CFB Hire Reviews

Reviews

Florida State: Willie Taggart, Oregon Head Coach (GRADE: A+)

Florida State made the best hire of the coaching carousel, and here’s why. First, I’m shocked Jimbo Fisher left after one down season. He won a national title in Tallahassee not too long ago, and had perhaps the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country with strong support for the program. With that said, AD Stan Wilcox was smart to move fast and secure Willie Taggart as the program’s next head coach. Taggart is one of the nation’s best recruiters, especially when it comes to his home state, and I’d argue he’s even a step above Fisher on this level. He’s been a very good program-builder as seen by his stints at WKU and USF, and turned Oregon around real quickly in his one season there. He’s very well-connected in the state, so expect him to develop a top-notch coaching and support staff. Some of the best coaches in college football, such as Jim Harbaugh and Tony Dungy, speak measures to his coaching ability. It’ll be fun (and scary for some) to see the results he might have as a power conference head coach in his home state. This coaching change wasn’t expected or foreseen by many in the industry, but Wilcox did a wonderful job swiftly landing his top-choice candidate in Taggart to run the program.

Nebraska: Scott Frost, Central Florida Head Coach (GRADE: A)

Scott Frost is going home! AD Bill Moos came in and did a great job landing Frost, the one and only choice in the eyes of many Husker fans. Yes, I will concede that Nebraska is not the job that it was back in the 1990s. With that said, Nebraska still has the potential to be a 10+ win per season team. As Frost knows, Nebraska is a football school, and the culture is enveloped around the sport. The program has reached new lows given the disastrous tenure of Mike Riley, and needs to be turned around. There probably wasn’t a better hire to make than Frost, the star ex-quarterback who just went undefeated this season and led the UCF Knights to the Peach Bowl. Frost knows the expectations in Lincoln, and knows he has a strong support system. Furthermore, he also runs a dynamic offense that should make Husker football more fun to watch. With that said, Frost needs to develop the recruiting connections, specifically in Texas, that have weakened as a result of the program’s decline in the current century.

UCLA: Chip Kelly, former 49ers HC (GRADE: A)

Wow, I did not expect Chip Kelly to land at UCLA of all places. LA seems like a rather large place for the small-town guy, plus they aren’t sponsored by Nike! With that said, I like this hire a lot. UCLA has Grade-A resources and a strong donor base, and they’ve been preparing for years to make a major investment in their football program. They are in a recruiting hotbed in SoCal, their facilities are brand new, and they have a big enough brand to appeal to any recruit across the nation. From a coaching perspective, Kelly returns to college and gets to coach on the west coast in a conference which he’s very familiar with. He gets to recruit high-skilled athletes to play in his up-tempo offense, making this hire a good fit on paper. Whether he can bring UCLA to 10-win and 11-win type seasons remains to be seen, but nonetheless this is a great match for both parties.

Mississippi State: Joe Moorhead, Penn State OC (GRADE: A-)

Kudos to AD John Cohen for running a great search! Similar to how he handled the baseball coaching search last year, Cohen ran a quick search and each candidate he interviewed would’ve been a strong choice to be Mississippi State’s head coach. With that said, hiring Moorhead was one of the best case scenarios. Moorhead has prior head coaching experience in which he was successful, which is a plus. Similar to Dan Mullen, he has an offensive background and comes from the northeast. With that said, the shining accomplishment of his resume comes from his two years in Happy Valley. He totally turned around that Penn State offense and their football team fun to watch again. He brought the best out of QB Trace McSorley and RB Saquon Barkley and made Penn State relevant again, which was quite impressive. Assuming he can build a strong staff with southeast recruiting connections, don’t expect Mississippi State to fall back much next season despite losing their former head coach.

Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher, Florida State Head Coach (GRADE: A-)

Texas A&M committed a ridiculously big contract to their head coach, wow! Ten years and $75 million guaranteed is a whole lot of money for a head football coach. With that said, I like this hire a lot. Going out and securing Fisher in the manner they did shows the school’s commitment to hosting a top-tier football program, which is totally doable given its location and athletics conference. I’m a big fan of securing a top-tier football coach for schools like Texas A&M, because having a top-tier football team positively impacts the rest of the school too, just ask Alabama or Miami. So given that A&M chose to go down that route and pay a boatload of money to a head football coach, Jimbo Fisher was about the best choice they could have made. He won a national title at Florida State four years ago, and he’s very familiar with the SEC conference from his time under Nick Saban at LSU. In terms of personality, his southern charm fits in well with the A&M community despite never having coached in C-Stat before. If he puts a good staff together with strong recruiting ties in Texas, this team could be scary good in a few years. But if he fails to meet the school’s sky-high expectations, the hire will go down as a major bust.

Central Florida: Josh Heupel, Missouri Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: B+)

UCF was very smart in the contract they gave Heupel to run the football program, as it virtually ensures he won’t use the school as a stepping-stone to land a bigger job. He’s got a $10 million buyout in his contract that lasts through the 2020 season, which was a smart move by AD Danny White which brings stability to the program in wake of Scott Frost’s departure. Heupel is a very underrated offensive coordinator, who really brought out the most in Missouri’s offense this year and has a good track record from his time at Oklahoma as well. There’s a lot of overlap between the families running the departments at UCF and Missouri as well (with the Sterks and Whites), so this doesn’t surprise me as much given the facts. He’s already started bringing together strong recruiters with him, which is critical given his lack of recruiting ties in the state. His offensive scheme closely resembles what Frost runs, which is a positive. Given all the factors, I expect UCF to remain very competitive for at least the next couple seasons, making this a good hire.

Florida: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State HC (GRADE: B+)

Wow, Dan Mullen follows his old AD’s footsteps to Gainesville! What a shocker! Well, not really, but it wasn’t as expected as many might have thought. Overall, this is a pretty good hire. Mullen is probably the most successful coach in Mississippi State football history, and has a great track record of developing quarterbacks. On paper, he seems like just what Florida needs in a head coach. With that said, there are some drawbacks to hiring Mullen, which is why he wasn’t hired in the team’s last two coaching searches. He is known to have rubbed elbows with former (emeritus) AD Jeremy Foley, and had his fair share of enemies in Gainesville. He also wasn’t loved by the fanbase and some within the program during his time as an assistant under Urban Meyer. With that said, Mullen has a greater understanding of what it takes to succeed at Florida than his predecessors, which is why he has a decent shot of restoring Gators Football to its past heights. Florida has perhaps the best resources in the country, so it will be interesting to see if he’s the answer that Gator fans have been seeking for the past decade.

Georgia Southern: Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern Interim HC (GRADE: B+)

After the rise of a social media movement and back-to-back wins, Georgia Southern’s search committee chose to keep Chad Lunsford as the full-time coach. Unlike others who promoted interim head coaches, Lunsford makes a ton of sense for Georgia Southern. First off,  he’s regarded one of the better assistant coaches in all of college football. He’s a dynamic recruiter who’s spent the bulk of his coaching career in Georgia, all of which are factors making him qualified for the full-time job. Obviously, Lunsford will have some difficult decisions to make about where he ought to take the program. For example, while Georgia Southern’s offense has historically been best under the triple-option, Lunsford has often coached in spread offenses. Overall, there weren’t many better hires that the team could have made given the lack of funding in the program.

Ole Miss: Matt Luke, Ole Miss Interim HC (GRADE: B-)

After spending >$100k on a coaching search, Ole Miss settled on their interim head coach Matt Luke for the permanent job. Luke makes some sense given the state of the program, which is probably going to get hit pretty hard with additional sanctions in the upcoming months. Ole Miss is in a rebound state and probably will be a ~.500 program for the next few years, which is why this hire shouldn’t be too disappointing to the fanbase. However, I don’t like how this hire was made. Ole Miss seemed bound to land a proven, established head coach for most of the year, until Luke led his team to an upset win over the cross-state rival and got the full-time job. Coaching hires based on emotion over logic tend to not work out so well, and although he’s got extensive ties to Ole Miss, he’s probably the least-qualified head coach in the SEC.  Luke may be the right guy to lead Ole Miss through the sanctions era, but he definitely wasn’t the best available guy for the job.

