Coaching carousel winners and losers: Grading every 2019 college football hire
Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas appear headed in dramatically different directions in the SEC West
It has seldom been riskier to be a head coach. Just ask Willie Taggart (Florida State) and Chad Morris (Arkansas), who didn't make it through Year 2. Washington's Chris Petersen blamed burn out when he decided to step down in the midst of a hall of fame career.
While there were only 17 coaching changes in the latest silly season, there have been a combined 45 moves in the last two years. There have been 66 changes -- more than half of FBS -- in the last three offseasons with Florida State and Arkansas changing coaches twice.
The money has never been better. The security? Well, that's another thing.
The rapid turnover perhaps means less available experience. Only two of the 17 new coaches have Power Five head coaching experience: Lane Kiffin (Tennessee, USC) and Steve Addazio (Boston College). None of them were in Power Five jobs when hired.
|Lane Kiffin||A||Kiffin was eventually getting back to Power Five. That it is with the Rebels makes so much sense. The school has already a shown a certain recruiting-friendly approach to the game (see: Hugh Freeze, NCAA sanctions). Not to say Kiffin will do anything underhanded, but Freeze set the template for how it can be done -- 10 wins, one of them being over Nick Saban. Believe it or not, Kiffin brings a more reasoned and credible approach. The Boy King who has flaunted both authority and convention has proved he can coach and be a stabilizing force at age 44. Our little Lane may growing up before our eyes. Wouldn't that be something at Ole Miss? |
|Greg Schiano||A||Rutgers is lucky to be in the Big Ten. Check that: Rutgers is lucky to have a football program. Things are that bad. That's another way of saying: Rutgers had to get Schiano. The former Scarlet Knights coach might be the only human alive able to get Rutgers competitive again. In 2006, Schiano led Rutgers to within a heartbeat of a BCS bowl. His record in Piscataway (68-67) looks by comparison like Bill Belichick's Patriots dynasty. Schiano brings sizzle and work ethic immediately. He'll recruit talent-rich New Jersey. He's got ties in South Florida. Before taking the job, Schiano used his leverage to get much-needed infrastructure upgrades. |
|Mike Norvell||A||FSU remains in disarray. That's not to say Norvell can't get things back quickly. In this search cycle, Norvell was the best name left on the board for FSU despite what you may have read about Bob Stoops being a candidate. (He wasn't, by the way.) At age 38, Norvell has the energy and experience to at least try to make the Clemson game competitive again. That's really what this is about, baby steps in the ACC before trying to regain national traction. |
|Danny Gonzales||A-||How do we put this mildly? New Mexico doesn't deserve Danny Gonzales. The program hasn't mattered in years. The university kept Bob Davie way beyond his sell-by date. But Gonzales, 43, is a former New Mexico walk-on who coached under Rocky Long with the Lobos and San Diego State. At Arizona State, he was considered one of the nation's best defensive coordinators and was a valued member of Herm Edwards' staff. Let's hope New Mexico provides Gonzales with the resources he needs to assemble a staff and recruit. The Lobos were 2-10 last season and went winless in the Mountain West. They've been to two bowls in the last 13 years. |
|Jimmy Lake||B||As shocking as Petersen's departure was, U-Dub seems to be well positioned with Lake. Athletic director Jen Cohen and Petersen had a plan. Lake goes back to 2012 with Petersen at Boise State. He matured in those eight seasons to become the Huskies' stand-alone defensive coordinator for the first time in 2018. Now, who becomes offensive coordinator, if there is any change at all from Bush Hamdan? Petersen's shadow will loom large over Washington. Lake is following a guy who was one of the top five coaches in the country. Can he keep up? |
|Jeff Scott||B||Scott had his shot at multiple jobs as co-offensive coordinator at Clemson. That he decided to launch his head coaching career at USF is huge. Scott concluded that he can win with the Bulls. History supports him. This is a talented offensive coach with a couple of national championship rings who will be showing his quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence film. If it's about fit, Scott is the guy. He's a Florida native who has recruited Florida and knows Florida. At age 38, Scott has spent 13 years at Clemson. It was time. USF is lucky to get him. |
|Willie Taggart||B||A soft landing spot for a coach who may have overreached at Florida State. It happens to all of us. We all reach the level of our incompetence. That's nothing against Taggart, who won 10 at South Florida. That's reality. His Power Five record at Oregon and FSU is 16-17. Maybe Group of Five is where he should be. Kiffin proved it could be done in Boca Raton. Taggart just never figured it out at FSU. |
