As the 2023 season reaches its final days, universities throughout the country are starting to turn their attention to 2024. While most programs are looking at Bowl Trips, recruiting and spring practice, some universities are looking to add a new head coach to turn around their program. Currently, there are five D-1 Head Coach openings. Here is how each of those programs rank and why.
#5 San Diego State University
Brady Hoke announced that after the 2023 that he will retire from coaching. Whoever takes over the Aztecs will be in for a long rebuild even in the Mountain West. San Diego State will have a sub .500 record and with the talent at the top of the Mountain West, San Diego State will need a three year rebuild.
San Diego State has a bottom 3 offense and will need to change that to move out of the basement. San Diego State benefits from being able to recruit the state of California and could work the transfer portal to pick up a few players from the Power 5 teams that are buried on the depth chart. San Diego State should roll with a young, offensive minded coach that you’ll know that will only be there a few years before being picked up by a bigger program. Best case scenario means entertaining games and early December bowl games.
#4 Boise State University
Boise State is in a better position than San Diego State. They are a rich history of being a torn in the side of Power 5 teams and pulling off great upsets. They also have a level of name recognition that will attract 3-4 star recruits to the program. Boise State needs a coach that will keep the offense on a similar level, while improving the defense, especially in the passing game.
Boise State will probably be Bowl Eligible and routinely are in that position. A coach here could really make a name for themselves in Idaho. They would then have the choice to move to a more lucrative job or spend their career being a great coach for the Broncos. Boise State is probably one of the best jobs outside of the Power 5 Conferences.
#3 Mississippi State University
This is sad to even have the Bulldogs on this list. It’s been about a year since the passing of legendary offensive mind Mike Leach. His death sent shock waves through the university that was left scrambling. Mississippi State is a program that needs that offensive mind with an understanding of the SEC. The Bulldogs are going to be challenged to make the SEC title game each year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be the program that is a touch matchup week in and week out.
Mississippi State could go a variety of ways with their head coaching vacancy. They could bring in an established coach with a background in a major program because the money in the SEC is going to be insane, but mostly likely with limited SEC experience. Or they could go the coordinator route who served on the staff of an SEC program. Mississippi State is a good job that could be great for the right fit. They’ll always have the prestige of the SEC with access to talent rich recruiting areas.
#2 Michigan State University
It’s wild to think that just two years ago, the Spartans were the talk of College Football and Mel Tucker was signed to a huge extension. That fizzled out quickly. Tucker was fired and Michigan St. has been ravaged by disappointing recruiting classes and the transfer portal. It’s insane to think that Keon Coleman was the leading receiver at Michigan State before heading to FSU. But Michigan State can be a solid program in the Big 10. People forget that Michigan State, not Penn State, was the other team not named Ohio State or Michigan to make the College Football Playoff.
The Spartan program is attractive for a few reasons. The television money starting next year is the first reason. All Big 10 programs will have that benefit. Michigan St. will only have the protected annual rival of Michigan. They only have to play Ohio State twice through 2028. Michigan State also has access to the talent rich Detroit metro area and are still close to other hot bed recruiting areas. Michigan State may not get a tier 1 coach, but they should be able to attract some big names that will have the opportunity to rebuild at Michigan State. It shouldn’t be lost on a candidate that the administration in East Lansing is willing to give a coach time as long as they stay away from a scandal.
#1 Texas A&M University
Congratulations Aggies, you now hold the record for paying a coach not to be your head coach. By a lot. And I mean A LOT. Things are still not horrible in College Station. The fan base is one of the more passionate groups in the SEC. The alumni and boosters have shown a willingness to build high dollar NIL collectives to attract top tier recruiting classes. On top of that, the university is located in one of the best states for football talent in America. Just promise that you’ll at least screen the people doing the midnight yell tradition.
Texas A&M should be swinging for the fences because of what the expectations are like in the SEC and in College Station. The right coach could easily maximize the current talent for the Aggies and push them to a fringe playoff team in the expanded model. It does hurt to pick up the phone and gauge the interest of people like Dabo Sweeney or an NFL guy like Bill O’Brien. The Aggies will need a big name to meet the big time expectations that live in the state of Texas.