Oregon State: Jonathan Smith, Washington Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: C+)

Normally, hiring a Power 5 offensive coordinator who helped lead his team to the College Football Playoff with strong ties to your school would be a very well-regarded hire. However, I’m feeling pretty lukewarm about Jonathan Smith’s return to Corvallis as Oregon State’s head coach. He’s a pretty overrated coach who was almost run out of town in Seattle two-plus years ago, and got a lot of credit for running Chris Petersen’s offensive scheme (which shouldn’t be that hard to do). He’s not necessarily a great recruiter, and doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy with the charisma to turn around a struggling football program. The homecoming storyline might generate some excitement, but I don’t see how Smith is any better than Gary Andersen in terms of being a head coach. The best hope for Beaver fans is that Smith builds an exceptional staff that will bring back better recruits and efficient schemes for the team to run. Also of note, Beau Baldwin (who was first reported to be the choice) would’ve been a much better hire.

Rice: Mike Bloomgren, Stanford Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: C+)

National media outlets have given positive soundbites about this hire, but I’m not a fan. Rice football has been pretty mediocre for the last half-decade under David Bailiff, who I think is a very good ball coach. The job itself is a pretty high order for any coach, given the school’s rigorous academic nature and tough recruiting competition. As such, AD Joe Karlgaard should’ve looked to bring in someone with a scheme or background that could’ve given Rice a schematic advantage, but he didn’t do that. Instead, he looked to his own background as an administrator at Stanford and hired Mike Bloomgren, their offensive coordinator. Bloomgren is a pretty good coach who will bring toughness to both sides of the ball, but I doubt he can really turn this program’s fortunes around. He’s got no ties to the state of Texas, and doesn’t run the spread offense that most FBS schools in Texas run nowadays. Maybe he pulls Rice above the sub-.500 seasons they’ve been having lately, but I’ll be surprised if Bloomgren has sustained success there.

UTEP: Dana Dimel, Kansas State Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: C)

Dana Dimel is a pretty uninspiring choice to run a football program, especially given the challenges that the UTEP program faces. First off, I’m awfully confused on how they landed on him. There were tons of better candidates available, including K.C. Keeler and Mike Houston (who has ties to the new AD Jim Senter), both of whom would’ve been much better hires. With that said, Dimel doesn’t strike any confidence in me. He’s a good ball coach, but his schemes don’t match the trends that most FBS schools in Texas run nowadays. His last run as a head coach at Houston was pretty awful, going 0-11 in his second-to-last season there. He doesn’t have any ties to the UTEP community, nor does he have experience running a sorely underfunded program in a town where it can be tough to attract recruits. Simply put, I don’t see this hire panning out.

 

 

 

Arkansas: Chad Morris, SMU Head Coach (GRADE: B) 

Oregon: Mario Cristobal, Oregon Interim Head Coach (GRADE: B)

South Alabama: Steve Campbell, Central Arkansas Head Coach (GRADE: B-)

Tennessee: Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: B-)

Arizona State: Herm Edwards, former N.Y. Jets Head Coach (GRADE: C+)

 

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ARCHIVE: 2017 NCAA Hoops Portal

Reviews

High Majors

Illinois Brad Underwood, Oklahoma State Head Coach (A-)

“Illinois pulled off a stunning coup in hiring Underwood, who just finished his first season at Oklahoma State. He has proven to be successful everywhere he’s been, and he enters a high-upside situation with the Illini. Very surprising, but great hire.”

Georgetown Patrick Ewing, Charlotte Hornets Assistant Coach (A-)

“Being a former JTII player, Ewing is the perfect bridge between Georgetown’s past and future. He’s widely respected within coaching circles, plus he’s working to assemble a staff that will aggressively recruit the DMV and Florida areas.”

Indiana Archie Miller, Dayton Head Coach (B+)

“Indiana did a great job in landing Miller, who has waited for a long time to make the jump to a high major school. Although he lacks strong ties to Indiana, he has done an exceptional job running Dayton’s program and is ready to deal with the high expectations set at Indiana.”

N.C. State Kevin Keatts, UNC-Wilmington Head Coach (B+)

“Keatts is something of a rising star in the coaching business, having led UNC-Wilmington to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. It will be interesting to see how the respected former Pitino assistant navigates the high expectations that N.C. State has for their basketball program.”

Washington Mike Hopkins, Syracuse Assistant Coach (B+)

“This has been long overdue for Hopkins, who has been an assistant at Syracuse since 1996. Yes, it’s a tad surprising that he didn’t wait for Boeheim to retire. But he is strong on the X’s and O’s front, and if he assembles a staff with west coast recruiting ties, he could be very successful at UW.”

Missouri Cuonzo Martin, California Head Coach (B)

“Missouri offers a homecoming of sorts for Martin, who spent three years as head coach for Missouri State from 2008-11. This isn’t necessarily an inspiring hire, due to his underwhelming years at Cal, but he is a gifted recruiter and immediate upgrade over Missouri’s last head coach.”

Louisiana State Will Wade, VCU Head Coach (B-)

“Wade has sustained success at his prior head coaching stops for VCU and Chattanooga, so he is ready for a high major coaching job. But LSU is a whole different animal in terms of recruiting, plus they are in dire need of facility upgrades. Time will only tell if he is the right choice or not.”

California Wyking Jones, California Assistant Coach (C-)

“In a shocking move, Cal chose to promote Jones to head coach. While he has been a reliable high major assistant, he is far from ready for running a program of Cal’s size. He has no head coaching experience, and will be entering a mess of an organization in Cal Athletics.”

Oklahoma State Mike Boynton, Oklahoma State Assistant Coach (D)

“In another shocking move, Oklahoma State chose to promote Boynton to head coach. He has very little experience as a coach in general, and has only been part of the OSU program for one season. This hire shows a lack of commitment on OSU’s part to men’s basketball.”

Mid Majors

George Washington Maurice Joseph, George Washington Interim Head Coach (A)

“Simply put, retaining Joseph made too much sense. He did a very good job coaching the team in light of the whole Lonergan debacle, while also having a good shot at continuing what made GW basketball successful. This was the easy and correct choice.”

UC Santa Barbara Joe Pasternack, Arizona Assistant Coach (A)

“Pasternack has been Arizona’s lead assistant coach for years now, and is long overdue for his second head coaching opportunity. UCSB lands a very good X’s and O’s coach who carries strong familiarity with their recruiting territory.”

Massachusetts Matt McCall, Chattanooga Head Coach (A-)

“After the whole Pat Kelsey debacle, UMass did very good in landing McCall, a well-respected sitting head coach and disciple of Billy Donovan. He is ready for a bigger head coaching job, and UMass seems willing to put in a strong commitment to men’s basketball.”

Seattle Jim Hayford, Eastern Washington Head Coach (A-)

“Hayford brings head coaching and strong familiarity of Seattle basketball to his new head coaching opportunity, which on paper appears to be a very good match. Seattle did well in bringing in a head coach who can fix their struggling program.”

VCU Mike Rhoades, Rice Head Coach (A-)

“Rhoades provides a perfect continuity for VCU, as he spent six years as an assistant under Shaka Smart before departing for Rice three years ago. He has extensive head coaching experience at tow different stops and is well-versed in VCU basketball, making this a strong hire.”

Cleveland State Dennis Felton, Tulsa Assistant Coach (B+)

“Felton brings a dearth of experience with him as he becomes the head coach at Cleveland State. He certainly stands out as being very qualified for this job, but he doesn’t have ties to the CSU family which makes this hire somewhat surprising.”

Duquesne Keith Dambrot, Akron Head Coach (B+)

“After a miserable coaching search in which they were repeatedly turned down, Duquesne did well in landing a proven head coach. While the fit is murky, Dambrot is well-respected in coaching circles and could do well if he assembles the right staff.”

Morehead State Preston Spradlin, Morehead State Interim Head Coach (B+)

“Retaining Spradlin as head coach seemed like the most likely case all along. With that said, he will need to take this team a step forward next year if Morehead State wants to become a top program within the Ohio Valley Conference.”

North Texas Grant McCasland, Arkansas State Head Coach (B+)

“McCasland holds extensive knowledge of the North Texas recruiting region from the many years he spent as an assistant as Baylor. He turned around an underwhelming Arkansas State basketball program in one year with fewer resources than he’ll have at UNT. Hiring him was the right call.”

Quinnipiac Baker Dunleavy, Villanova Assistant Coach (B+)

“Dunleavy, a longtime assistant under Jay Wright at Villanova, is primed for his first head coaching opportunity at Quinnipiac. He checks a lot of boxes in terms of what Quinnipiac is looking for, and has the chops needed to succeed as a mid major head coach.”

