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McMurphy's Law: Report cards for new coaches

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider

Maryland's new uniforms haven't drawn rave reviews, but new coach Randy Edsall is a hit so far. (US Presswire)  
Maryland's new uniforms haven't drawn rave reviews, but new coach Randy Edsall is a hit so far. (US Presswire)  

Want to know which coaches have had solid debuts at their new schools? Then why wait? There's no reason to wait until after the season to make a fair and logical judgment on if a coach has had a successful first season.

In this day of instant gratification, we want -- no, make that demand -- instant analysis online, on the air and on Twitter. So I'm here to grade the 24 coaches in their first season at their new schools after only one-sixth of the regular season has been completed.

So there's no time like the present. My grades based on what each coach has -- or has not -- accomplished so far this season:

Steve Addazio, Temple: Apparently Addazio, the former Florida offensive coordinator, can win without Tim Tebow. The critics pointed out in Addazio's one season without Tebow, the Gators' offense went in the tank. The Owls have topped 40 points -- albeit against inferior competition -- in each of their first two games. The real test comes Saturday vs. Penn State. Grade: A-

Bill Blankenship, Tulsa: It's no surprise Tulsa is 1-1 after splitting with Oklahoma and Tulane. Although Blankenship expected to be more competitive against the Sooners, and may have been if not for Demaris Johnson's bizarre -– and illegal -– shopping habits. It doesn't get any easier for Blakenship with Oklahoma State and Boise State up next. Grade: B-

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Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois: A former defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, Doeren's NIU offense already is in mid-season form. The Huskies have topped 40 points against Army and Kansas, although the defense allowed 45 at KU. Doeren certainly has his work cut out for him on defense (the Huskies returned only two starters), especially this week facing Russell Wilson and Wisconsin. Grade: B-

Randy Edsall, Maryland: The Terrapins certainly made a big splash in Edsall's debut -- but enough about Maryland's jerseys and helmets. After a 12-year run at UConn, Edsall said he took his "dream job" with the Terps. Having sophomore Danny O'Brien as his quarterback certainly helps. Grade: A

Jon Embree, Colorado: With 16 returning starters, Embree hoped to lead his alma mater to its first bowl berth since 2007. However, a 0-2 start and upcoming road trips to Ohio State and Stanford in the next three weeks means CU likely will have at least four losses through six games. Embree's first season back in Boulder looks like it will be a long one. Grade: D

Luke Fickell, Ohio State: Not only did Fickell have to coach his first game without five suspended players, but three more were suspended before the opener. Still, the Buckeyes blasted Akron before edging Toledo. There can't be a more difficult situation than what Fickell stepped into -- and he's still three weeks from the meat of the schedule when OSU enters Big Ten play. Grade: A-

James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Franklin had never been a head coach at any level until this year and so far, so good. He's already matched Vanderbilt's win total each of the past two years with a 2-0 start. With remaining games against Ole Miss, Army, Kentucky and Wake Forest, Franklin just might be able to squeeze out the Commodores' first bowl berth since 2008. Grade: A+

Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State: The Red Wolves hung with Illinois in an 18-point loss in Freeze's debut, but that was quickly forgotten after last week's seal-clubbing of Memphis. The Red Wolves rolled up 611 yards in the 47-3 victory under Freeze, who was ASU's offensive coordinator last season. Grade: A

Al Golden, Miami (Fla.): I take that back, Luke Fickell doesn't have the most difficult situation -- Golden does. Despite all the turmoil swirling in and around the program, Golden continues to take the challenges head on. After a disappointing loss at Maryland, Golden doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for the Hurricanes. Even playing without a number of starters, Golden said they had no excuses. Grade: A

Todd Graham, Pittsburgh: The Panthers might be the most unimpressive 2-0 team in the nation. Pitt defeated Buffalo and Maine, but only outgained both by a total of 17 yards. This is somewhat surprising considering the numbers Graham's teams put up at Tulsa. Maybe he's just sandbagging for their next three games against Iowa, Notre Dame and South Florida. Pitt fans certainly hope so.Grade: C

Darrell Hazell, Kent State: A former wide receivers coach at Ohio State, Hazell hasn't experienced many blowout losses like his 48-7 debut at Alabama. Last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, Kent State held the Ragin' Cajuns to 159 yards, but could only muster 186 yards in the 20-12 loss. It's been nine years since Kent State had a winning season and it doesn't look like that streak will end this year. Grade: C-

