College football coaching carousel spinning faster than ever

LSU's Tiger Stadium in 2019 (File photo)

Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt was trying to balance the needs of the program with the needs of its current players. When considering an in-season coaching change, they are not always one and the same.

Hocutt, as eight other ADs overseeing major college football programs, including LSU’s, have already done since September, decided to make a move with a big chunk of the season still to play. Texas Tech fired Matt Wells on Oct. 25 and has already hired his replacement.

“I owe it to the players to make the very best decisions that relate to their student-athlete experience and their careers at Texas Tech,” Hocutt said. “And at the same time, I owe it to the university and our fan base and community to make the very best decisions for this football program, long term, as well.”

The coaching carousel is spinning faster than ever in college football, propelled by the early signing period for recruits, increased freedom for transferring players and impatient school supporters who demand action when teams are struggling.

Making a coaching change well before the end of the season has gone from a rare and stunning development—think Southern California firing Lane Kiffin after five games in 2013 or LSU sacking Les Miles four games into the 2016 season—to a fairly common occurrence. 

This season is setting a new standard. Nine head coaches have been fired already, including eight before Nov. 1, which is the most in any season going back 10 years.

Things really began to speed up in 2017, when the NCAA implemented an early signing period in college football about a week before Christmas. It immediately replaced the traditional signing period in February as the time most recruits ink national letters of intent.

Ideally, schools want to have a new head coach in place at least a week before the early signing period, which this year begins Dec. 15. With most teams ending their regular seasons Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 25-27), that means less than two weeks to get a search done if an AD waits. Read the full story.