Now that the college football and NFL regular seasons are over, a January tradition has begun. No, it’s not the playoffs — it’s the yearly coaching carousel of coaches leaving old teams (whether voluntarily or not) and finding new ones faster than Levonte Whitfield returning a kickoff.
In case you’ve been focusing on this weekend’s postseason matchups, here is what you’ve missed on the relocation circuit.
Old Position: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers head coach
New Position: Louisville Cardinals head coach
I’m starting with this because it’s, by far, the most shocking hire so far. Petrino was the head man at Louisville from 2003-06, guiding the Cardinals to a 41-9 record and establishing a reputation as an offensive guru before bolting for the Atlanta Falcons and, later, the Arkansas Razorbacks. The former college quarterback enjoyed relative success at Arkansas, leading them to two 10-win seasons before being fired in April 2012 following a bizarre affair with a female staffer. After doing a year of penance at Western Kentucky, Petrino has now been rehired at Louisville. The question becomes-will he use the Cardinals as simply a stepping-stone once again?
Old Position: Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator
New Position: Washington Redskins head coach
There’s no word yet about whether the Redskins thought they were actually getting Jay’s brother, Jon. Regardless, Gruden was hired for one reason only — to turn Robert Griffin III into a franchise quarterback. The 46-year old Gruden led a top ten offense in Cincinnati this year, but was never able to completely mold Andy Dalton into a star. Whether he can resurrect Griffin’s career and meet the expectations of demanding owner Dan Snyder is up for debate. If he can’t, he can always join Jon at ESPN.
Old Position: Unemployed
New Position: Alabama Crimson Tide Offensive Coordinator
Kiffin, last seen at Los Angeles International Airport being relieved of his duties as head coach at USC, will interview for the Alabama OC job this week. The position was vacated on Wednesday by Doug Nussmeier who left to take the same job at Michigan. The 38-year old Kiffin has experience in the SEC as a former head coach of Tennessee and he’s also served as a head man in the NFL with the Raiders. The interview will come after head coach Nick Saban invited Kiffin to consult for the Tide during the weeks leading up to their Sugar Bowl game against Oklahoma. Could Alabama groom Kiffin as a successor should the notoriously wanderlust-y Saban ever decide to take on a new challenge?
Old Position: Vanderbilt Commodores head coach
New Position: Penn State Nittany Lions head coach
Status: Strongly Rumored
ESPN reported that Franklin has already agreed to become just the third Nittany Lions’ head coach since 1966. A contract between the two sides could be finalized this weekend, according to sources, but Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams insists that Franklin hasn’t made a decision yet. If Franklin does leave for Happy Valley, he will depart as one of the most successful coaches in Commodores history, after leading the team to the first two nine-win seasons the program has ever seen. He would inherit a Penn State program still facing two more years of exclusion from postseason play. Still, the 106,000 rabid fans that pack Beaver Stadium for each home game would certainly be an upgrade over the Vanderbilt “faithful” that helped the team rank second-to-last in the SEC in attendance in 2013.
Photo Credit: Franklin: AP, Kiffin: Icon, Petrino, Gruden: Getty