Brady Hoke, Michigan: Thanks to a miracle comeback against Notre Dame, the Brady Hoke era is off to a rousing start. However, he cautioned the Wolverines aren't there yet. "We're not even close," he said. The defense is still a work in progress, but having Denard Robinson at quarterback should guarantee a successful debut for Hoke. Grade: A

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: After his success at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Houston, the expectations of Holgorsen were as high as his last skydiving excursion. WVU hasn't met those -- not yet anyway -- but Holgorsen's high-flying act will get its first real tests the next two weeks against Maryland and LSU. Grade: B

Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette: Hudspeth, who was wide receivers coach at Mississippi State and a former head coach at North Alabama, split road games at Oklahoma State and Kent State. Under Hudspeth, the Ragin' Cajuns should be improved and might even challenge for their first winning season since 2005. Grade: B

Jerry Kill, Minnesota: The Golden Gophers nearly stunned USC in Kill's UM debut and then they were shocked by Kill's on-field seizure in the final seconds of last week's loss to New Mexico State. It's unknown how long until Kill can return to the Gophers' sideline. Grade: C

Pete Lembo, Ball State: Lembo, who had been a head coach at Lehigh and Elon, certainly had a successful debut in the FBS ranks, knocking off Indiana. It ended a four-game non-conference losing streak to FBS teams. Last week, the Cardinals did come back down to Earth, however, with a lopsided loss at South Florida. Grade: B

Rocky Long, San Diego State: Long nearly got off to a rocky start, but avoided a huge upset to Army on Saturday. The Aztecs were outgained 446-293 yet survived thanks to three Army turnovers. With QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman back, the Aztecs should be better on offense. Maybe they will eventually. Grade: C

Dan McCarney, North Texas: To put in perspective what McCarney is facing, consider the Mean Green have lost 58 of their last 71 games. McCarney vows North Texas will shed its losing ways but with a non-conference schedule this year featuring Houston, Alabama and Tulsa, it won't be this year. A former Iowa State head coach, McCarney is faced with his biggest rebuilding challenge of his career.Grade: B-

Will Muschamp, Florida: The meat of the schedule isn't until this week, but Muschamp is off to an impressive start. Although it's been against inferior opponents, Muschamp has put his stamp on UF's defense -- allowing only three points in two games. The real test starts in SEC play, this week against Tennessee. So far Muschamp has aced the warm-up exams. Grade: A+

Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut: Pasqualoni replaced Randy Edsall, who guided the Huskies to at least eight wins the past four seasons, including last year's Big East title. The Huskies' offense was, well, offensive against Vanderbilt: 193 yards and four turnovers. UConn never was an offensive juggernaut under Edsall, but Edsall still won somehow. Can Pasqualoni overachieve as well? Grade: C-

David Shaw, Stanford: Two games and two blowout wins, but there's still an enormous amount of pressure on Shaw, who took over the Cardinal after last year's BCS bowl trip under Jim Harbaugh. With QB Andrew Luck returning this season, anything less than another BCS bowl berth or Pac-12 title will be viewed as a disappointment. Grade: A

Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio): Treadwell gave Missouri a scare in his debut coaching his alma mater, but fell 17-6. He was successful in his two games as Michigan State's interim coach when Mark Dantonio was sidelined and there's no reason he won't continue that success at Miami, which -- you may have heard -- has had some fairly decent coaches in the past. Grade: B

Kevin Wilson, Indiana: Thank goodness Indiana is a basketball school or someone in Bloomington might have noticed the Hoosiers started with upset losses to Ball State and Virginia. The Hoosiers haven't started 0-2 since 2003 with Gerry DiNardo. Wilson brought impressive credentials from Oklahoma so the Hoosiers should improve -- whether anyone in Bloomington notices or not. Grade: D

Everett Withers, North Carolina: The Tar Heels survived five turnovers to edge Rutgers as Withers moved to 2-0. Withers' expertise is defense -- he was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach after Butch Davis' sudden firing -- but the Tar Heels' offense has been piling up yards -- and turnovers -- with QB Bryn Renner. Grade: A

BCS Bowl Projections

BCS Title: LSU vs. Florida State. I'll keep the Seminoles in this spot for at least one more week. Whether they remain next week depends on if they beat Oklahoma Saturday. LSU just keeps winning. It's not always pretty -- OK, it's never pretty -- but until the Tigers lose a game, I'm projecting them to New Orleans in the title game.

