Randy Smith: On The Coaching Carousel

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Today is a good day to check the college football “coaching carousel” to see who is jumping from one job to another, as well as see who may be ready to jump. At Texas, Mack Brown’s days are numbered and he is expected to step down any day now and accept a fundraising position at the University of Texas. The opening for the Longhorns has been drawing plenty of speculation for more than a month, and has even included talk about Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Why would Saban even consider leaving Tuscaloosa for Austin, Texas you ask? It couldn’t be about money, as he has been the highest paid college football coach ever for several years now. Alabama has even put an impressive contract extension on the table for Coach Saban to look over, while his team prepares for their Sugar Bowl match-up with Oklahoma. It’s been on his desk since Friday and is still unsigned, and that is causing Alabama officials to suddenly become very nervous. In March, Saban signed a new contract with a big raise, giving him $5.62 million a year.  A lot of highly successful coaches often feel the need make a change to accept a greater challenge. If Saban does bolt for the Texas job, that would seem to be the proper reason.

Remember a few seasons ago, when Longhorn Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp was the “head coach in waiting” at Texas? Apparently Muschamp couldn’t wait long enough for Mack Brown to step down, so he left to take the head coaching job at Florida. Three years into the Gator’s job, Muschamp led the “Swamp Lizards” to their first losing season since 1979. (Patience is a virtue) If he doesn’t turn things around in a big way next season, he will be looking for a job a year from now.

Tennessee fans probably remember Dave Clawson, most recently the head coach at Bowling Green State University. He was hired this week as the new head coach at Wake Forest, replacing Jim Grobe. Clawson was the Vols’ offensive coordinator in 2008; the same one who was so harshly criticized because of the team’s anemic performance on the field. That was also the final season for Head Coach Phillip Fulmer who was fired toward the end of the season. Believe it or not, there is still a lot of mutual respect between Fulmer and Clawson. Despite the way things turned out in 2008, both men said they could work together again.

Dave Clawson is the second former Tennessee offensive coordinator to be a head coach in the ACC. David Cutcliffe, perhaps the most successful coordinator in Vol football history, led Duke to a 10-win season in 2013. The Blue Devils will face “Johnny Football” and Texas A&M in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve at 8:00.

In another coaching development, Arkansas State Coach Bryan Harsin became the third straight          one year-and-done coach for the Red Wolves as he has taken the head coaching job at Boise State. Harsin leaves after one year; the same departure for his two predecessors, Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn. Harsin replaces Chris Petersen at Boise State, who recently left Boise for the University of Washington. Harsin is a former assistant coach at Boise State under Petersen.

The college football coaching carousel continues to go round and round, with Mack Brown getting down off the biggest horse. Who gets on that big horse will be a huge story no matter who it is.



Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).

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