Category Archives: 2017 season

Hot Coaches: Up and Coming

No, dirty minded ladies, I am not talking that kind of hot. Please get your minds out of the gutter.

I am talking hot in a different way meaning the coaches that are getting the most recognition and respect right now, or the ones that should be.

I am leaving out Nick Saban because he gets enough attention on ESPN. Besides, Saban is 65 years old and how much longer will he want to coach?

Who will the next Nick Saban, or Urban Meyer be? Meyer is only 53, but who will his new competition be?

Dabo Swinney – Clemson: After leading the Clemson Tigers to the national title game and then winning it within the past 2 seasons, the man with the odd first name just has to be the hottest coach in America not named Saban. Swinney is only 47 years old and he has more energy than most. In 8 full seasons, Swinney is 92-28. But, in the past two seasons, Swinney is 28-2. Over the past 6

seasons, the Tigers have entered another class of football teams with more than 10 wins in each of those seasons. Dabo Swinney is an All-World recruiter and there is talent galore on the Clemson roster. Many think that Swinney goes to Alabama when Saban retires because Swinney graduated from Alabama where he played football. I like Alabama and their history, particularly Bear Bryant, but I surely hope that does not happen and Dabo Swinney builds his own brand at Clemson.

PJ Fleck – Minnesota: The tireless one, PJ Fleck might be the new young stallion in college football coaching. Only 36 years old, the sky is the limit for Fleck and one can only guess how long he will be the Gophers coach. He was hired to take over the Western Michigan program before the 2013 season and took them from 1-11 up to 12-1 and posting a 30-22 overall record. After winning all of their regular season games in 2016, Western Michigan was beaten in the Cotton Bowl by the Wisconsin Badgers. Fleck is already having an effect on the Gopher’s program with a 3-0 start, but tougher games await them. Under Fleck, the Minnesota Gophers should provide the Wisconsin Badgers some competition in the Big 10 West.

Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech: Fuente took over the Memphis Tigers’ program in 2012 and it took him a couple of seasons to turn it around, but he accomplished his goals. The nation noticed and Virginia Tech grabbed him early as possible when legendary Hokie coach Frank Beamer announced his retirement. In his first season in Blacksburg, Fuente helped the Hokies win their division and challenged eventual national champions Clemson in the ACC Championship game. After Virginia Tech won 10 games and crushed Arkansas in their bowl game, the Hokies are off to a 3-0 start in 2017 with redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson. Fuente seems to be a developer of quarterbacks and one of the better coaches in the country.

Scott Frost – Central Florida: While Dabo Swinney is down home country good, PJ Fleck is enthusiastic, Fuente a developer of Quarterbacks, then Scott Frost is just intense. Frost was an offensive coordinator at Oregon before the 0-12 Central Florida Knights hired him as their head coach. His first season was an almost underwhelming 6-7, but the team was vastly improved. This season, the Knights are off to a 1-0 start. It has to be only a matter of time before his school comes

calling with the Nebraska Cornhuskers struggling.

Lincoln Riley – Oklahoma: In the surprise move of the year, long time Sooner coach Bob Stoops just retired without any notice. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was promoted to head coach. He did inherit Baker Mayfield, so time will tell if he actually does succeed without Bob Stoops’ players. But, he is considered one of the bright young minds of the game today and at 33 Riley is the youngest head coach in the nation. Lincoln Riley should be able to write his own ticket and who knows if Oklahoma is his long time destination.

Jeff Brohm – Purdue: The difference in Purdue from last year to this is beyond amazing. The former Louisville Cardinal quarterback got his first head job at Western Kentucky where he led the team to a 30-10 record over 3 seasons. The Boilermakers were smart and beat somebody else to the punch and lured Brohm to West Lafayette, Indiana to take over the struggling football program. It was evident in the spring that the team would be better, but what can you really tell from those practices? Purdue won 3 games in 2014, 2 games in 2015 and 3 games in 2016. Now, after three games, the Boilers are 2-1 and looking much improved. Their schedule is not overly favorable for them, but they should pull off a surprise, or two and be difficult to deal with. Jeff Brohm is only 46 with a bright future ahead of him and whoever he coaches.

Mike MacIntyre – Colorado: Boulder, Colorado is one of my favorite cities and MacIntyre has seemingly turned a corner at this school. At 52 years of age, MacIntyre can build an even stronger program at Colorado. His first head job was at San Jose State where he transformed a 1-12 team into a 10-2 record in 3 years. The Buffaloes hired him, but it wasn’t easy for MacIntyre. His first season there was 4-8 which wasn’t good, but the following year was 2-10. After another bad season with a 4-9 record, the Buffaloes broke through with a 10-4 record. This year, the Buffs are off to a 3-0 start, but they have the Washington Huskies coming up. MacIntyre is a program builder and a very impressive football coach.