Rice Scott Pera, Rice Assistant Coach (B+)

“Rice basketball has been on the rise for the last few years, so it makes a lot of sense for them to promote Pera in light of Rhoades’s departure. Although he hasn’t been a collegiate head coach, he is a well-respected assistant who is ready to lead a program of Rice’s caliber.”

Southern Morris Scott, Southern Assistant Coach (B+)

“The promotion of Scott to head coach makes a ton of sense in light of Southern naming Roman Banks their full-time athletics director. He was targeted for a few other head coaching opportunities, so he’s certainly ready for his first challenge, one in a familiar environment.”

Youngstown State Jerrod Calhoun, Fairmont State Head Coach (B+)

“Calhoun has done an exceptional job at Fairmont State, leading them to the Division II basketball tournament this year. Youngstown State is a challenging job, but they were smart to land an up-and-coming coach to lead their program.”

Austin Peay Matt Figger, South Carolina Assistant Coach (B)

“Figger has been South Carolina’s lead assistant coach for the last five years, a program that just reached the final four. He’s certainly ready for his first head coaching stop, but he doesn’t have any ties to APSU or the state of Tennessee. So the fit here is somewhat questionable.”

Chattanooga Lamont Paris, Wisconsin Assistant Coach (B)

“Paris has been a loyal assistant at Wisconsin for quite some time, and he’s definitely ready to lead the Chattanooga program. He inherits a good team, which is a plus, but he doesn’t have strong ties to the state of Tennessee. He will need to hire a good staff with recruiting connections.”

Dayton Anthony Grant, Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant Coach (B)

“Grant is a Dayton alum who has prior head coaching experience at Alabama and VCU, both big and respectable programs. He’s also a Billy Donovan disciple, which is a plus. This is a good hire, but isn’t necessarily as inspiring as an up-and-comng head coach would have been.”

Eastern Washington Shantay Legans, Eastern Washington Assistant Coach (B)

“EWU pretty much immediately promoted Legans to the full-time job in light of their head coach’s departure for Seattle. He does have solid familiarity with the program, but it would have been wise to have a full-blown search, as there were several strong candidates with west coast recruiting ties.”

Miami (OH) Jack Owens, Purdue Assistant Coach (B)

“Owens has been the lead assistant coach at Purdue for the last couple seasons, so he’s certainly got the experience needed to lead a program. He is highly regarded in coaching circles too, which is a plus. But it remains to be seen if he has the right recruiting ties to turn this program around.”

South Florida Brian Gregory, former Georgia State Head Coach (B)

“Gregory was mediocre at both Dayton and Georgia Tech, so this isn’t the most exciting hire that USF could have made. With that said, the program is in the midst of a troth, so at least he has just about nowhere to go but upwards.”

Arkansas State Mike Balado, Louisville Assistant Coach (B-)

“Balado comes from the Rick Pitino coaching tree, which has done a good job of developing future head coaches. Yet he has few ties to ASU’s recruiting region and has no prior head coaching experience. They also had a strong internal candidate, so this was a questionable call.”

Bethune-Cookman Ryan Ridder, Daytona State Head Coach (B-)

“Ridder’s hire by Bethune-Cookman was certainly surprising, as his most recent coaching stop was as head coach of a Florida JuCo team. He is very tied into the whole JuCo scene, which is probably how Bethune-Cookman wants their program to be built. But it’s certainly a questionable choice.”

UNC-Wilmington C.B. McGrath, UNC Assistant Coach (B-)

“It’s a bit surprising that UNC-Wilmington didn’t go after someone from the Louisville coaching tree or with ties to Keatts, their last head coach. McGrath is a solid coach, but is regarded as Keatts’s polar opposite. So this is a questionable hire.”

Drake Niko Medved, Furman Head Coach (C+)

“Medved did a solid job at Furman during his four years at head coach there, but he has zero ties to Drake or the state of Iowa, which makes this a curious hire. Drake swung and missed on a few candidates, so it’s not surprising they settled for a mediocre fit.”

Predictions

Duquesne: Keith Dambrot, Akron Head Coach

Eastern Washington: Shantay Legans, Eastern Washington Assistant Coach

George Washington: Maurice Joseph, George Washington Interim Head Coach

Indiana: Archie Miller, Dayton Head Coach

Louisiana State: Will Wade, VCU Head Coach

Morehead State: Preston Spradlin, Morehead State Interim Head Coach

N.C. State: Kevin Keatts, UNC-Wilmington Head Coach

North Texas: Grant McCasland, Arkansas State Head Coach

Quinnipiac: Baker Dunleavy, Villanova Assistant Coach

Rice: Scott Pera, Rice Assistant Coach

Southern: Morris Scott, Southern Assistant Coach

UC Santa Barbara: Joe Pasternack, Arizona Assistant Coach

VCU: Mike Rhoades, Rice Head Coach

Youngstown State: Jerrod Calhoun, Fairmont State Head Coach

Austin Peay: Wes Long, VCU Assistant Coach

Arkansas State: LeVelle Moton, N.C. Central Head Coach

Bethune-Cookman: Montez Robinson, Alcorn State Head Coach

California: Russell Turner, UC-Irvine Head Coach

Chattanooga: Lamont Paris, Wisconsin Assistant Coach

Cleveland State: Jermaine Kimbrough, Wyoming Assistant Coach

Dayton: Dan Muller, Illinois State Head Coach

Drake: Brian Jones, North Dakota Head Coach

Eastern Washington: Matt Logie, Whitworth Head Coach

Georgetown: Tom Crean, former Indiana Head Coach

Illinois: Scott Drew, Baylor Head Coach

Massachusetts: Micah Shrewsberry, Boston Celtics Assistant Coach

Miami (OH): Ryan Pedon, Butler Assistant Coach

Missouri: Tom Crean, Indiana Head Coach

Oklahoma State: Doug Gottlieb, CBS Sports Basketball Analyst

Seattle: Trent Johnson, former TCU Head Coach

South Florida: Keith Dambrot, Akron Head Coach

UNC-Wilmington: Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast Head Coach

Washington: Eric Musselman, Nevada Head Coach

Akron: Anthony Stewart, UT-Martin Head Coach

Alabama A&M: Donnie Marsh, Texas Southern Assistant Coach

Coppin State: Larry Stewart, Morgan State Assistant Coach

Florida A&M: Rod Strickland, former South Florida Assistant Coach

Furman: Steve Smith, Clemson Assistant Coach

Grambling State: Ray Martin, Grambling State Assistant Coach

LIU-Brooklyn: Rasheen Davis, VCU Assistant Coach

New Mexico: Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast Head Coach

Portland State: Luke Jackson, Northwest Christian Head Coach

Round Two Re-Mock

Round Two

  1. GB- Dalvin Cook, RB (Florida State)
  2. SEA- Forrest Lamp, OG (Western Kentucky)
  3. JAX- Cam Robinson, OT (Alabama)
  4. CHI- Kevin King, CB (Washington)
  5. LAR- Zay Jones, WR (East Carolina)
  6. LAC- Tyus Bowser, OLB (Houston)
  7. NYJ- DeShone Kizer, QB (Notre Dame)
  8. CAR- Taylor Moton, OT (Western Michigan)
  9. CIN- Joe Mixon, RB (Oklahoma)
  10. NO- Jordan Willis, OLB (Kansas State)
  11. PHI- Obi Melifonwu, S (Connecticut)
  12. BUF- Tim Williams, OLB (Alabama)
  13. ARZ- Davis Webb, QB (California)
  14. IND- Dan Feeney, OG (Indiana)
  15. BAL- Malik McDowell, DT (Michigan State)
  16. MIN- Alvin Kamara, RB (Tennessee)
  17. WAS- Budda Baker, S (Washington)
  18. TB- Chidobe Awuzie, CB (Colorado)
  19. DEN- Zach Cunningham, OLB (Vanderbilt)
  20. CLE- Quincy Wilson, CB (Florida)
  21. DET- Marcus Maye, S (Florida)
  22. MIA- Dion Dawkins, OT (Temple)
  23. NYG- Chris Wormley, DT (Michigan)
  24. OAK- Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE (Villanova)
  25. HOU- Josh Jones, S (N.C. State)
  26. SEA- Jourdan Lewis, CB (Michigan)
  27. KC- Curtis Samuel, WR (Ohio State)
  28. DAL- Cordea Tankersley, CB (Clemson)
  29. GB- Fabian Moreau, CB (UCLA)
  30. PIT- Chris Godwin, WR (Penn State)
  31. ATL- Justin Evans, S (Texas A&M)
  32. CAR- David Sharpe, OT (Florida)

ORIGINAL MOCK: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1nKTz0HRP5Yrc_J4Dh4FdjzYInxHcEXbPBm2yBUrB4fk/edit?usp=sharing

OLD 2015 Predictions #CBB Recycle

NCAA Basketball:

Alabama (Anthony Grant): Avery Johnson, former Brooklyn Nets H.C.

