We are in an environment where college sports can no longer pretend to be considered amateur, a truism obvious for decades but only recently deemed appropriate to say out loud. A flurry of court rulings, the impotence of the NCAA and seismic realignment moves have removed the final layers of the thin veneer of amateurism.
So any notion of a slower season in the industry of hiring and firing college football coaches is as naïve as ignoring the profound impact that the past few years have had on the future of college sports.
No buyout is too big, especially when you consider the television paydays coming in the Big Ten and the SEC. And don’t underestimate the pressure created by the collective jockeying to join one of those leagues.
Hope is a powerful market driver. And the roster turnover inherent to the transfer portal and the ability to more easily run off players thanks to new scholarship rules will only speed up the coaching carousel. A program overhaul, in theory, is only a recruiting class away. This new landscape has streamlined dreams of quick fixes.
So what does that mean for the coaching carousel in the 2022 season?
History says it will be slower, as the 30 changes following the 2021 season tied for the most historically since the FBS/FCS split in 1978, per ESPN Stats & Information research. There were also 30 changes entering 2013, and just 19 the next season. Over the past 10 years, there has been an average of 23.8 changes per year in FBS.
It’d be surprising if we see a dizzying spree of high-end jobs again, with many of the sport’s bluebloods and playoff contenders — USC, Oklahoma, LSU, Notre Dame, Florida, Miami, Oregon and Washington — all open in the same season.
“I don’t think you’ll find a lot of good jobs open without retirements,” said an industry source. “Everyone wants and wishes for a huge carousel every year. This may be the year the carousel slows down. This doesn’t project to be the crazy year.”
That’s an observation grounded in common sense. But with coaching buyouts becoming just another line item and institutional patience reduced to nostalgia, predicting a drastic slowdown would be as wise as predicting Alabama to miss a bowl.
So what’s the reality of the 2022 coaching carousel?
We’ve split our analysis into two parts, starting with the most obvious Power 5 jobs set to open, which are Nebraska, Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Auburn. That’s followed by a conference-by-conference analysis of the jobs that could open and jobs that might be talked about but project to be thorny because of financial constraints.
The Huskers haven’t made a bowl game in five straight seasons, including the past four under Frost. To understand what a historical anomaly that is, consider that from 1969 to the start of the streak in 2017, Nebraska missed bowls just twice. (Both under the underwhelming Bill Callahan in 2004 and 2007.)