The coaching carousel is always a hectic time on the college football calendar, and it was even more chaotic than usual in 2017. Several SEC teams made moves, and almost everybody making a new hire had a sense of urgency because of the new early signing period in recruiting.
It can be a lot to keep up with, but with 20 vacancies filled and no more jobs open, let's look back and rank the success of the coaching searches.
Out: Jim Mora. Mora won 29 games in his first three seasons with two AP top-25 finishes after the Bruins finished ranked only once between 1999 and his arrival in 2012. But despite landing prized quarterback Josh Rosen, Mora went just 17-19 in three seasons before being fired following UCLA's loss to USC. The team showed occasional flashes but struggled to put together complete performances, with the offensive line, running game and run defense all drawing blame over the past few years.
In: Chip Kelly. Amid all the chaos, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero won the coaching carousel by landing Kelly despite reported conversations with Florida. Although Kelly achieved mixed results, at best, in the NFL, he went 46-7 in four seasons as head coach at Oregon from 2009-12 with four major bowl bids, three conference titles and three top-four AP poll finishes. Known as an innovator in terms of offensive scheme and off-the-field sports science, Kelly will be tasked with showing that he's still the coach who thrived at Oregon rather than the one who faltered in the NFL. He's a home run for the Bruins, breathing new life into a program that hasn't won a conference title since 1998.
Out: Mike Riley. Nebraska hiring Riley to replace Bo Pelini -- whose teams lost exactly four games every season -- was met with initial skepticism, and that skepticism was confirmed over three seasons. The Huskers went 6-7 in a hard-luck 2015 season, 9-4 last year and 4-8 this year. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst was fired after Nebraska's September loss to Northern Illinois, and the season never got better. The Huskers allowed over 50 points in each of their last three games, and new AD Bill Moos let Riley go the morning after the season finale against Iowa.
In: Scott Frost. There was initially a concern that Florida would land Frost, but the UCF head coach couldn't resist his alma mater. Nebraska's last national championship came in 1997, with Frost running the option as quarterback in Tom Osborne's final season. The Huskers have been trying to recapture that magic ever since then, and now they'll turn to Frost to try to return to national prominence. Frost was Oregon's wide receivers coach under Chip Kelly, then offensive coordinator under Mark Helfrich, a stint that included coaching Marcus Mariota to the Heisman. Frost took the head coaching job at UCF and won six games in 2016 with a team that had gone winless before he arrived. This year, the Knights emerged as the nation's most prolific scoring offense, going 12-0 with an American Athletic Conference title to land a major bowl bid. That success made Frost the biggest rising star among Group of Five coaches and an obvious choice for Nebraska.
3. Texas A&M
Out: Kevin Sumlin. The Sumlin era couldn't have gotten off to a better start: In the Aggies' first season in the SEC, he led them to an 11-2 record, a win over Alabama and the school's first AP top-five finish since Bear Bryant in 1956. Johnny Manziel won the school's second-ever Heisman, and Texas A&M became one of the sport's trendiest teams. The Aggies fell to 9-4 in Manziel's second season, and they've been struggling to recapture that magic ever since then. After four straight five-loss seasons, plus the second-worst collapse in college football history in the 2017 opener against UCLA, Texas A&M fired Sumlin at the end of a 7-5 regular season. Sumlin never found consistent quarterback play after Manziel's departure, as Kenny Hill, Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen all transferred.
