The impact of the coaching carousel on college football


With college football coming to an end there has been a change amongst the heavy hitters in college football.  The impact of coaching carousel doesn’t just mean coaches switch teams but also the coaches who stayed.  This coaching carousel in the past has seen many coaches leave jobs for what they presume as better jobs.  But have we seen a coaching carousel like this?  

One of the first big names who made a jump was former Oklahoma head coach, Lincoln Riley, who unexpectedly took the head job at Southern California. Riley is known for his success with quarterbacks and considered a quarterback guru, and notably had a great run at Oklahoma with two Heisman winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. USC is also known for their great history with quarterbacks and will look to turn around the program led by Riley. 

His departure from Oklahoma is already having affects, as five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson decommitted from Oklahoma and followed Riley to USC. Nelson is now the seventh decommit from Oklahoma in response to Riley leaving.  Another example is Raleek Brown, who is a running back in the class of 2022. He is currently committed to Oklahoma but is expected to also follow Riley to USC. Many coaches have left schools and had recruits follow them to their new destination, but Riley may be setting the bars high with several elite recruits expected to follow him to Southern California. 

At just 38 years old, Riley’s resume is quite impressive with an overall 55-10 record in just five seasons as a FBS head coach, and now he will have the opportunity to bring USC back to football stardom. Many analysts predicted Riley’s departure as an excuse to avoid playing better competition, because Oklahoma is expected to move to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) where they will face the likes of Georgia, Alabama and other strong foes each week. The PAC-12 isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be which will allow Riley to rejuvenate a rich USC program that has high expectations.  

Former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has recently accepted a position to take over the LSU Tigers, after they announced they would be moving on from head coach Ed Orgeron. Orgeron helped lead LSU to a national championship just two years ago but has struggled since. Kelly will take over a rich program with a strong fan base that expects to win right away. He had great success at Notre Dame after 12 years and was one of the top targets for LSU to take over after Orgeron. Kelly will be heading to the SEC where he will face the likes of Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin and many more prominent coaches. The departure of former coach Orgeron has led to the loss of recruits who expected to play for a different coach.  At 60 years of age, Kelly will look to presumably finish his career as an LSU Tiger.  

LSU athletic director Scott Woodward was determined to bring a big name coach to Baton Rouge, and he did just that by landing Kelly. Kelly will have the challenge of bringing his success from the Fighting Irish down to the SEC. He is known as a great motivator, recruiter and teacher and will begin his new process immediately with the Tigers.  

These moves by Kelly and Riley don’t happen as often. Two elite coaches leaving good positions to sought after bigger programs is a once in a lifetime kind of thing. The last coach to leave Notre Dame for another job hasn’t happened since 1907 and the last one to leave Oklahoma for another job was in 1947. This historical coaching carousel will be remembered for the elite coaches who left but also those who stayed at their respective schools.  Minnesota’s P. J. Fleck, Penn State’s James Franklin and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops just to name a few. This year may have set a new precedent for coaches leaving their schools for better opportunities.