There are coaching changes all the time in college football. Every year the carousel stays busy as programs across the country make coaching moves. Here is a look at the coaching changes at each Power Five school as we continue our 20-year series of Rivals Rankings history.
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The 2002 class at Alabama was overseen by Dennis Franchione, who left after that season to become the coach at Texas A&M. He reportedly turned down a 10-year contract in Tuscaloosa. Mike Price was hired, then Mike Shula before Nick Saban took the Alabama job on Jan. 3, 2007. The rest is history.
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There has been significant turnover at Arizona over the last 20 years, and in 2002 the coach was John Mackovic, followed by Mike Stoops for eight seasons, Rich Rodriguez for six seasons and then Kevin Sumlin from 2018-2020, when he went 9-20. Former New England Patriots QB coach Jedd Fisch was hired in December to take over the program.
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In 2002, Dirk Koetter was just starting his tenure at Arizona State, one that would last until after the 2006 season. Then Dennis Erickson took over from 2007-2011, followed by Todd Graham from 2012-2017. Then current coach Herm Edwards landed the job.
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Houston Nutt was in the middle of his tenure in Fayetteville that lasted from 1998-2007, when Rivals started in 2002 and then after Nutt, Bobby Petrino was hired from 2008-2011. There was a lot of upheaval in the coming years as John L. Smith lasted one year, Bret Bielema was the coach from 2013-2017 and then Chad Morris took over the program from 2017-2019, when he went 4-18 before being fired. Sam Pittman was hired to start the 2020 season.
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There have been only three coaches over the last 20 years at Auburn with Tommy Tuberville handling the duties from 1999-2008, followed by Gene Chizik from 2009-2012 and then Gus Malzahn, who started in the 2013 season and was fired after the 2020 campaign. The fourth coach, Bryan Harsin, was hired away from Boise State.
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In 20 years of Rivals history, there has been significant turnover at Baylor, with Kevin Steele out after the 2002 class followed by Guy Morriss (2003-2007), Art Briles (2008-2015), Jim Grobe in 2016 and then Matt Rhule from 2017-2019. After Rhule did an extraordinary job and left for the NFL, Dave Aranda was hired away from LSU to take the job in 2020.
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Tom O’Brien was in the middle of his tenure at Boston College in 2002 and he lasted in Chestnut Hill until the end of the 2006 season. O’Brien was followed for two years by Jeff Jagodzinski, then Frank Spaziani, Steve Addazio and then Jeff Hafley took over the Eagles’ program heading into the 2020 season.
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Jeff Tedford took over at Cal in 2002 and spent a decade at Berkeley before Sonny Dykes took over from 2013-2016. The third coach during this two-decade stretch was Justin Wilcox, who was hired for the 2017 season and is still Cal’s coach.
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It has been a pretty clear picture of coaching changes at Clemson as Tommy Bowden was the Tigers’ coach from 1999-2008. He was followed by Dabo Swinney, who took over midway through the 2008 season and has been at Clemson ever since.
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There has been some significant turnover at Colorado over the last 20 seasons as Gary Barnett was the coach from 1999-2005, followed by Dan Hawkins, Jon Embree, Mike MacIntyre, Mel Tucker for one season and then Karl Dorrell was hired to start the 2020 season.
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Name the Duke football coach in 2002. That would be a great trivia night question, and if you came up with Carl Franks then you win a prize. Franks was wrapping up his tenure with the Blue Devils, and after the 2003 season Ted Roof came in for four seasons before David Cutcliffe replaced him. Cutcliffe has been Duke’s coach since the 2008 season, one year after Saban took over at Alabama.
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Ron Zook had just taken over for Steve Spurrier to start the 2002 season, but Zook did not last long before Urban Meyer took the job from 2005-2010. Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain led the Gators over the next few years before Florida hired Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State to start the 2018 season.
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In Florida State history dating back to 1902 there have been 14 head coaches at the school, including Odell Haggins as an interim twice and Bobby Bowden, who coached 34 of those seasons. Bowden was the coach in 2002, when Rivals rankings started and he coached all the way up until 2009. Following Bowden was Jimbo Fisher for eight seasons (he had a higher winning percentage than Bowden), followed by Willie Taggart for two years and now Mike Norvell, who’s entering his second season.