In: Jimbo Fisher. Texas A&M hasn't won a national championship since 1939, but now it has one of only four active coaches (joining Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Dabo Swinney) who have won a title. Fisher has been floated for other jobs in the past -- including LSU as a potential Les Miles replacement -- but now he actually is on the move at the end of a season in which he went 5-6 in the Seminoles' first 11 games. Despite this year's immense disappointment, Fisher leaves Tallahassee with an 83-23 record, three ACC titles and that national championship. Texas A&M swung for the fences and landed Fisher with what ESPN's Mark Schlabach reported is a massive 10-year contract -- a contract so massive that we can't put the Aggies No. 1 on this list, even though they hired a national champion. Fifteen years ago, Texas A&M landed Dennis Franchione from Alabama. This time, it has poached a more successful coach from another prestigious job. Fisher is one of the nation's best recruiters, with each of his past four classes ranking among the top six nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings. And although things became rocky at the end of his tenure, Fisher built Florida State back up into a national power and pulled off the tough feat of successfully replacing a legend. Texas A&M swung for a home run, and it was successful. It's the first school to land a national championship coach directly from the school where he won a title since Johnny Majors left Pitt for his alma mater, Tennessee, at the end of the 1976 season.
Out: Jim McElwain. McElwain coached only two full seasons at Florida and won the SEC East title both years. But he never fixed the problems on offense that lingered from the Will Muschamp era, and he clashed with the Florida administration. The Gators let go of McElwain after a 3-4 start to his third season, the last game being a 42-7 loss to Georgia. McElwain finished 22-12 at Florida. The Gators finished this season 4-7.
In: Dan Mullen. Florida reportedly showed interest in both Chip Kelly and Scott Frost, but it ended up landing on a popular suggestion from the moment McElwain was ousted. Mullen's record at Mississippi State (69-46 overall, 33-39 in the SEC) -- where he previously worked under current Florida AD Scott Stricklin -- doesn't look spectacular on the surface, but he's done an excellent job in a tough situation, making the Bulldogs a consistently competitive team. Before proving himself as head coach in Starkville, Mullen followed Urban Meyer from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida, where he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2005-08, winning two national titles and coaching Heisman winner Tim Tebow. Mullen has experience at Florida and is a proven developer of college quarterbacks, which is exactly what the Gators need right now, as their passing game hasn't clicked since Tebow's senior season in 2009.
5. Florida State
Out: Jimbo Fisher. Hired as offensive coordinator in 2007 and subsequently made coach-in-waiting under the legendary Bobby Bowden, Fisher revived Florida State football upon climbing to the head coaching position in 2010. In eight seasons, he went 83-23, a winning percentage of .783. He won double-digit games six times and finished in the AP top 10 four times. He produced three ACC titles, one national title and a Heisman Trophy winner. The Seminoles had declined in the last several years under Bowden, but it didn't take long for Fisher to establish himself as one of the nation's best recruiters and program builders. However, Florida State fell behind Clemson the past few years, and 2017 proved to be the most disappointing season in school history: A preseason AP No. 3 ranking turned into a 7-6 record. After being floated for the LSU job after Les Miles' ouster, Fisher will instead go to another SEC West job, leaving the Seminoles for Texas A&M.
In: Willie Taggart. Taggart couldn't resist the call of his home state, leaving Oregon after just one 7-5 season. Taggart has close ties to the Harbaugh family and served as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford before getting the Western Kentucky job. In eight seasons at WKU, South Florida and Oregon, Taggart is just 47-50. However, he built WKU into a competitive FBS program, adapted on offense at South Florida to build an explosive attack there after a couple rough years and showed signs of improvement in a first season at Oregon held back by an injury to QB Justin Herbert. Perhaps most importantly for Florida State, Taggart is a Bradenton native with deep roots in the state of Florida, where he's known as a top-notch recruiter. He's going to attract top talent to Tallahassee.
Out: Bret Bielema. Both Bielema and AD Jeff Long were ousted this season. Long seemingly made an impressive hire when he landed Bielema from Wisconsin, where Bielema went 68-24 with three straight Rose Bowl trips. But after cleaning up the mess from the Bobby Petrino scandal, Bielema struggled to break through in the SEC. The Razorbacks finished under .500 in conference play in four of five seasons, including a 1-7 SEC mark this year. Bielema went 29-34 overall and 11-29 in the SEC in five years.