Arizona State (Herb Sendek): Bobby Hurley, Buffalo H.C.

Bowling Green (Chris Jans): Michael Huger, Miami (FL) Asst.

Bucknell (Dave Paulsen): Nathan Davis, Randolph-Macon H.C.

Buffalo (Bobby Hurley): Nate Oats, Buffalo Asst.

DePaul (Oliver Purnell): Dave Leitao, Tulsa Asst.

Eastern Kentucky (Jeff Neubauer): Dan McHale, Minnesota Asst.

Fordham (Tom Pecora): Jeff Neubauer, Eastern Kentucky H.C.

George Mason (Paul Hewitt); Dave Paulsen, Bucknell H.C.

Green Bay (Brian Wardle): Linc Darner, Florida Southern H.C.

Hawaii (Benjy Taylor): Eran Ganot, Saint Mary’s Asst.

Mississippi State (Rick Ray): Ben Howland, former UCLA H.C.

Nevada (David Carter): Eric Musselman, LSU Asst.

St. John’s (Steve Lavin): Chris Mullin, former NBA GM

Tennessee (Donnie Tyndall): Rick Barnes, former Texas H.C.

Texas (Rick Barnes): Shaka Smart, VCU H.C.

Utah State (Stew Morrill): Tim Duryea, Utah State Asst.

VCU (Shaka Smart): Will Wade, Tennessee-Chattanooga H.C.

Buffalo (Bobby Hurley): Nate Oats, Buffalo Asst.

Eastern Kentucky (Jeff Neubauer): Dan McHale, Minnesota Asst.

Texas (Rick Barnes): Shaka Smart, VCU H.C.

VCU (Shaka Smart): Will Wade, Tennessee-Chattanooga H.C.

Alabama (Anthony Grant): Steve Prohm, Murray State H.C.

Arizona State (Herb Sendek): Jeff Capel, Duke Asst.

Bowling Green (Chris Jans): Jeff Boals, Ohio State Asst.

Bucknell (Dave Paulsen): Dane Fischer, Bucknell Asst.

DePaul (Oliver Purnell): Bobby Hurley, Buffalo H.C.

Fordham (Tom Pecora): Will Brown, SUNY Albany H.C.

George Mason (Paul Hewitt); Chris Caputo, Miami Asst.

Green Bay (Brian Wardle): Gary Greszk, St. Norbert H.C.

Hawaii (Interm): Benjy Taylor, Hawaii Interim H.C.

Mississippi State (Rick Ray): Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin H.C.

Nevada (David Carter): Tommy Connor, Utah Asst.

St. John’s (Steve Lavin): Dan Hurley, Rhode Island H.C.

Tennessee (Donnie Tyndall): Ben Jacobsen, Northern Iowa H.C.

Utah State (Stew Morrill): Tommy Connor, Utah Asst.

VCU (Shaka Smart): Will Wade, Tennessee-Chattanooga H.C.

Final 2016-17 NCAA/NFL Hire Portal

NFL

Right

Denver Broncos: Vance Joseph, Miami Dolphins Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: A-)

Jacksonville Jaguars: Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars Interim Head Coach (GRADE: B+)

Los Angeles Rams: Sean McVay, Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: B+)

Wrong

Buffalo Bills: Anthony Lynn, Buffalo Bills Interim Head Coach

-> Hired Sean McDermott, Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: B+)

San Diego Chargers: Dave Toub, Kansas City Chiefs Special Teams Coordinator

-> Hired Anthony Lynn, Buffalo Bills Interim Head Coach (GRADE: B-)

San Francisco 49ers: Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator

-> Hired Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: A)

 

College

Right

California: Justin Wilcox, Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: B-)

Cincinnati: Luke Fickell, Ohio State Co-Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: C+)

Florida International: Butch Davis, former Miami (FL) Head Coach (GRADE: A-)

Fresno State: Jeff Tedford, former California Head Coach (GRADE: A-)

Minnesota: P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan Head Coach (GRADE: A)

Oregon: Willie Taggart, USF Head Coach (GRADE: C+) 

Purdue: Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky Head Coach (GRADE: B+)

Texas: Tom Herman, Houston Head Coach (GRADE: A)

USF: Charlie Strong, former Texas Head Coach (GRADE: A)

Western Michigan: Tim Lester, former Purdue Quarterbacks Coach (GRADE: B+)

Wrong

Baylor: Blake Anderson, Arkansas State Head Coach

-> Hired Matt Rhule, Temple Head Coach (GRADE: B) 

Connecticut: Rhett Lashlee, Auburn Offensive Coordinator

-> Hired Randy Edsall, former Maryland Head Coach (GRADE: B)

Florida Atlantic: Tim Drevno, Michigan Offensive Coordinator

-> Hired Lane Kiffin, Alabama Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: A+)

Georgia State: Chip Lindsey, Arizona State Offensive Coordinator

-> Hired Shawn Elliott, South Carolina Offensive Line Coach (GRADE: B-)*

Houston: Todd Orlando, Houston Defensive Coordinator

-> Hired Major Applewhite, Houston Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: B-)

Louisiana State: Tom Herman, Houston Head Coach 

-> Hired Ed Orgeron, LSU Interim Head Coach (GRADE: B)*

Nevada: Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington Head Coach 

-> Hired Jay Norvell, Arizona State Wide Receivers Coach (GRADE: C+)

San Jose State: Marcus Arroyo, Oklahoma State Running Backs Coach

-> Hired Brent Brennan, Oregon State Wide Receivers Coach (GRADE: B-)

Temple: Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion Head Coach

-> Hired Geoff Collins, Florida Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: B+)

Western Kentucky: Ed Warriner, Ohio State Offensive Coordinator

-> Hired Mike Sanford Jr., Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: B)

*had guessed them at one point in time

Immediate Promotions 

Indiana: Tom Allen, Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: B-)

2017 NFL “Spring Break” Mock Draft

2017 NFL Mock Draft 3.0 (Spring Break)

Round One

  1. CLE: Myles Garrett, DE (Texas A&M)
  2. SF: Solomon Thomas, DE (Stanford)
  3. CHI: Jamal Adams, S (Louisiana State)
  4. JAX: Leonard Fournette, RB (Louisiana State)
  5. TEN: Corey Davis, WR (Western Michigan)
  6. NYJ: Marshon Lattimore, CB (Ohio State)
  7. LAC: Malik Hooker, S (Ohio State)
  8. CAR: Jonathan Allen, DT (Alabama)
  9. CIN: Reuben Foster, ILB (Alabama)
  10. BUF: Mike Williams, WR (Clemson)
  11. NO: Derek Barnett, DE (Tennessee)
  12. CLE: Mitchell Trubisky, QB (North Carolina)
  13. ARZ: Tre’Davious White, CB (Louisiana State)
  14. PHI: Christian McCaffrey, RB (Stanford)
  15. IND: Forrest Lamp, OG (Western Kentucky)
  16. BAL: John Ross, WR (Washington)
  17. WAS: Haason Reddick, ILB (Temple)
  18. TEN: Gareon Conley, CB (Ohio State)
  19. TB: Dalvin Cook, RB (Florida State)
  20. DEN: O.J. Howard, TE (Alabama)
  21. DET: Taco Charlton, DE (Michigan)
  22. MIA: Jabrill Peppers, S (Michigan)
  23. NYG: Ryan Ramczyk, OT (Wisconsin)
  24. OAK: Malik McDowell, DT (Michigan State)
  25. HOU: DeShaun Watson, QB (Clemson)
  26. SEA: Garett Bolles, OT (Utah)
  27. KC: Patrick Mahomes, QB (Texas Tech)
  28. DAL: Takkarist McKinley, OLB (UCLA)
  29. GB: Kevin King, CB (Washington)
  30. PIT: Zach Cunningham, OLB (Vanderbilt)
  31. ATL: David Njoku, TE (Miami)
  32. NO: Teez Tabor, CB (Florida)

