College football coaching changes carousel: Tracker, grades for new 2017-18 hires
We spent the first part of the offseason breaking down the entire 2017-18 college football coaching cycle
The 2017 coaching carousel spun like crazy, and it was hard to keep up with everything that went on. Luckily for you, we've created this handy coaching tracker that helped you keep track of the hires that have taken place throughout the coaching silly season.
|Sean Lewis||Paul Haynes (fired)||After a long, winding search, Kent State has reportedly found its new coach, and it's Syracuse offensive coordinator Sean Lewis. Lewis was only in his second season at Syracuse, but he has been a part of Dino Babers' staff since they were at Eastern Illinois. He's familiar with the MAC as he spent two years with Babers at Bowling Green (as an OC in 2015), and he knows how to put together an offense capable of putting points on the board. Grade: C+|
|Billy Napier||Mark Hudspeth (fired)||The Ragin' Cajuns destroyed Arizona State's plan by hiring its offensive coordinator away. Napier spent a season as ASU's OC after spending the previous five seasons as the wide receivers coach at Alabama. Before joining the Alabama staff, Napier spent five seasons at Clemson, including two as offensive coordinator under Dabo Swinney. an impressive coaching tree and UL-Lafayette is hoping Napier can turn that experience into wins with the Cajuns. Grade: B |
|Sonny Dykes||Chad Morris (Arkansas)||The Mustangs wanted a coach with an offensive background and who could recruit the state of Texas, and Sonny Dykes can do both of those things. The question will be how many games can he win at SMU? It's a hire that could work out, but I'm more than a bit skeptical. Grade: C |
|Mario Cristobal||Willie Taggart (Florida State)||Oregon was in the awkward position of having to conduct a coaching search for the second time in a year after Willie Taggart left for Florida State, but it wasn't a long process. Cristobal was the team's co-offensive coordinator and OL coach last season, and he has head coaching experience. He went 27-47 at FIU, though that record doesn't indicate the kind of rebuild he undertook there. While it's a hire that makes sense, it still isn't one that's very exciting. Grade: C+ |
|Steve Campbell||Joey Jones (fired)||Steve Campbell isn't a household name, but he has a championship pedigree. He won a D-II national title at Delta State in 2000, and at the juco level in 2007 while at Mississippi Gulf Coast. He's spent the last four seasons at Central Arkansas, going 33-15 overall, but 20-5 the last two seasons. The Bears were 17-1 in the Southland Conference, winning the conference this season. South Alabama is hoping Campbell's winning ways at the lower levels can follow him to the Sun Belt. Grade: B |
|Jeremy Pruitt||Butch Jones (fired)||Considering how everything started, and all the hullabaloo that came with the coaching search, Jeremy Pruitt isn't a bad way for Tennessee's search to end. He's helped build some of the best defenses in the country at Alabama. Pruitt's an excellent defensive tactician but is also good at developing talent as well as acquiring it through recruiting. It's not a grand slam for Tennessee, but all things considered, it's a solid hire. Grade: B |
|Dana Dimel||Sean Kugler (fired)||Dana Dimel has been serving as Kansas State's offensive coordinator since 2009. He's also been head coach at Wyoming and Houston, going 30-39 in his career. UTEP is likely hiring him for the work he's done with the Kansas State offense, where Dimel has routinely had to find ways to do more with less. He'll need to do the same at UTEP. Grade: C |
|Chad Morris||Bret Bielema (fired)||If you look at Chad Morris' record at SMU it's not impressive, but it doesn't speak to the job he's done. He took over a program that was lost, coming off an 0-12 season, and improved it dramatically. Morris has a sharp offensive mind, and as a former high school coach in Texas, he has the connections needed to mine the state for some of its best talent. If Morris can bring a strong defensive coordinator to Arkansas, this hire could work out quite well. Grade: B+ |
|Willie Taggart||Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M)||When rumors of Jimbo Fisher possibly leaving Florida State surfaced, I was asked a simple question: Who should FSU replace him with? The only name that made a lot of sense was Willie Taggart, and wouldn't you know it, that's exactly who the Noles ended up with. It's the most logical hire, as Taggart is a proven program-builder and recruits the daylights out of Florida. Grade: A|
