The 2020 college football season is almost in the books, which means it's time to hand out grades for all of the first-year head coaches. Last offseason's coaching carousel provided us plenty of intrigue, including the arrival of Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Mike Leach at Mississippi State. That cranked the Egg Bowl rivalry up several notches. Elsewhere, Greg Schiano made his return to Rutgers, Mike Norvell took over a reeling Florida State program and Jimmy Lake got promoted to take over for Chris Petersen at Washington.
The Group of Five level had plenty of turnover as well, including at traditional powers Appalachian State and Memphis. Neither of those two claimed conference titles, but foundations were set for glory moving forward.
There were 24 coaching changes overall that took place from Dec. 1 all the way through Feb. 23. Let's break all of them down and hand out first-year grades.
|Karl Dorrell||4-1||The Buffaloes stayed in the Pac-12 South Race until mid-December and earned a spot in the Alamo Bowl vs. Texas. Dorrell made them relevant in Year 1 ... which is exactly where they should be every year.||A|
|Eliah Drinkwitz||5-5||Missouri was competitive in the SEC East and made a brief appearance in the Top 25. Not bad for a coach who only had one year of experience prior to taking over the Tigers.||A-|
|Greg Schiano||3-6||Let's be real ... a three-win season, even in a COVID year, is incredible at Rutgers. What's more, all three wins came on the road -- Michigan State, Maryland and Purdue. He has work to do in order to get them competitive in the Big Ten East, but so far, so good.||A-|
|Sam Pittman||3-7||Things got started with a bang for Pittman, who notched three wins in his first six SEC games. Four straight losses to close the season hurt though.||B+|
|Jeff Hafley||6-5||The Golden Eagles gave Notre Dame and Clemson fits, and the future looks bright ... especially on offense. Not bad at all.||B+|
|Lane Kiffin||4-5||Kiffin didn't bring the Rebels back to SEC West contention, but he did bring plenty of fun back to Oxford. If he can figure out how to get a decent defense, look out.||B+|
|Jimmy Lake||3-1||It's hard to judge a season off only four games, but it did result in a Pac-12 North title. Even though the Huskies couldn't actually play in that game due to COVID-19, it was still impressive.||B|
|Mel Tucker||2-5||The win over Michigan was nice ... at least we thought. In reality, Michigan State's wins over Michigan and Northwestern were average-at-best. This was a pretty lackluster debut for Tucker in East Lansing.||D+|
|Mike Leach||3-7||Things started out with a bang against LSU, but went out with a whimper. Leach's offense should never be as inconsistent as it was in 2020.||D+|
|Mike Norvell||3-6||It was a challenge for Norvell to change the culture, and that was nearly impossible without spring practice. Quarterback issues only compounded things for a Seminoles team that has a long way to go.||D|
|Nick Rolovich||1-3||The Cougars should at least be relevant in the Pac-12 North. That didn't happen in Year 1 under Rolovich.||D|
|Dave Aranda||2-7||The Bears regressed in a big way in 2020. Matt Rhule left the program in a great spot and Aranda sent it backwards.||F|
|Jeff Traylor||7-5||A 12-game season in this environment is impressive enough. Traylor managed to put together a seven-win season and went 5-2 in Conference USA. Well done.||A|
|Willie Taggart||5-4||Things went much better for Taggart in Boca Raton than they did in Tallahassee. He also navigated COVID-19 pretty well.||B+|
|Shawn Clark||9-3||Clark picked up close to where Drinkwitz left off with a 6-2 record in Sun Belt play and a berth in the inaugural Myrtle Beach Bowl. He understands the culture and what it takes to win in Boone.||B|
|Todd Graham||5-4||Graham incorporated more of a zone-read offense in Honolulu and notched a big win over Houston in the New Mexico Bowl. A blowout loss to Wyoming early in the season was the only bad defeat.||B|
|Ryan Silverfield||8-3||Memphis had a bizarre season due to COVID-19, and Silverfield didn't really have a signature win. Despite that, the program still seems to be on solid footing.||B-|
|Danny Gonzales||2-5||Gonzales had a tough go of it in Year 1, but back-to-back wins over Wyoming and Fresno State give the Lobos hope for the future. The lack of a normal offseason likely had a lot to do with the early-season struggles.||B-|
|Brady Hoke||4-4||Hoke returned to the sideline with a 4-4 record at a program that helped spring board him to the Michigan job prior to the 2011 season. It came to a disappointing end with a loss to BYU, though. The Aztecs should expect more than a .500 record.||C+|
|Kalen DeBoer||3-3||The 3-1 start gave Bulldogs fans hope. But back-to-back losses to Nevada and New Mexico left a sour taste heading into the offseason.||C|
|Steve Addazio||1-3||A one-win season and offseason controversy made things very difficult for the former Boston College coach. Better luck next year.||D-|
|Jeff Scott||1-8||The Bulls have a long way to go, and it's not like Scott did a lot to make up that ground. Give it time.||D-|
|Marcus Arroyo||0-6||The Rebels actually regressed under Arroyo. That's hard to do considering they went 4-8 in 2019.||F|
|Ricky Rahne||0-0||The Monarchs had their season canceled.||N/A|
Several first-year coaches have bowl games ahead of them, which could send them into the offseason with momentum or stuck in neutral. For all of their sakes, a normal offseason with time to develop their rosters and further establish a culture would be incredibly helpful moving forward.