A wild and wacky coaching cycle kicked off earlier than ever. Seven Football Bowl Subdivision programs, five in the Power Five, made changes before the end of October.
What unfolded was a series of high-profile moves involving some of the biggest programs and head coaches in the country. Come next season, new coaches will make their debuts at Southern California, LSU, Notre Dame, Miami, Florida and Oklahoma, among others.
Twenty-eight programs in all, representing more than a fifth of all teams in the FBS, will enter the 2022 season with a new head coach. The only conference to stand pat during this cycle was the Big Ten.
Time will tell which coaches will succeed and which will flop from next year’s crop of first-year coaches. For now, let’s attempt to look forward and rank every FBS coaching move based on best fit and the chance for immediate and long-term success.
1. Mario Cristobal, Miami (Fla.)
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit. The former Oregon coach is from Miami, played for the Hurricanes and was a key assistant under Larry Coker before taking the job at Florida International. He was a winner at FIU and a winner with the Ducks, and is expected to do the same at Miami after refreshing a roster that should always have as much as if not more talent than every team in the ACC. He’s an absolute home run for the Hurricanes.
2. Lincoln Riley, Southern California
Lincoln Riley is headed to Southern California.
Riley wasn’t lying when he said after the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State in late November that he wouldn’t be the next coach at LSU — instead, he’d be next at USC. He’s an offense-driven coach who will know how to take advantage of the talent outside his back door. And at only 38 years old with five years of pressure-cooker Power Five experience at OU, Riley may be a long-term answer for the Trojans.