LostLettermen.com

Grading CFB’s New Head Coaching Changes

Comments

The dust has settled on two seasons pertinent to college football: The regular season and head coaching search season.

Twenty-seven programs, including 14 in AQ conferences, will have new head man in 2013. Twenty-six of them — including all the AQ conference schools — have found their man (FIU is still looking). So how did each program do? We grade all the new hires based on the coach’s past exploits and how well they fit with their new employers (Note: Grades are relative to the programs that hired them).

.

LOUISIANA TECH

New Coach: Skip Holtz

Grade: D

In Sonny Dykes, the Bulldogs had a coach whose teams improved year after year. In Holtz, Tech now has a coach who regressed every year at USF. With more talented players at South Florida, Holtz was expected to lead the Bulls to Big East crowns but instead went a disappointing 16–21 in three years. Yikes.

.

CINCINNATI

New Coach: Tommy Tuberville

Grade: C- 

Tuberville always carried himself like he was too good for Texas Tech during his three seasons there. So there’s no telling how quickly he’ll tire of being with a team in arguably the weakest AQ conference in the FBS. What’s more, his mediocre 25–24 record over the past four seasons (one at Auburn and three at Tech) suggest his heyday as a head coach is behind him.

.

WESTERN MICHIGAN

New Coach: P.J. Fleck

Grade: C

The 32-year-old Fleck, who is finishing out the 2012 season as the Buccaneers’ wide receivers coach, has experience coaching in the Midwest, having been a graduate assistant at Ohio State and a wide receivers coach at his alma mater, Northern Illinois. But having only coached that position and never been a coordinator, is he ready to helm an entire college program? We have doubts.

.

KENT STATE

New Coach: Paul Haynes

Grade: C

Hiring a longtime Ohio State assistant paid off for the Golden Flashes before, as Darrell Hazell guided a perennially moribund program to within one win of a BCS bowl berth this year. Kent State athletics administrators are hoping lightning strikes twice with Haynes. The problem with this Kent St. alum? His first year as a defensive coordinator this fall with Arkansas was a disaster.

.

TENNESSEE

New Coach: Butch Jones

Grade: C+

Jones can boast a 50–27 record in six seasons spent equally at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. But with an 0–5 record against Top 25 teams and a 14–23 mark against competition above .500, Jones appears to be lacking the big-game persona necessary for running an SEC program. Good luck with the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU.

.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS

New Coach: Rod Carey

Grade: C+

The Huskies didn’t have to go far to find Dave Doeren’s replacement, tabbing Carey — a member of the NIU staff since 2011 — to take the reins starting with the 2013 Orange Bowl. The thought of keeping it all internal is nice, but Carey has only been the coordinator of an FBS program for one year. (Granted, it was this year and was very successful.) Will that lack of experience prove detrimental?

.

UTEP

New Coach: Sean Kugler

Grade: B-

The former UTEP LB and assistant has been in the NFL for years, most recently as Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line coach. It will take some time for Kugler to settle in to the college ranks again, at which point he will try to do right by the endorsement of Boise State’s Chris Petersen, who said of Kugler in Nov. 2010, “There’s absolutely no question that he’s the best football coach I’ve ever been around.”

.

IDAHO

New Coach: Paul Petrino

Grade: B-

The Vandals were the worst scoring offense in the FBS this past season (15.8 PPG). Petrino’s success as an assistant at Illinois at Arkansas suggest that he can improve that rapidly. While Petrino isn’t a splashy hire, this is one of the least attractive jobs in the entire FBS. Getting someone with this much experience at big programs is rare.

.

BOSTON COLLEGE

New Coach: Steve Addazio

Grade: B- 

A Connecticut native, Addazio likely understands BC’s place as probably the most high-profile football program in New England (arguments from UConn fans aside), and his background as an offensive line specialist melds well with the Eagles’ penchant for producing pro-caliber players at the position. That being said, hiring a coach who led Temple to a 4–7 record this fall in a subpar Big East isn’t exactly exciting.