|Eli Drinkwitz||B-||Missouri did OK for grabbing its fourth choice, or maybe fifth choice, in Drinkwitz. None of that is the coach's fault. The search became public, and the board of curators got involved shooting down names (Skip Holtz, Blake Anderson, Jeff Monken). Drinkwitz appealed to curator chairman Jon Sundvold, an ex-basketball star at Mizzou who wields a lot of power. Drinkwitz makes quite a leap from NC State offensive coordinator (2017) to Appalachian State coach (2018) to SEC coach. Somehow, the fact that he took Scott Satterfield's players and won the Sun Belt became a criticism. The opposite of winning with someone else's players is losing. Missouri football needs to become exciting again. The former assistant under Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and Bryan Harsin (Boise State) has the personality and offensive chops to do it. |
Jury is still out
|Jeff Hafley||C+||Hafley's ascension to Power Five coach has been dizzying. When he was hired at Ohio State a year ago, he hadn't been in college football since 2011. As Ryan Day's defensive play caller, Hafley changed the entire culture, taking the Buckeyes from T71 to second in total. Hafley, a New Jersey native, was an aggressive recruiter under Dave Wannstedt at Pitt. One concern: He has never been so much as a coordinator. The last BC coach (Addazio) put folks to sleep with his offense. Hafley will have to hire a hot-shot offensive coordinator and get a quarterback -- quick. That's how it works in Trevor Lawrence's conference, and really, everywhere. |
|Shawn Clark||C+||The Mountaineers moved quickly to replace Drinkwitz with his offensive line coach. Clark played for App State in the 1990s and was the offensive line coach for the last four seasons. The momentum created by a Sun Belt championship won't wane anytime soon. In those four seasons, App State is 42-10. |
|Marcus Arroyo||C+||The Rebels get an upgrade if only because Arroyo has college experience. Tony Sanchez was elevated straight from local Bishop Gorman High School and flopped, going 20-40 in five seasons. Oregon's Mario Cristobal inherited Arroyo as OC after Taggart left. How about this for an upgrade? In his second season, Arroyo was OC for the Pac-12 champions. UNLV has been a long-suffering program. Arroyo is the face of a program that moves into the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium. |
|Kaelen DeBoer||C||It took long enough on the parts of both parties to finally get this deal done. DeBoer, 46, is seen as continuity after the retirement of Jeff Tedford. During his two seasons as offensive coordinator at Fresno (2017-18), the Bulldogs were eighth and third in Mountain West scoring offense. In the two previous seasons, Fresno State was 10th and 12th (last). DeBoer is leaving Indiana where he helped the Hoosiers to eight wins for the first time since 1993. Only Ohio State was better in the Big Ten in total offense. Could DeBoer have hung on for a year or two and gotten a better job? This guy has made the right move each step of his career. |
|Ryan Silverfield||C||Memphis also stayed in-house in elevating Silverfield, Norvell's offensive line coach. Silverfield began last week as the interim coach, certainly not a favorite for the head job. The week ended with him dabbing at his eyes calling his ascension, "a dream come true." Good continuity here with the Cotton Bowl coming up, but let's not kid ourselves. Silverfield can pledge loyalty all he wants. He was in Memphis only because he left the Detroit Lions after less than a month on the job in December 2015. |
|Ricky Rahne||C||It's a good thing to be Penn State's offensive coordinator. The last two have gotten head coaching jobs. First, Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State. Then, Rahne who has been with James Franklin for nine straight years at Penn State and Vanderbilt. Not many times when the coach has more experience than the program. Rahne has been a coach for 16 years. ODU has been an FBS program for six years. |
|Sam Pittman||C-||As an SEC head coach, Pittman is a heck of an offensive line coach. That's not to disparage Pittman, 58, who has coached for 35 years and been a part of nine FBS programs. Pittman was one of Kirby Smart's top coaches at Georgia. However, Arkansas' last six coaches have brought a combined 49 years of head coaching experience to the job. Pittman has none. |
|Jeff Traylor||C-||The one-time Big 12 recruiter of the year (at Texas) comes from Arkansas where he was Morris' running backs coach. Traylor won four state championships in 15 years at Gilmer High School in Texas. He has pledged to recruit the Lone Star State. Good place to start at Texas-San Antonio. |
|Steve Addazio||D||This job went to Addazio after Urban Meyer reportedly intervened. Meyer's second job as a college coach was as a receivers coach at Colorado State from 1990-95. Addazio, a former Meyer assistant, is 60 and a .500 coach in his career (57-55) with a reputation for sluggish ground-based offenses. CSU needs an exciting program to match its exciting home, Canvas Stadium, where beer flows at the New Belgium Porch. Addazio's BC offenses finished above 68th nationally once in seven years. Pass the pale ale.|
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