Keep an eye on Mel Tucker and Mario Cristobal as coaching carousel heats up

  • College football reporter.
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.

November is usually the month that shapes the college coaching carousel. But when the calendar flipped last week, most of the biggest carousel storylines had already taken shape.

TCU’s Halloween night surprise — ousting future Hall of Fame coach Gary Patterson in his 22nd season — provided the latest layer to a wild coaching cycle. Along with two Tier 1 jobs — USC and LSU — there have been multiple Big 12 openings in the same state (TCU, Texas Tech), a Pac-12 vacancy (Washington State) and three Group of 5 openings (UConn, Akron, UMass).

How wild has the 2021-22 carousel been so far? A coach fired in September (USC’s Clay Helton) already has found a new job (Georgia Southern). Also, an assistant at a Big 12 school (Baylor’s Joey McGuire) just became the head coach of another Big 12 school (Texas Tech), and the two teams will play Nov. 27.

There is more to come. Virginia Tech dropped to 4-5 after scoring only three points Friday night at Boston College. A change in Blacksburg seems all but guaranteed, although the school might wait a bit, as Justin Fuente’s remaining guarantee drops by $2.5 million on Dec. 15. There also could be changes at Florida, Washington, Arizona State and elsewhere. One big job not opening is Nebraska, which announced Monday that coach Scott Frost will return in 2022, but with a reshaped offensive staff after firing four assistants.

Beginning with LSU and USC, here’s a look at the latest involving key schools and names in what will be a fascinating cycle the next two months.

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