|Josh Heupel||Scott Frost (Nebraska)||UCF AD Danny White has shown the ability to make smart hires, but this one left me confused. UCF is a desirable job, even if it isn't a Power Five gig, and Heupel was not the coach I expected to end up there. That said, Heupel's offense at Missouri was prolific over the second half of the season, and in a conference that's much tougher to put up ridiculous point totals. Still, I'm wary. Grade: C- |
|Mike Bloomgren||David Bailiff (fired)||Mike Bloomgren isn't a household name, but it wouldn't be realistic to expect Rice to land such a coach. What he is, however, is a coach that has spent the last seven seasons at Stanford. A job that taught him not only how to win, but how to do so at a school with more stringent enrollment requirements. That makes him a logical choice to try to build a winner at Rice. Grade: A-|
|Herm Edwards||Todd Graham (fired)||Here's your winner for strangest hire of the offseason so far. Honestly, I don't get it. If you want to fire Todd Graham, OK, but you fired him to replace him with a coach that hasn't been on a sideline since 2008? One that went 54-74 in eight seasons as an NFL head coach? A coach that hasn't been at the college level since 1989? Maybe it'll prove to be a genius move, but right now it's just a head-scratcher. Grade: F |
|Scott Frost||Mike Riley (fired)||Scott Frost was one of the hottest names on the coaching market this winter. There had been some question as to whether or not Nebraska would be able to lure him home to Lincoln with schools like Florida interested, but after leading UCF from 0-12 to 12-0 in two years, Frost is heading home to rebuild his alma mater. Grade: A|
|Jimbo Fisher||Kevin Sumlin (fired)||In a coaching carousel filled with shocking turns and twists, this may have been the biggest of all. Jimbo Fisher became the first sitting coach to leave a school he won a national title at for another school since Johnny Majors left Pitt for Tennessee. As a result, the Aggies are replacing Kevin Sumlin with a coach that has won a national title, and they hope can win one in College Station. How many other schools have hired a coach with a national title on his resume this winter? Grade: A |
|Jonathan Smith||Gary Anderson (resigned)||The Beavers have hired their former QB, Jonathan Smith. Now the fan-favorite returns to Corvallis after spending the last six seasons as an assistant under Chris Petersen at Boise State and Washington. He's not the sexiest hire, but he's familiar with what it takes to win at Oregon State. Grade: C|
|Joe Moorhead||Dan Mullen (Florida)||The Bulldogs moved quickly after losing Dan Mullen to Florida and made a fantastic hire of their own in Joe Moorhead. Moorhead was the brain behind Penn State's explosive offense the last two years and build Fordham into an FCS power. He should be able to maintain what Mullen started in Starkville. Grade: A|
|Dan Mullen||Jim McElwain (fired)||The Gators flirted with Chip Kelly and Scott Frost before landing Dan Mullen, and it might be the greatest thing to happen to Gainesville since Urban Meyer came to town. Mullen is familiar with the territory and was part of the last coaching staff to win a national title at Florida. If he could accomplish what he did at Mississippi State, imagine what he'll be able to do with the resources he now has at his disposal. Grade: A|
|Matt Luke (full time)||Matt Luke (interim)||Ole Miss was in a difficult position. While the job is attractive in a vacuum, the school has possible NCAA sanctions hanging overhead and had to conduct a coaching search at the same time as many other SEC schools; including in-state rival Mississippi State. Matt Luke isn't the most exciting hire, but the job he did in 2017 shouldn't be ignored. Grade: C|
|Chad Lunsford||Tyson Summers (fired)||Chad Lunsford had the interim title removed from his title, and it's hard to argue with Georgia Southern's decision. While Southern is only 2-3 under Lunsford, it has looked like a much better team than it did under Tyson Summers, and the players clearly love him. Whether that will translate to the kind of success Southern hopes for in the future remains to be seen. Grade: C+|
|Chip Kelly||Jim Mora Jr. (fired)||UCLA was not the most desirable job on the market, but it landed the biggest name available in Chip Kelly. That's a win. Now, there are concerns about whether or not Kelly will be able to step back into the college game after a few years away, but he certainly wouldn't be the first coach to fail in the NFL and return to kicking butt on the college level. There's no reason not to love this hire. Grade: A+|
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