The Western Kentucky football team had just wrapped up a winning record and a bowl invitation, but as players gathered for a postseason meeting, the mood was hardly celebratory.
Coach Jeff Brohm had been hired away by Purdue and had chosen to start his new job immediately. Nick Holt, the defensive coordinator, and a former USC assistant, was left to run the team.
“There were a lot of sad eyes around the room,” Holt said. “I told the kids to hang in there.”
Interim bowl coaches — assistants called upon to take command for only one game, often the biggest game of the season — are a fact of life in college...