Bedard: With Jedd Fisch’s departure for college, a succession plan for Josh McDaniels becomes complicated

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A year ago, the Patriots didn't have much of a backup plan if Josh McDaniels got his second head coaching job.

Thanks to fortuitous circumstances — that may or may not have been manipulated by Belichick — he didn't have to worry about that for the 2020 season. To make sure he had options if the same situation arose for 2021, Belichick added the well-traveled Jedd Fisch to the coaching staff.

Those plans went up in smoke when Fisch on Wednesday was named head coach at the University of Arizona.

"Jedd Fisch is one of the most outstanding coaches I have worked with and was an excellent addition to our staff this year," Belichick told the school. "Jedd has gained a wealth of experience in numerous organizations, in college and the NFL, and is ready to lead the Arizona program. Although we will miss his contributions here, we wish Jedd and Amber well at the University of Arizona, home to two of the greatest Patriots, Tedy Bruschi and Rob Gronkowski, as well as our current Wildcats, Nick Folk and J.J. Taylor."

"I think he can do really well there," Folk told reporters. "I think he's got a lot of support from a bunch of alumni. So I hope to get back at some point whenever I get a chance to get back. And hopefully, we're getting some big wins with Jedd as a head coach.

With McDaniels expected to be in the mix for coaching jobs with the Jaguars and Falcons — possibly the Lions and Texans as well — and with the Chargers, Bears and Jets should they open up after the season, the Patriots could be back in the same spot they were a year ago: in a tough spot if McDaniels leaves.