Coaching Changes College Football Bettors Should be Aware Of

Willie Bee

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 7:18 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014 7:18 PM UTC

Round and round the college football coaching carousel goes each winter, and though the most recent spin didn't throw off as many riders as it did before the 2013 season, it was still dizzying enough for fans and bettors.

Nineteen new head coaches are about to begin their first spring practices at new schools. That's down a dozen from the upheaval between 2012-13 when 31 changes were made. Some of this year's jobs went to former assistants who are about to pop their cherries as a head coach, and some went to head coaches making lateral moves to a new school.

We covered some of the changes when looking at college football programs on the rise, but here are a few more that you need to be aware of.

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Sarkisian Replaces Kiffin Once Again

No team experienced as much head coaching turmoil in 2013 as Southern Cal. The Trojans began the season with Lane Kiffin at the top, but he was fired before September came to an end following an 0-2 start to the Pac-12 schedule. Ed Orgeron stepped in and guided the Trojans to a 6-2 record the rest of the way before Clay Helton got the interim tag for a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl, a 45-20 win vs. Fresno State.

The reason behind Helton getting the second interim job was USC already announced former Washington Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian had been hired to take the full-time position in 2014. Sarkisian served as a Trojans assistant under Pete Carroll, and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007 when Kiffin left for the Oakland Raiders.

Sarkisian hit the ground running in his new locale, and did an admirable job on the recruiting front despite the late start.  Southern Cal came in at No. 16 in ESPN's rankings of the latest recruiting class, the top two newcomers being defensive backs Adoree' Jackson and Juju Smith who both had been leaning to rival UCLA at one point.

College football futures odds have the Trojans 30/1 to win a National Championship in Sarkisian's first year, putting USC behind Oregon (8/1) and UCLA (20/1) among Pac-12 schools.

Arkansas State: Where Change Is Constant

It has become an annual event for Arkansas State to go on a head coach search. That task was handed down from former athletic director Dean Lee in 2012 to Terry Mohajir, and the former Red Wolves player is about to begin his third season as AD with his third head coach.

The latest opening was created when Bryan Harsin bolted from Jonesboro to take the job Chris Petersen vacated at Boise State, a team we suspect will be on the decline in the coming few seasons. Replacing Harsin as Arkansas State's fifth head coach in as many seasons will be Blake Anderson, who will no doubt bring his version of the spread offense from North Carolina where he served as the Tar Heels' offensive coordinator the past two years.

A change at the top hasn't kept the Red Wolves from a bowl invite the past three seasons, going to the GoDaddy.Com Bowl each time under first Hugh Freeze in 2011, Gus Malzahn in 2012 and Harsin last year.

Vandy Goes West For Franklin's Replacement

While many schools such as USC and Arkansas State turned to head coaches with offensive backgrounds, the Vanderbilt Commodores went the other direction to fill the void left when James Franklin accepted the job at Penn State. Tagged with the responsibility of continuing the turnaround in Nashville that Franklin started is Derek Mason.

Mason spent the past four seasons at Stanford, the last two as the Cardinal defensive coordinator. Stanford ranked 10th in scoring defense 16th in yards allowed last season under Mason who actually began his coaching career in the mid-90s looking after wide receivers for Mesa CC and Weber State.

Shakeup In Assistant Ranks At Notre Dame

We won't see a change at the top of the pecking order at Notre Dame where Brian Kelly is about to enter his fifth season as head coach of the Fighting Irish. But there will be a couple of changes immediately behind Kelly after both of his coordinators left South Bend to take head coaching positions elsewhere.

Former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is moving to Connecticut as the Huskies head coach, and Kelly is bringing in Brian VanGorder to assume that position. Van Gorder held similar DC jobs with both Georgia and Auburn, and spent 2013 coaching linebackers for the New York Jets.

Longtime Kelly assistant Chuck Martin took the head coaching job at Miami (OH), creating a vacancy for offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. The OC job at South Bend is primarily a figurehead spot since Kelly generally calls the plays on offense, and the new spot will go to Mike Denbrook, who held the same position under Kelly at Grand Valley State.

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