College football hot seat tracker: Wisconsin closing in on Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell

Sadly, the college football regular season has come to an end. While the action on the field may be dwindling down, the end of the regular season opens the floodgates for major activity in the coaching market. Which head coaches have been fired? Who is on the move to another job? Here is a running list of the ongoing movement in the college football coaching carousel. This will be updated chronologically.

Texas State fires Jake Spavital

After four seasons, Texas State is reportedly moving on from Jake Spavital, who had a 13-35 record in his tenure. The Bobcats went 3-9 in his first season, 2-10 in his second season and then posted a 4-8 record in 2021 and 2022.

Spavital leaned heavily on junior college transfers and adding players from the transfer portal to build his rosters rather than recruit Texas high schools. That approach did not work out for Spavital.

Is Luke Fickell on the move to Wisconsin?

Since Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst back on Oct. 2, signs have pointed toward Jim Leonhard being elevated to the full-time job.

Leonhard, a Wisconsin native, UW football alum and longtime NFL player, was Chryst’s defensive coordinator and looked at as a rising star in the coaching profession. Following Chryst’s dismissal, he served as the Badgers’ interim head coach over the past seven weeks, but Wisconsin went just 4-3 under his watch. Wisconsin dropped to 6-6 with a loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

On Sunday, it appears that the UW brass may be looking in another direction. ESPN’s Pete Thamel is reporting that Wisconsin is targeting Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell to be its next head coach. Per Thamel, no deal has been signed but “there’s a strong push” by Wisconsin to agree to a deal with Fickell “in the next 48 hours.”

Fickell is 57-18 in six years coaching the Bearcats and famously led UC to the College Football Playoff in 2021. Before going to Cincinnati, he was an assistant coach at Ohio State from 2002 to 2016 and had a stint as OSU’s interim head coach back in 2011.

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell walks onto the field prior to the first half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell walks onto the field prior to the first half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Could Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell be headed to the Big Ten? (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Arizona State hires 32-year-old Kenny Dillingham

Five years ago, Arizona State curiously hired 63-year-old Herm Edwards to lead its football program. ASU’s new head coach is half that age.

The Sun Devils announced the hire of 32-year-old Kenny Dillingham on Sunday morning. Dillingham, an Arizona State alum, spent the 2022 season as the offensive coordinator at Oregon. Before his season in Eugene, Dillingham had stints as the offensive coordinator at Memphis, Auburn and Florida State.

The Arizona native becomes the youngest FBS head coach and he is inheriting a program that just went 3-9. You can read more about the Dillingham hire here.

David Shaw resigns after another losing season

David Shaw never won fewer than eight games over his first eight seasons as Stanford’s head coach. During that span, the Cardinal won three Pac-12 titles and two Rose Bowls. Since then, things have taken a massive downswing, leading to Shaw’s resignation late Saturday night.

Stanford went 3-9 in each of the last two seasons with just a 3-15 record in Pac-12 play. Shaw stepped down following a loss to BYU on Saturday night.

“After many prayers and multiple discussions with my wife, one phrase keeps coming to me — it’s time,” Shaw said. “There are not sufficient words to describe the love and gratitude I feel for my family, all of my former and current players, my staff, this administration and the entire Stanford family. Thank you all.”

In 12 seasons, Shaw had a 96-54 record at his alma mater. He is the winningest coach in program history.

For more on Shaw’s decision to step down, click here.

Stanford head coach David Shaw stands near the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against BYU in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)Stanford head coach David Shaw stands near the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against BYU in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Stanford head coach David Shaw stands near the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against BYU in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

FAU moves on from Willie Taggart after 3 seasons

Willie Taggart’s tenure at Florida Atlantic is over after three seasons. Taggart went 15-18 in three seasons coaching the Owls and only once made a bowl. FAU lost 32-31 Saturday to Western Kentucky in overtime to fall to 5-7 on the year. Taggart was previously the head coach at Florida State, Oregon, South Florida and Western Kentucky.

For more on Taggart’s dismissal, click here.

Nebraska lands Matt Rhule

Nebraska and Matt Rhule have agreed to an eight-year contract for Rhule to be the Huskers’ new football coach.

Rhule most recently had a tough run as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, but he previously executed major rebuilds at both Temple and Baylor.

Under Rhule’s watch, Temple went from 2-10 in his first season to winning a combined 20 games over his last two seasons with the program, including a conference title. Rhule then went to Baylor in the fallout of the Art Briles scandal. The Bears went just 1-11 in Rhule’s first season. By Year 3, Baylor won 11 games and played for the Big 12 championship.

A similarly difficult rebuild will be in store for Rhule in Lincoln. Nebraska hasn’t had a winning season since 2016. The Huskers finished the 2022 season at 4-8 and have a combined 23-45 record over the last six seasons.