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“College football will miss Joe Paterno,” said Beamer, who is 65 and has been leading the Hokies since 1987.

The next-longest continuous tenure among current coaches belongs to 60-year-old Mack Brown, who has been at Texas since 1998.

“I think that the changes in communications and media (changes that of course accelerated Joe’s termination once the grand jury indictments were issued) create a level of scrutiny and pressure that will make 10 years at the same FBS school rare,” Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said in an email.

Some of Notre Dame’s greatest coaches (Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz) only lasted around a decade, but lately the storied program has been emblematic of the revolving door many schools have on the football coach’s office.

Brian Kelly is Notre Dame’s fourth head coach since 1997; its fifth if you count the days-long tenure of George O’Leary. As for Kelly, Notre Dame is his third job since 2004, though he was climbing the ladder from Central Michigan to Cincinnati to one of the most celebrated football schools in the country.

Even elite top-notch programs get used as steppingstones these days.

Alabama’s Nick Saban left Michigan State for LSU, where he won a national title in 2003. He then bailed on the Tigers for the Miami Dolphins before landing at Alabama and winning two national championships for the Tide in five seasons.

“I think the cycles for head coaches will be shorter, much as we’ve seen in pro sports,” West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck said.

At 60, Saban looks as if he could easily put in another 10 years in Tuscaloosa. But with a salary approaching $5 million, why would he want to? Paterno only ever made about $1 million a year, by the way, relatively modest by today’s standards.

“Coaches are making so much money that if they’re successful they can retire early in life and if they’re not successful the school is going to get rid of them real quick,” Bowden said. “It’s not likely we’re going to see anybody last as long as Joe and myself.”


Associated Press Writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.