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The Georgia coaching tree during the Rivals era is really cut and dry. Mark Richt took over from Jim Donnan in the 2001 season and then coached the Bulldogs through 2015. It was then that Georgia hired Kirby Smart and he’s entering his sixth season. That level of stability and lack of turnover is rare among Power Five schools.
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Chan Gailey’s first year was in 2002, when Rivals came into existence, and he lasted for a handful of years until Paul Johnson took over in 2008. Johnson was the coach of the Yellow Jackets for a decade until he announced his retirement. Geoff Collins took over in 2019.
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Gerry DiNardo took over in 2002 and since that time no coach at Indiana has lasted more than five seasons, so turnover has been common. That looks to be changing dramatically under Tom Allen, but prior to him came Kevin Wilson, Bill Lynch and Terry Hoeppner.
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Since 2002, Illinois has gone through four full-time head coaches (along with Bill Cubit, who was interim in the 2015 season) and none of them finished with a winning record. Ron Turner was the coach in 2002, followed by Ron Zook and Tim Beckman and then Lovie Smith, who was 10-37 overall. Bret Bielema was hired for the 2020 season.
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Consistency is the calling card of Iowa football, and since 1999 Kirk Ferentz has been the coach of the Hawkeyes, coaching more games (246) than Hayden Fry (238) or any other coach in Iowa history.
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In 2002, Dan McCarney was in the middle-to-late innings of his coaching career at Iowa State, and then he was followed by Gene Chizik, Paul Rhoads and now Matt Campbell, the only coach in Rivals history for the Cyclones who has a winning record.
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From 2002-2009 Mark Mangino was the Kansas football coach, and he ended up 50-48. Since that time, the Jayhawks have fallen off a cliff, with Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, Clint Bowen (interim), David Beaty and Les Miles not able to figure out that puzzle at all. Lance Leipold, who turned Buffalo around over the last six years, was hired in recent days.
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Bill Snyder is an institution at Kansas State as he had two long coaching stretches from 1989-2005 and 2009-2018. He coached 333 games in Manhattan. The other coaches during the Rivals era dating back to 2002 are Ron Prince from 2006-2008 and Chris Klieman, who was hired in late 2018 and still leads the program
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Kentucky has not had a football coach finish with a winning record since Blanton Collier (1954-1961), but current coach Mark Stoops is right on the cusp as he has a 49-50 record starting in 2013 leading into next season. During the Rivals era, the Wildcats have also had Guy Morriss, Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips in charge.
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John L. Smith coached the 2002 season at Louisville before leaving for Michigan State, and that’s when Bobby Petrino took over the Cardinals from 2003-2006. He was followed by Steve Kragthorpe, and then it was Charlie Strong before Petrino returned after his coaching debacle at Arkansas. Scott Satterfield is now entering his third season.
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Nick Saban was right in the middle of his LSU coaching tenure in 2002 when Rivals started and he left two years later to be replaced by Les Miles, who went 114-34 in more than a decade with the Tigers. Ed Orgeron officially took over in November 2016, and he remains the coach in Baton Rouge.
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Ralph Friedgen started in 2001 and was Maryland’s coach through the 2010 season, finishing with a 75-50 record. Randy Edsall then took over for a handful of seasons, followed by D.J. Durkin. Controversy followed him, then Matt Canada took over for a year. Mike Locksley was hired in December 2018, and he’s now entering his third season.
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It’s hard to believe that Larry Coker was just really starting his Miami coaching tenure in 2002, but it’s true. He was the coach from 2001-2006. Coker was followed by Randy Shannon and then Al Golden and then Mark Richt before Manny Diaz was hired in early January 2016. Diaz is 14-10 in two seasons so far.
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In 2002, Lloyd Carr was in the middle of his coaching tenure in Michigan, a career that would span 162 games, the third most in school history, behind Bo Schembechler (247) and Fielding Yost (204). Following Carr was Rich Rodriguez and then Brady Hoke. Jim Harbaugh was hired in late December 2014. He’s now entering his eighth season.
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Bobby Williams’ last season was in 2002, and he was followed by John L. Smith for four seasons until Mark Dantonio took over for the 2007 campaign. He was the Spartans’ coach for more than a decade before Mel Tucker took over in the 2020 season. Nick Saban was Michigan State’s head coach until 1999, three years before Rivals started.
