Unfortunately, the college football regular season is over. While on-court action may dwindle, the end of the regular season opens the floodgates for major activity in the coaching market. Which coaches were fired? Who is changing jobs? Here is a running list of the current movement in the college football coaching carousel. This will be updated chronologically.
Hugh Freeze heads to Auburn
After embarking on their pursuit of Lane Kiffin, Auburn officially hired Hugh Freeze as their next head coach.
Freeze was most recently Liberty’s head coach, but he’s best known for his rise and fall at Ole Miss. Freeze spent five seasons at Ole Miss and led the Rebels to two New Year’s Eve six-bowl games, but things fell apart in 2017 after that. was revealed to be calling escorts from his university-issued phone. It was just one of an assortment of off-court issues for Freeze, including a long list of NCAA violations.
In 2019, he resurfaced at Liberty and amassed a 34-15 record over the past four seasons. Now he has another shot at being SEC head coach.
At Auburn, Freeze is set to replace Bryan Harsin, who was fired after going 9-12 in just 21 games on the job. He was sacked eight games into the 2022 season. Auburn was 3-5 at that point and ended up finishing 5-7.
“After thoughtful, thorough and well-verified research, we ended where we started, with Hugh Freeze,” Auburn AD John Cohen said. “Of all the candidates we considered, Hugh was the best fit. Fit has many meanings, but the most important factors were student-athlete development, football strategy, recruiting and SEC experience.”
UNLV is changing
UNLV is leaving Marcus Arroyo after just three seasons.
Arroyo was fired Monday two days after the Rebels finished the 2022 season with a 5-7 record. UNLV went 0-6 in 2020 and 2-10 in 2021, but improving to three wins in 2022 wasn’t enough to save Arroyo’s job.
UNLV started the year 4-1 before dropping six of seven in the streak while dealing with a string of injuries.
“With our heightened expectations at UNLV, we felt a change was in order at this time,” said athletic director Erick Harper.
Tim Lester in West Michigan
Western Michigan announced Monday morning that it had fired head coach Tim Lester. The Broncos were 5-7 in 2022.
“The upcoming expansion of the college football playoffs and the incredible foundation of success we have in our football program provide an exciting national opportunity for Bronco Football. It is imperative that we seize this opportunity by pursuing a new direction at the within our football program,” said Western Michigan Athletic. director Dan Bartholomae said in a statement.
Lester went 37-23 in six seasons as head coach of his alma mater. Lester became WMU’s head coach in 2017 after PJ Fleck moved to Minnesota and the 2022 season was the first sub-0.500 season of his tenure.
While it was Lester’s first losing season, WMU won eight games once in his time with the school. WMU lost six games in each of its first three seasons and was 4-2 in 2020 before going 8-5 with a Quick Lane Bowl win over Nevada in 2021.
Official: Wisconsin hires Luke Fickell
Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell is officially on his way to the Big Ten.
Wisconsin announced Sunday night that it has hired Fickell to replace Paul Chryst.
“I am incredibly excited to announce Luke Fickell as our new head football coach and to welcome his entire family to Madison,” said Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh. “Luke is one of the best football managers in the country. He has a proven track record as a winner, scout and player developer.”
Fickell added: “My family and I are thrilled to join the Wisconsin family. This is a destination job in a program that I have admired from afar for years. I am in total agreement with the vision of Chris McIntosh for this program. There’s a huge foundation here that I’m looking forward to building on.”
Fickell is 57-18 in six years as Bearcats coach and led UC to the College Football Playoffs in 2021. Prior to going to Cincinnati, he was an assistant coach at Ohio State from 2002-2016 and served as interim head coach of OSU in 2011.
Georgia Tech and Willie Fritz close to an agreement?
Georgia Tech appears to be closing in on a hire.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and The Athletic, the school has reached an agreement to hire a new head coach. And that coach, from “all indications,” is Willie Fritz of Tulane.
ESPN reports Fritz was interviewed for the GT job on Sunday, but no deal is in place.
Fritz, 62, has won everywhere he’s been — junior college, Division II, FCS and FBS. Now he’s trying out a job at Power Five.
Two days ago, Fritz’s Tulane team beat Cincinnati on the road to earn a spot in the American Athletic Conference title game. Tulane is expected to host UCF in this game Saturday in New Orleans.
