A Return to Relevancy For Hire

About one-third of the 2022 college football season remains. For a few select schools, though, eyes are already looking into the future. By the beginning of this month, five head coaches at Power Five programs were sent packing. Two of those were covered in detail last month. Since the third week of the season, rising stars have been put on notice. Each of the schools looking for a new leader have successful periods in their past. But can they find a way back to a place where glory was within reach? Here are some of the pro's and con's that sit with some (or all) of these openings.

Pro: A Rich Tradition Waiting to Be Revived

It was supposed to be the hire. A former quarterback that led the school to its most recent bout with glory. A now-coach that made news with an undefeated season at the helm of a mid-major program. However, for Scott Frost, 1997 was a long time ago. Heck, in some ways, 2017 may be an even longer time ago. The former national champion quarterback could not turn his 13-0 coaching year at Central Florida into any type of success in Lincoln. So, if Frost couldn't turn the tide, who can?

Nebraska has gone the way of other past powers. For some reason, other schools made a blip on the success radar. Texas, Washington, Clemson, and others have shown up on a title-contending stage at least once over the last 20 years. Once Tom Osbourne retired, the Cornhuskers started a continuous slide from decency to mediocrity to sub-average. Is there anyone that can seize on the last drops of good will amassed from that 30-plus-year period of greatness?

Pro: A Recent Tradition Waiting to Be Revived

Over the last 25 years, few programs have been as consistent as Wisconsin's. Since Barry Alvarez really sunk his teeth in during the 1993 season (his fourth in Madison), the Badgers only suffered losing campaigns twice (with the last one in 2001). This year's rendition was ranked 18th in the AP preseason poll.

Apparently, though, something was off with Bucky. In the first five games of the season, the Badgers blew out their two lesser opponents (Illinois State and New Mexico State). They also struggled to a home loss against unranked Washington State and blowout defeats to Ohio State and Illinois. The lackluster offense led to Paul Chryst's ouster, but this shouldn't be the end of the story.

Wisconsin's recent cache can still hold up as the standard-bearer in the Big Ten West (at least until the conference brings in new "talent"). However, it might need an upgrade ... like our next contestant.

Con: It Can Be Tough to Get With the Modern Times

If Nebraska and Wisconsin want to keep up with the Joneses of the sport, they may need to re-think how they play the game. That's especially true when it comes to offense. Georgia Tech made a switch in 2008. Instead of going with an offensive system that was more "cutting edge" or "new age", the Yellow Jackets took a nostalgic turn. Paul Johnson brought his triple-option scheme from the Naval Academy to Atlanta. There was some success early on, but after two double-digit winning seasons and two nine-win campaigns, the options stalled and Johnson left the program.

The last three seasons, the offense underwhelmed as new coach Geoff Collins tried to install a more balanced offensive attack. While several years had GT scoring more the 28 ppg during the Johnson era, the new tactic barely got the Yellow Jackets to 24 ppg from 2019-2021. A dramatic scoring downturn over the first few games of this season was enough to give Collins the boot. And even though Tech has won 2 of 3 under interim coach Brent Key, they're only putting up a meager 113 points over the first seven contests (16.1 ppg). I don't know if the next leader of this program will be an offensive guru, but the best road may be to give it a try.

Con: The Inevitability of Uncertainty

Two programs searching for a speck of light find themselves in the same fog. Colorado had one fleeting moment of success under Mike MacIntyre, but it didn't last. Other than that magical year in 2016, the Buffaloes have been pretty putrid since Gary Barnett was fired in 2005 (with that '16 campaign being the only one .500 or better). It got worse this year, as the Buffs started 0-5. That necessitated a change from third-year coach Karl Dorrell.

Arizona State has always had a spotty history, bubbling up every so often to have a great year (Frank Kush had an extremely good run during most of the 1970s). Most every coach donning the Sun Devils' pitchfork emblem embarked on at least one 9-win (or better) season. Edwards brought an NFL acumen and experience to the Desert, but couldn't translate it into college life. He was let go after a particularly ugly loss to Eastern Michigan and rumors of NCAA violations.

Both schools have a desire to be among their more successful peers. But both schools face the uncertainty known as the future of the Pac-12 Conference. The most recent bombshell on the realignment front directly affects these two programs. There's no sense of how CU and ASU will emerge from this shakeup. Will they be able to stay in a revamped Pac-12? Will they be gobbled up into an expanded Big 12? Will they have to go their separate ways? As of now, even the shaped die in the Magic 8-Ball is blank.

Over the next few weeks, more schools will make their cases for new regimes, hoping to move on from lackluster reigns. Until then, these five programs can offer some drama in the world of the coaching carousel. They can only hope that the carousel lets that perfect fit off the ride in time.

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