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#pounditFriday, October 30, 2020

College football programs less likely to make coaching changes due to pandemic?

Mark Emmert

Two top conferences aren’t playing college football this fall, but other impacts are likely even beyond that.

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports outlined how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to slow or even halt major coaching changes at the college level, especially in football. Schools will be impacted by what Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick called a “financial carnage” that will make universities very reluctant to pay expensive buyouts to get rid of coaches.

“I don’t see how an AD will be able to go to their president, no matter how much pressure is on the program, and justify the cost of some of these buyouts in the current climate,” said Drew Turner, vice president of Collegiate Sports Associates, a coaching search firm.

There are other reasons coaching changes are likely to be down. Evaluating coaches in 2020 will be more difficult than ever. Even schools that could theoretically afford a major buyout would face a public relations issue. People aren’t likely to approve of a school that decides to pay someone millions not to work right now.

Thamel cites two possible opportunities for coaching changes. One is if a coach decides to retire. Another is if some athletic director shrugs off the consequences and seizes the opportunity to conduct a coaching search essentially unchallenged.

In other words, coaches on the hot seat can breathe a little easier. That includes the likes of USC’s Clay Helton, who was retained last December. The buyout on Helton and his staff has been reported to be roughly $20 million. USC isn’t going to pay that right now.

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