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).
New Coach: Skip Holtz
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.
New Coach: Tommy Tuberville
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.
New Coach: P.J. Fleck
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.
New Coach: Paul Haynes
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.
New Coach: Butch Jones
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.
New Coach: Rod Carey
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?
New Coach: Sean Kugler
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.”
New Coach: Paul Petrino
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.
New Coach: Steve Addazio
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
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)..
New Coach: Willie Taggart
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.
New Coach: Mark Stoops
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.
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