Given that the 2021-22 college football season has just started, it’s probably too early to talk about the coaching carousel that will inevitably start taking place in the winter.
Nevertheless, Yahoo’s Pete Thamel wrote a four-part series in recent days giving a primer of what could be expected during the carousel, and a bunch of coaches with Utah ties are mentioned, for better or worse.
Here’s a rundown.
- The first piece in the series outlined how the uncertainty in the Big 12 right now could impact coaches such as Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, who could opt for greener pastures at the end of the season.
While no coaches with Utah ties were mentioned in this one, perhaps it may be of interest given the chatter about BYU potentially joining the conference.
- The next piece outlined which coaches around the country could be on the hot seat this season, and former Utah State head coach Matt Wells, now at Texas Tech, is on the list.
“Patience has never been a Texas Tech administrative trait, and it appears to be running out here,” Thamel wrote. “A loss to open the season against Houston at NRG Stadium could re-shake the hornets’ nest in Lubbock.”
Of note as far as Pac-12 coaches are concerned, Thamel listed USC’s Clay Helton, UCLA’s Chip Kelly, Arizona State’s Herm Edwards and mentioned Washington State’s Nick Rolovich as one to watch.
- Next up, Thamel listed 20 assistant coaches who could be next in line for head coaching jobs, and two with local ties made the list.
Coming in at No. 11 is former Utah Utes quarterback, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, who is now in his first season as the quarterbacks coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
At No. 19 is BYU Cougars offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick.
Of Johnson, who has also had stops as a college assistant at Mississippi State, Houston and Florida, Thamel wrote, “He’s the former Florida offensive coordinator who interviewed at South Carolina and Boise State in the last cycle. He could loom again as a college candidate, as he’s widely regarded as one of the sport’s top young offensive minds.”
Johnson was the only one of the 20 on the list who is not currently in the college game.
Of Roderick — who incidentally was on the Utes’ coaching staff the entire time Johnson was both playing and coaching there before joining the Cougars in 2017 — Thamel wrote, “He played a huge role in the rise of QB Zach Wilson, who credits him with overseeing his development there. With the lack of established coordinators out West, opportunity will loom with another big year. This year, tailback Tyler Allgeier will provide the identity.”
- The fourth piece in the series identified Group of Five coaches who could be ready to make the move to a Power Five job after this season, as well as FCS coaches who could move up to FBS, and three coaches with Utah ties are listed here.
First is BYU head coach Kalani Sitake (yeah, BYU is an independent and not technically in a Group of Five conference), next is Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo (a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and third is Weber State head coach Jay Hill.
Of Sitake, Thamel wrote, “BYU’s 11-1 season came in part because of the magic of Zach Wilson and in part because of a watered-down shotgun schedule due to COVID-19. BYU should be stout in the post-Wilson era, and that will be tested immediately with a game against Arizona (neutral) and then home games with Utah and Arizona State. A 3-0 start would position Sitake well for bigger jobs out West.”
Regarding Niumatalolo, Thamel wrote, “After going 11-2 in 2020, Navy sunk to 3-7 last year and got shut out against Army. Niumatalolo has an impressive body of work, going 101-67 entering his 15th season. A turnaround could get him back in the conversation, as he’ll always be viable on the West Coast and at resource-challenged jobs.”
Concerning Hill, Thamel wrote, “He’s dominated the Big Sky, going 26-4 the past four years. After leading Weber State to five straight postseasons, he’s emerged as a candidate for a handful of FBS jobs. He has a big showcase at Utah to open the season.”