SPECIAL OFFER

Breaking news. In-depth analysis. Limited Ads.

7-Day Free TrialSubscribe Now

Current FBS coaches have been in their jobs for an average of just 3.7 years

Mike Huguenin05/16/22
Article written by:On3 imageMike Huguenin

MikeHuguenin

longtenurecoaches
The three longest-tenured coaches (from left, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy) account for 11.7 percent of the total seasons for all current FBS coaches. (Photos by Getty Images)

This was a particularly busy offseason for coaching changes, with 29 FBS jobs changing hands. There are 131 FBS jobs (remember that James Madison joins this season), so that means 22 percent of the coaches will be new to their current job this fall.

The question: How many are going to last four years? The reason we set four years as the benchmark is that the 131 FBS coaches have been at their current jobs for an average of just 3.7 seasons. The three longest-tenured coaches – Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy – have been at their jobs for a total of 57 seasons; that means those three account for 11.7 percent of the total seasons (489 seasons for the 131).

There were 28 new coaches in 2016 and eight remain in those jobs. In 2017, there were 23 new guys and eight remain. There were 21 new coaches in 2018 and 13 already have departed for assorted reasons. And there were 22 changes in 2019 – and eight already are gone three years later.

Some takeaways.

+ Ferentz has the longest tenure, as he has coached for 23 seasons. Gundy and Whittingham have been at their schools for 17 seasons. Four other coaches have been at their respective schools for at least 15 seasons: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald and Middle Tennessee State’s Rick Stockstill for 16 seasons and Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and Alabama’s Nick Saban for 15.

+ The only leagues with two coaches who have been at their schools for double-digit seasons: the Big Ten with Ferentz and Fitzgerald and the Pac-12 with Whittingham and Stanford’s David Shaw.

+ Every league has at least one coach with double-digit seasons at his school except the MAC and Sun Belt. The longest-tenured coaches in the MAC are Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton and Miami’s Chuck Martin at eight seasons apiece. The longest-tenured coach in the Sun Belt? Georgia State’s Shawn Elliott at just five seasons.

+ Ten of the 14 in the SEC have coached three or fewer seasons at their school. It’s eight of 14 in the ACC with three or fewer seasons at their school. But among the Power 5, both fall short of the Big 12: Eight of the 10 have been in their current jobs three or fewer seasons.

+ Of all the leagues, the Sun Belt “wins” the least-tenured award: 12 of the 14 have been coaching at their school for three or fewer seasons.

+ Just call the Big Ten the “graybeard league,” as nine of the 14 have coaches at their current school for at least four seasons, and five of those have been there for at least seven seasons. The Big Ten also is the only league without a new coach this season.

Average tenure by league

AAC: 3.9 years

The skinny: The league has two new coaches and five others who have coached at their school for three or fewer seasons.
Longest-tenured coach: Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo, heading into 15th season
Second-longest: Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery, going into 8th season

ACC: 4.0

The skinny: There are four new coaches and five others who have coached at their school for three or fewer seasons. That includes Mack Brown, who is entering his fourth season in his second go-round at the school.
Longest-tenured coach: Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, heading into 14th season
Second-longest: NC State’s Dave Doeren, going into 10th season

Big Ten: 6.5

The skinny: There are no new coaches. Five have been in their current jobs for three or fewer seasons.
Longest-tenured coach: Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, heading into 24th season
Second-longest: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, going into 17th
Of note: Ferentz and Fitzgerald by themselves account for 42.9 percent of the 91 seasons put in by the current Big Ten coaches at their schools.

Big 12: 3.3

The skinny: There are three new coaches. Just two of the league’s 10 coaches have been in their current jobs for more than three seasons.
Longest-tenured coach: Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, heading into 18th season (his 17 seasons account for 51.5 percent of the 33 seasons put in by the current Big 12 coaches at their schools)
Second-longest: Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, going into 7th

Independents: 1.9

The skinny: Four of the seven independents have new coaches. And one other has been at his current job for three seasons.
Longest-tenured coach: Army’s Jeff Monken, heading into 9th season
Second-longest: BYU’s Kalani Sitake, going into 7th

Mid-American: 4.0

The skinny: There is one new coach, and six others have coached for three or fewer seasons.
Longest-tenured coach: Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton and Miami’s Chuck Martin, each heading into ninth season
Next-longest: Toledo’s Jason Candle and Ball State’s Mike Neu, both going into 7th

Mountain West: 3.2

The skinny: There are four new coaches and four others who have coached three or fewer seasons at his current school.
Longest-tenured coach: Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, heading into his 16th season (his 15 seasons account for 39 percent of the 38 seasons put in by the current Mountain West coaches at their schools)
Second-longest: Wyoming’s Craig Bohls, going into his 8th

Pac-12: 4.0

The skinny: There are four new coaches, but six of the 12 have coached at least four seasons at their current schools.
Longest-tenured coach: Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, heading into his 18th season
Second-longest: Stanford’s David Shaw, going into his 12th

SEC: 4.0

The skinny: There are two new coaches, while eight other schools have coaches who have spent three seasons or less at their current job. Just three of the league’s 14 coaches have spent at least six seasons at their current school.
Longest-tenured coach: Alabama’s Nick Saban, heading into his 16th season (his 15 seasons account for 31 percent of the 48 seasons put in by the current SEC coaches at their schools)
Second-longest: Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, going into his 10th

Sun Belt: 1.6

The skinny: There are three new coaches and six who are heading into their second seasons. Just two of the 14 have coached at least four seasons at their schools.
Longest-tenured coach: Georgia State’s Shawn Elliott, heading into his 6th season
Second-longest: Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, going into his 5th

Longest-tenured coaches nationally

1. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 23 seasons

T-2. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State, 17 seasons

T-2. Kyle Whittingham, Utah, 17 seasons

T-4. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 16 seasons

T-4. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee, 16 seasons

T-6. Troy Calhoun, Air Force, 15 seasons

T-6. Nick Saban, Alabama, 15 seasons

8. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy, 14 seasons

9. Dabo Swinney, Clemson, 13 seasons

10. David Shaw, Stanford, 11 seasons