In: Chad Morris. Credit to Arkansas for a successful dual coach/AD search: Arkansas first landed athletic director Hunter Yurachek from Houston, and then Yurachek landed Houston's divisional rival Morris from SMU. Morris went only 14-22 at SMU, but his record is misleading. He inherited a mess from the end of the June Jones era and went from 2-10 to 5-7 to 7-5 and a bowl game. The offense that scored a national-worst 11.1 points per game in 2014, the year before he arrived, now ranks eighth nationally at an average of 40.2 points per game. A longtime Texas high school coach with deep recruiting ties to that state, Morris was instrumental in the rise of Clemson as Dabo Swinney's offensive coordinator from 2011-14. The key for Morris at Arkansas is figuring out what to do defensively, which has been a problem for both the Mustangs and Razorbacks.
7. Mississippi State
Out: Dan Mullen. Mullen went 69-46 overall and 33-39 in the SEC in nine seasons at Mississippi State before landing the Florida job. Although he had only one winning season in SEC play, Mullen did largely excellent work in a tough job during a competitive period in the SEC West. Mississippi State was No. 1 in the first-ever playoff rankings and made the Orange Bowl in 2014, finished in the AP top 15 twice and is about to make its eighth straight bowl appearance. Mullen was consistently competitive in the most difficult situation in the division, earning him a step up at Florida.
In: Joe Moorhead. Moorhead's offenses put up huge numbers while he was head coach at Fordham. James Franklin hired Moorhead to be his offensive coordinator at Penn State, and the partnership worked to near perfection: The Nittany Lions' struggling offense became one of the most entertaining in college football, and they went 21-5 with a Big Ten title in two seasons with Moorhead calling the plays. They averaged 41.6 points per game this year with a Heisman candidate in Saquon Barkley. Although Moorhead's experience is in the Northeast -- Mullen actually has a similar background -- he's a strong hire for Mississippi State because he's a respected and adaptable offensive coach who can help compensate for some of the disadvantages the Bulldogs face in the SEC West.
Out: David Bailiff. In 11 years, Bailiff led Rice to some of its best seasons in decades, including a 10-3 record in 2008 and a 10-4 record in 2013. Under Bailiff, the Owls played in four bowl games and won a Conference USA championship, after making zero postseason appearances from 1962-2005. But Rice stumbled the past few years, going from 10 wins to eight wins to five wins to three wins to, finally, a 1-11 record in 2017.
In: Mike Bloomgren. The 40-year-old Bloomgren joined the staff at Stanford when David Shaw was elevated to head coach to replace Jim Harbaugh. Under Shaw, Bloomgren has served as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, developing some of the most renowned O-lines in college football. He's a respected assistant known for being one of the best at what he does, and he's a good fit for Rice, which has some of the rigorous academic standards that Stanford has.
Out: Chad Morris. SMU knew that a successful run by Morris would result in him leaving for a bigger job, but it mostly got what it wanted. After collapsing to 1-11 in 2014, the Mustangs became competitive again, with substantial gains made on offense to push the team to 7-5 and a bowl game this year. Morris' teams had issues defensively, but the offense became exciting and productive, resulting in Morris landing the Arkansas job.
In: Sonny Dykes. Dykes was a natural fit in some respects. A Texas native, Dykes went 22-15 with prolific offenses at Louisiana Tech, then 19-30 in four seasons at Cal, the first three of which featured No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff at quarterback. Dykes has a reputation for offense-leaning teams that often have defensive issues, as six of his seven teams have finished 89th or worse nationally in points allowed. At SMU, he'll inherit a team that is already far better on offense than defense. He did actually get an early start, as he coached the Mustangs in an ugly Frisco Bowl in which they lost to Louisiana Tech 51-10.