Most yards allowed by Notre Dame*
School (Year) Yards
1. Denard Robinson (2010) 502
2. USC (2009) 501
3. Stanford (2009) 496
4. Mich. State (2010) 477
5t. Purdue (2008) 462
5t. USC (2007) 462
7t. Mich. State (2009) 459
7t. Boston College (2007) 459
9. Washington (2009) 457
10. USC (2008) 449
11. Denard Robinson (2011) 446
* - Since 2007

Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Boise State. Big 12 champion Oklahoma against undefeated Boise State. The rematch of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl would be must-see TV. Would Big Game Bob, well, finally win a big game or would Boise State continue its David-like dominance against the AQ BCS Goliaths?

Sugar: Alabama vs. Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide get to New Orleans, but instead of the BCS title game, they're in the Sugar Bowl. I think the Big 12 runner-up (either Texas A&M or Oklahoma State) receives an at-large bid to New Orleans. I'll go with Texas A&M -- for now.

Rose: Stanford vs. Wisconsin. What a matchup this would be: Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Has there ever been a bowl game with the Heisman winner and the Heisman runner-up in the same game? This has the potential if Wilson continues producing like his first two games since transferring from N.C. State.

Orange: Nebraska vs. West Virginia. With Notre Dame most likely out of BCS bowl picture, the Orange (if it loses FSU to title game) would love to bring the Big Red to South Beach. West Virginia still remains my team to beat in the Big East, although South Florida is coming on strong.

Heisman Forecast

How my Heisman Trophy ballot would look if it was due today:

1. Robert Griffin III, Baylor. Griffin was simply spectacular in the opening win against TCU. He had five touchdown passes and only six incompletions while throwing for 359 yards. Remember this is my Heisman ballot based on what's happened to this point so far. So the big question is, can Griffin stay relevant all season and put up those type of numbers once the Bears enter Big 12 play?

2. Kellen Moore, Boise State. Moore will get another national television opportunity to showcase his talents Friday at Toledo. After one game, Moore's 82.3 completion percentage ranks second nationally. In November, he'll blow past Texas' Colt McCoy as the winningest starting QB in college football history.

3. Andrew Luck, Stanford. In two blowout victories, Luck is averaging only 236 yards passing a game. He only has four career 300-yard passing games, but he could notch No. 5 this week against Arizona, which was shredded by Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden on Thursday.

Tweets of the Week

Some of the best college football-related tweets in the past week pulled from Twitter.

"If everyone feels like I do, we won't lose another game this season." -- UConn senior TB Jonathan Jean-Louis after the Huskies' 24-21 loss to Vanderbilt.

"Let's start a super conference! My idea!" -- Texas freshman CB Quandre Diggs.

"Good to be home. Thanks to all the ND fans for y'all support. Love my bros on this team! Enjoy the ride...through the ups and downs! #family" -- Notre Dame junior LB Manti Te'o after the Irish's 35-31 loss at Michigan.

"Thanks to all the fans who are supporting us, for the ones still on the fence please jump on board NOW! These kids deserve it, GO DORES!" -- Vanderbilt coach James Franklin after the Commodores improved to 2-0 by beating UConn.

"We're a team. It's not 1 single man's fault. Don't lose faith. This TEAM will be great. Mark my words. Heads are high. On to the next one." -- Notre Dame senior WR John Goodman said after loss to Michigan.

"When you up they with you and when you down they against...that's #life" -- Oregon State senior WR James Rodgers, still sidelined with a knee injury, after OSU's loss to Wisconsin.

"The offense improved during the second half. Let's hope it continues into the game against Washington #Nebraska #GOB1GRED." -- Former Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier on the Cornhuskers struggles against Fresno State.

"In 5 yrs I think it will be apparent the #Aggies made a bad call on this. #Big12 #SEC." -- Oklahoma State uber-booster T. Boone Pickens.

"Won't be playing this week. Still another week away. Sorry Sooner fans." -- Oklahoma senior LB Travis Lewis, who is still out with a broken bone in his left foot and won't play Saturday at Florida State.

"My Dads entire family is from West Virginia...and I still don't like anybody from West Virginia lol." -- Maryland junior DL A.J. Francis said about Saturday's game with West Virginia.

"In the fieldhouse chillin before practice, tell UCF quarterback I coming for that neck Saturday night, at they house." -- Charleston Southern senior DL Delvon King before playing UCF. Two days later he apologized. UCF won 62-0 and King had one tackle.

"Note to Oregon fans everywhere: your uniforms are infinitely less cool when you're getting rolled up on." -- Former Washington State QB Alex Brink after the Ducks' loss to LSU.


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