Spin city

Spin city

Admit it — firing and hiring coaches is exciting.

This time of year is a favorite for college football fans: The regular season is mostly over, conference championship games and inevitable bowl matchups are upon us and, best of all, the coaching carousel is wildly spinning.

Aggrieved athletic directors are firing and hiring coaches left and right, giving winners who might be hired elsewhere leverage to demand big raises (Matt Campbell at Iowa State and Willie Taggert at Oregon) while those who have moved or might be are in the position of breaking the bank (Dan Mullen, Florida's new coach, and Jimbo Fischer, the Florida State head coach being targeted by Texas A&M).

There have been the usual fiascoes.

Tennessee has a big mess on its hands. After firing Butch Jones, who was tremendously successful at Cincinnati, it decided to hire Ohio State defense coordinator Greg Schiano, only to back off the decision following a fan revolt.

Tennessee then focused on Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, only to see him reject its offer. Now there's a bevy of possible third, fourth and fifth choice Volunteer head coaches the school has targeted but has not yet been able to sign. Suffice it to say that Tennessee's athletic director is on thin ice.

The Volunteers' coaching search has become so vast that former head coach Lane Kiffin — who created outrage in Vols country after he left following his first and only season there to go to the University of Southern California, where he was fired — is now receiving media inquiries about whether he'd be interested in going back.

It's a fine mess, speculation piled on rumor topped with gross misinformation, media spin and erratic fan emotion. Can't beat that.

What's the most fun to watch is the optimism brewing among losing schools that have hired new coaches. Fan enthusiasm is palpable and opinions are fixed — the old coach was the worst kind of loser, but the new guy is the greatest guy in the history of guys. He's a winner who will lead his school to perpetual dominance a la Alabama. Fans see the promised land — perpetual dominance — just over the horizon.

Well, let them enjoy it while they can. Illinois fans know the bloom can come quickly off the rose in the ruthlessly competitive business of major college football.

Still, it's fun while it lasts.

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