.

SAN JOSE STATE

New Coach: Rob Caragher

Grade: B

Who, you’re probably asking? Caragher had the unenviable task of succeeding Jim Harbaugh after he left San Diego for Stanford following the 2006 season. And he did quite well, guiding the Toreros to a 44–22 record in six years. He has experience at the FBS level too, having been an assistant at UCLA (1994–2002) and Kentucky (2003–2006)..

.

SOUTH FLORIDA

New Coach: Willie Taggart

Grade: B

In the last two years under Skip Holtz, USF lacked the edge they had under predecessor Jim Leavitt. Taggart showed that he had one in leading his alma mater Western Kentucky to consecutive 7–5 seasons. And as a native of nearby Bradenton, Taggart has the opportunity to lure plenty of talented local recruits to the Bulls.

.

KENTUCKY

New Coach: Mark Stoops

Grade: B

If older brothers Bob and Mike are any indication, Mark also has the capacity to be a successful head coach. He’s certainly credentialed, having turned Florida State into a dominant defensive team again, and his recruiting connections to the Sunshine State — a prerequisite for any SEC program — will bolster Kentucky’s talent level. However, only if new OC and former Kentucky WR Neal Brown can improve the nation’s fifth-worst scoring offense (17.9 PPG) will this hire work.

GEORGIA STATE

New Coach: Trent Miles

Grade: B 

With the Panthers’ move to the FBS and the Sun Belt Conference slated for next July, they needed someone used to working with the odds stacked against them but succeeding. At FCS Indiana State, Miles not only halted the Sycamores’ 33-game losing streak in 2009, he also guided them to three consecutive winning seasons (2010–2012), highlighted by an October road win over top-ranked North Dakota State.

.

ARKANSAS STATE

New Coach: Bryan Harsin

Grade: B

The former Texas and Boise State coordinator is a tender 35, but his offensive acumen is a good fit for a Red Wolves program whose previous two head coaches, Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn, were also offensive gurus. Harsin’s track record with the always-potent Broncos offense and his turnaround of the Longhorns O suggest that he can admirably follow in Freeze’s and Malzahn’s footsteps.

.

NC STATE

New Coach: Dave Doeren

Grade: B 

Toward the end of Tom O’Brien’s tenure, Wolfpack football wasn’t exciting. That’s what NC State was going for in hiring a young (41) and successful (23–4 at Northern Illinois) replacement in Doeren. Having spent all but four seasons of his 17 year coaching career in the Midwest, however, will necessitate an adjustment period for him and his new employers.

.

UTAH STATE

New Coach: Matt Wells

Grade: B+

The Aggies moved quickly and internally to replace Gary Andersen after he took the Wisconsin job. Wells, a former Utah State QB, was an assistant coach at his alma mater starting in 2011 and was the offensive coordinator this fall for an offense that set school records for for total points (454), total offense (6,108), completions (285) and total yards per game (469.8). He was also critical in the development of star sophomore QB Chuckie Keaton, who he’ll likely get two more years out of. USU should continue to roll with Wells at the helm.

.

SOUTHERN MISS

New Coach: Todd Monken

Grade: B+

Golden Eagles fans were overjoyed to see somebody, anybody, coaching their football team other than one-year blunder Ellis Johnson, who was fired after guiding Southern Miss to a program worst 0–12 season. Monken has a fine offensive pedigree, having tutored several star wideouts at LSU and coordinated Oklahoma State’s high-scoring attack the past two seasons. It’s all well and good, except the nation’s eighth-worst scoring defense (37.8 PPG) needs more help.

..

ARKANSAS

New Coach: Bret Bielema

Grade: B+

The steely, confident Bielema is the polar opposite of the all-over-the-place John L. Smith, which Hogs fans will appreciate. But if Bielema tired of the criticism he got from Wisconsin fans, how long will it take him to reach the end of his rope in Pig Sooie Nation? Nothing short of Bobby Petrino results will be a success, and we don’t know if Bielema can pull that off in the SEC West.

.

TEMPLE

New Coach: Matt Rhule

Grade: B+ 

Rhule spent most of this season as the New York Giants’ offensive line coach, but he is well-familiar with the Owls. He was a member of Al Golden’s staff when Temple went from being a perennial punching bag to a respectable program. It’s not just that previous experience that Rhule has working for him. His pedigree as a former All-Big Ten linebacker at Penn State should help him mine the recruit-rich Keystone State.

.

COLORADO

New Coach: Mike MacIntyre

Grade: B+ 

Having gone 4–21 over the past two seasons, the Buffaloes were in dire need of a turnaround artist. They found one in MacIntyre, who transformed San Jose State from a program that had lost 13 straight games across 2010–2011 to a team that went 10–2 in 2012 and finished the year with a BCS ranking (No. 24) for the first time in Spartans history. MacIntyre’s defensive coordinator background is an immediate salve to a team that had the worst-scoring defense in the FBS (46.0 PPG).

.

PURDUE

New Coach: Darrell Hazell

Grade: B+ 

Hazell is only two years removed from being an assistant at Ohio State, where he oversaw the development of Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Santonio Holmes and DeVier Posey into star players. Both his familiarity with the Big Ten landscape and the ability to turn around a listless program that he demonstrated at Kent State this past season gives hope to the Boilermarkers.

.

WISCONSIN

New Coach: Gary Andersen

Grade: A-

Badgers AD Barry Alvarez was sent scrambling after Bret Bielema’s departure for Arkansas and settled on Andersen, whose Utah State team played Wisconsin tight in a 16–14 loss early this season. The Aggies defense was the eighth-stoutest in FBS (15.3 PPG) and powered them to a WAC title and a victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Andersen’s a great hire who could be an even better fit than Bielema.

.

CAL

New Coach: Sonny Dykes

Grade: A- 

You’re going to fall behind both on the scoreboard and on the program if you’re a Pac-12 program that doesn’t score and score often. And boy have Sonny Dykes’ offenses at Texas Tech, Arizona, and Louisiana Tech known how to score. His three years as the Wildcats’ offensive coordinators give him a familiarity with the Pac-12, and his connections to Texas could provide the Golden Bears with an infusion of talent.

.

WESTERN KENTUCKY

New Coach: Bobby Petrino

Grade: A

Things couldn’t have worked out better for both parties. Western Kentucky gets one of the better offensive minds in the sport, while Petrino gets a chance to reboot his life and career in relative anonymity. What’s more, Petrino gets to do so in the same state where his head coaching career took off with Louisville a decade ago.

.

TEXAS TECH

New Coach: Kliff Kingsbury

Grade: A 

The only thing missing from the rally held in Lubbock to celebrate Kingsbury’s hiring was more hysterically screaming female Tech fans. Kingsbury is young (33), good-looking, a former Red Raider QB who gets West Texas and, from the sounds of it, a preternaturally gifted play-caller. His adjustment to the CEO-like position of head coach will take some time, but TTU hits the bull’s eye in bringing in the man who helped groom 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.

.

AUBURN

New Coach: Gus Malzahn

Grade: A

If we were unabashed Auburn fans, we would have also been at the airport cheering the touch down of Malzahn’s plane on Dec. 4. The college teams that Malzahn has coached for have not only scored a lot of points, they have also won (combined 70–24 record at Arkansas, Tulsa, Auburn and Arkansas State). His brainy, cool demeanor is fast becoming the norm for the hottest college football coaches (see: Kelly, Chip). We wouldn’t bet against him replicating the success of the 2010 Tigers team that he was the offensive brains behind.

 
comments powered by Disqus
Engineered by War Against Work
Follow Lost Lettermen!
x
;