With the regular season wrapping up across college football, the coaching carousel will really kick into full gear. With job openings already open at Florida and Tennessee, while UCLA lands Chip Kelly, and Nebraska open as well, with A&M around the corner, Matt Campbell’s name is bound to enter the conversation.
But the Iowa State head coach insisted after his team’s heartbreaking 20-19 loss to Kansas State, “We’re [my staff and I] here for the long haul.”
Granted, he wouldn’t be the first college coach to make a similar statement and bolt for a new job shortly after the fact, but when Matt Campbell says something, I believe it.
Maybe I’m a sucker, but in this case, I don’t think I am.
First off, it would have to be a premier job for Campbell to bolt this soon after getting to Ames. In Gainesville, it’s entirely possible that Florida gets rejected by three folks: Chip Kelly (already did), Scott Frost and Dan Mullen. If Frost decides he’d rather go to his alma mater at Nebraska and Mississippi State bumps Dan Mullen to $5.5-$6 million per year, then Florida could be left wondering, “who’s next?” Even then, Campbell is a bit of an odd fit for the Gators based on his lack of ties to the Sunshine State.
At Texas A&M, I expect a serious run at Jimbo Fisher and then possibly SMU’s Chad Morris. Strike out there and then maybe A&M kicks the tires on Campbell and at least places the call. But also, odd fit. Plus, three years of 8-5 and he’ll be following Kevin Sumlin out the door and looked at as washed up. Does Matt Campbell really want that in his early 40’s?
The opening that makes the most sense for Matt Campbell, culturally and geographically, is Nebraska. Midwest school, Midwest roots. Essentially, Nebraska is Iowa State on steroids. And not Rafael Palmeiro level of steroids, but Mark McGwire in his heyday level of steroids. If Scott Frost either rejects Nebraska in favor or Florida or just decides to stay at UCF (seems unlikely), Campbell would be a call Nebraska would have to make.
But Campbell’s buyout is nearly $10 million, so it wouldn’t come cheap for anyone. Plus, I also expect Iowa State to renegotiate Campbell’s contract and give themselves as much protection as possible. That being said, it’s ultimately Campbell who has the leverage here.
Regardless, as Campbell’s name surfaces less and less in the coaching rumors, while the head coach continues to insist he’s in Ames for the foreseeable future, combined with the fact that “job hopping” has never been his style, Iowa State fans should feel fairly confident that Campbell will be on the sidelines for the Cyclones in 2018.
But in the world of college football coaching, ya really never know…