James Franklin‘s appointment as a designated successor to Ralph Friedgen is just the latest of several similar plans in recent years.
Here’s a look at how some schools have handled the situation:
Barry Alvarez announced in July 2005 it would be his final season and that defensive coordinator Bret Bielema would replace him while he moved into the athletic director’s chair full-time. Bielema is 28-11 and has led the Badgers to three bowl games (with records of 12-1, 9-4 and 7-6).
With program patriarch Bobby Bowden approaching 80 years old, the Seminoles opted to name offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher head coach in waiting after the 2007 season. Bowden is finishing his career on a series of one-year deals, and Fisher will either be the head coach in 2011 or a free agent with $5 million in his bank account if he isn’t. Best of all, Florida State has its future head coaching on the road recruiting a ton.
The Boilermakers followed the model of their basketball succession plan with Gene Keady and Matt Painter, bringing in an existing head coach with ties to the program to serve as an No. 2 for a year before taking over the top job. Joe Tiller finished out a 12-year run with a disappointing 4-8 season, but former Eastern Kentucky coach Danny Hope took over immediately after the season.
With Rich Brooks getting older and the Wildcats needing some recruiting stability, they named offensive coordinator Joker Phillips (he of the scheme that made Andre Woodson a star) the head coach in waiting in January 2008. The organizational structure remains the same, but the big payoff for Kentucky was in recruiting. The school just landed the nation’s No. 32 class according to scout.com —- the highest for the Wildcats since those rankings began in 2002 —- and much of it can be attributed to no concerns about what will happen when Brooks (who is under contract through 2011) retires.
The Longhorns locked up Will Muschamp to a long-term deal, and will pay the defensive coordinator $900,000 next year as part of an agreement reached late last season. Muschamp will eventually succeed Mack Brown, but it doesn’t seem like the man who rebuilt Texas into a dynamo will be leaving any time soon. After all, there’s plenty more 10-win seasons to crank out in Austin.
One of the curious coaching stories of the last three years is how Chip Kelly went from offensive coordinator at New Hampshire to heir apparent at Oregon so quickly. Either way, he’ll follow Mike Bellotti, who has agreed to become Oregon’s athletic director at a yet-to-be-established date. Current athletic director Pat Kilkenny is working on a two-year deal that expires on March 1, so it’s plausible the succession agreement (which was announced in December) could come to fruition before next season.
—- Patrick Stevens