Out: Willie Taggart. Oregon had just two coaches -- Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti -- from 1977-2008. When it fired Mark Helfrich after last season, it made its first outside coaching hire since bringing in Brooks in 1977 by hiring Taggart from South Florida. The relationship lasted only one year. Taggart went 7-5 in one season in which the defense improved under new coordinator Jim Leavitt and the team won three more games, although the season was held back by an injury to QB Justin Herbert. Taggart was also in the process of landing perhaps Oregon's best recruiting class ever, but it may be difficult to keep it all together after Taggart's one-and-done departure for Florida State and his home state.
In: Mario Cristobal. Five years ago, Florida International made one of the most universally panned coaching moves in recent history when it fired Cristobal and replaced him with Ron Turner. Cristobal went only 27-47 in six seasons at FIU, with a 3-9 record in his last season in 2012, but he led the Golden Panthers to back-to-back bowls before that. This all came after he inherited a winless team. A respected recruiter and offensive line coach, Cristobal played and coached at Miami, spent four years under Nick Saban at Alabama after leaving FIU and joined Taggart at Oregon as line coach and co-offensive coordinator. With Taggart leaving after only one season, Oregon decided to stay in-house and go with continuity. In this case, Cristobal has head coaching experience and a strong recruiting track record, making him a solid choice in a difficult situation.
Out: Butch Jones. Jones gradually rebuilt Tennessee into a competitive program again, with a strong performance on the recruiting trail. But last year's team was a disappointment at 9-4 after a 5-0 start with a veteran core, and the Volunteers collapsed to 4-8 overall and 0-8 in the SEC this season. The writing was on the wall for Jones after a 41-0 loss to Georgia on Sept. 30. New athletic director John Currie fired Jones after a 50-17 loss to Missouri on Nov. 11.
In: Jeremy Pruitt. Perhaps the most adventurous coaching search in college football history is finally finished. Eleven days before officially announcing that it hired Pruitt, Alabama's defensive coordinator, Tennessee nearly hired Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Rutgers and Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano. That never happened after fan and booster backlash, and Currie spent the next week struggling to find someone else, with a bunch of reported possibilities falling through. Currie was subsequently forced out and replaced as AD by Phillip Fulmer, who led the Vols to their last conference title and national title as head coach in 1998. Fulmer's search reportedly focused on Power Five coordinators, and he landed on a rival in Pruitt, an Alabama native who played for Alabama and has coached under Nick Saban from 2007-12 and 2016-17, making him part of eight of Alabama's 11 straight wins in its rivalry with Tennessee. Pruitt also spent one year as Florida State's defensive coordinator and two years at Georgia. Former Saban assistants have never actually beaten their old boss head-to-head, but Pruitt will join Georgia coach Kirby Smart and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp as former Saban defensive coordinators leading SEC East programs.
12. Oregon State
Out: Gary Andersen. Andersen was a surprise hire from Wisconsin after the 2014 season, and he made a surprise exit in the middle of just his third season in Corvallis. Andersen went 2-10 in 2015 and 4-8 last year. After a 1-5 start this season, he abruptly parted ways with the school, ending his brief tenure with a 7-23 record.
In: Jonathan Smith. The new head coach is a familiar name for Oregon State fans. Smith, who was most recently Washington's offensive coordinator under Chris Petersen, quarterbacked the Beavers from 1998-2001. He had three full seasons as starter and most memorably led the 2000 squad to one of the greatest seasons in school history with the help of receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and tailback Ken Simonton. They finished with an 11-1 record and blew out Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The 38-year-old Smith started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Oregon State and has spent the past seven seasons under Petersen at Boise State and Washington.
Out: Scott Frost. UCF went from the Fiesta Bowl in 2013 to winless in George O'Leary's final season in 2015. Frost quickly revived the program, winning six games in 2016, then going undefeated with a prolific offense this season. The Knights won back-to-back thrillers against South Florida and Memphis to capture the conference title, improve to 12-0 and earn a major bowl bid. It's no surprise that they couldn't retain Frost, who will depart UCF for Nebraska, his alma mater.
