College football coaches: Riley and Kelly lead the craziest week in history


MORE FROM DASH: Irish Debate | Lincoln Way | Defensive players Heisman Watch

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making the news in college football (“We Got Our Guy” jerseys are sold separately on each campus currently searching for coaches).


Welcome to the craziest week in college football history, and guess what? It’s only Monday! The entire industry has been stunned by successful power movements, blue blood versus blue blood crimes, jobs few saw coming, crazy spending … and the promise of even more massive dominoes to come. publication date.

If the whole business seems out of control, well, that’s because it is.

On Sunday, USC raided Oklahoma (31) for Lincoln Riley, at what is undoubtedly an outrageous price. For those who scored at home, it was the school tied for sixth all-time in the Nationals (USC, with five) going and getting the school’s hugely popular coach who is third overall. times in national championships (Oklahoma has seven).

Monday, LSU raided Notre-Dame (32) for Brian Kelly. It’s a school with four nattys that go up and slide the coach of a school that won eight. It’s even more shocking in a general sense than what happened on Sunday – and it becomes downright incomprehensible when you consider this: Fighting Irish can still qualify for college football qualifiers.

It’s really not far at all for the 11-1 Irish, who were ranked No.6 last week and don’t appear to be any worse than that when the new CFP rankings are released on Tuesday night. A loss for Alabama to favorite Georgia in the SEC Championship game could position Notre Dame to slip into the top four, or at least be in a CV battle for that spot with Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile, the coach is on the road to recruit, but in fact he was in the process of finalizing a deal to leave. In a profession riddled with weasel movements, this one by Brian Kelly (33) ranks very high.

(If the Irish qualify for the playoffs and he wants to stay and coach, it seems highly likely that Kelly would get the same treatment then-athletic director Bo Schembechler gave the basketball coach. ball out Bill Frieder before the 1989 NCAA tournament. A man from Notre Dame goes to coach Notre Dame in the playoffs.)

The predatory hiring cycle will now shift to Oklahoma and Notre Dame. And while the likely names in play at OU wouldn’t further destabilize the current playoff race, the same may not be true of Notre Dame.

In other words: hug Luc Fickell (34) tight tonight, Cincinnati. It seems incomprehensible that a man of Fickell’s loyalty to his current school, and this current team in particular, is now abandoning a pioneering playoff cause. Sure, Fickell would tell Notre Dame to chill his golden heels until this race was over – if he left at all. But the incomprehensible seems to be happening a lot lately in college football, so the suggestion here is to trust no one and suspect that the most mercenary behavior possible can and will happen.

A source familiar with the Kelly-Notre Dame dynamic said on Monday afternoon that if he did go to LSU, the reason would be weariness in trying to take Notre Dame away from its ingrained philosophy of where and how football fits into the university mission. “It will be because he wants Notre-Dame to look less like Notre-Dame,” the source said.

Kelly has already pushed and got more admissions leeway for her players. Whether the additional less “like Notre Dame” things that might interest him were other academic changes, the Pleasure Dome facilities, housing arrangements, NIL opportunities, it was not clear. But the religious and academic leadership there are not going to turn to an ejected coach, even if he is the most successful in the history of the program. The failure to win a football championship since 1988 has not prevented the school from having an endowment among the top ten and a top 20 academic rankings at the national level.

Notre Dame isn’t a pristine place, but in the changing landscape of varsity sport, it won’t be at the forefront of a land rush for everything to win. LSU, on the other hand? Ehhhhhh. It’s pretty clear where the priorities lie.

If Kelly is frustrated at not being able to close the gap between Very Good and National Championship Good, he probably chose wisely to move to a school where the last three coaches have won it all – and two of them aren’t even from great coaches. The interesting aspect is that Kelly runs into the Southeast Conference competition pit, while Riley runs away for the benefits of USC.

Southern California Trojans Chairman Rick Caruso, President Carol Folt, Lincoln Riley and Athletic Director Mike Bohn pose with a jersey.

LSU, when operating at its highest level, should be able to compete with Alabama and Georgia for SEC primacy. It’s barely two years since the Tigers went 15-0. The recruiting territory is ridiculous. Kelly is probably betting he can get the same great players as Ed Orgeron, coach them twice too, get everything on his administration-granted wishlist and win that elusive national title.

Kelly is 60 years old. Nick Saban (35) is 70 years old. Kelly can, in theory, outlive the SEC King, unless he has a 4-8 season like he did in 2016 at Notre Dame. Then he is devoured by the beast he signed with.

But the LSU contract will surely be for as much guaranteed money that Kelly can get fired, go buy a private island and live happily ever after. This is the direction in which sport is evolving, well beyond the barriers of fiscal reason, or even common decency. Not so long ago, $ 5 million was a staggering annual salary. Now that has been dubbed – and then some, if the rumors about Riley’s deal with USC are roughly accurate.

Athletic directors who have fired or fired workers, cut sports and sounded the general alarm over the long-term future of college sports are now spending like drunken titans on hedge funds. Mel Tucker (36), career record 17-14, just turned 10 and $ 95 million. Jimbo Fisher (37) landed a 10-year, $ 94 million contract with Texas A&M before flopping this season, going 8-4. James Franklin (38), coming out of a 7-5 season, just got a $ 7 million a year raise from Penn State. Etc.

College athletics has been heading to this place for quite some time now. The whole company has been forced – by courts and public pressure – to finally allow players to have some of the cut and job mobility commensurate with what the coaches have enjoyed. Whether in response to this, or simply out of higher level greed, the next steps were to expand the College Football Playoffs (39) and realignment (40). (For the record: good extended playoffs, ruinous realignment.)

The confluence of events knocked everything off its moorings. And God knows the leadership vacuum is not going to restore the balance. The annual bloody sport of hiring and firing coaches has reached a point where none of it makes sense, and no one is able to hold those primarily accountable.

Here’s the funny thing: The phrase so many college executives used to describe what would happen when players could immediately transfer and earn money with NIL was that it would become “the Wild West.” But as this year has unfolded, who has really taken varsity athletics off the rails and into a new realm of anomie? The adults in charge, of course.

MORE FROM DASH: Irish Debate | Lincoln Way | Defensive players Heisman Watch


Comments are closed.