Round Two

  1. CLE: Zay Jones, WR (East Carolina)
  2. SF: Budda Baker, S (Washington)
  3. JAX: Evan Engram, TE (Ole Miss)
  4. CHI: Quincy Wilson, CB (Florida)
  5. LAR: Dan Feeney, OG (Indiana)
  6. LAC: Cam Robinson, OT (Alabama)
  7. NYJ: T.J. Watt, OLB (Wisconsin)
  8. CAR: Alvin Kamara, RB (Tennessee)
  9. CIN: Dion Dawkins, OT (Temple)
  10. NO: Cooper Kupp, WR (Eastern Washington)
  11. PHI: Adoree’ Jackson, CB (Southern Cal)
  12. BUF: Marlon Humphrey, CB (Alabama)
  13. ARZ: DeShone Kizer, QB (Notre Dame)
  14. IND: Jordan Willis, DE (Kansas State)
  15. BAL: Charles Harris, OLB (Missouri)
  16. MIN: Caleb Brantley, DT (Florida)
  17. WAS: Nathan Peterman, QB (Pittsburgh)
  18. TB: Obi Melifonwu, S (Connecticut)
  19. DEN: Antonio Garcia, OG (Troy)
  20. CLE: Chidobe Awuzie, CB (Colorado)
  21. DET: Jarrad Davis, LB (Florida)
  22. MIA: Gerald Everett, TE (South Alabama)
  23. NYG: Carl Lawson, DE (Auburn)
  24. OAK: Desmond King, CB (Iowa)
  25. HOU: Taylor Moton, OT (Western Michigan)
  26. SEA: Curtis Samuel, WR (Ohio State)
  27. KC: Tim Williams, OLB (Alabama)
  28. DAL: Fabian Moreau, CB (UCLA)
  29. GB: Tyus Bowser, OLB (Houston)
  30. PIT: Marcus Maye, S (Florida)
  31. ATL: Carlos Watkins, DT (Clemson)
  32. CAR: Cameron Sutton, CB (Tennessee)

Best of the Rest

Offense

Davis Webb, QB (California)

Marlon Mack, RB (South Florida)

Joe Mixon, RB (Oklahoma)

Carlos Henderson, WR (Louisiana Tech)

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (Southern Cal)

Jake Butt, TE (Michigan)

Adam Shaheen, TE (Ashland)

Zach Banner, OT (Southern Cal)

Roderick Johnson, OT (Florida State)

Jermaine Eluemunor, OG (Texas A&M)

Dorian Johnson, OG (Pittsburgh)

Pat Elflein, C (Ohio State)

Defense

Trey Hendrickson, DE (Florida Atlantic)

DeMarcus Walker, DE (Florida State)

Dalvin Tomlinson, DT (Alabama)

Chris Wormley, DT (Michigan)

Raekwon McMillan, ILB (Ohio State)

Kendell Beckwith, ILB (Louisiana State)

Ryan Anderson, OLB (Alabama)

Sidney Jones, CB (Washington)

Jourdan Lewis, CB (Michigan)

Josh Jones, S (N.C. State)

Marcus Williams, S (Utah)

RECRUITING PREDICTIONS 2017

Analysis

Overall, I’m feeling pretty content with how accurate my predictions were for this year’s final signing period. In terms of what I got right, I think I did a good job with most of the picks. My best call was probably Josh Falo to USC, as most major media outlets thought he would be Oregon bound. I also had Aubrey Solomon to Michigan and Willie Gay to Mississippi State early on, which both ended up being right picks. I felt pretty confident with most of the other ones I got right, similar to other major media outlets. In terms of what I got wrong, I can’t complain too much. It was very surprising when Marvin Wilson picked FSU over LSU, but he did keep things close to the chest so there wasn’t too much I could’ve done there. I underestimated the impact geography had on the recruitments of Deo Lenoir and Anthony McFarland, so I got those calls wrong. I’d argue that Jay Tufele and Levi Jones’s picks came out of nowhere, so I can’t complain about those. I probably could’ve called Bryant to Auburn in hindsight, but it was stunning that Georgia couldn’t keep him in-state. And Chaisson was a 50/50 bet between Texas and LSU and I simply picked the wrong side. In terms of flips, I got every one right that I was 50%+ confident in, and was right saying that anything below 50/50 was unlikely to flip. So overall, I’m pretty content with how my predictions played out.

Outcomes

Chevin Calloway, CB (Dallas, TX) Arkansas

A former Iowa verbal commit, Calloway has strongly been trending towards Arkansas for quite some time. I’m predicting he goes with the Hogs on signing day because of the strong relationship he holds with the coaching staff.

Danny Davis, WR (Springfield, OH) Wisconsin

Davis is going to pick between Wisconsin and Kentucky on signing day. I’m predicting he signs with Wisconsin because they’ve recruited him very hard for the last few months and seem to be gaining all the momentum.

Josh Falo, TE (Sacramento, CA) USC

Falo is going to pick between Oregon and USC on signing day. This is a close one, but I’m predicting he signs with USC because they’ve been recruiting him for a much longer time. Oregon’s chances went down after David Reaves was fired last weekend.

Willie Gay, LB (Starkville, MS) Mississippi State

Although LSU has gained some momentum lately, I’m predicting he signs with the hometown Mississippi State on signing day. He’s got a strong relationship with several players and the coaching staff, and has familiarity with the campus. Michigan is a dark horse here.

Tony Gray, OT (Loganville, GA) Ole Miss

Ole Miss has gained a lot of momentum since his official visit there last weekend, so I’m predicting  he signs with them on signing day. South Carolina and Florida State remain in the conversation, but it would be an upset if he doesn’t end up in blue and red.

Todd Harris, S (Plaquemine, LA) Louisiana State

LSU has long been the top suitor for Harris, which is why I’m predicting he signs with them on signing day. He lives nearby campus, and has a ton of familiarity with the team’s coaches and players. It will be a major upset if he picks any other school.

Devon Hunter, S (Chesapeake, VA) Virginia Tech

Although Hunter still has three official visits left to take, Virginia Tech is his most likely landing spot. The Hokies have been recruiting him for a very long time, and remain the in-state option, so I’m predicting that Coach Fuente manages to land his first big-time recruit as the head coach.

Austin Jackson, OT (Phoenix, AZ) USC

Jackson is going to pick between Arizona State, USC, and Washington on signing day. I’m predicting he signs with USC because they’ve been gaining momentum in his recruitment, and have a tendency to do well on signing day.

Greg Johnson, ATH (Los Angeles, CA) USC

USC and Nebraska are the final two suitors for Johnson. I’m predicting he signs with USC on signing day because they’re his hometown team. They were very smart to get him on campus the weekend before he makes his selection. 

Joseph Lewis, WR (Los Angeles, CA) USC

Given that USC is a major profile program located nearby his hometown, I’m predicting he will sign with them on signing day. Although Nebraska has done a respectable job in his recruitment, it will be an upset if he doesn’t end up in rose and gold. 

Phidarian Mathis, DT (Monroe, LA) Alabama

Mathis’s recruitment is tougher to read, but I’m predicting he signs with Alabama because they’ve gained some late momentum in his recruitment. His playing chances are benefitted by the fact that Alabama just lot a major commit at his position. 

Jarez Parks, DE (Sebastian, FL) Alabama

Parks has been trending towards Alabama for the last few months, so I’m predicting he signs with them on signing day. It was a major win for the Tide that Parks didn’t take an official visit to Florida last weekend. 

LaBryan Ray, DT (Madison, AL) Alabama

Alabama has been the strong favorite to sign Ray throughout his recruitment, so I’m predicting he signs with them on signing day. Given that Alabama just lost another high profile defensive tackle commit, Ray is their sole top target at the position. It will be shocking he signs anywhere else. 

Henry Ruggs III, WR (Montgomery, AL) Alabama

Alabama holds a strong in-state advantage, which is why I’m predicting he signs with them on signing day. Florida State has done a respectable job, making this a closer race than once expected, but I’ll be somewhat surprised if Alabama doesn’t land him.

Tedarrell Slaton, OT (Plantation, FL) Florida

Florida got his final official visit and has been gaining momentum in his recruitment, which is why I’m predicting he signs with them on signing day. Miami (FL) and Georgia have outside chances at landing him, but it would be a surprise if he picks either.

