The Daily Nole

On My Mind Monday: How Many AP Ranked Teams Have Head Coaches Who Were Internal Hires?

Damon Herota/FSU athletics

After just a brief 1-year hiatus, Florida State is again bowl-eligible following an easy 49-12 victory over Alabama State on Saturday.

As was the case in 2017 and 2018, the 2019 season for the Seminoles has been a tumultuous season, from two blown fourth-quarter leads in September to a heartbreaking loss at Wake Forest, to an embarrassing loss to Miami to the firing of head coach Willie Taggart. Now 6-5, the Seminoles will have an extra week to prepare for rival Florida.

FSU is sure to be a pretty hefty underdog against the Gators as interim head coach Odell Haggins looks to improve to 5-0 as an interim. Haggins first served as an interim late in 2017 following Jimbo Fisher’s departure to Texas A&M. Haggins went 2-0 that season and is 2-0 thus far in 2019.

The program arranged to interview Haggins for the permanent job on Sunday. The consideration of Haggins for the current job led us to wonder how many teams in the AP Poll are currently being led by head coaches who were promoted internally:

No. 1 LSU

Head Coach: Ed Orgeron (35-9, .795)
Overview: Ed Orgeron’s first stint as a head coach was an unsuccessful one as he went just 10-25 in three seasons at Ole Miss. From there, Orgeron bounced around before getting an opportunity at USC as defensive line coach in 2010 and the interim head coach in 2013 following the firing of Lane Kiffin. Orgeron went 6-2 as interim before arriving at LSU to coach the defensive line in 2015. Orgeron was named interim head coach following the firing of Les Miles midway through the 2016 season. Orgeron went 6-2 to close the year and has held the job ever since.

No. 2 Ohio State

Head Coach: Ryan Day (13-0, 1.000)
Overview: After stints as an assistant at Boston College, Temple and the NFL, Ryan Day joined the Ohio State staff in 2017 as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. While head coach Urban Meyer was serving a 3-game suspension in 2018, Day was tabbed to be interim head coach where he led the Buckeyes to a 3-0 start. Following Meyer’s retirement, Day was named the permanent head coach. Day has yet to lose a game as head coach of the Buckeyes.

No. 3 Clemson

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney (127-30, .809)
Overview: Originally an assistant at alma mater Alabama, Dabo Swinney spent more than five years as wide receivers coach at Clemson before being promoted to interim head coach in 2008 following the midseason firing of Tommy Bowden. Swinney has held that position ever since and has won more than 80 percent of his games. Now in his 11th full season as head coach, Swinney has won 10 games in nine straight seasons. Swinney also claims five ACC championships and two national titles.

No. 6 Oregon

Head Coach: Mario Cristobal (18-6, .750)
Overview: Like Ed Orgeron, Mario Cristobal had been a head coach before arriving at his current stop. After stints as an assistant at Rutgers and alma mater Miami, Cristobal spent six years as head coach at Florida International before spending four years as an assistant at Alabama and one at Oregon as offensive line coach and co-coordinator. Cristobal was named interim head coach at Oregon after Willie Taggart left for Florida State prior to the bowl game to wrap up 2017 and was ultimately promoted. With Cristobal at the helm, the Ducks have won 12 of their last 13 games.

No. 7 Utah

Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham (129-62, .675)
Overview: Kyle Whittingham was an assistant at Utah for 11 years before being named co-head coach with the departing Urban Meyer prior to the Fiesta Bowl against Pittsburgh to close the 2004 season. That would be Meyer’s last game before taking the head coaching job at Florida and Whittingham has led the Utes ever since. Now in his 15th full season as head coach, Whittingham has just two losing seasons and three 10-win campaigns, including a perfect season in 2008. In bowl games, Whittingham is 11-2.

No. 8 Oklahoma

Head Coach: Lincoln Riley (33-5, .868)
Overview: A former assistant at Texas Tech and East Carolina, Lincoln Riley spent two years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oklahoma before being promoted when Bob Stoops retired following the 2016 season. With two Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft under his wing, Riley is regarded as a quarterback guru. Riley led the Sooners to the Big 12 title and College Football Playoff in each of his first two seasons.

No. 22 Oklahoma State

Head Coach: Mike Gundy (128-62, .672)
Overview: A former quarterback at Oklahoma State, Mike Gundy spent six years as an assistant at his alma mater before stops at Baylor and Maryland. Gundy returned to Stillwater in 2001 as the offensive coordinator. After four years as offensive coordinator, Gundy was promoted before the 2005 season when head coach Les Miles replaced Nick Saban at LSU. Since going 4-7 in his first season as head coach, Gundy has reeled off 14 straight winning seasons, including six 10-win campaigns and eight top-25 finishes.

Worth Noting

No. 22 SMU’s Sonny Dykes was not an internal hire, but actually coached the Mustangs in last season’s bowl game after coming over from California.

Gus Malzahn has been the head coach at No. 12 Auburn since 2013. Although he wasn’t technically an internal hire, he was offensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011 and spent just one season away from the plains as head coach at Arkansas State before taking the head job the following season.

San Diego State is not ranked in the AP Poll, but it is currently No. 25 in the Amway Coaches Poll. The Aztecs are led by head coach Rocky Long. Long was defensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010 before being promoted to head coach in 2011.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply