The defining trend of this 2021 coaching carousel is easy to identify. It began with the early firings of coaches, as Georgia Southern and USC dismissed their coaches in September and the floodgates opened from there.
What has happened since shouldn’t be surprising. The economic stimulus portion of the carousel is upon us. Raises and extensions have been given – mostly defensively – to a bevy of coaches at different levels. On Friday, Oregon State announced an extension for Jonathan Smith and Wake Forest agreed to a long-term extension for Dave Clawson. They join the monster deals for Michigan State’s Mel Tucker ($95 million) and Penn State’s James Franklin ($80-plus million), along with lucrative extensions for UTSA’s Jeff Traylor, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck, Liberty’s Hugh Freeze and the expected upcoming extension for Baylor’s Dave Aranda.
While some of the deals are private and others haven’t been announced, it’s safe to estimate that the flurry of early firings contributed to well over $200 million more in coaching salaries being poured into the college football economy. All before Dec. 1.
The see-saw impact of this will be the leverage coaches have over athletic directors at places like LSU, USC and Florida. Some of the same athletic directors who fired their coach early in order to get together a replacement search couldn’t have seen the pool of capable candidates emptying this quickly. By firing their coach to get a jump on their searches, some schools may end up with diminishing returns by giving other schools ample time to get together and extend their own coaches.
We’re about to enter what could be remembered as the most fascinating coaching carousel in modern college football. The next 72 hours could be spectacularly chaotic. Here’s where things stand on the cusp of the chaos.