Coaching Carousel Kicks Into High Gear With Bielema Going To Arkansas

It’s reached the ridiculous stage now with big-time intercollegiate athletics.

Loyalty, integrity, commitment … forget about ’em all. The first chance a better opportunity comes along, or even one that just catches someone’s fancy, all bets are off. The temptation is too great. The fear of being left behind even greater.

If anything bucks the human trend to avoid change it is being thrust upon the nation in pounding-home fashion these days with conference reshuffling and the coaching carousel.

The former has taken a break the last week after some serious upheaval in a short amount of time. The latter? Um, wow – things have been a bit busy of late on that front.

We all know that things are fueled by money, and to a lesser extent prestige and/or potential future stability. We also know that football is the main driving force behind that.

But what’s gone on the past few days has been hard enough to follow, never mind believe in some cases.

Still, some initial impressions …


Bret Bielema, Arkansas – So far, he’s the biggest fish landed. While it may seem odd that he’d bolt Wisconsin, where he just led the Badgers to three straight Big Ten titles and was a successful coach his entire seven-year run, the Razorbacks do play in the country’s top football conference and he will be compensated handsomely ($3 mil-plus per year). In a way, you almost have to admire him for taking on the bigger challenge.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn – Tigers administrators seem stuck on the familiarity cycle. They hired Gene Chizik four years ago from Iowa State because he had been an assistant on the Plains previously. Same deal with Malzahn, who got the call to “come home” after just one season at the helm with Arkansas State. The jury may still be out on his head-coaching abilities, but he’ll have the Tigers in the end zone a lot.

Dave Doeren, North Carolina State – The Wolfpack, apparently, were sold on Doeren’s two-year stint at Northern Illinois, his first head-coaching stop that culminated with a second straight MAC championship and BCS bowl bid for the Huskies. You can’t blame Doeren for jumping to the big time, or at least bigger time. It’s just the timing wasn’t the greatest, as he accepted the post the day before NIU made history.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky – The Wildcats started this current run on coaching hires by nabbing the former Florida State defensive coordinator the last week in November. It’s his first gig running the show, and it won’t be easy. Kentucky finished 2-10 this fall.

Steve Addazio, Boston College – It says a lot about Temple that Daz departed North Philly for less green on-field pastures with the current Eagles, who have been on a steady downturn for years. Owls fans balking at the move have no one to blame but themselves; if they went to games, coaches might stay.

Paul Petrino, Idaho – It’s Idaho and it’s not Bobby Petrino. The interest level pretty much flatlines there.


Charlie Strong to Tennessee – At this point, would taking the Vols job be considered a step up from Louisville? Tennessee has tabbed Strong as its top choice, and it does offer the lure of coaching in the SEC, but … really, it seems he could hold out for something better. Of course, Bielema and Malzahn already may have snatched up “better.”

Butch Jones to Colorado – Jones would have bolted for Purdue this week, if not for the fact that he makes at Cincinnati almost double what the Boilermakers would offer. This seems to be a solid bet if both sides can nail down the contract particulars.

Darrell Hazell to Purdue – The Kent State coach can thank Jones for stepping aside and opening the door to his entry into a BCS conference.


Aside from openings at each of the locales vacated by the aforementioned individuals and those that would be created by the rumored unions above, California, South Florida, Southern Miss, Western Michigan and Texas-El Paso are seeking new coaches.

So far …