College football coaching buzz: Hot seat chatter, ranking open Power 5 jobs, plus top assistants

Will Healy was 15-24 in 3 1/2 seasons as coach of the Charlotte 49ers. Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports

Will Healy had a coaching story everyone wanted to love. He transformed one of the worst FCS programs at Austin Peay, winning national coach of the year honors in 2017. Then he landed the Charlotte 49ers job a few weeks shy of his 34th birthday.

Healy was young, engaging and charismatic. He created "Club Lit" to celebrate wins during a strong debut season in 2019 in which the 49ers went 7-6 and reached the Bahamas Bowl. He even generated some attention, albeit premature, for Power 5 vacancies. But the hype around Healy ultimately didn't translate onto the field, as Charlotte went 2-4 during the shortened 2020 season and 5-7 last fall. After a 1-7 start to this season, punctuated with Saturday's 19-point home loss to Florida International, Charlotte fired Healy.

As Group of 5 jobs go, Charlotte is a good and potentially great one, coveted by solid coaches even when Healy landed the gig. Charlotte will leave Conference USA to join the American Athletic Conference in 2023, which could mean some rocky years ahead on the field, but also the potential to thrive in a higher-profile league. The school will need to significantly increase its resources in the program, but with the right hires and decisions, Charlotte could emerge as a future power. The location in a major city and a strong recruiting area will draw a good candidate pool for athletic director Mike Hill. Potential candidates include Florida State offensive coordinator Alex Atkins, who held the same role at Charlotte under Healy, South Carolina defensive coordinator Clayton White and North Carolina offensive coordinator Phil Longo.

And so the coaching carousel continues to turn. Here's the latest on the open jobs, as well as some new information about the role of search firms and whether they're helping or hurting efforts to diversify the coaching ranks.

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The latest buzz: Everything I'm hearing (updated Oct. 25)

Several coaches are trending toward safety or peril as November approaches. Here's a snapshot of the key coaching situations and jobs to watch entering Week 9.