In: Josh Heupel. Frost leaving for Nebraska was not surprisingly at all. Heupel replacing him seemingly came out of nowhere. Early names in the Knights search appeared to be Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Troy Walters, among others, but instead UCF will replace the 1997 national championship quarterback with the former QB who led Oklahoma to the BCS title in 2000. Heupel spent several years on the Oklahoma staff as quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator, but he was pushed out after the 2014 season. He landed at Utah State and then Missouri, where he had mixed results before the Tigers surged down the stretch this season to rank 10th in scoring. Heupel added former Miami head coach and Florida defensive coordinator Randy Shannon as his defensive coordinator, which is a huge move in terms of in-state recruiting. This feels like a move that was made in the hopes of keeping a rising coach longer than two years after Frost's quick departure.
14. South Alabama
Out: Joey Jones. Jones is the only coach South Alabama has ever had. The Jaguars began play in 2009 and jumped to FBS in 2012. They've gone 29-45 since making the jump with two bowl appearances and a few noteworthy wins -- Mississippi State, plus San Diego State twice -- but no winning records. They're 4-7 this year with a game left. Jones resigned after a 52-0 loss to previously winless Georgia Southern.
In: Steve Campbell. The 51-year-old Campbell has worked his way up the coaching ladder, with a long stint at Mississippi Gulf Coast, a junior college, followed by four seasons at Central Arkansas, an FCS team. Campbell led Central Arkansas to back-to-back 10-win seasons and trips to the second round of the FCS playoffs the past two years. He last coached at the FBS level as Mississippi State's offensive line coach in 2003.
Out: Mark Hudspeth. For a few years, Hudspeth was a rising star in coaching, mentioned for bigger jobs. The Ragin' Cajuns never played in a bowl game before Hudspeth took over. He inherited a 3-9 team and went 9-4 with a New Orleans Bowl win in 2011. He repeated that exact feat -- 8-4 in the regular season, plus a New Orleans Bowl win -- each of the next three seasons before a 4-8 downturn in 2015. They bounced back to 6-7 in the New Orleans Bowl last year, only to fall short of the postseason at 5-7 this season after a 63-14 loss to Appalachian State in the finale. Hudspeth went 51-38 in seven years, but NCAA sanctions forced the program to vacate 22 wins during his tenure.
In: Billy Napier. Napier was expected to stay on as Herm Edwards' offensive coordinator at Arizona State, but instead, after just one season in Tempe under Todd Graham, he jumped at the opportunity to get a head coaching job. Prior to calling the plays for the Sun Devils this season, Napier spent four years as Nick Saban's receivers coach at Alabama.
16. Ole Miss
Out: Hugh Freeze. Freeze beat Alabama twice, improved Ole Miss' recruiting and took the Rebels to two major bowls, but he was fired over the summer because of what the university labeled a "concerning pattern" of misconduct. This also came during a long-running NCAA scandal, which finally got its resolution at the end of the season: scholarship cuts and another year banned from the postseason.
In: Matt Luke. Ole Miss didn't look far to find Freeze's replacement. Amid all the turmoil, Luke was promoted from offensive line coach to interim head coach after Freeze's ouster, and he led the Rebels to a 6-6 record in a season in which they were banned from the postseason. Despite losing starting QB Shea Patterson to an injury, Ole Miss upset Mississippi State on Thanksgiving, and the 41-year-old Luke was surprisingly promoted to permanent head coach three days later. Luke played at Ole Miss in the 1990s and was an assistant from 2002-05 and 2012-16.
17. Kent State
Out: Paul Haynes. It continues to one of the toughest jobs in the country. Darrell Hazell went 11-3 in 2012 to land the Purdue job, but that's the only winning season the Golden Flashes have had since 2001. They went 14-45 in Haynes' five seasons, never finishing better than 105th in scoring.
