College football coaching changes carousel: Grades, breakdowns for new 2018-19 hires
We spent the first part of the offseason breaking down the entire 2018-19 college football coaching cycle
Coaches get hired to be fired. Hopefully, they win a few games in between ... but usually, they aren't winning enough. That's why every winter is filled with coaches losing jobs, moving on to other jobs and trying on new polos and hats. It's a dizzying process and one that can be hard for the average fan to follow. And considering you did not have time to keep track off every move that was made, we decided to break it all down for you.
Not only do we note who took each open job and how coaches left their respective programs, we provide some analysis and a grade along the way. In other words, this is a one-stop shop for all your coaching change needs. Well, except for those team polos. How exactly will these coaches perform at their new jobs? That clearly remains to be seen. For now, all we can do is judge the hires themselves.
FBS hirings and firings
|Tom Arth||Terry Bowden (fired)||I'm not familiar with Arth, and can only go off his numbers at John Carroll and Chattanooga. Arth's teams at Carroll went 40-8 over four seasons and won a conference title in 2016. He took over at Chattanooga in 2017, and has gone only 9-13 in two seasons, though the team's record improved from 3-8 in his first season to 6-5 this year. Arth is an Ohio native who is familiar with the recruiting landscape of the area. Grade: C|
|Eli Drinkwitz||Scott Satterfield (Louisville)||Drinkwitz is in line with a lot of the head coaching hires we've seen at both the NFL and college levels lately. He's a young (35) offensive mind, and the teams he's worked for have a tendency to improve offensively. He was an assistant at Auburn in 2010 when the Tigers won a national title and followed Gus Malzahn to Arkansas State. He's spent time at Boise State before coming to NC State as OC for the 2016 season. The Wolfpack scored 35.6 points per game this season, and QB Ryan Finley is a legit NFL prospect. Now Drinkwitz gets a chance to prove his worth as a head coach at a program with a blueprint for success already in place. Grade: B|
|Manny Diaz||Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech)||Diaz finally gets his first shot at a head coaching gig, and even though he's only 44, it feels like a long time coming. Diaz has been one of the best defensive coordinators at the college level for over a decade, as his defenses are very aggressive and can wreak havoc. The question is how whether or not he'll be able to handle a program on his own. I've been a fan of Diaz's for some time, though, so I'm a big fan of this hire for Temple. Grade: A|
|Chris Klieman||Bill Snyder (retired)||Klieman comes to Kansas State from North Dakota State, where he's been running the most dominant FCS program in the country for five seasons. In that time the Bison have gone 67-6, won three national titles, and are still alive for a fourth this year. Klieman's program also produced Carson Wentz, the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, and could have another NFL QB in Easton Stick. The question will be whether or not Klieman can follow the same blueprint that wins at North Dakota and have success with it at Kansas State. The offensive coordinator hire could prove to be a critical one as well. Grade: B|
|Gary Andersen||Matt Wells (Texas Tech)||They say you can't go home again, but they're wrong just as often as the rest of us are. Andersen returns to the Utah State post that originally vaulted him to the Wisconsin job. Andersen was only 26-24 in his four seasons with the Aggies, but it culminated in an 11-2 finish and a conference title in 2012. If he can repeat the feat in his second go round, nobody will be complaining about this hire. As things stand now, however, it's hard to be too excited about this. Grade: C|
|Geoff Collins||Paul Johnson (retired)||Collins is a hire that makes a lot of sense for Georgia Tech as it looks to move on from its time as an option offense. The Conyers, Georgia native has been on staff twice at Tech, once under George O'Leary and once under Chan Gailey. He's also been the defensive coordinator at Florida and Mississippi State, so he has plenty of experience recruiting the southeast. And his recruiting is one reason he's been hired. The hope is Collins will be able to improve Tech's chances of landing more of the top talent in the area. He went 15-10 in two seasons at Temple, including a mark of 11-5 in conference play. Grade: B+|
|Hugh Freeze||Turner Gill (retired)||Freeze's tenure at Ole Miss ended in embarrassing fashion, and there were the issues with the NCAA. Still, if you're Liberty, it's hard to imagine you could find a bigger name for your job. As far as on-field results, Freeze went 39-25 over five seasons, with trips to the Peach and Sugar Bowls. His Rebel teams finished ranked in the AP Top 25 in both 2014 and 2015. The top-10 finish in 2015 was the first time Ole Miss finished a season ranked in the top 10 since 1969. He bring immediate name recognition to a program trying to find its footing at the FBS level. Grade: A|
