College football coaching tracker: Firings, hirings, news

As sure as autumn fades into winter, as the college football season winds down, the coaching carousel starts to crank up.

The biggest early name to lose his job was Jimbo Fisher, who was fired at Texas A&M during his sixth season leading the Aggies. Since then, several Power 5 jobs have opened including at Houston, which is moving on from Dana Holgorsen, and Indiana, which fired Tom Allen.

The Hoosiers are finalizing a deal to make James Madison's Curt Cignetti the school's next football coach, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

As the list continues to grow, we'll track all the comings and goings of head coaches and prominent coordinators, along with insights and intel on searches for replacements and who might be on the hot seat.

Jump to a vacancy:
Vanderbilt | Grambling
Houston | Indiana
Duke | Middle Tennessee
UTEP | New Mexico
Boise State
Notable coordinators
Filled jobs

USC nears deal with UCLA's defensive coordinator

USC is finalizing a deal to hire UCLA defensive coordinator D'Anton Lynn, per ESPN sources. UCLA finished No. 11 in total defense in his first year there this season, an improvement from No. 89 the year before.

More: Lynn, who was in his first season as the Bruins' defensive coordinator, led a unit that was the best in the Pac-12

OC out, other changes at Vandy

Offensive coordinator Joey Lynch is out, and head coach Clark Lea will take over defensive play calls for Vanderbilt in 2024. Nick Howell, who had been the Commodores' defensive coordinator, will now serve as co-defensive backs coach alongside Jamaal Richardson, a defensive quality control coach who has been promoted.

Dan Jackson, the team's defensive backs coach the past two seasons, will shift to an off-field role.

More: New play-callers at Vanderbilt

Grambling fires Hugh Jackson

Grambling fired coach Hue Jackson after only two seasons at the school.

Jackson, a longtime NFL coach who led both the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders earlier in his career, went 8-14 in two seasons with Grambling. The Tigers improved their wins total from three in 2022 to five this season but still finished with a losing record for the fourth straight year. Grambling fell to Southern 27-22 on Saturday in the Bayou Classic.

More: "The goal at GSU is to compete for championships every year."

Holgorsen out after five years at Houston

Houston dismissed coach Dana Holgorsen, who had three losing seasons in his five years as the Cougars' head coach.

Houston went 4-8 in its inaugural Big 12 season, which included a loss at Rice early in the season and three straight losses to end the year. The Cougars finished 2-7 in the Big 12, with their wins coming in overtime against Baylor and on a last-second 49-yard touchdown against West Virginia.

The Cougars owe Holgorsen nearly $14.8 million in buyout money, but his contract includes a mitigation clause that could lower the amount if Holgorsen gets another job.

More: Holgorsen had 31-28 record with Cougs

Indiana moves on from Allen

Indiana fired football coach Tom Allen a day after the Hoosiers completed their third consecutive losing season.

Allen, who had led Indiana since 2017 after spending a season as the team's defensive coordinator, finished 33-49 as Hoosiers coach. Indiana dropped its final three games, including Saturday's rivalry contest at Purdue, to finish 3-9. It had gone 9-26 overall and 3-23 in Big Ten play since the 2020 season, when it was 6-2 in the COVID-shortened season.

More: Allen in line for $15.5 million buyout

Duke has big shoes to fill with Elko gone

Mike Elko, who engineered an impressive turnaround at Duke, has left to be head coach at Mississippi State, leaving the Blue Devils searching for a successor who can build off Elko's momentum.

Duke was 16-9 in two years under Elko after going 3-9 the year before he arrived.

More: JMU's Cignetti a candidate to watch

Middle Tennessee fires longtime coach Stockstill

Middle Tennessee fired longtime coach Rick Stockstill following the team's third losing season in the past five years.

Stockstill had led Middle Tennessee since December 2005 and was 113-111 in 18 seasons with the program, but the Blue Raiders went 4-8 in 2023.

More: Stockstill was fourth-longest-tenured coach in FBS

Dimel fired by UTEP

UTEP fired coach Dana Dimel after a 3-9 season.

Dimel, 61, went 20-49 in six seasons with the Miners, including a New Mexico Bowl appearance in 2021, UTEP's first since 2014. UTEP went 2-6 in Conference USA play this season.

More: Dimel out after six seasons at UTEP

Gonzales out at New Mexico

New Mexico fired head coach Danny Gonzales on Nov. 25 after a four-year stint in which he went 11-32 at his alma mater.

The school announced the move in the wake of a 4-8 season, which was his highest win total in Gonzales' tenure.