Devonta Smith, WR (Amite, LA) Alabama

Although they don’t have the in-state advantage, I’m predicting he signs with Alabama on signing day. They’ve long been the frontrunners, and I don’t think LSU or Florida State have done enough to close the gap in his recruitment. 

Aubrey Solomon, DT (Leesburg, GA) Michigan

Solomon’s recruitment has been something of a rollercoaster, so I’m not holding out too much confidence with this prediction. With that said, I’m predicting he re-commits and signs with Michigan on signing day because of his relationship with the coaching staff.

Jeff Thomas, WR (East St. Louis, IL) Miami (FL) 

Miami (FL) has emerged as the clear frontrunner for his services over the last month, so I’m predicting he signs with them on signing day. Given how hard they’ve recruited him, it will be a stunner if he signs with anyone else.  

Markaviest Bryant, DE (Cordell, GA) Georgia **picked Auburn**

Bryant has been Georgia’s top target at defensive end for this year’s recruiting class, which is why I’m predicting he goes with Georgia on signing day. Auburn probably closed the gap during his official visit, but it will be surprising if he ends up picking them.

K’Lavon Chaisson, DE (Houston, TX) Texas **picked LSU**

Chaisson is going to pick between Texas and LSU on signing day. This is a close one, but I’m predicting he signs with Texas because he’s more likely to make an early impact there, plus they hold the in-state advantage. 

Levi Jones, LB (Austin, TX) Florida State **picked USC**

Jones took four official visits in January, so there are a lot schools in play to get him on signing day. I’m predicting he signs with Florida State because of his longstanding relationship with the coaching staff, and got his final official visit.

Deommodore Lenoir, CB (Los Angeles, CA) Nebraska **picked Oregon**

Oregon and Nebraska both stand a decent chance at landing Lenoir on signing day, with Mississippi State being a dark horse. I’m predicting he signs with Nebraska on signing day because he has the longest relationship with the coaching staff, and he took his official visit there two weeks ago. 

Anthony McFarland, RB (Hyattsville, MD) Miami (FL) **picked Maryland**

McFarland is down to three schools: Alabama, Maryland, and Miami. While McFarland appears to be comfortable with the in-state Terps, I’m going with Miami (FL) because he has a path to secure the starting job early on, and the Canes’ current commits have been lobbying him hard for months. 

Jay Tufele, DT (South Jordan, UT) Utah **picked USC**

Utah has emerged as the frontrunner for his services over the last month, so I’m predicting that he signs with them on signing day. They hold the in-state advantage, and have been recruiting him for a very long time. Ohio State and USC still have outside shots at landing him. 

Marvin Wilson, DT (Houston TX) Louisiana State **picked Florida State**

Wilson’s recruitment seems to be down to LSU and Florida State. I’m predicting that he signs with LSU because of the strong relationship he has with the head coach, along with the fact that it’s much closer to his hometown.

Possible Flips to Watch For

  • Kai-Leon Herbert, OT from Michigan to Miami (60%)
  • Bruce Judson, WR from USF to Oregon (55%)
  • Jacob Phillips, LB from Oklahoma to LSU (40%)
  • Jamire Cavin, WR from Nebraska to Washington State (55%)
  • Mike Harley, WR from West Virginia to Miami (50%)
  • Neil Farrell, DT from LSU to Florida State (35%)
  • Jamyest Williams, CB from South Carolina to Georgia (30%)
  • D.J. Johnson, DE from Miami to Washington (20%)

2016 Coaching Hire Write-Ups

(in order from Best to Worst)

FLORIDA ATLANTIC: Lane Kiffin, Alabama Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: A+)

This was my favorite hire of the coaching cycle, for both the team and coach. From FAU’s perspective, they nabbed a well-established, high quality football coach with strong connections in the industry. In spite of the somewhat limited resources, I’m betting Kiffin will be able to put together a strong staff and bring the Owls back to a bowl game within the next two years. From Kiffin’s perspective, this is a prime opportunity to prove to high-level ADs and NFL owners that he is able to run a program. His play-calling abilities have never been a concern, but rather his perceived immaturity and lack of leadership skills. As a mid-major school, FAU will be the perfect opportunity for him to reverse this conception, which is why I believe he took it over another offensive coordinator gig. Even though it’s a near-certainty that Kiffin views FAU as a stepping stone job, I believe both parties will be better off having joined forces this offseason.

TEXAS: Tom Herman, Houston Head Coach (GRADE: A)

TEXAS WON THE TOM HERMAN SWEEPSTAKES!! LONGHORN FOOTBALL IS BACK BABY! – said every Longhorn football fan ever. And they’re probably right: Herman has an incredible track record at Houston and Ohio State, and Texas fans should be visibly excited about him returning to his alma mater. His offenses are among the most exciting to watch in the nation, and outside of Nick Saban, he’s perhaps the best CEO/Head of Organization in the coaching industry. The fact that he’s bringing the bulk of his Houston staff with him to Austin is also a very good sign. But I do want to pump the brakes a little bit on all the hype; Houston did have three in-conference losses during the regular season, including a complete decimation by a mediocre SMU team. With that said, Tom Herman is a championship-caliber head coach, and might be content for a long time at Texas (a la Darrell Royal), so getting Herman is a huge win for Texas athletics.

MINNESOTA: P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan Head Coach (GRADE: A)

This job shouldn’t have been open: I’d argue that the whole sexual assault debacle was just as much AD Mark Coyle’s fault as it was Tracy Claeys, who had a 9-win season last year and full support of the Gophers team. But moving on now. Getting P.J. Fleck to leave Kalamazoo for the Twin Cities is a MAJOR WIN! Fleck arguably did the best coaching job this past season- I don’t know too many people who expected Western Michigan to row all the way to the Cotton Bowl. I’m a firm believer that Fleck can bring Minnesota to a championship-contender level; his high energy and recruiting pizzazz should flow very well with recruits in the great north. It’s also worth noting that Minnesota’s division in the Big Ten is very winnable, which I’m sure was a compelling factor for Fleck to pick Minnesota right now over the slew of jobs he could’ve gotten after next season. To conclude, I don’t believe this job should’ve been open, but regardless P.J. Fleck was the best possible hire for an up-and-coming Gopher football program.

USF: Charlie Strong, former Texas Head Coach (GRADE: A-)

Sure, Charlie Strong’s performance as Texas’s head coach was less than stellar. But I still believe that he’s a very, very good football coach; which is why I’m glad to see that he landed on his feet at a strong program like USF. I do believe that almost nobody could’ve resurrected Texas football much better than him, as Mack Brown left him in a pretty deep hole three years ago. Plus, he had virtually no ties to the uneven Texas recruiting landscape, which is the primary reason I believe he failed there. But moving forward, I do believe that USF was perhaps the best landing spot for him. He’s got extensive recruiting ties in the southeast, and inherits a very good job with a great starting quarterback in Quinton Flowers. It’s very possible that Strong could lead the Bulls to a New Years’ Six game next year if he wins out (or comes close to it) in AAC conference play. USF is a great landing spot for Strong, and conversely, USF is landing a well-established coach with a loyal assistant base. To me, a win-win scenario.

FRESNO STATE: Jeff Tedford, former California Head Coach (GRADE: A-)

On the surface, this seems like a match made in heaven: Jeff Tedford is coming home to rebuild the place where he once was the star quarterback. Overall, Tedford did a great job at Cal Berkeley. During his tenure, the Golden Bears were competitive and regularly appeared in bowl games until his last season there. Tedford’s had some time to step back and re-evaluate his coaching methods, which I think will be a very good thing. And Fresno State is perhaps the best destination for him. He’s very connected to the school and the SoCal area, and I believe he’ll have considerable success if he assembles a strong coaching staff. There is some downside to this hire, as Tedford was ran out of Cal, and he’s had some health scares in the past few years. But this hire definitely makes sense, and it could be seen from a million miles away by many football fans and analysts.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL: Butch Jones, former Miami (FL) Head Coach (GRADE: A-)

BUTCH DAVIS IS BACK COACHING!!! HURRAH!!! Well, it’s not that much of a surprise. Davis has been looking to get back into coaching– he might’ve been the guy at Miami (FL) last year if Mark Richt wasn’t available. FIU isn’t really that bad of a consolation prize: Mario Cristobal had a lot of success before Pete Garcia rather boneheadedly fired him a couple years back. He might flame out since he hasn’t coached in seven years. But I really do think Davis could bring them back to regular bowl contention in a few years: he’s had a lot of success in the past and he has strong connections in the Miami area. I’m expecting him to surround himself with people connected to The U, and ride this one out Howard Schnellenberger style. From the university’s perspective, this was probably the best hire they could’ve made, even if it doesn’t work out.