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Minnesota has gone through a handful of coaches since the inception of Rivals in 2002, with Glen Mason in charge from 1997 through the 2006 season. Then it was Tim Brewster’s turn before Jerry Kill took over until midway through the 2015 season, when he had to retire due to health reasons. Tracy Claeys had a quick stop with the Gophers before P.J. Fleck was hired in January 2017, and Fleck has been with the team since.
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Jackie Sherrill was still coaching Mississippi State when Rivals started in 2002, but only a couple years later Sylvester Croom took over. Dan Mullen came in for the 2009 season and stayed until 2017, when there was a transition to Joe Moorhead, who was quickly replaced. Mike Leach is entering his second season in Starkville.
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In 2002, Gary Pinkel had just embarked on a coaching tenure at Missouri that lasted from 2001-2015, so Pinkel was involved in the most Tigers’ recruiting classes during the Rivals era by far. Barry Odom took over in 2016 and lasted for a few seasons before Missouri moved on to Eli Drinkwitz, who’s entering his second season in Columbia.
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The tail end of Frank Solich’s career was happening in Lincoln in 2002 when Rivals started, and then Bill Callahan took over for a handful of years before Bo Pelini coached the Huskers. Although Pelini was successful on the field, his personality did not mesh with Nebraska’s culture, and Mike Riley was hired to run the program. Riley lasted only three seasons with the Huskers before Scott Frost was hired in December 2017.
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There have only been a handful of coaches at North Carolina since 2002, as John Bunting was the coach during the early years and he was followed by Butch Davis from 2007-2010. When North Carolina was investigated by the NCAA for improper benefits, Davis was let go and then Everett Withers was named interim coach for the season. Larry Fedora was the coach from 2012-2018, and then Mack Brown was hired in late November 2018. He’s still the coach.
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NORTH CAROLINA STATE
There has been relative stability since 2002 in Raleigh as Chuck Amato was in the early stages of his career at NC State when Rivals got underway, and then Tom O’Brien replaced him and coached the Wolfpack from 2007-2012. Dave Doeren was hired on Dec. 1, 2012, and he is still the head coach at NC State.
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Randy Walker was the coach at Northwestern from 1999 until his unexpected death in the summer of 2006, when Pat Fitzgerald was promoted to head coach. Fitzgerald has been the Wildcats’ coach since that time and has turned down multiple other opportunities, including in the NFL, to stay at Northwestern.
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The 2002 season was Tyrone Willingham’s first at Notre Dame, although he lasted only until the end of the 2004 campaign, when he was replaced. Charlie Weis was the coach of the Irish for five years and then Brian Kelly was hired in December 2009. Kelly remains the coach at Notre Dame and has reportedly turned down numerous NFL jobs to stay in South Bend.
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The Jim Tressel era was just getting underway in 2002 as he was entering his second season in Columbus. After NCAA violations ended the Tressel era, Luke Fickell served as the interim coach for one season, and then Urban Meyer was hired from 2012-2018, but he left over controversial circumstances involving an assistant coach. Ryan Day took over and is now entering his third full season, currently with a record of 23-2.
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The coaching tree and transition at Oklahoma has been smooth and seamless since the start of Rivals in 2002 as Bob Stoops was the Sooners’ coach from 1999-2016. After his surprising retirement, Lincoln Riley took over the program and he remains the coach despite numerous rumors about NFL teams wanting to hire him.
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Mike Gundy has been such a mainstay at Oklahoma State that it’s hard to remember who came before him. Gundy has been the coach since 2005, but before him in the first few years of Rivals the Oklahoma State coach was Les Miles, who was in Stillwater for four seasons before heading to LSU.
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There has been a lot of coaching turnover at Ole Miss since the Rivals era started in 2002 as David Cutcliffe was on the back end of his tenure in Oxford before he was followed by Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt. Then Hugh Freeze landed the job, but controversy pushed him out and Matt Luke took over for a few seasons before Lane Kiffin took over. Kiffin’s now entering his second season.
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Mike Bellotti was in the middle of his long career at Oregon in 2002 and then in 2009 Chip Kelly took over for four seasons, during which he had amazing success and compiled a 46-7 record. Following Kelly’s move to the NFL, Mark Helfrich took over for four seasons, then Willie Taggart came in for one before Mario Cristobal entered the picture. He’s now heading into his third season in Eugene.