More: Lobos haven't played bowl game since 2016

Boise State fires Avalos after 22-14 record

Boise State fired football coach Andy Avalos on Nov. 12, with the Broncos at 5-5 and in danger of the program's first losing season since 1997.

Avalos went 22-14 in three seasons at Boise State, including a 10-4 record that resulted in him being named 2022 Mountain West coach of the year. At no point during Avalos' two-plus seasons was Boise State ranked in the Associated Press poll; the Broncos' 19-year streak of being ranked ended during his first season in 2021.

Defensive coordinator and longtime Boise State assistant Spencer Danielson is serving as the interim coach.

More: Avalos out as Boise State can't match past success

Penn State fires OC Yurcich

Penn State fired offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich on Nov. 12, a day after the unit struggled in a high-profile loss for the second time this season.

The Nittany Lions scored only 15 points and managed just 238 yards of offense (74 through the air) in a 24-15 loss to Michigan. Penn State's offense also struggled in a 20-12 loss to Ohio State on Oct. 21, finishing with 240 yards and not reaching the end zone until the game's final minute.

Yurcich, 48, has been the team's offensive playcaller and quarterbacks coach since 2021.

More: Franklin hears boos: 'Not good enough' | Yurcich fired

Grinch gone as USC's defensive woes continue

After USC surrendered 101 total points in two games, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was relieved of his duties, Trojans coach Lincoln Riley announced Nov. 5.

Grinch, who was Oklahoma's defensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021 before leaving for USC alongside Riley, led a unit that allowed an average of 34.5 points per game this season and was in the bottom 30 in the country in nearly every statistical category, including 120th in rushing defense and 107th against the pass.

More: USC defensive coordinator Grinch let go

Brian Ferentz won't return as Iowa's OC

Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, the son of longtime coach Kirk Ferentz whose contract amid the offense's historic struggles drew national attention, will not return for the 2024 season.

Brian Ferentz, a former offensive lineman at Iowa, has served as the team's offensive coordinator since 2017 and has been on his father's staff since 2012. In February, Iowa announced contract amendments for him that included an unusual points-per-game provision -- the team would need to average 25 points per game during the 2023 season and win at least seven games for Ferentz's two-year rolling contract to be reactivated beyond June 30, 2024. The Hawkeyes have fallen well short of that average.

More: Iowa falls short in 'Drive for 325' | Brian Ferentz out


JMU's Cignetti is Indiana's next coach

Indiana has hired James Madison's Curt Cignetti as its next football coach.

Indiana fired Tom Allen on Sunday, a day after the Hoosiers completed their third consecutive losing season.

Cignetti, named the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, guided James Madison through a seamless transition to the FBS. He led the Dukes to an 11-1 season this year, tops in the Sun Belt.

Across five seasons, Cignetti has a 52-9 record at James Madison.

More: Indiana announces Cignetti hiring

Penn State hiring Kansas OC Kotelnicki

Penn State is set to hire Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki for the same role, a source confirmed to ESPN. Kotelnicki has played a key role in Kansas' turnaround under coach Lance Leipold, whom he also worked for at Buffalo and Wisconsin-Whitewater.

He replaces Mike Yurcich, fired by Penn State on Nov. 12 following the team's 24-15 home loss to Ohio State. The Athletic first reported Penn State's expected hire of Kotelnicki.

More: Kotelnicki's KU offense 29th in yards, scoring

Baylor hires Jake Spavital as OC

Baylor has hired Jake Spavital as its new offensive coordinator. Coach Dave Aranda was retained after a 3-9 season, but offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was dismissed after the Bears finished the year ranked 70th in total offense, scoring fewer than 20 points in five games.

It will mark a return to Texas and the Big 12 for Spavital, the former Texas State head coach as well as an offensive coordinator at Texas A&M and West Virginia. He was the offensive coordinator at Cal this season.

More: Spavital hire an attempt to bring up-tempo spread to Baylor

Bobby Petrino returning to Arkansas

Bobby Petrino has agreed to become the next offensive coordinator at Arkansas, and the two sides are finalizing the deal, sources told ESPN.

Petrino spent this season as the Texas A&M offensive coordinator and wasn't retained by new coach Mike Elko after Jimbo Fisher was fired earlier this month. The Aggies defeated the Razorbacks 34-22 on Sept. 30.

More: Petrino's return would mark a spectacular full-circle moment

San Diego State hires Colorado OC Lewis

San Diego State hired Sean Lewis, the Colorado offensive coordinator and former Kent State coach, as its new head coach.

