiting wise. FAU is also joining the AAC, which will increase both the revenue going into the program and the notoriety of the program.

Willie Taggart set the program up for success long term with the players brought in, but couldn’t win games when he needed to the most. Briles was an offensive assistant with Lane Kiffin while Kiffin was at FAU, but Seider could be the better coach for the present and future of FAU.

Seider is an ACE recruiter; 247 Sports has him as the third best recruiter in the entire nation, and he recruited RBs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen to Penn State. He has ties to the area and is in the Palm Beach County Hall of Fame. His ability to recruit and bring offensive talent into the fold will help FAU going into a new conference.

Tulsa

Who I think they will hire: G.J. Kinne, HC, Incarnate Word

Who I think they should hire: Brennan Marion, WRs coach, Texas

Tulsa firing former head coach Phillip Montgomery wasn’t too much of a shock. After going 10-3 in 2016, the Golden Hurricanes couldn’t reach that point again, and new ideas needed to be brought in.

Kinne might have the inside track. The former Tulsa QB served as the offensive coordinator at UCF in 2021 before getting the job at Incarnate Word. Under Kinne’s eye, the UCF offense averaged 400 yards per game.

However, I’m taking the more fun route, and giving Tulsa former Golden Hurricane WR Brennan Marion. Marion is a large reason why Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff Award for best receiver in the country at Pitt in 2021, and has done wonders with the receivers at Texas, including WR Xavier Worthy.

In addition, he has playcalling experience, having been the playcaller at Howard and William and Mary. Players love him, and he would bring a jolt of energy to the Tulsa program.

UNLV

Who I think they will hire: Gary Patterson, special assistant to the HC, Texas

Who I think they should hire: Derek Mason, DC, Oklahoma State

UNLV is an interesting job. The facilities are being built, recruiting was going along well, and former HC Marcus Arroyo got the Rebels to 5-7, a mark they haven’t seen since 2017. In fact, they haven’t had a six win season since 2003. Athletic Director Erick Harper said that expectations have increased at UNLV, and that a coach with experience would get them over the hump.

Gary Patterson seems to be in the lead, but if Patterson doesn’t want to get right back into the head coaching game immediately, Derek Mason would be a fine hire. He has experience as a head coach and coordinator across the country, and can get the Rebels to the point where they want to be.

Liberty

Who I think they will hire: Brandon Streeter, OC, Clemson

Who I think they should hire: Brandon Streeter, OC, Clemson

Liberty is...a unique job. It’s a Christian school that is willing to pay big money for coaches but also has questionable leadership at the top, morally.

Liberty is also making the jump to Conference USA, so more money could be in line. Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell has been linked to the job, but I doubt he leaves the job he has now, which is both a better program and in a better conference.

This leaves us with the Dabo tree. Streeter has come up in a lot of circles, despite what Clemson’s offense has looked like this year. Streeter can recruit, and fits the criteria of a coach there.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Western Michigan

Who I think they will hire: Sherrone Moore, OC, Michigan

Who I think they should hire: Sherrone Moore, OC, Michigan

Western Michigan has good facilities and the expectations of winning a lot of games. PJ Fleck came in and got the Broncos to a NY6 game, but reaching that spot from the MAC now is harder with the rise of the AAC and Sun Belt. Western Michigan could want someone with Midwest ties to bring into the program.

Moore is one of the architects behind one of the best offensive lines in football at Michigan, and he knows the state well to recruit. Moore is an easy candidate for Western Michigan to hire.

Texas State

Who I think they will hire: Eric Morris, OC, Washington State

Who I think they should hire: Eric Morris, Washington State

So, Texas State is another weird job. The old head coach decided to not recruit at all and it, in fact, did not work. Getting a guy in with Texas ties who can mend the relationship between the university and local high school programs will be huge.

Eric Morris was the head coach at Incarnate Word, which is located in San Antonio, Texas. His offenses were electrifying and he’s part of the development of Cam Ward, who is one of the most fun QBs to watch in the entire nation. Morris could bring a fun offense and Texas relationships back to Texas State as they try and rebound.

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