Over the course of just a few days, the football coaching market has been flooded in unprecedented fashion, leaving more top available jobs and talent than arguably at any point ever—setting up a ripple effect that will ultimately reach dozens of pro and college teams.
Beginning with the NFL’s Black Monday and continuing with the stunning departures of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick from their iconic roles, the pro and college coaching market is positively teeming. Among the top available jobs and coaches:
- Open NFL head coaching slots in Atlanta, Carolina, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (Chargers), New England, Seattle, Tennessee, and Washington—a quarter of the entire NFL.
- The newly opened head coaching job at Alabama, obviously one of college football’s foremost programs, and then perhaps a head coaching job vacated by the person taking the Crimson Tide position.
- Saban and Belichick—previously the highest-paid college and pro coaches, as well as football giants with a long history together—hitting the open market, alongside recently fired NFL head coaches Mike Vrabel, Josh McDaniels, Frank Reich, and Ron Rivera, and possibly former Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Michigan’s championship-winning coach Jim Harbaugh (and the Wolverines job if he leaves).
“When a job like Alabama opens up and you’re looking at Michigan potentially opening as well, that will create a lot of dominoes,” says a prominent talent agent speaking to Front Office Sports on condition of anonymity.
The outcome of all these available jobs and coaches will likely serve as a major—if not generational—reset of overall coaching compensation trends. Already, Saban’s $11.4 million annual salary and Belichick’s estimated $25 million-per-year pay had been frequently used as benchmarks to help set other coaching contracts.
Heart of the Matter
The underlying causes of the now-flooded coaching market are varied. Some of the influx owes to the age and personal factors of particular coaches, such as the 72-year-old Saban electing to retire from coaching and perhaps consider a move to broadcasting. On-field performance, of course, still plays a major role. But the college turnover is also being influenced by historic levels of uncertainty and frustration surrounding player transfer rules and name, image, and likeness rights.
“It’s a terrible system,” said Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin of the transfer portal. Kiffin has been mentioned as a possibility for the Alabama job. “No other [sport has] ever set up a system where free agency starts while the season is still going. So it really makes no sense.”
Senior writer A.J. Perez contributed to this report.