PURDUE: Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky Head Coach (GRADE: B+)

The comparisons between Jeff Brohm and legendary former Purdue coach Joe Tiller definitely make sense; both are top-notch offensive minds who came to Purdue from a mid-major program. Jeff Brohm’s offenses are really, really fun to watch; the C-USA championship between Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech was one of the most fun games I watched this season. Even though I have concerns that he’ll be able to build a legitimate defense at Purdue, I have mostly positive opinions about this hire. Brohm fits the bill as an “up-and-coming” coach looking to prove himself as a head coach of a Power 5 football program, while Purdue has been painfully mediocre, if not downright bad, for most of the 21st century. Part of the reason is that there has been a lack of an offensive identity, something I believe Brohm will be able to quickly change in his tenure as head coach. Given that he builds together a strong staff, I believe Brohm will be successful at Purdue, a very difficult place to win regularly. There’s a pretty decent chance that he’ll depart for a bigger school in 3-5 years if he’s successful; but if Brohm can make Purdue football relevant again, it’ll be more than worth it.

WESTERN MICHIGAN: Tim Lester, former Purdue Quarterbacks Coach (GRADE: B+)

It’ll be sad to see Western Michigan give up “Row The Boat” with P.J. Fleck headed to Minnesota, but they made a very good choice to start the new era of Bronco football with Tim Lester, a former star quarterback for the school. I like this hire for several reasons, starting with the fact Lester is very familiar with the university and the state of Michigan. He led the Broncos to a win over Vanderbilt in the late 1990s, which is why this hire should probably drum up some support among alumni and boosters. Secondly, Lester has head coaching experience under his belt, which is always helpful and a good sign. He has a very strong base of assistant coaches who he’s close with, so I’d expect him to assemble a high quality staff with ties to the university. He’s been alright as a senior offensive assistant coach at Syracuse and Purdue too. Furthermore, he walks into a pretty nice situation inheriting a team that won 13 games this past season, so I’m expecting him to have considerable success early on. The big question is if he can sustain success, which will be interesting to watch. Overall, I’m a fan of this hire.

TEMPLE: Geoff Collins, Florida Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: B+)

Geoff Collins was another one of those hires that came out of left field; almost nobody saw him as a candidate until he was hired as Temple’s head football coach. Little did we know, Collins is close to former coach Matt Rhule during their time together at Western Carolina; and I’m just guessing here, but Rhule probably recommended Collins to AD Patrick Kraft as a possible successor. Collins is a pretty darn good ball coach; regardless of scheme, his defenses are consistently tough and almost always efficient. If he can bring aboard a good offensive coordinator, he will probably have considerable early success. He’s helped by the fact that Rhule left Temple in a very good state, as they had double-digit wins this past season. But in the *far* past, Temple has been a notoriously difficult place to win, and Collins’s lack of ties to the state of Pennsylvania is a big knock against him. I’ve got some concerns about this hire, but I won’t be surprised whatsoever if Collins ends up being very successful as Temple’s head coach.

CONNECTICUT: Randy Esdall, former Maryland Head Coach (GRADE: B)

Even though it’s always awkward re-hiring a former head coach, in this case I actually don’t think this was a bad move. I will admit that I was very confused and surprised when AD David Benedict chose to part ways with Bob Diaco right after Christmas, and I firmly believe that Diaco will be very successful elsewhere as a defensive coordinator or head coach. But I do understand the allure in bringing back Randy Edsall as head coach, as he was very successful and led the team to a Fiesta Bowl appearance in 2010. Unlike the team’s last two head coaches, Edsall’s teams at UConn were competitive on both sides of the ball and very exciting to watch. And while he obviously flamed out at Maryland, Edsall is still a pretty good ball coach. It might be a bitter pill for some loyal Huskie fans to swallow- as Edsall’s departure led to a sharp downturn for UConn football- but Edsall might be the best-suited candidate to bring the football program in a new and better direction. I could see UConn soon re-emerging as a strong power in the AAC, or whichever conference the university might choose to join in the future.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: Mike Sanford Jr., Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: B)

I’m going to admit this: when I first saw the tagline “NOTRE DAME OC MIKE SANFORD JR. HIRED AS WESTERN KENTUCKY’S HC” on ESPN, I was a bit confused. But as I did more research, I learned that Sanford Jr. actually does have ties to Western Kentucky, where he was the quarterbacks’ coach during the 2010 season under Willie Taggart. He has a very good track record as an assistant coach; he’s highly regarded within Stanford circles, and his offenses at Boise State and Notre Dame have been very fun to watch. He’s also walking into a very nice situation at Western Kentucky: the last three head coaches were all very successful. I’m a bit surprised that AD Todd Stewart landed on him, instead of someone along the lines of Tyson Helton or Paul Petrino. And if I were Stewart, I’d be very concerned that Sanford Jr. will bolt after a few years like the last three coaches have done. Regardless, I do think Sanford Jr. is a pretty solid hire, and if he assembles a strong staff, I do believe he will achieve considerable success as Western Kentucky’s head coach.

LOUISIANA STATE: Ed Orgeron, LSU Interim Head Coach (GRADE: B)

I’m actually kind of amused reading “coaching hire grade” articles on big news outlets and finding that they universally pan LSU’s hire of Ed Orgeron. Sure, the way LSU settled on him was flawed and uncomfortable at best. And I don’t disagree that AD Joe Alleva should probably step down in the next year or two for the way he’s handled the football program over the last year and a half. But I do think Ed O is a pretty good hire for LSU, all things given. His players love him, and in terms of character, there isn’t a better fit for LSU if not only because his strong cajun accent. I firmly believe that Ed O is going to establish a strong staff, and the hires of OC Matt Canada and DC Dave Aranda should both be highly praised. With some changes to the offense, LSU is a top ten team; with the right coaching, they could definitely get there. I do hear the concerns about Ed O’s time at Ole Miss, along with complaints that he probably isn’t the best guy to turn around LSU’s anemic offense. But I think he’s learned so much over the last ten years and see more success at LSU than he had at Ole Miss. Yes, Jimbo Fisher and Tom Herman absolutely would’ve been splashier hires, but promoting Coach O is still a win in my books.

BAYLOR: Matt Rhule, Temple Head Coach (GRADE: B) 

Matt Rhule is a very good ball coach. He’s highly regarded in the industry, and he’s exceeded expectations at Temple, which can be a very difficult place to win consistently. With that said, this hire was something of a head scratcher to many football analysts. Rhule is entering a very difficult situation at Baylor, a place where many boosters are resentful over the Art Briles debacle. And it’s important to note that Rhule has ZERO ties to the state of Texas, which will make recruiting a lot harder. At time of his hire, Baylor had one commit in their 2017 recruiting class, so Rhule still has a lot of catching up to do on that end. Looking at the bigger picture though, he’s helped by the fact that AD Mack Rhoades gave him a 7-year deal. And winning at Baylor is a lot more possible now than it was ten years ago when Briles first became head coach. So, I think there’s two directions this hire could go: one scenario is Rhule has success and ends up leaving for a bigger job, and the other, and the other is that Rhule can’t rebuild Baylor to where it used to be, and gets fired in four to five years.

INDIANA: Tom Allen, Indiana Defensive Coordinator (GRADE B-) 

Indiana probably wins out for the title of most surprising/weird/confusing coaching search of this year. It was a surprise to see Kevin Wilson get fired after two winning seasons, for being a tough-nose football coach. But clearly there’s some information being withheld from the public, as Wilson’s only getting one-twelfth of the financial buyout in his original contract. Moving on, I’m kind of surprised that AD Fred Glass immediately chose to promote Tom Allen to the head job before conducting any resemblance of a coaching search. Allen is a good ball coach with strong ties in the state and familiarity with the program, and ran a very good defense last season. But I just have a bad feeling that Indiana’s momentum will begin to shift for the negative, especially given that he’s planning on keeping the bulk of Wilson’s coaching staff intact. I do understand that the university was put in a tough situation given that Wilson was fired with cause, along with knowing that Tom Allen would’ve only stayed aboard if he was promoted to head coach- he was probably seeking the Ole Miss defensive coordinator job. But Fred Glass’s decision to internally promote Tom Allen without going through a legitimate coaching search is something of a head-scratcher to me, and only time will tell if Allen can be successful at Indiana, which can be a tough place to win consistently.

