Victims of the 2012 Coaching Carousel: Where are they now?

College football coaches are paid outlandish salaries as compared to their predecessors but it is also one of the toughest jobs to keep. We live in a "win now" sports society where nothing but Championships will satisfy fanbases and administrations. The increase of users on social media has provided more of a voice to the common fan and also to the lunatic fringe. It doesn't take a lot these days to whip a fanbase into a frenzy and a coach can find himself on the hot seat where in the past someone in the same position would have been given a lot longer leash on their coaching life. 

Coaching changes are part of the business and while sometimes decisions are made too quickly, there are also many times where hard decisions must be made for the good of the program. The coaching carousel seems to start earlier and earlier every year. Last year, 30 FBS programs had changes at the head coaching position, which is almost 25% of all programs. I thought it would be interesting to see what some of these coaches are up to. Where are they now?

Robb Akey, Idaho Vandals (20-50 record at Idaho)

Akey spent five years and some change as the coach of the Vandals but only once had a winning record. After going 2-10 in 2011 and 1-7 in 2012 he was let go. 

Where is he now? Akey looked for a job last year but didn't find one to his liking so this off-season he has a new job. Being a dad. Akey wants to coach again and is open to being an assistant.


Gene Chizik, Auburn Tigers (33-19 record at Auburn)

Chizik won a National Championship in just his second year at Auburn but after going 3-9 in 2012 with a 0-8 SEC mark he was terminated.

Where is he now? Chizik is currently working as a part of the media with SiriusXM and one of his new peers think he's doing a pretty good job.


Mario Cristobal, FIU Golden Panthers (27-47 record at FIU)

Cristobal turned around the FIU program by going 7-6 in 2010 and 8-5 in 2011. After a down year in 2012, he was fired. So far this season, the Panthers are 1-4 without him.

Where is he now? After briefly taking a job with the Miami Hurricanes, Cristobal landed on Nick Saban's Alabama staff as an assistant head coach and offensive line coach. In his final year at FIU he made $522,000 and at Alabama he's making $475,000 as an assistant. Not a bad landing by Cristobal, not bad at all.


Bill Cubit, WMU Broncos (51-47 record at WMU)

Cubit was the head man at WMU for 8 years taking the Broncos to three bowl games. The 4-8 finish in 2012 was his worst in his tenure and he was rewarded with a pink slip.

Where is he now? After withdrawing his name from consideration for the Western Illinois head coaching job, he landed at Illinois as Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks coach. So far this season, Cubit has increased the Fighting Illini's points per game from a Big Ten worst 16.7 in 2012 to 36 per game in 2013. Cubit made $375,000 per year at WMU. He's making $400,000 at Illinois as the tenth highest paid assistant in the Big Ten.


Derek Dooley, Tennessee Volunteers (15-21 record at Tennessee)

Coming from Louisiana Tech, Dooley wasn't able to turn around the Vols in his two plus years. He was let go after losing to Vanderbilt 41-13. 

Where is he now? Dooley is currently in the NFL as the Wide Receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys. After getting a big buyout from the Vols, Dooley wasn't really in the market for a new job but the lure of the Cowboys and the NFL was too much for Dooley to turn down. 


Jon Embree, Colorado Buffaloes (4-21 at Colorado)

Embree was a bit of a surprise hire by the Buffs in 2011 because he had no previously head coaching experience. They quickly decided he wasn't the right man for the job firing him after a 1-11 season in 2012. He was paid $500,000 as compensation for the early termination.

Where is he now? He is currently the tight end coach for the Cleveland Browns. Browns TE Jordan Cameron leads the team with 33 receptions after five games.


Skip Holtz, USF Bulls (16-21 at USF)

Holtz was fired after three seasons with USF and diminishing returns in every season.

Where is he now? Holtz got a rare bounce-back opportunity when he landed the head job at Louisiana Tech. Holtz is making $500,000 a year for five years from USF due to their buy-out of his contract as well as making $500,000 a year at Louisiana Tech. Holtz has struggled so far for the Bulldogs as they are just 2-4 in his debut season.


Danny Hope, Purdue Boilermakers (22-27 at Purdue)

Hope was the coach for Purdue for four seasons and made a bowl game the last two years but the administration didn't feel like he was making progress quickly enough and they parted ways after the 2012 regular season.

Where is he now? Hope was rumored to be in the running for the offensive line job at Illinois and the head coaching job at FIU but those did not come to fruition and we haven't heard much from him this off-season other than his speaking out about his firing.


Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss Golden Eagles (0-12 at Southern Miss)

Johnson was successful as a Defensive Coordinator at South Carolina but that didn't carry over to his one year with the Golden Eagles. He was fired after one winless season and compensated $700,000 for every year left on his four- year contract. 

Where is he now? Johnson is currently the defensive coordinator for the 4-1 Auburn Tigers. So far the Tigers are third in the SEC in scoring defense allowing 22 points per game. In 2012, the Tigers defense gave up 28.3 per game under Brian Van Gorder.


Tom O'Brien, NC State Wolfpack (40-35 at NC State)

O'Brien took the Wolfpack to bowl games in four of his six years including the last three years. Due to declining win totals, he was fired at the end of the 2012 season.

Where is he now? O'Brien was hired by Virginia head coach Mike London to be an associate head coach for the offense and also coaches the Tight Ends. 


Joker Phillips, Kentucky Wildcats (13-24 at UK)

After being the offensive coordinator at Kentucky, the thought was that Phillips would be able to make the leap to head coach and keep the Wildcats headed in the right direction. They went from six wins in 2010 to five in 2011 to just two in 2012 and he was fired after the season.

Where is he now? Phillips is currently the Wide Receivers Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for the University of Florida. He also has apparently been taking some classes in Photoshop.


Frank Spaziani, Boston College (22-29 at BC)

Spaziani was with the Eagles from 1997 to 2008 and was then promoted to head coach from his defensive coordinator position. Spaziani went 8-5 in his debut season in 2009 but the Eagles spiraled downward and finished 2-10 in 2012. 

Where is he now? Spaziani has stayed out of the news but did visit with the New Mexico State staff the week of April 15-20.


Jeff Tedford, Cal (82-57 at Cal)

Tedford coached Cal for 11 years and took them to bowl games from 2003 to 2009. The last few years were rough and a 3-9 2012 finish signaled the end for Tedford era at Cal.

Where is he now? After firing Lane Kiffin, USC reached out to Tedford to see if he wanted to help out as an offensive consultant and recruiter. Tedford is currently looking for a full-time position. 

About Kevin Causey

Dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Comeback.