9 Worst College Football Coaching Hires of the BCS Era
On Sunday, USC athletic director Pat Haden announced that USC had fired coach Lane Kiffin after an embarrassing 62-41 loss to Arizona State. If this were any other coach at any other school the timing would have been a little surprising, given that there is so much season left to right the ship. However, this wasn’t just any coach at any school, and given that everyone on earth (except former USC AD Mike Garrett) knew Kiffin was terrible hire in the first place, his firing came as a shock to pretty much no one.
Today, to commemorate the end of Kiffin’s tenure at USC, we’re going to see where his hire ranks on the list of worst college football coaching hires of the BCS era.
Before we get started, though, we should clarify what we mean by “worst hires.” We’re not just looking at coaching tenures that failed miserably. Instead, what we are looking for are hires that seemed like a bad idea at the time and were. Thus, guys like Mike Locksley are not on the list. His tenure at New Mexico, where he went 2-26, was absolutely brutal. But his hire didn’t seem that crazy. He was a respected offensive coordinator at Illinois from 2005-08, and New Mexico isn’t exactly Alabama or anything.
Got the idea? Okay, then. Let’s take a look at the worst coaching hires of the BCS era…
The move didn't look good, and it turned out worse. In two seasons Gill's Jayhawks went 5-19, which included an 0-9 mark in the Big 12.
9. Turner Gill (Kansas)
You could see why Duke would take a chance Carl Franks in 1999. Though he turned out to be awful, going 7-45 and doing nothing to improve the program, he at least was the offensive coordinator at Florida. But what on earth would lead the Blue Devils to think, "hey, let's hire Franks' defensive coordinator to be our new head coach!"
Unfortunately we don't know the answer to that. All we know is that Roof went 6-45, including three straight seasons without a win in the ACC.
8. Ted Roof (Duke)
That being said, hiring John L. Smith was the wrong response to it. The guy has some moderate success with Louisville, going 11-2 in 2001 and winning the Liberty Bowl. But in four seasons at Michigan State, Smith was 22-26—a record that ought to have been good enough to get him a job in Conference USA, or maybe Mountain West. But the SEC? No, 22-26 with the Spartans is not good enough to land a coaching job in the SEC. Sorry.
7. John L. Smith (Arkansas)
6. Kevin Steele (Baylor)
Geogre O'Leary learned that lesson the hard way back in 2001. Notre Dame actually hired the Georgia Tech coach, but then fired him a few days later when it came out that O'Leary did not actually have a masters degree from "NYU-Sunnybrook"—a school that does not exist.
However, O'Leary shouldn't get all the blame here. After all, you would think fancy pants administrators at Notre Dame might look at the resume and realize that school doesn't exist before giving him the job. So yeah, this was a pretty bad hire.
5. George O'Leary (Notre Dame)
Now, in fairness, Kiffin did have one good season with USC. In 2011 they went 10-2. But if you look at that one as the anomaly and scratch it out of the books, his record as a head coach in the NCAA is only 25-19.
Good enough to get a job? Absolutely. Good enough to get a prestigious head coaching job? No way.
4. Lane Kiffin (Everywhere)
(What can I say? It gets easier and easier to make the case for these guys as we move along.)
3. Stan Parrish (Ball State)
2. Jon Embree (Colorado)
Like Embree, Porter was an alum of the program that gave him a shot at being a head coach, and like Embree he had zero head coaching or coordinator experience. He was reportedly a top-notch recruiter and had served as running back coach at Tennessee-Martin (wherever that is), Arkansas State, Oklahoma State, and LSU when Memphis was like, hey, let's see if this guy can coach!
Turns out he cannot. Recruiting and coaching running backs is his forte, but not running an entire program.Oh well!