A decade ago, college football was in the 13th season of the 16-year reign of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). (1) Auburn edged (2) Oregon 22-19 in the national championship and Cam Newton beat out Stanford’s Andrew Luck for the Heisman. Nebraska was still in the Big 12 and lost by a field goal to Oklahoma in the league championship game. Despite an early season upset to FCS James Madison, Virginia Tech beat out Florida State to win the ACC and Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin split the Big Ten title.
Here are ten of the big names in college football coaching that season and where their paths have taken them since.
Bret Bielema – Wisconsin
In 2010, Bret Bielema was in the fifth year of his seven-season tenure at Wisconsin. After a 68-24 run in Madison that ended with three consecutive Rose Bowl berths, Bielema jumped ship to Arkansas where he struggled to a 29-34 mark over five seasons. He was fired after a narrow 48-44 loss to Missouri at the close of the 2017 campaign.
Bielema’s not returned to the college ranks since. He was with the New England Patriots from 2018-19, first as a consultant and then as a defensive line coach. Despite an interest in the Michigan State opening, in 2020 he’ll coach outside linebackers for the New York Giants.
Derek Dooley – Tennessee
Derek Dooley – son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley – took over the reins at Tennessee in 2010 after leading Louisiana Tech to a 17-20 mark from 2007-09. He lasted three seasons in Knoxville during which he went 4-19 in SEC play, winning three conference games in 2010, one in 2011 and zero in 2012. He finished with a 15-21 record and never went over .500. He was fired after losing 41-18 at Vanderbilt at the end of the 2012 season.
Dooley resurfaced as a wide receivers coach at the Dallas Cowboys (2013-17) and then reentered the college ranks as the OC at Missouri (2018-19). He was recently named a senior offensive assistant at the New York Giants.
Al Golden – Temple
Al Golden spent 2010 leading Temple to an 8-4 mark, which was enough to get him the head job at Miami Fla. He went 32-25 in five seasons with the Hurricanes (2011-15), the pinnacle being the 2013 campaign which included a 9-4 finish and a loss to (18) Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. He was fired after a 58-0 loss to (6) Clemson midway through the 2015 season.
Golden’s next stop was at the Detroit Lions, where he coached tight ends from 2016-17 and linebackers from 2018-19. After the Lions decided not to bring him back in 2020, he signed on with the Cincinnati Bengals where he’ll also serve as linebackers coach.
Brady Hoke – San Diego State
Like Al Golden, Brady Hoke spent the 2010 season proving he was ready to take on a bigger challenge. For Hoke, that meant converting a 9-4 finish in his second season as the head man at San Diego State into an offer to be the head coach at Michigan. Hoke’s tenure in Ann Arbor lasted four seasons which resembled the air slowly being let out of a balloon – 11 wins in 2011, eight in 2012, seven in 2013 and finally the 5-7 mark in 2014 that cost him his job.
Hoke has been a journeyman since, serving as the DC at Oregon (2016) and then coaching the defensive line at Tennessee (2017), the Carolina Panthers (2018) and San Diego State (2019). Coming full circle, he was named the head coach at San Diego State – for the second time – this January.
June Jones – SMU
The 2010 season was June Jones’ third at SMU, just one year after he led the program to its first bowl game since 1984. Jones posted a 36-41 record in his six full seasons (2008-13) with the Mustangs, engineering one of the great turnarounds in college football history. He resigned after a 0-2 start in 2014.
Jones didn’t resurface until 2016, when he spent one season as the OC at Kapolei High School on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. From there, he was the head man at the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 2017-18 and is currently the head coach/general manager of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks.
Bo Pelini – Nebraska
Bo Pelini was in his fourth season as the head coach at Nebraska in 2010, posting a 10-4 mark in the program’s final campaign as members of the Big 12. Pelini was fired after a 9-4 finish in 2014. That despite leading the Huskers to a 67-27 record from 2008-14 which included four divisional titles and five Top 25 finishes.
Pelini took the head job at Youngstown State in 2015, leading the program to a 33-28 record from 2015-19 including an appearance in the FCS national championship game in 2016. In 2020, he’ll rejoin the FBS ranks as the DC for LSU.
Joker Phillips – Kentucky
After playing wide receiver at Kentucky (1981-84), starting his coaching career in Lexington (1988-96) and returning as an offensive assistant/OC (2003-09), Joker Phillips was promoted to head coach at his alma mater in 2010. After debuting with a somewhat promising 6-6 campaign that ended with a loss to Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl, Phillips’ Wildcats dropped to 5-7 in 2011. In 2012, they slid all the way to 1-9 by the end of October. He was fired the day after a 40-0 loss vs. Vanderbilt on Nov. 3.
Phillips made stops as a wide receivers coach at Florida (2013) and the Cleveland Browns (2015) before landing a role as an offensive assistant at Ohio State (2016). That led to gigs coaching wide receivers first at Cincinnati (2017-18) and now at Maryland, where he’s been since 2019.
Randy Shannon – Miami Fla.
The 2010 season marked the final installment of the four-year Randy Shannon experiment at Miami Fla. Shannon posted winning records from 2008-10 and was 10-6 in ACC play in his final two seasons, but that wasn’t enough to save him. He was fired after a 7-5 finish that ended with back-to-back losses to (14) Virginia Tech and South Florida.
Shannon moved on to coach linebackers first at TCU (2012) and then at Arkansas (2013-14). His next stop was at Florida where he was the DC from 2015-17, a stretch that included serving as the interim head coach for the final four games of the 2017 season after Jim McElwain was let go. Since 2018, he’s been the DC at UCF.
Jim Tressel – Ohio State
At the close of the 2010 season, Jim Tressel looked untouchable at Ohio State. After a decade in Columbus, Tressel was 106-22 overall, 66-14 in Big Ten play and not only had he captured the 2002 national championship, he was fresh off winning six consecutive conference crowns. It all ended in May of 2011 when Tressel stepped down amid the cover-up of a memorabilia sale scandal.
After a brief stop at the Indianapolis Colts, Tressel left football for good to become an administrator in higher education. He first served as a vice president at Akron and then in 2014 was named the president of Youngstown State University (where he’d won four national titles as the head football coach from 1986-2000).
Ron Zook – Illinois
Ron Zook was six years into his tenure at Illinois at the start of 2010, engineering just one winning record in five tries. The Illini improved to 7-6 that year and beat Baylor in the Texas Bowl. After a 6-0 start in 2011 and a No. 16 ranking in the AP, they looked to be finally building something. That’s when everything went wrong. Six straight losses later, Zook was fired.
Zook moved on to coach special teams at the Green Bay Packers from 2014-18 and held the same role at the Salt Lake Stallions (a member of the short-lived Alliance of American Football) in 2019. He’s been a senior analyst with Maryland since the AAF folded.
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference/College Football.