Tom Herman – Texas: Never mind that Texas is 1-2 on their early season, Herman has too much going for him not to succeed. In their most recent game, the Horns lost to USC in double overtime and they showed huge improvements especially defensively. Herman’s current recruiting class is ranked 2nd nationally and he will definitely improve the talent level on that team.

Herman was the offensive coordinator on the Ohio State team that won it all and was hired to take over at the University of Houston. In two seasons, Herman led the Cougars to a very impressive 22-4 record with wins over Oklahoma and Florida State. This was a good hire for Texas and he should be playing for championships for years to come.

Dave Clawson – Wake Forest: It’s been difficult to win at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons went to

the MAC to hire a coach when they brought in Clawson from Bowling Green. Clawson did not have an outstanding record at Bowling Green, or at previous jobs at Fordham and at Richmond. But, at all those schools he took a problem program and turned it around. At Wake Forest, the Deacons were 3-9 in consecutive seasons. Same ole Wake Forest, but in the 2016 season, the Demon Deacons started to turn it around and finished up 7-6. This season, the Deacons are 3-0 and they should be 4-0 before playing Florida State and Clemson.

Matt Campbell – Iowa State: In four full seasons at Toledo, plus taking over to finish the 2011 season, Matt Campbell coached the team to a 35-15 record. Campbell played college football at Division III Mount Union and won 3 national titles as a player. Power 5 Conference schools almost always seem to be looking to the MAC as sort of a farm system conference and they are always hiring coaches from there. In his first season at Iowa State, Campbell’s team finished with an unimpressive 3-9 record. This season the Cyclones are off to a 2-1 start. Campbell is not really a well known coach yet, but I feel almost certain that he will be.

Phillip Montgomery – Tulsa: Montgomery was a junior high football coach for a year in 1996, but from there he quickly shot up the ranks. He was the Baylor offensive coordinator before the Tulsa football program hired him as their new head coach before the 2015 season. His first season provided a 6-6 record, but they lost their bowl game to finish up 6-7. Last season, in 2016, the Golden Hurricanes won 10 games. This season, they were crushed by top 10 Oklahoma State and lost a wild one to Toledo. Montgomery is a sharp minded football guy that should continue upwards. I would recommend not making the same mistakes that his mentor Art Briles made.

DJ Durkin – Maryland: Having coached under Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh and Will Muschamp, Durkin knows what to do and what not to do. Durkin got his first head job last season at Maryland and led them to a 6-7 record. The record was not impressive, but the program was a loose cannon when he took over. This season, he has the Terrapins off to a surprising 2-0 start. On the sidelines, Durkin looks like an older, veteran coach, but don’t let the grey hair fool you, he is only 39 years old. Maryland looks so much better since he took over and they may surprise people this year and next.

Justin Wilcox – California: Wilcox decided to use his anthropology degree from Oregon and get into coaching. The former Oregon Duck safety was the defensive coordinator at numerous schools before accepting the head job at California before this season. It’s really early, but the transformation at California is really amazing. The previous coach cared little about defense and the defense is already much improved. The Cal Bears are off to a 3-0 start with wins over North Carolina and Ole

Miss, with a game coming up against USC next.

Chris Ash – Rutgers: The former Ohio State defensive coordinator had a rough start last season with a 2-10 record including huge losses to Washington, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. But, the difference in recruiting this year compared to other seasons shows an interest in the Rutgers program. Most New Jersey kids leave the state to play football, but Rutgers grabbed some of the better ones this season. The Scarlet Knights are off to a 1-2 start this season and they have a ways to go to turn the corner, but they are playing better. Ash had the good sense to go after a bunch of graduate transfers and he landed quarterback Kyle Bolin from Louisville and huge running back Gus ‘the bus’ Edwards from Miami. Both are starting and making a difference.

Ash is still really young at 43 and he should have a long career in college football coaching, if he wants it.

Willie Taggart – Oregon: Taggart built the USF program up and then was hired by the Oregon Ducks to take over a program that was struggling. Oregon, two years removed from getting a shot at the national title, fired their coach and hired the impressive Willie Taggart from South Florida. Already, the Ducks have shown improvement and stand at 3-0 on the season. Taggart is another program builder having done it at Western Kentucky and South Florida, but this is a new kind of opportunity for Taggart and the Ducks are looking good, so far. Taggart is only 41 years old and you will see him going places in college football, or even the NFL.