College football coach carousel: Every FBS coaching change in 2021


The 2021 FBS coaching carousel is moving fast, and we’re just starting November. 

Akron’s Tom Arth and UMass’ Walt Bell were fired, which runs the total number of coaching changes to nine. There were 18 coaching changes last season, a number that likely will be surpassed given how many we’ve seen so far. 

So far, five Power 5 coaches have been dismissed. Clay Helton was fired at USC and hired by Georgia Southern to coach in 2022.

Sporting News looks at all the changes in 2021: 

2021 FBS coaching changes

Randy Edsall, UConn 

Resigned (Sept. 6): Edsall resigned after the Huskies’ 0-2 start. Edsall had two separate stints at UConn. The first, from 1999 to 2010, saw the program make the rise to the FBS ranks and culminated with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl in 2010. Edsall returned in 2017, and that produced a 6-32 record. UConn did not play in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns. Lou Spanos is the Huskies’ interim coach.

Clay Helton, USC 

Fired (Sept. 14): Helton, who had been on the hot seat the past few seasons, was fired after the Trojans’ 42-28 loss to Stanford in Week 2. Helton replaced Steve Sarkisian in 2015 and compiled a 46-24 record. That mark included the program’s last Pac-12 championship in 2017. USC, however, slipped to a 19-14 record from 2018-21. Donte Williams replaced Helton as interim coach. 

MORE: USC coaching candidates

Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern

Fired (Sept. 26): Lunsford was fired after a 1-3 start this season. It was a peculiar decision considering the Eagles reached bowl games the previous three seasons. Lunsford compiled a 28-21 record and had previously been an assistant coach with the program from 2013-17. Kevin Whitley was appointed interim coach.

2021 Coaching Changes by School 

UConn Randy Edsall
USC Clay Helton
Georgia Southern Chad Lunsford Clay Helton
LSU Ed Orgeron
Washington State Nick Rolovich
Texas Tech Matt Wells Joey McGuire
TCU Gary Patterson
Akron Tom Arth
UMass Walt Bell

Ed Orgeron, LSU 

Resigned (Oct. 19): Orgeron and LSU reached a separation agreement that will take effect after the conclusion of the 2021 season. This came one day after the Tigers beat Florida 49-42. Orgeron replaced Les Miles in 2016 and became the third consecutive LSU coach to win a national championship (2019). The Tigers finished 15-0 with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow that year, but the program has been a disaster on and off the field since. The problems include a Title IX lawsuit and self-imposed penalties. 

MORE: LSU coaching candidates

Nick Rolovich, Washington State

Fired (Oct. 20): Rolovich was fired in his second season with the Cougars for failing to comply with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Rolovich cited religious beliefs for his reason to not get the vaccine, and he plans to sue the university over his firing. Rolovich, who previously coached at Hawaii, had a 5-6 record at Washington State. Jake Dickert replaced Rolovich on an interim basis. 

MORE: Heat back on Harbaugh | OSU monster too big for Franklin?

Matt Wells, Texas Tech 

Fired (Oct. 25): Wells was fired after a 25-24 loss to Kansas State on Oct. 23, which capped an unremarkable three-year stint with the Red Raiders. Wells replaced Kliff Kingsbury, who took a head coaching job in the NFL with the Cardinals. Wells compiled a 13-17 record but appeared to have Texas Tech headed in the right direction this year with a 5-2 start. Sonny Cumbie, a former Red Raiders quarterback, is the interim coach. 

Gary Patterson, TCU 

Resigned (Oct. 31): Patterson and TCU agreed to part ways after a 3-5 record through the first two months of the season. It’s still a somewhat shocking move considering he was the second-longest tenured coach in the FBS behind Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. Patterson took over the Horned Frogs in 2000, and he led the program to six conference championships and 11 seasons with 10 wins or more. The highlight was 2010, when TCU finished 13-0 and won the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs moved up to the Big 12 and enjoyed success in the Power 5.

Tom Arth, Akron 

Fired (Nov. 4): Arth was fired two days after a 31-25 loss to Ball State dropped the Zips to 2-7 in 2021. Arth, a nearby John Carroll alum, simply could not get Akron going in three seasons. The Zips had a 3-24 record in that stretch, including a 3-17 record in Mid-American Conference play. 

Walt Bell, UMass 

Fired (Nov. 8): Bell was fired after a 35-22 loss to Rhode Island on Nov. 6. Bell, who took the UMass job after a stint as an offensive coordinator at Florida State, had a 2-23 record since taking over in 2019. 


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