Lewis spent the 2023 season with coach Deion Sanders and Colorado, handling offensive play calls for the first eight games before former NFL coach Pat Shurmur took over during the final month. The 37-year-old built his reputation on high-tempo, dynamic offenses.

Lewis replaces Brady Hoke, who announced his retirement earlier this month. Hoke went 40-32 in two stints with the Aztecs, who were 4-8 this season, their worst mark since 2009.

More: Aztecs 111th nationally in scoring offense
Hoke retires following second stint at SDSU

Oregon State promotes DC Trent Bray

Oregon State promoted defensive coordinator Trent Bray, a former Beavers linebacker who dramatically improved the team's defense over the past two-plus seasons, to head coach.

Bray, 41, replaces Jonathan Smith, who was introduced earlier Tuesday as Michigan State's head coach. Bray joined Smith's staff at Oregon State in 2018 as linebackers coach but began making his mark when Smith elevated him to coordinator in 2021.

More: Oregon State is 20-9 with Bray as its defensive coordinator

Syracuse tabs Fran Brown from Georgia

Syracuse hired Georgia defensive backs coach Fran Brown as its head coach, giving the Orange a highly regarded recruiter with roots in the Northeast.

The 41-year-old Brown, a native of Camden, New Jersey, spent the past two seasons with Georgia but has never been a head coach. He was part of a national championship team last season, and the Bulldogs are preparing for a third straight SEC championship game appearance Saturday against Alabama.

Brown replaces Dino Babers, who ended his tenure at Syracuse with a 41-55 record over the past eight seasons.

More: Brown known as one of the country's top recruiters
Babers' ACC record was 20-45

A&M hires Duke's Elko to replace Fisher

Duke coach Mike Elko is leaving the Blue Devils to become head coach at Texas A&M.

Elko is a former Texas A&M defensive coordinator who left there two years ago to take the Duke head-coaching job. Since Elko's departure after the 2021 season, A&M's performance has dipped on the field. The Aggies went 12-12 the past two years, which is why the school paid a record $76 million buyout to fire coach Jimbo Fisher.

Elko immediately showed his chops as a head coach, authoring one of the sport's biggest turnarounds in the 2022 season. Duke went 9-4 in Elko's first season after he inherited a team that had gone 3-9 the year before. The team went 7-5 this season after losing quarterback Riley Leonard to injury in Week 4.

Fisher was 45-25 in six seasons at Texas A&M.

More: Elko leaves Duke after two seasons
Fisher fired, gets record buyout | AD: Aggies stuck in neutral

Oklahoma OC Lebby in for Arnett at Mississippi State

Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby will be the new coach at Mississippi State, the school announced Nov. 26.

Lebby has been the offensive coordinator at OU, Ole Miss and UCF, with high-tempo and prolific offenses his hallmark. Since 2019, he's been coordinator of an offense that has scored 50 or more points 14 times, leading all active offensive coordinators.

Lebby replaces Zach Arnett, who fired Nov. 13 before completing his first season. Arnett, the Bulldogs' defensive coordinator for three seasons, was promoted to head coach this past December after the sudden death of Mike Leach.

More: Lebby agrees to five-year deal
Mississippi State fires Arnett after 11 games

Michigan State hires Oregon State's Smith

Michigan State hired Oregon State football coach Jonathan Smith for the same role Nov. 25, hours after both teams ended their regular seasons.

Smith, 44, completed the regular season as No. 16 Oregon State fell to rival Oregon 31-7 on the road, dropping to 8-4 on the season. The former Beavers quarterback finishes 34-35 in six seasons at his alma mater, but 18-7 since the start of the 2022 campaign.

The Spartans fired Mel Tucker for cause Sept. 27 as he was under university investigation for a sexual misconduct complaint brought by Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault awareness speaker.

More: Competition for Smith required seven-year deal
MSU fires Tucker for bringing 'ridicule' to program

Northwestern promotes interim coach Braun

Interim coach David Braun, hired in January as defensive coordinator by former coach Pat Fitzgerald, was promoted to the permanent head-coaching role. Entering Week 12, Braun had led Northwestern to five wins, more than the team's combined win total from the past two seasons (4). He is the first Northwestern coach to win five games in his first season since Walter McCornack in 1903.

The school named Braun interim coach July 14, four days after it fired Fitzgerald in the wake of hazing allegations against the program. Fitzgerald went 110-101 over 17 seasons at Northwestern.

More: Committee liked Braun's approach | Hazing 'clearly not a secret'