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Projecting college football’s early coaching carousel spin

Most college athletic departments will operate at a deficit over the next calendar year, making coaching changes even more difficult to consider following the football season.

Programs such as Ohio State are projecting as much as a $107 million deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled spring sports earlier this year and shortened football seasons this fall without full stadiums and ticket revenue this fall.

Still, coaches will be fired. Others will move on. Assistant coaches will be hired and fired. But will the coaching carousel spin as fast as previous years? Common sense tells us no. The ballooning salaries and buyouts of head coaches have finally caught up with athletic departments. The idea of spending $15 million or more to pay a coach to leave town is a non-starter for many programs, even those on the Power 5 level.

The war-game tactics employed by agents led to bigger paydays and more job security for their clients. Athletic directors and school presidents simply believed the cash would continue to flow into their coffers. Then a pandemic hit the globe. Schools are stuck. Voluntary pay reductions have helped alleviate some of the pressure, but for the most part those suffering are other employees in athletic departments, where lower-salaried workers have been laid off or furloughed while head coaches continue to rake in millions.

Athletic directors were seemingly voiceless in negotiations before the pandemic, and now they might be powerless when push comes to shove later this fall.

Still, changes will be made. The carousel will spin. After all, Southern Miss fired its head coach (Jay Hopson) just one week into the season.

Who should you keep your eyes on this year? Let’s get into it.

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