College football coachin carousel: Every FBS coaching change in 2021

Why did Florida fire Dan Mullen? Explaining Gators' coaching change following Missouri loss

The 2021 FBS coaching carousel is moving fast, and we’re just about through November

Skip Holtz was fired Friday after nine seasons at Louisiana Tech. That means there are 16 coaching changes to this point, and the regular season isn’t even over yet. 

That list includes eight Power 5 openings. There were 18 coaching changes last season, a number that likely will be surpassed given how many we’ve seen so far.

Sporting News looks at all the changes in 2021:

2021 FBS coaching changes

Randy Edsall, UConn

Resigned (Sept. 6): Edsall resigned after the Huskies’ 0-2 start. Edsall had two separate stints at UConn. The first, from 1999 to 2010, saw the program make the rise to the FBS ranks and culminated with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl in 2010. Edsall returned in 2017, and that produced a 6-32 record. UConn did not play in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns. Lou Spanos is the Huskies’ interim coach.

Clay Helton, USC

Fired (Sept. 14): Helton, who had been on the hot seat the past few seasons, was fired after the Trojans’ 42-28 loss to Stanford in Week 2. Helton replaced Steve Sarkisian in 2015 and compiled a 46-24 record. That mark included the program’s last Pac-12 championship in 2017. USC, however, slipped to a 19-14 record from 2018-21. Donte Williams replaced Helton as interim coach.

MORE: USC coaching candidates

Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern

Fired (Sept. 26): Lunsford was fired after a 1-3 start this season. It was a peculiar decision considering the Eagles reached bowl games the previous three seasons. Lunsford compiled a 28-21 record and had previously been an assistant coach with the program from 2013-17. Kevin Whitley was appointed interim coach.

2021 Coaching changes by school

UConn Randy Edsall Jim Mora
USC Clay Helton
Georgia Southern Chad Lunsford Clay Helton
LSU Ed Orgeron
Washington State Nick Rolovich
Texas Tech Matt Wells Joey McGuire
TCU Gary Patterson
Akron Tom Arth
UMass Walt Bell Don Brown
Washington Jimmy Lake
FIU Butch Davis
Virginia Tech Justin Fuente
Florida Dan Mullen
New Mexico State Doug Martin
Troy Chip Lindsey
Louisiana Tech Skip Holtz

Ed Orgeron, LSU

Resigned (Oct. 19): Orgeron and LSU reached a separation agreement that will take effect after the conclusion of the 2021 season. This came one day after the Tigers beat Florida 49-42. Orgeron replaced Les Miles in 2016 and became the third consecutive LSU coach to win a national championship (2019). The Tigers finished 15-0 with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow that year, but the program has been a disaster on and off the field since. The problems include a Title IX lawsuit and self-imposed penalties.

MORE: LSU coaching candidates

Nick Rolovich, Washington State

Fired (Oct. 20): Rolovich was fired in his second season with the Cougars for failing to comply with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Rolovich cited religious beliefs for his reason to not get the vaccine, and he plans to sue the university over his firing . Rolovich, who previously coached at Hawaii, had a 5-6 record at Washington State. Jake Dickert replaced Rolovich on an interim basis.

MORE: Heat back on Harbaugh | OSU monster too big for Franklin?

Matt Wells, Texas Tech

Fired (Oct. 25): Wells was fired after a 25-24 loss to Kansas State on Oct. 23, which capped an unremarkable three-year stint with the Red Raiders. Wells replaced Kliff Kingsbury, who took a head coaching job in the NFL with the Cardinals. Wells compiled a 13-17 record but appeared to have Texas Tech headed in the right direction this year with a 5-2 start. Sonny Cumbie, a former Red Raiders quarterback, is the interim coach.

Gary Patterson, TCU

Resigned (Oct. 31): Patterson and TCU agreed to part ways after a 3-5 record through the first two months of the season. It’s still a somewhat shocking move considering he was the second-longest tenured coach in the FBS behind Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. Patterson took over the Horned Frogs in 2000, and he led the program to six conference championships and 11 seasons with 10 wins or more. The highlight was 2010, when TCU finished 13-0 and won the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs moved up to the Big 12 and enjoyed success in the Power 5.

Tom Arth, Akron

Fired (Nov. 4): Arth was fired two days after a 31-25 loss to Ball State dropped the Zips to 2-7 in 2021. Arth, a nearby John Carroll alum, simply could not get Akron going in three seasons. The Zips had a 3-24 record in that stretch, including a 3-17 record in Mid-American Conference play.

Walt Bell, UMass

Fired (Nov. 8): Bell was fired after a 35-22 loss to Rhode Island on Nov. 6. Bell, who took the UMass job after a stint as an offensive coordinator at Florida State, had a 2-23 record since taking over in 2019.

Jimmy Lake, Washington

Fired (Nov. 14): Lake was already under a university suspension for hitting Huskies linebacker Ruperake Fuavai in the helmet druing a game. He did not coach the Huskies’ loss to Arizona State on Nov. 13. Earlier that day, The Seattle Times published an article  that contained allegations Lake shoved former wide receiver Quinten Pounds into a locker at halftime of a 2019 game at Arizona. Lake denied the allegations. Washington was 7-6 under Lake. Assistant coach Bob Gregory was named interim head coach.

Butch Davis, FIU 

Fired (Nov. 15): Davis will not return to FIU when his contract expires at the end of this season. The decision comes a week after longtime FIU athletic director Pete Garcia resigned. Davis said the school administration is “sabotaging the program.” Davis, who previously coached at Miami and North Carolina, had success in his first two seasons at FIU. The program slipped the last two years, however, and is 1-9 in 2021.

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech 

Fired (Nov. 16): Fuente is out after six seasons with the Hokies. Fuente, who was hired in 2016 after a three-year stint in Memphis, enjoyed a 10-4 season and an appearance in the ACC championship game in his first season. The Hokies are 24-23 the last four years, however, and they have been a middle-of-the-road program in the ACC Coastal Division. Fuente finshed with a record of 43-31. 

Dan Mullen, Florida 

Fired (Nov. 21): Mullen is out at Florida after four seasons. He compiled a 34-15 record, and led the Gators to three straight New Year’s Day Six bowls from 2017-19. The Gators, however, suffered a free-fall season that includes four losses in the last five games. Mullen had a 69-46 record at Mississippi State from 2009-17, so he could resurface at another school in this cycle. 

Doug Martin, New Mexico State

Fired (Nov. 23): Martin reportedly will not return to New Mexico State, according to Football Scoop. Former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is expected to be named the replacement. Martin has been the Aggies’ coach since 2013, and he did lead New Mexico State to a victory in the Arizona Bowl as a part of a 7-6 season in 2017. The Aggies are 7-30 since, however, which led to the change. 

Chip Lindsey, Troy

Fired (Nov. 21): According to The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy, Troy fired Lindsey after he went 15-19 in three seasons from 2019-21. The Trojans failed to make a bowl appearance in Lindsey’s three seasons and Troy’s athletic director confirmed that Lindsey’s firing was directly related to on-field results. Prior to Lindsey’s hiring, Troy went 35-16 in four years under Neal Brown with three double-digit win seasons, three bowl appearances and a Sun Belt title.

Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech

Fired (Nov. 26): Holtz is out in Ruston after nine seasons. His firing was first reported by BleedTechBlue. Holtz was 64-49 in his time leading the Bulldogs with seven bowl appearances and his 64 wins are good for third-most in program history. The son of legendary coach Lou Holtz, Skip was previously the coach at UConn, East Carolina and South Florida and has a career 152-120 record at the Division I level.

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.