Hot Reads: The Still-Rare Power 5 Coach Swap
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: The Still-Rare Power 5 Coach Swap

December 06, 2017

I think we’ve reached a point where the last big coaching domino has fallen in this crazy coaching-change cycle. And by big domino I mean one Power 5 school stealing another Power 5 school’s head coach.

Florida State did it to Oregon, grabbing Florida native Willie Taggart. He was the Ducks head coach for 364 days. Unless Oregon makes a run at Mike Leach, which seems unlikely, the Ducks probably aren’t plucking a current Power 5 coach.

It looks like Arkansas, which is reportedly close to hiring SMU’s Chad Morris, won’t either, while Tennessee’s search appears to be focused on SEC coordinators at this point.

Maybe that’s what prompted this tweet from ESPN’s Chris Low.

Interesting. That sounds like a low number from what either is (or was for most of the past decade) the most powerful Power 5 conference in the country, so I went looking for some context.

These were the five SEC coaches in the last 40 hires who were standing P5 coaches: Les Miles (LSU, 05), Gene Chizik (Auburn, 09), Bret Bielema (Arkansas, 13), Dan Mullen (Florida, 18) and Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M, 18). Five such hires is actually the most standing Power 5 coaches hired among the Power 5 conferences and the highest percentage (including coaches who were in place in 2007).

Here are the rest of the numbers:

ACC (1/33): Taggart was the first standing P5 coach hired at an ACC school in the last decade unless you want to count coaches coming from the now-defunct Big East.

Big 12 (3/27): The Big 12 has hired zero standing P5 coaches since 2007, but if you include coaches who were in place that year you have guys like Mack Brown, Dennis Franchione and Guy Morriss.

Pac-12 (3/32): The group here includes Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian and Gary Andersen, none of whom are still coaching in the Pac-12.

Big Ten (3/34): Nebraska didn’t manage the feat with this hire – despite AAC marketers best efforts – but it did last time inviting Mike Riley from Oregon State. The other two: James Franklin at Penn State and Ron Zook at Illinois.

Point being almost nobody hires standing Power 5 head coaches. It’s just not how this particular food chain works very often. Maybe that’s why Low also tweeted this yesterday.

That is sort of interesting. Since 2007, just 42 of 118 (35.6%) P5 coaches hired have had zero years of head-coaching experience. To get three in one playoff is somewhat odds-defying.

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