College football coaching carousel: Latest buzz, top candidates, analysis of every vacancy

Michael Irvin loves Mario Cristobal as Miami's coach (0:55)

Miami alum Michael Irvin expresses his happiness with the school's decision to hire Mario Cristobal as its next football coach. (0:55)

Industry insiders warned us in 2020. Despite a higher-than-expected number of college football coaching changes amid the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming carousel had a chance to be historically active.

The predictions are coming true.

Beginning with USC after two games and LSU after seven, schools are making coaching changes fast and furiously. Clay Helton, fired at USC, landed a new job at Georgia Southern by early November. In the span of a week, Florida moved on from Dan Mullen and replaced him with Louisiana's Billy Napier.

And that was just the start. Hours after he quashed rumors that he would be going to LSU, Lincoln Riley was leaving Oklahoma and was headed to USC (taking defensive coordinator Alex Grinch with him). Then came the stunning news that it was Brian Kelly who would move to LSU, leaving Notre Dame with the Irish still in the hunt for a College Football Playoff spot. Notre Dame moved on by elevating defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to head coach. And now Manny Diaz is out at Miami, with Oregon's Mario Cristobal his replacement.

The early signing period for recruiting is fueling athletic directors this year, as they hope to finalize hires in time to salvage or bolster classes. The flurry of activity could continue until mid-December. Additionally, schools will look to lock up their coaches with contract extensions, as Penn State did with a new 10-year deal for James Franklin, Michigan State did with Mel Tucker and Ole Miss did with Lane Kiffin.

We've got you covered. Here we'll provide the latest intel from Adam Rittenberg, Chris Low, Mark Schlabach and others on the biggest coaching searches, the jobs that could come open soon and the candidates to fill the vacancies. It will be updated throughout the carousel.

Latest buzz at:
Oregon | Virginia | Duke

Jump to other topics:
Other vacancies | Filled jobs

The latest chatter

• Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.: Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has emerged as the top candidate to be the head coach at Virginia, and a deal could be finalized as early as Wednesday, sources told ESPN. Elliott and his family flew to Charlottesville, Virginia, on Wednesday to meet with UVa officials. He also met earlier this week with Duke officials about the Blue Devils' head-coaching job. Virginia's coaching search had been focused on Penn State assistant Anthony Poindexter. -- Adam Rittenberg and Chris Low

• Wednesday, 9 a.m.: Duke's search for David Cutcliffe's successor seems to be narrowing to highly regarded assistant coaches -- Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko. But there's also a familiar name that is drawing at least some interest from the Blue Devils: former Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.

Elliott, 42, has long been regarded as one of the best recruiters and coordinators in college football. Although the Tigers struggled on offense this season, they scored more than 650 points in 2018 and 2019, becoming the first team to do so in back-to-back seasons since Yale in 1888-89. Clemson's streak of 10 straight seasons with at least 10 victories started when Elliott was hired as a full-time assistant in 2011. Elliott has been choosy about his next job; he turned down several opportunities in the past.

Elko, 44, is in his fourth season as Texas A&M's defensive coordinator and safeties coach. This season, the Aggies rank third in scoring defense (15.9 points), 19th in pass defense (192.7 yards) and 20th in total defense (327.5 yards). He previously worked one season as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator and also coached at Wake Forest, Bowling Green, Hofstra, Richmond and Fordham.

Garrett was the New York Giants' offensive coordinator until the team parted ways with him on Nov. 23. He was the Cowboys' head coach from 2010-19, compiling an 85-67 record. His teams won three NFC East titles during his tenure. Garrett was a part of two Super Bowl-winning teams as a player. A former quarterback at Pennsylvania, Garrett has never coached in college.

Duke's interest in Garrett was first reported by the Raleigh News & Observer. -- Mark Schlabach

Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.: Fresno State has reached an agreement to hire Jeff Tedford as its next football coach, sources tell ESPN. Tedford, 60, coached Fresno State from 2017 to 2019 before health issues forced him to step aside in December 2019. Fresno State also considered defensive coordinator William Inge, Sacramento State coach Troy Taylor and others for the position, according to sources.

Monday, 11:45 a.m.: After weeks of speculation, Miami has fired head coach Manny Diaz after three years on the job and replaced him with Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal met with his Oregon players Monday to tell them he was taking the Miami job, sources said.