GEORGIA STATE: Shawn Elliott, South Carolina Offensive Line Coach (GRADE: B-)

This is the perfect example of why coaching search firms aren’t needed in college football. AD Charlie Cobb has known Shawn Elliott for a long time, given their shared history at Appalachian State, and he shouldn’t have needed to dole out a six-digit figure to a search firm to settle on his longtime friend. Aside, Elliott is a fine hire for Georgia State. I’m not overly excited, in part because Elliott’s offensive line unit at USC has done terribly this year and Gamecock fans were clamoring for him to be canned for that alone. With that said, he did an alright job last season as interim head coach when Steve Spurrier stepped down mid-season, and perhaps his ties to AD Charlie Cobb will bring some security to the Panther football organization. There’s a lot to be excited about with Georgia State’s move to Turner Field next year, yet Elliott doesn’t inspire as much excitement as other hires might’ve done. In short, ehh.

HOUSTON: Major Applewhite, Houston Offensive Coordinator (GRADE: B-)

Even though it’s tough to blame Tom Herman for returning to his alma mater, it’s a bit disappointing to see him leave only two seasons after completely turning around the Houston football program. Herman did a magnificent job, and deserves a standing O for it. For a brief moment in history, it seemed like Houston was committed to becoming a top-level football program. They had the money (courtesy of Tilman Fertitta) to make a splash hire, which is why I’m a bit confounded why they promoted Major Applewhite to the job. Overlooking the fact that Todd Orlando probably would’ve been the best internal hire, Major Applewhite simply does not inspire confidence. He did a good job under Tom Herman’s supervision, but I question whether he can continue the #HTownTakeover momentum, concerns only further heightened by the beating they took from San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The whole scandal he went through at Texas isn’t helping either. Instead of making a run at someone like Dana Holgorsen, the administration looked for someone who wouldn’t jump after two years. Understandable, but not the right call in my opinion. I don’t think Major Applewhite is a bad football coach, but he probably would’ve been better off starting his career somewhere a bit quieter such as Rice or UTSA. The demands at Houston are high, and it’ll be interesting to see if Major Applewhite can meet them.

CALIFORNIA: Justin Wilcox, Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: B-) 

I’m shocked that Cal parted ways with Sonny Dykes so late in the coaching search season. When the move was announced, I assume they were going to make a power play for Chip Kelly or another “top of the line” head coach, per say. But I was wrong. Cal’s very inept administration went into this search relatively unplanned, and got somewhat lucky in landing Wilcox (an average hire at best), perhaps the best of the candidates they publicly interviewed. Wilcox walks into a very tough situation at Cal, which currently has very unstable finances and stadium issues at the moment. With that said, Wilcox is a pretty solid ball coach who has had success as a defensive coordinator everywhere he went outside of the USC debacle. I firmly believe that he’ll turn around Cal’s defense, which was quite terrible in the Dykes era, and assemble a solid offensive staff to keep the momentum going on that side of the ball. My concern with Wilcox is that he doesn’t have head coaching experience, and that he’s very unfamiliar with the situation he’s going to be walking into as Cal’s head coach. He coached under Jeff Tedford from 2003-05, but Cal is a very different place right now than it was ten years ago. This one will be interesting to watch, especially given how competitive the Pac-12 is getting. My bet is against Wilcox having success at Cal, but he could very well end up proving me wrong.

SAN JOSE STATE: Brent Brennan, Oregon State Wide Receivers Coach (GRADE: B-)

Geez, over the last month I’ve begun to realize how hard it is to win at San Jose State, giving me so much respect for the job Mike MacIntyre did a couple years back. Ron Caragher was a disaster and needed to be replaced; AD Gene Bleymaier looked to someone with a prior history coaching for SJSU in Brent Brennan to be the program’s next leader. Before I go on about why it’ll be hard for Brennan to have MacIntyre-like success, I’d like to note that he’s highly regarded as a position coach in the coaching industry, and is one of the pacific coast’s best recruiters. With that said, Brennan is going to have very limited resources to work with, making it hard for him to really assemble a top-level coaching staff. Plus, San Jose is a very expensive place to live, especially for a coach, which fans should take note of. It’ll be surprising if Brennan chooses to call offensive plays given that he’s never been an offensive coordinator, so Spartans fans are going to have to cross their fingers and hope that he can somehow lure an experienced or gifted offensive play-caller to his staff. Brennan might be successful, and I really don’t want to bet against him, but the signals point to him having a difficult road ahead in re-building San Jose State’s football program.

OREGON: Willie Taggart, USF Head Coach (GRADE: C+)

I’ve got some conflicted feelings about this hire, most of them being negative. AD Rob Mullens probably made the right call in firing Mark Helfrich to begin a rebuild of a decimated Oregon football culture, but he botched just about everything else. He waited WAY TOO LONG to make the move, and came off as very unprofessional when he scathed Helfrich in the official press release. Next, he somehow lost out on Matt Rhule to Baylor, who many believe was his top target. And then, it appears he was heavily swayed by phone calls from Jim Harbaugh and Tony Dungy and hired Willie Taggart in a whim. In short, it appears that Mullens was very clueless throughout the process, and didn’t take a definitive approach in anything he did. I’d argue he did an even worse job than LSU AD Joe Alleva. But back to the actual hire, Taggart isn’t the best fit. Yes, he coached at Stanford, but most of his roots lie in the southeast, so it’ll be interesting to see what his recruiting strategy will become. And so far, it appears that he’s trying to copycat Jim Harbaugh by hiring several of his former assistants to his staff; not a bad choice, but it seems that he doesn’t have a strong base of loyal assistants, unlike many other established head coaches. I’ll be very interested to watch how he handles the transition from the current *very tenured* coaching staff, which will be critical in determining whether or not he can be successful as Oregon’s head coach.

CINCINNATI: Luke Fickell, Ohio State Co-Defensive Coordinator (GRADE: C+)

Five years after guiding Ohio State to a sub-.500 record as interim head coach in 2011, Luke Fickell gets his first head coaching job just a hundred miles away from his alma mater and the place where he’s spent 15 of his 17 years as a football coach. To be frank, I’m not a big fan of this hire. Even in tough circumstances, Fickell did a pretty weak job coaching the 2011 Buckeyes, which is partially why it’s taken him this long to get his first head coaching job. Secondly, he’s never been a defensive play-caller in his coaching career, as neither Urban Meyer or Jim Tressel trusted him enough for those responsibilities. I also question whether he’s going to be the best recruiter for Cincinnati; he has extensive experience in Ohio, but his focus was never in that area, which is why I initially assumed Kerry Coombs to be a more realistic candidate than him. Finally, I’d also like to note that Cincinnati chose him over a qualified field of very proven head coaches, including Scott Satterfield and Neal Brown. As such, I’d argue that he was probably the worst of the possible hires for Cincinnati, which is in desperate need of turnaround after Tommy Tuberville set them back a bit. I will note that I’ve heard Fickell is a strong motivator and a very good position coach, so there is some upside that he could succeed at Cincinnati. With that said, this is among my least favorite hires of the coaching cycle.

NEVADA: Jay Norvell, Arizona State Wide Receivers Coach (GRADE: C+)

I didn’t see this one coming at all. First, I strongly believe Brian Polian is a very good ball coach who at least deserved another season to turn things around. Clearly there was some disconnect between him and AD Doug Knuth. But moving on, I’m not sold that Jay Norvell was the right hire for Nevada. To summarize his career, he’s bounced around schools quite a bit, mostly as a position coach. He’s repeatedly been unsuccessful as a play-caller. His offenses at Nebraska, UCLA, and Texas were pretty difficult to watch at times. In my opinion, his best chance at success will be if he reverts Nevada’s offense back to a Chris Ault-like spread/pistol offense, and doesn’t interfere with calling plays whatsoever. With that said, I’m a big fan of both his coordinator hires in (OC) Matt Mumme and (DC) Jeff Casteel. But I think Nevada would’ve been significantly better off going with an established head coach, such as Beau Baldwin or Paul Petrino.