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Posted: Thursday January 15, 2009 2:26PM; Updated: Thursday January 15, 2009 2:26PM

Trend Spotters: Next in Line

By Dan Murphy, Special to SIOC

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These days it seems like football coaches change locations about as often as they change their boxer shorts. In a job market as fickle as the moon, some teams have invented a new position to keep talented young coaches from flying the coop.

The "coach-in-waiting" job isn't exactly new, but it didn't become common practice until recently. Florida State started the trend a few weeks before last year's bowl season kicked off when they made offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher the heir to Bobby Bowden's throne.

Fisher, who has previously coached for Auburn, Cincinnati and LSU, was a top candidate for several coaching jobs across the country. Bowden had just signed a contract that pays him until he decides he has had enough, but Florida State wanted Fisher as a back-up plan.

The Seminoles have never been shy about throwing around head coaching titles. Florida State has 11 coaches on staff, five of them currently have the words "head coach" somewhere in their job description.

Oregon and Texas both named coaches-to-be this bowl season despite the fact that current coaches Mike Bellotti and Mack Brownm, respectively, are each less than 60 years old and showing no signs of slowing down.

The Ducks will be led offensive coordinator Chip Kelly and first-year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will take over in Austin at some point TBD.

NFL teams are also jumping on the bandwagon. Dallas owner Jerry Jones has promised the head coaching job to Jason Garrett. The New York Giants said Monday that they would consider naming defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo their coach in waiting to keep him around as well.

None of the coaches are given any extra privileges or responsibilities, but they do get some pretty serious rewards for being patient. Muschamp's new contract will pay him a reported $900,000 a year until Brown hangs up the whistle. If Fisher sticks around until 2011 (and so does Bowden) he will get $5 million from the Seminoles Booster club. Garrett and Spagnuolo also made out pretty nicely with multi-million dollar salaries for waiting in line.

For the teams, it's a worthwhile investment. Having a coach on deck helps continuity and is a big insurance policy in recruiting for the college programs. With the coaching carousel spinning as fast as ever, this seems like a trend that is here to stay.

 
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