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Update on College Football Coaching News and Speculation

The latest on the Cincinnati football coaching staff and relevant news around college football

Rutgers v Cincinnati Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Cincinnati coaching staff update

All is quiet on the Luke Fickell front. The one job that was scary to most was Michigan State and it seems like Mark Dantonio will return for the 2020 season. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess. USC confirmed they will keep Clay Helton and that job was worrisome because of the connection to new USC AD Mike Bohn. Florida State never seemed like a real threat, but is a prominent brand, however they chose a different AAC coach instead (Mike Norvell).

At this stage in the coaching cycle, there are no jobs that would be a clear upgrade for Fickell. But the cycle is still young and could spin out of control at any time.

Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman was mentioned as a candidate for the Old Dominion head coaching job.

That job has now been filled. There will certainly be other teams interested in Freeman in the future and as noted with Fickell above, the future could still be 2019 depending on what other jobs open up this year. “For now” things seem like they will stay in place.

Nothing but silence on the rest of the coaching staff. I know fans are anxiously awaiting an update on the offensive coordinator position. Mike Denbrock is not a fan favorite at Cincinnati and it’s unclear if a change will be made or not. He was last seen on twitter visiting recruits at their home. National Signing Day is next week 12/19 and I’d say it’s unlikely he would be fired until the ink is dry on the commitment letters.

It’s also possible Fickell saves face with the incoming recruits and “reassigns” Denbrock. He is the OC and also TE coach. Perhaps he gets stripped of his OC responsibility and play calling duties and focuses solely on the tight ends. Would a compromise like this make fans happy?

Keep your eyes and ears open for more potential moves with assistant coaches after National Signing Day next week.

Open AAC Jobs

Memphis - Mike Norvell is the new head coach at Florida State. It’s bad news from the stand point that you hate to constantly see the turnover in the AAC and the Group of Five with coaches leaving after a few years. But it’s good news if you are hoping to see Memphis potentially take a step back in 2020.

Barry Odom, who was recently fired by Missouri, might be a good option here. Odom was Memphis’ defensive coordinator from 2012-2014 and went 25-25 in four years with Missouri.

Many sources have pointed to offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield as a natural in-house candidate. He is going to be the Tigers’ coach in the Cotton Bowl and has been touted as one of the best recruiters in the nation.

It’s always a tricky situation when you promote from within. Are you doing it on pure emotion? Because of the recent success and because you want to salvage the incoming recruiting class and keep the current roster intact? Or do you genuinely believe he would be the best fit?

South Florida - Bulls announced on Monday that they are hiring Jeff Scott as their new head coach. Scott has been the co-offensive coordinator at Clemson since 2015 and helped coach Clemson to the playoffs in each of his 5 years in that role. He has been very picky about which job he wanted, and it seemed as if something stood out about this job.

This seems like a homerun hire but the last Clemson OC to get promoted was Chad Morris, who coached SMU for a few years before moving on to Arkansas where he was fired one year and a half into his tenure. Ironically, Morris’ departure is what allowed Scott to get bumped up to co-OC. It’s also likely that if Scott has early success, he would become the new hot candidate to move up to a bigger school, though I’m sure USF would welcome that since it would mean they had success.

No Vacancy

Tulsa recently confirmed that head coach Philip Montgomery would return for the 2020 season. That seems like the right move. Montgomery has gone 25-37, with one winning season and two bowl appearances. But Tulsa should have beaten both Memphis and SMU this year and did play Cincinnati tough. They also played a tough OOC schedule losing to Michigan State and Oklahoma State. A softer OOC schedule and better conference luck and going 6-6 is a realistic goal and possibility.

Update on Former Cincinnati Coaches

Butch Jones coached at Cincinnati from 2010-2012, following Brian Kelly. He was a huge failure at Tennessee, but did have success at UC and Central Michigan before that. He would do well at another Group of Five school.

Butch’s OC during his tenure was Mike Bajakian. This is news is relevant to UC fans because Bajakian was the OC at Boston College in 2019. BC is already without a head coach and now with an OC, entering the Birmingham Bowl.