Mario Cristobal’s name picking up steam in the coaching carousel

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With the sudden — and slimy — departure by Todd Graham from Pittsburgh to Arizona State, there are now two jobs open in Pennsylvania that, not too long ago, were considered premier gigs… or very close to being.

Pittsburgh has fallen off that upper echelon a bit, although it’s definitely still a good job; Penn State is dealing — and will deal for some time — with the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but the right guy can keep that program going strong.

Of course, therein lies the problem: finding the right guy.

But one name that has been a little low on the coaching carousel rumors, but could pick up momentum very soon, is Florida International coach Mario Cristobal.

On the Paul Finebaum show today, CBS’ Bruce Feldman echoed that sentiment.

“To me, Mario Christobal, with his personality, would make a good fit for Penn St.” Feldman said.

Cristobal has done an outstanding job building the FIU program from a one-win team in 2007 into one that will go to its second bowl game in a row. The W-L stats don’t reflect it, but Cristobal a tough, focused guy who could be just what Penn State needs to get through the toughest time in the program’s history.

Cristobal’s name has also been connected with the Pitt job, according to multiple media outlets in the area. The initial feeling is that Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads would be the first person Pitt AD Steve Pederson speaks to, but Cristobal may not be far down that list.

Even if Cristobal doesn’t get, or turns down (hey, you never know), either of those jobs, he should be a coach to keep an eye on in the coming years.

Charting the 2011 Coaching Carousel

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With the end of the regular season — for most schools — upon us, it means one very important thing for fans looking for a new direction for their football program: the spinning of the annual coaching carousel will begin in earnest and not stop for another couple of months. Below is a chart that will be updated as warranted in order to keep you abreast of all of the moves made during the 2012 version of the Coaching Killing Fields.

Note: names will not be added until their dismissals/resignations/retirements have been confirmed by the respective schools. This will heretofore be known as the Zook Principle. Or “The Rule of Zook”, if you prefer.


* — retired
** — interim head coach
*** — moves to Div. 1-A from Div. 1-AA in 2012

COACHING CAROUSEL COMPLETED AT USC

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Pete Carroll has had a busy few weeks at USC.When he hasn’t been busy locking in another stellar recruiting class for the Trojans, or getting castigated for speaking his mind about outgoing quarterback Mark Sanchez, he’s been filling massive voids on his coaching staff, which look to be finally complete, after new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates replaced coach Carl Smith, who left the job he took with the Trojans for the Cleveland Browns, less than two weeks after agreeing with the Trojans.Replacing both coordinators (your offensive coordinator twice), finding a new defensive line coach, promoting your linebackers coach, cutting your Hawaiian vacation short to watch your starting quarterback leave school early, all before jetting out to the presidential inauguration?It’s no wonder that many consider Carroll the hardest working coach in America.He’s even found time to twitter about it.

UConn relieves Bob Diaco of head coaching duties

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Well, at least UConn waited until after Christmas Day to ruin the holiday season for Bob Diaco. The school announced this morning Diaco has been relieved of his head coaching responsibilities in Storrs, effective January 2.

“I believe a new leader for our program and student-athletes is needed to build long-term success,” UConn Director of Athletics David Benedict said in a released statement. “I am grateful to Coach Diaco and his staff for their hard work and the integrity with which they ran the program and certainly wish them future success.”

Diaco, a former Notre Dame defensive coordinator, was hired by UConn following the 2013 season. In three seasons, Diaco’s Huskies went 11-26, including a 3-9 mark this past season. Diaco also caught heat for manufacturing a rivalry and trophy game series with UCF, without UCF knowing a thing about it.

The UConn vacancy is a late addition to the coaching carousel this season, but it is one worth keeping an eye on.namesf the popular names already floating around the rumor mill is Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, a former Fordham head coach. The timing feels weird for a coach firing too, which might suggest UConn already has a replacement ready to step in. Whether that would be Moorhead or not remains to be seen as of now.

Charlie Strong to take on head coaching job at USF

Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP
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As the coaching carousel continued to spin, it was left in question just what might the coaching future have for Charlie Strong. It would appear a return to the Sunshine State is what is next for Strong, as reports are in Strong will be the new head coach of USF. Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported the coaching news on Sunday, via Twitter. The school has since formally announced the coaching hire themselves as well.

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Charlie, his wife, Vicki, and their children Tory, Hailee and Hope, back to the state of Florida and to our Bulls family,” USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan said in a released statement. “Charlie is a tremendous leader and mentor for our student-athletes and a widely-respected coach with a resume full of achievements at the highest levels of college football. He combines a drive to win with great integrity and deep, long-standing connections in the state of Florida.  The future of USF football is very bright under his direction.”

Strong was signed to a five-year contract. This is especially notable because that means Strong will potentially be the head coach of USF when the Bulls visit the Texas Longhorns to open the 2020 season.

Strong was let go by the Texas Longhorns this season, which made room for Houston head coach Tom Herman top step in to run the program. Strong was immediately thought to be a worthy coaching candidate for a handful of jobs, ranging from head coach to possibly taking a step back to be a defensive coordinator. Strong will replace Willie Taggart as the head coach of the Bulls, after Taggart left the program to take on the Oregon head coaching job. It was thought Strong could be asked to join Taggart in Eugene to run the Oregon defense. The two apparently had communications with each other about both the position in Oregon and the vacancy at USF.

Taggert leaves Strong with a good program to take over in Tampa. Strong will have a talented quarterback to run with in Quinton Flowers and the team is coming off a 10-win season. The Bulls should be contenders in the AAC once again next season after falling a tiebreaker shy of playing for the conference crown against a Navy team it blew away in the regular season.