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In 2002, Dennis Erickson coached his last season at Oregon State and then he was replaced by Mike Riley, who lasted 12 seasons in Corvallis. After Riley left to become the coach at Nebraska, Gary Andersen took over for a few seasons and now Jonathan Smith is now entering his fourth season with the Beavers.
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Joe Paterno was Penn State’s coach long before Rivals started and he would last nearly a decade into the Rivals era before the Jerry Sandusky scandal would end his career. Bill O’Brien would take over for two seasons before going to the NFL and then James Franklin was hired in January 2014. Franklin is now entering his eighth season with the Nittany Lions.
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Pitt was in the Big East until after the 2012 season and there was a lot of coaching turnover over the years for the Panthers as Walt Harris was the coach when Rivals started in 2002. He would be followed by Dave Wannstedt, who would last six season at Pitt before being replaced by Todd Graham, who only coached there one year before jetting off for Arizona State. Paul Chryst came in for three seasons where he went 19-19 but then left for Wisconsin. Pat Narduzzi was hired and is now entering his seventh year.
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Joe Tiller lasted 12 seasons at Purdue and right in the middle of his tenure was when Rivals got underway. Following Tiller’s departure following the 2008 season, Danny Hope was hired and lasted four seasons before Darrell Hazell took over. Jeff Brohm was hired in December 2016 and is now entering his fifth season. Since Tiller’s departure, though, the Boilermakers have only two winning seasons.
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Greg Schiano’s first stint at Rutgers was just getting started in 2002 as he was entering his second season and the Scarlet Knights had not yet become a national storyline for a few more years when they’d win 11 games in 2006. Schiano lasted until after the 2011 season when Kyle Flood took over, followed by Chris Ash and now Schiano is back to rebuild the Rutgers program again.
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It feels so long ago but Lou Holtz was the coach at South Carolina in 2002 and he would last a couple more seasons until his retirement and Steve Spurrier replaced him. Spurrier, who coached 12 seasons at Florida earlier in his career, would last into his 11th season at South Carolina and made the program more than reputable again. Will Muschamp was hired and lasted into his fifth season before being fired. Shane Beamer is now entering his first year with the Gamecocks.
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A great trivia question would be who coached Stanford in 2002 and if you guess Buddy Teevens then you’d be right. Teevens coached for a few more seasons before Walt Harris got the job and then it went to Jim Harbaugh for the 2007 season. Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers and David Shaw was hired in January 2011. He is still Stanford’s coach.
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Paul Pasqualoni was the mainstay at Syracuse through the 1990s and into the 2000s and he was the Orange coach in 2002 when Rivals started. Greg Robinson took over for the 2005 season and he lasted four seasons until Doug Marrone got the job. It was another four years with Marrone until Scott Shafer took over for three seasons. In December 2015, Dino Babers because Syracuse’s coach where he is still today.
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The coaching tree at TCU has been pretty clear since the start of Rivals in 2002 as Gary Patterson has been the full-time coach since the 2001 season and remains with the Horned Frogs heading into the 2021 campaign.
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Phillip Fulmer was the sign of stability at Tennessee as he was the coach well before the start of Rivals and coached the Vols all the way through the 2008 season. Since then, there has been a lot of turmoil and turnover as Tennessee looks to find its footing on the national stage again. Of course, Lane Kiffin came in for one season. Then Derek Dooley was the coach for about three seasons. Then Butch Jones was fired at the end of his fifth year. Jeremy Pruitt came in for three but was fired for cause after multiple recruiting violations. In late January, Josh Heupel took over as coach.
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So much has happened at Texas over the last few years that in some ways it’s hard to believe Mack Brown was the Longhorns’ coach for the majority of Rivals’ existence since he was there in 2002 when the company started through the 2013 season. Charlie Strong took over and was out after just a few seasons and then Tom Herman lasted four years before being replaced. Steve Sarkisian was hired in early January.
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There have been an incredible amount of changes at Texas A&M over the last 20 years, mainly this one: R.C. Slocum was the Aggies’ coach in 2002. It was Slocum’s final season before Dennis Franchione took over the job for five years before Mike Sherman came to College Station and he was there for about four years. Kevin Sumlin was hired to much fanfare and he lasted about six years before Jimbo Fisher left Florida State for the A&M job. Fisher is now entering his fourth season already with the Aggies.