|Mel Tucker||Mike MacIntyre (fired)||Tucker returned to the college level as Alabama's assistant head coach in 2015 after spending the previous nine seasons at the NFL level. He spent a year working under Nick Saban before spending the last three seasons as Georgia's defensive coordinator. Suffice it to say, Tucker knows how to build a defense. His ability to do so at Colorado without the same kind of recruiting advantages he had at Alabama and Georgia, as well as his ability to pair it with a good offense will be the key to his success in Boulder. Grade: B|
|Mike Locksley||DJ Durkin (fired)||Locksley was a logical hire for Maryland. His tenure at New Mexico was a disaster, and he was only 1-5 at Maryland as an interim coach in 2015, but he's familiar with the school having spent 10 seasons there as an assistant in multiple stints. He also has further experience in the Big Ten where he spent four years as the OC at Illinois. Locksley's strength, though, is as a recruiter, particularly in the DMV area. Of course, Maryland's had plenty of talent already, the question will be whether Locksley can help it compete in one of the toughest divisions in the sport. Grade: B|
|Ryan Day||Urban Meyer (retiring)||We know that Ryan Day is a respected offensive mind. He's spent the last six seasons working under Chip Kelly and Urban Meyer at both the NFL and college levels. His Ohio State offense averaged over 43 points per game this season, and he helped turn first-year starter Dwayne Haskins into a Heisman finalist. What we don't know is how Day will be as a head coach. He took over the team for three games during Urban Meyer's suspension, but he's never run a college program on his own. Ohio State is a big job for somebody without any head coaching experience. None of this means Day won't be ridiculously successful in Columbus, but there are a lot of variables in play with this hire. Grade: C|
|Will Healy||Brad Lambert (fired)||Healy immediately becomes one of the youngest FBS coaches in the country as he's only 33. He's not a household name, and if you judge him solely on his 13-21 record in three years at Austin Peay, you're missing a lot of context. Healy took over a program that had been 1-45 in its previous 46 games. After going 0-11 his first season, the Governors went 8-4 in his second year, only losing one game to an FCS opponent. He was named the Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year and Eddie Robinson Awards (FCS coach of the year) in 2017. Grade: B|
|Scott Satterfield||Bobby Petrino (fired)||Once Jeff Brohm turned down his alma mater, Satterfield seemed like the most logical Plan B. Satterfield took over Appalachian State in 2013, oversaw the transition to FBS, and in five seasons in the Sun Belt his Mountaineers teams went 51-24 overall and 38-10, winning the Sun Belt each of the last three seasons. Brohm would have been an A+ hire, but Louisville still did very well here. Grade: A|
|Walt Bell||Mark Whipple (fired)||Bell is a bit of an unproven commodity. At 34 years old he becomes one of the youngest head coaches at the FBS level. He was in his first season as OC at Florida State, but had spent the previous four years in the same capacity at Arkansas State and Maryland. He took over play-calling duties at FSU late in the season, but it's hard to judge the results with Florida State's problems on the offensive line. This could prove to be a brilliant hire, but it's hard to rule either way right now. Grade: C|
|Mike Houston||Scottie Montgomery (fired)||Reports originally surfaced that Mike Houston was going to take the Charlotte job, but instead it was another North Carolina school that snatched him up. It's hard to blame either school for wanting Houston, as he's gone 37-6 in three seasons at James Madison, with a national title in 2016 and a runner-up finish in 2017. He also won four conference titles in five seasons between stops at Lenoir-Rhyne and The Citadel. Grade: A |
|Jim McElwain||John Bonamego (fired)||The hire comes as somewhat of a surprise simply because you don't typically see MAC teams hiring coaches who have won two SEC East division titles during their career all that often. McElwain spent the 2018 season as a WR coach at Michigan, and he has three seasons at Michigan State on his resume as well, so he has familiarity with the area. More importantly, he's gone 44-28 in six seasons as a head coach, including 22-12 at Florida. Grade: A- |
|Matt Wells||Kliff Kingsbury (fired)||The two-time Mountain West Coach of the Year is a nice hire for Texas Tech, even if it is somewhat unexpected. Wells is a South Carolina native, and while his coaching career began at Navy, and he spent a season at Louisville, the majority of his career has been spent west of the Rockies. He's never coached in the state of Texas. What he has done, however, is take over a Utah State program that was in good shape and overseen a reset of the program, building it back up to a 10-2 mark this season. While his overall win percentage of .564 might not seem great, when comparing it to Utah State's historical win percentage (.490), it's clear he got the most out of the program while there. Grade: B+|
|Jake Spavital||Everett Withers (fired)||This is a move that makes plenty of sense for Texas State. The Bobcats have finished last in the Sun Belt in points per game each of the last three seasons, and Spavital should fix that at a minimum. Spavital is a member of the Air Raid tree and has been the playcaller for some top offenses at Texas A&M, California and West Virginia. Grade: B+|
