As usual, as we come to the end of the college football season, we start to see another aspect of the season start to develop, that of the changing of coaches and coaching staff as programs react to poor seasons, personality clashes, or the fact that they just need a change.
The coaching carousel is now in full swing and the South Eastern Conference (SEC) is probably the one that has seen the most changes; here is our take on those adjustments.
We start in Kentucky, where Joker Philips, the successor to Rich Brooks, has finally been shown the door. It took three seasons, but this year was the final straw as the Wildcats bottomed out with a 1-9, 0-7 SEC start in 2012.
The last of those nine, a 40-0 drubbing at the hands of Vanderbilt, resulted in Phillips’ firing with two games left in the season.
Mark Stoops, who has not been a head coach at any level but was one of the hottest assistants in the country, will succeed Philips; assuming Stoops can find a productive offensive coordinator (Texas Tech OC Neal Brown is rumoured to be interested), this has all the makings of a terrific hire.
Tennessee have dispensed with the services of Derek Dooley, the 4-7 mark in 2012 never going to be good enough to keep him in place at the Volunteers.
The Vols made an extensive search for his replacement before plumping for Cincinnati’s Butch Jones as the new coach.
Jones had been spinning through the coaching carousel himself, turning down offers at Colorado and Purdue before landing in Knoxville.
Jones led the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East titles in 2011-12 and there is a lot of talent left on this Tennessee team, so Jones will have high expectations to continue his winning ways.
John L Smith was the next to go and has been fired at Arkansas, not surprising after a very talented Arkansas team went 4-8 in 2012 under Smith, with losses at home to teams like Louisiana-Monroe.
In the shocker of the 2012 coaching carousel so far, the Hogs hired Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, who took his Badgers to their third consecutive Rose Bowl (albeit this time with five losses in tow) after compiling a 68-24 record in his seven seasons in charge.
The Badgers won 10 or more games or finished first or second in the Big Ten four of those seven seasons. Make no mistake this is a big hire and real coup for the Hogs.
Completing the shake-up in the SEC was the departure of Gene Chizik at Auburn just two seasons after winning the Tigers first National Championship since 1957, but the spiral has been downward since then and it was felt a change was needed.
In comes Gus Malzahn Chizik’s former offensive coordinator and Arkansas State head coach, he lacks experience but it’s time that Malzahn got his shot and it’s hard to blame Auburn for giving it to him.