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Mike Leach never had a losing season at Texas Tech and he was the coach there from 2000-2009 season but his handling of the Adam James situation led to his firing and a messy legal battle. Still, one wonders where the program would be – and if Leach would still be at Texas Tech – if that situation never happened. After Leach, Tommy Tuberville came in for about three seasons, followed by Kliff Kingsbury and now Matt Wells is entering his third year. The Red Raiders haven’t had a winning season since 2015.
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The 2002 season was the last one for Bob Toledo in Westwood as Karl Dorrell replaced him and the coaching carousel at UCLA has spun ever since. Dorrell lasted about five seasons, Rick Neuheisel lasted about four, Jim Mora despite a 9-win and two 10-win seasons was out after his sixth season and Chip Kelly took the job. Through three years, Kelly is 10-21.
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Pete Carroll was just getting started at USC in 2002 as the Trojans railed off top recruiting classes and national titles. Carroll lasted with the Trojans until after the 2009 season and then USC experienced a period of coaching turnover. Lane Kiffin was there for just over three seasons, Ed Orgeron was the interim in 2013, then Steve Sarkisian lasted less than two seasons before off-the-field issues forced him out. Clay Helton was the interim for the remainder of the 2015 season and he remains USC’s coach. Helton is 45-23.
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In 2002, Ron McBride was in his last season with the Utes. Then Urban Meyer took over for basically two seasons where he went 22-2 before leaving for Florida. Kyle Whittingham replaced Meyer and he’s been at Utah since with a record of 134-66 heading into the 2021 season.
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Bobby Johnson was just starting at Vanderbilt in 2002 and he lasted through the 2009 season when Robbie Caldwell was hired but he was only with the Commodores for one year. James Franklin was then hired and he led Vanderbilt to back-to-back winning seasons, nine wins each year, the last two winning years for the Commodores. Derek Mason had seven-straight losing seasons in Nashville and then Clark Lea was hired to replace him for the 2021 season.
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There has been a relatively seamless transition of coaches over the years at Virginia as Al Groh was the coach in 2002 and he lasted until after the 2009 campaign. Mike London replaced him and had only one winning season in six before Bronco Mendenhall came from BYU to Charlottesville. He’s been the coach since the 2016 season and Mendenhall is 30-32 entering his sixth year.
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Frank Beamer was such an incredible mainstay at Virginia Tech as the coach from 1987 through the 2015 season. Justin Fuente was hired away from Memphis to take over the Hokies’ program and he’s 38-26 entering his sixth year.
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Over the last 20 years there have only been two coaches at Wake Forest as stability has dominated there. Jim Grobe was just starting his career in 2002 and he lasted until the end of the 2013 season. That’s when Dave Clawson was hired away from Bowling Green and he’s been the coach ever since now entering his eighth season.
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There has been a decent amount of turnover at Washington over the last 20 years as Rick Neuhseil was in his final season with the Huskies in 2002 before Keith Gilbertson took over for two seasons. After that didn’t work out, Tyrone Willingham was hired followed by Steve Sarkisian and then Chris Peterson lasting four, five and six seasons, respectively. Jimmy Lake just wrapped up his first season with the Huskies.
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Mike Price was in his final season in Pullman in 2002 and he was followed by Bill Doba, who coached the Cougars for five seasons. Then Paul Wolff coached at Washington State for four seasons and then Mike Leach was hired and was in town for eight years before leaving for Mississippi State. Nick Rolovich is now entering his second season.
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Rich Rodriguez was just in his second season coaching the Mountaineers in 2002 and he lasted until the end of the 2007 season when he left for the Michigan job. Bill Stewart coached for three full seasons and then Dana Holgorsen took over and was in Morgantown for eight seasons. Neal Brown is now entering his third year at West Virginia where he’s 11-11.
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From 1990-2005, Barry Alvarez was the coach of the Badgers and he was followed by Bret Bielema, who lasted until about the end of the 2012 season when he took the Arkansas job. Gary Andersen took the job but was out after about two years as reports surfaced he was frustrated by Wisconsin’s tough academic standards. Paul Chryst came over from Pitt to take the job and Chryst is now entering his seventh season.
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