|Scot Loeffler||Mike Jinks (fired)||If you were to ask Auburn fans for their feelings about Loeffler, you wouldn't hear many rave reviews, but it's important to remember Auburn fans are insane. Loeffler's done quite well as the offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech and Boston College the last six years, and he's an Ohio native who is familiar with the recruiting grounds from which the MAC gets its players. Grade: B|
|Mack Brown||Larry Fedora (fired)||Nostalgia can be a powerful force. Sometimes it leads to bringing back a coach who had plenty of success at your school over 20 years ago. Of course, Brown won't have anywhere near the inherent advantages of a place like Texas -- where he won a national title -- at North Carolina, and things dipped at the end of his tenure in Austin. So will he be able to win big in Chapel Hill? Honestly, I'm not sure that's the goal here. Simply keeping the stadium filled and fielding a competent team is probably the only thing North Carolina is looking for at this time. Grade: D|
|Tyson Helton||Mike Sanford (fired)||Considering the short amount of time between Mike Sanford's dismissal and Helton's hire, you have to assume Helton was Western Kentucky's top target. It's his first head-coaching gig, but the former college QB has experience all over the country. He's familiar with WKU as he spent two seasons there as the offensive coordinator under Jeff Brohm, and that's the kind of success the Hilltoppers are hoping to get back to. Grade: B-|
|Les Miles||Dave Beaty (fired)||Kansas is one of the most difficult Power Five jobs in the country, and the reins of the program have been handed over to The Mad Hatter. He's just the right kind of crazy to think he can make it work in Lawrence, and while it's hard to imagine Miles having the kind of success he had at LSU with the Jayhawks, that's not what they're asking of him. If he can take a program that's been an annual embarrassment and make it a respectable one that competes for bowl games and tides the fan base over until basketball season starts, this will be a successful hire. Grade: C|
Notable retentions and extensions
|Justin Wilcox||Extended||California extended Wilcox's contract through the 2023 season, and it looks like a smart move. Wilcox took over a Cal team that had allowed 42.6 points per game in 2016 and has improved that number to 24.8 points per game in his first two seasons, going 12-12 overall and 6-12 in the Pac-12.|
|Barry Odom||Extended||Mizzou extended Odom's contract through the 2024 season. He's gone 19-18 overall and 10-14 in SEC play during his three seasons, but Missouri's win total has improved in both Odom's second and third seasons, going from four to seven to 8 this year. Three of Missouri's losses this season came against top 15 teams.|
|Bill Clark||Extended||UAB announced an extension for Bill Clark that will make him the highest-paid coach in Conference USA. This is terrific news for the Blazers, as Clark's name was already being bandied about as a candidate at Power Five schools this winter. Instead, it looks as if UAB will hold onto the coach who has his team playing for a Conference USA title in only its second season back from having the program shuttered. Clark has been at UAB since 2014 but has only coached three seasons, going 23-14 overall with a 17-7 record against C-USA. |
|Jeff Brohm||Staying||Brohm has decided to remain at Purdue after entertaining an offer from his alma mater Louisville. This is huge news for Purdue as Brohm has revitalized a moribund program the last two seasons, and losing him could have been a major setback.|
|Clay Helton||Retained||It's a move that didn't make everyone involved with USC happy, but it's an understandable one. The results this season were well below the standard of USC football, but Helton did win 21 games the last two seasons, and this Trojans team dealt with a lot of injuries. Plus, would a fourth coaching change in the last decade fix things? Maybe stability is what's needed. Or maybe Helton better win at least 10 games next season with a refreshed staff.|
|Lovie Smith||Extended||Smith inherited an Illinois program that needed a complete overhaul and was told he would have the time to see it through. Illinois did double its win total from 2017 in 2018, but it also got blown out quite a bit, allowing 40 points or more in six different games. Smith is only 9-27 in his three seasons, and I would expect the extension won't mean much if the team doesn't make a significant step forward in 2019.|
|Chris Ash||Retained||Ash will enter the 2019 season on one of the hottest seats in the country. After going 1-11 this season, Ash's teams at Rutgers have gone 7-29 overall and 3-24 in the Big Ten. Nobody is expecting Rutgers to compete for division titles, but the team took a major step backward in 2018, and if not for a buyout of over $10 million, Ash might not have been given another chance.|
|Mike Bobo||Retained||Bobo dealt with health problems this season, and you have to think they had an impact on the Rams season. After posting 7-6 records in each of his first three years, the Rams went 3-9 in 2018. He'll enter the 2019 season on the hot seat, but he deserves a chance to rebound.|
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