College football coaching carousel: Latest buzz, top candidates, analysis of every vacancy

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Industry insiders warned us in 2020. Despite a higher-than-expected number of college football coaching changes amid the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming carousel had a chance to be historically active.

The predictions are coming true.

Beginning with USC after two games and LSU after seven, schools are making coaching changes fast and furiously. Clay Helton, fired at USC, landed a new job at Georgia Southern by early November. In the span of a week, Florida moved on from Dan Mullen and replaced him with Louisiana's Billy Napier.

And that was just the start. Hours after he quashed rumors that he would be going to LSU, Lincoln Riley was leaving Oklahoma and and was headed to USC (taking defensive coordinator Alex Grinch with him). Then Monday night came the stunning news that it was Brian Kelly who would move to LSU, leaving Notre Dame with the Irish still in the hunt for a College Football Playoff spot.

The early signing period for recruiting is fueling athletic directors this year, as they hope to finalize hires in time to salvage or bolster classes. The flurry of activity could continue until mid-December. Additionally, schools will look to lock up their coaches with contract extensions, as Penn State did with a new 10-year deal for James Franklin and Michigan State did with Mel Tucker.

We've got you covered. Here we'll provide the latest intel from Adam Rittenberg, Chris Low, Mark Schlabach and others on the biggest coaching searches, the jobs that could come open soon and the candidates to fill the vacancies. It will be updated throughout the carousel.

Latest buzz at:
Notre Dame | Oklahoma | Duke

Jump to other topics:
Fickell in focus | Getting warm in Miami? | More moves in Pac-12? | Other vacancies | Filled jobs

The latest chatter

• In the wake of Brian Kelly's departure, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell will be a top target to replace Kelly at Notre Dame, sources told ESPN's Chris Low. The timing would be anything but ideal for Fickell, though. He has his undefeated Bearcats on the cusp of the College Football Playoff, if they can win their matchup against Houston on Saturday in the AAC championship game.

Fickell has drawn serious interest from several other big-name schools in recent years, but sources close to him said earlier this year the two jobs that would be most difficult for him to turn down would be Notre Dame and Ohio State, the latter being his alma mater.

Sources told ESPN that Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman also would receive serious consideration for the head-coaching job.