The season hasn’t even started yet, but it seems the coaching carousel watch is on — or at least something to keep an eye on.
SI.com‘s Pete Thamel went through the Power 5 conferences and gave his thoughts on teams that could see some coaching changes.
Thamel leads the Big Ten with Minnesota and Tracy Claeys. This may seem surprising to some, especially considering the Gophers’ schedule could set them up for nine wins, but Thamel said the new athletic director will want to make his mark — and the buyout of $500,000 isn’t bad.
The buyout for Penn State’s James Franklin is millions of dollars more. But Thamel said Penn State can’t be happy after consecutive 7-6 seasons and a clear status as the No. 4 team in the division. Franklin is 0-6 against Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Of course, if the Nittany Lions beat Pitt and find a way to upset one of the division’s top three teams, these concerns disappear immediately.
Purdue’s Darrell Hazell is the obvious choice to be gone first in the Big Ten, if not the entire Power 5. Purdue went 1-11, 3-9 and 2-10 in Hazell’s first three seasons, and it doesn’t like like a bowl bid is going to happen this year.
Thamel also briefly mentioned Nebraska’s Mike Riley and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh as two other candidates to possibly be gone. The Riley argument is that Nebraska won’t stand for another losing season, though Nebraska should be improved and get much, much better fortune in late-game situations.
As for Harbaugh, the question around him is whether or not he goes back to the NFL. But Harbaugh has repeatedly said he plans on being Michigan’s coach for a while.