Fritz is in his seventh season at Tulane, a program that has always struggled to win. Prior to Fritz’s arrival, Tulane had only one winning record in its previous 13 seasons. Under Fritz, Tulane had a three-time winning record and reached bowl eligibility four times. Before Fritz coached Tulane to a Cure Bowl victory in 2018, Tulane hadn’t won a bowling game since 2002.
In 2021, Tulane endured a brutal 2-10 season, spending much of it displaced due to Hurricane Ida. This year, the Green Wave has bounced back in spectacular fashion and is 10-2 entering the AAC title game. Tulane’s last 10-win season dates back to 1998.
Prior to his time at Tulane, Fritz served as head coach at Blinn Junior College for four seasons, Central Missouri for 13 seasons, Sam Houston State for four years and Georgia Southern for two seasons.
If the rental materializes, Fritz replaces Geoff Collins, who was fired after a 1-3 start and a 10-28 overall record with the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech finished the year 5-7, going 4-4 under interim head coach Brent Key.
Tulsa part ways with Philip Montgomery
Tulsa has changed coaches.
The school announced on Sunday that it had fired head coach Philip Montgomery. Tulsa beat Houston on Saturday to end the season 5-7.
Montgomery has been at Tulsa since 2015 after being hired by the Baylor coaching staff and has a career record of 43-53 at school. Tulsa bowled four games in his eight years and even won 10 games during a 2016 campaign that culminated in a Miami Beach Bowl victory.
Tulsa followed that season with a 2-10 season in 2017 and haven’t won more than seven games in a season since. The Golden Hurricane was 7-6 in 2021 and 6-3 in 2020 after three straight losing seasons.
State of Texas fires Jake Spavital
After four seasons, Texas State is leaving Jake Spavital, who was 13-35 during his tenure. The Bobcats went 3-9 in his first season, 2-10 in his second season, then went 4-8 in 2021 and 2022.
Spavital relied heavily on transfers from junior colleges and adding players from the transfer portal to build their rosters rather than recruiting from Texas high schools. This approach did not work for Spavital.
Arizona State hires 32-year-old Kenny Dillingham
Five years ago, Arizona State oddly hired 63-year-old Herm Edwards to lead its football program. ASU’s new head coach is half that age.
The Sun Devils announced the hiring of 32-year-old Kenny Dillingham on Sunday morning. Dillingham, an Arizona State alum, spent the 2022 season as Oregon’s offensive coordinator. Prior to his season at Eugene, Dillingham served as offensive coordinator at Memphis, Auburn and Florida State.
The Arizona native becomes FBS’ youngest head coach and he inherits a program that went 3-9.
David Shaw resigns after another losing season
David Shaw never won less than eight games in his first eight seasons as Stanford head coach. During that span, the Cardinal won three Pac-12 titles and two Rose Bowls. Since then, things have gone down considerably, leading to Shaw’s resignation late Saturday night.
Stanford has gone 3-9 in each of the past two seasons with a 3-15 record in Pac-12 play. Shaw resigned following a loss to BYU on Saturday night.
“After many prayers and many talks with my wife, one phrase keeps coming back to me – it’s time,” Shaw said. “There are not enough words to describe the love and gratitude I feel for my family, all of my past and present players, my staff, this administration and the entire Stanford family. Thank you all.”
In 12 seasons, Shaw was 96-54 at his alma mater. He is the winningest coach in the history of the program.
FAU leaves Willie Taggart after 3 seasons
Willie Taggart’s tenure at Florida Atlantic is over after three seasons. Taggart went 15-18 in three seasons as Owls coach and only bowled once.
FAU lost 32-31 on Saturday to Western Kentucky in overtime to drop to 5-7 on the year. Taggart was the head coach for Florida State, Oregon, South Florida and Western Kentucky.
Nebraska Lands Matt Rhule
Nebraska and Matt Rhule have agreed to an eight-year contract for Rhule to be the Huskers’ new head coach.
Rhule has had a tough run as head coach of the Carolina Panthers recently, but he’s executed major rebuilds at Temple and Baylor.
Under Rhule, Temple went from 2-10 in his freshman season to winning 20 combined games in his final two seasons with the program, including a conference title. Rhule then went to Baylor in the fallout from the Art Briles scandal. The Bears went 1-11 in Rhule’s first season. By year three, Baylor had won 11 games and played for the Big 12 Championship.
An equally tough rebuild will be in store for Rhule in Lincoln. Nebraska hasn’t had a winning season since 2016. The Huskers finished the 2022 season 4-8 and are 23-45 combined over the past six seasons.
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