In: Sean Lewis. After a lengthy coaching search, Kent State finally settled on Lewis, Syracuse's offensive coordinator. The move wasn't even announced until Thursday, Dec. 21, the day after the early signing period began. Lewis is 31 years old, which will make him the youngest FBS head coach. Lewis followed Dino Babers from Eastern Illinois to Bowling Green to Syracuse, where he was the coordinator for a work-in-progress offense that plays at one of the nation's fastest tempos.
Out: Sean Kugler. The former UTEP lineman and Steelers line coach tried to install a physical offensive identity, with mixed initial results fading to consistent struggles. The Miners went 6-7 in 2014, his second season, with a New Mexico Bowl bid, but they fell to 5-7 and 4-8, then started 0-5 in 2017 before Kugler resigned. They finished the 2017 season as the nation's only winless team, ranking last with an average of 11.8 points per game.
In: Dana Dimel. It seemed likely that UTEP would go the up-and-coming coordinator route. Instead, it opted for a seasoned coordinator with head coaching experience. The 55-year-old Dimel went 22-13 at Wyoming from 1997-99 and 8-26 at Houston from 2000-02. He's been Kansas State's offensive coordinator since Bill Snyder's return from retirement in 2009.
19. Georgia Southern
Out: Tyson Summers. The Eagles made a successful transition to FBS play under Willie Fritz, with an explosive option running attack leading them to back-to-back nine-win seasons in 2014-15. Fritz left for Tulane and was replaced by Summers, a former Georgia Southern assistant and Colorado State defensive coordinator. The offense collapsed, leading to a 5-7 record in 2016 and a 0-6 start in 2017 before he was fired after just one and a half seasons.
In: Chad Lunsford. Georgia Southern decided to promote Lunsford from interim coach to head coach. He has worked under multiple head coaches in multiple stints in Statesboro, was special teams coach and recruiting coordinator under Summers and now has the permanent gig after going 2-3 down the stretch. The Eagles were winless when he took over, lost three more games and then beat South Alabama 54-0 and UL Lafayette 34-24. After Lunsford was promoted, Georgia Southern ended its season by losing to Coastal Carolina.
20. Arizona State
Out: Todd Graham. After one year at Rice, four years at Tulsa and one year at Pitt, Graham lasted six seasons at Arizona State. His tenure started off strong, with back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2013-14, including a Pac-12 South title. But the Sun Devils' defense collapsed, and they went 18-19 over the past three seasons. Although they rebounded to 7-5 this year, finishing second in the Pac-12 South after a win over rival Arizona, it wasn't enough for Graham to save his job. Graham and the staff will stay through the Sun Devils' bowl game, and some assistants may stay on after Graham's departure.
In: Herm Edwards. It's possible Arizona State will prove everybody wrong, as is often the case with new hires, but it's hard not to be skeptical. In the biggest surprise of the coaching carousel, Arizona State hired the 63-year-old Edwards, an ESPN analyst who hasn't been a coach since 2008 with the Kansas City Chiefs. He hasn't coached in college since he was a defensive assistant with San Jose State in the late 1980s. Edwards was hired by athletic director Ray Anderson, who was Edwards' agent during his NFL coaching days. Anderson promises a new model of college football coaching, with Edwards seemingly being hired for a CEO-type role: "The department's New Leadership Model will be similar to an NFL approach using a general manager structure," Arizona State's lengthy press release said. "It's a collaborative approach to managing the ASU football program that includes sport and administrative divisions, which will operate as distinct, but collective units focused on elevating all aspects of Sun Devil football. This structure will allow the department to form a multi-layered method to the talent evaluation and recruiting processes, increase its emphasis on both student-athlete and coach development and retention and provide a boost in resource allocation and generation." Arizona State initially said that it would keep both coordinators in place, but Billy Napier took the UL Lafayette head coaching job and Phil Bennett announced he won't return.