Rating the new coaching hires and why:
A+ Virginia Tech hired Justin Fuente from Memphis: We all know what Justin Fuente did at Memphis turning that woeful program around in a short time. He will have much more going for him in Blacksburg, Virginia. Long time Tech coach Frank Beamer did not leave the cupboard bare and Fuente will have much more to work with than he did starting off in Memphis.
A Miami hired Mark Richt: In a somewhat surprising move, the Georgia Bulldogs fired Mark Richt after compiling a 145-51 record at Georgia. The best thing for Miami, is not only is Richt a good coach, he also played Quarterback at Miami back in the early 1980s. Unfortunately for Richt, he was at Miami at the same time as Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly. Miami has a talented
Quarterback and some other good players and I believe this is a home run hire for the Canes.
A Syracuse hired Dino Babers from Bowling Green: MAC coaches have been hit and miss at the bigger schools, but I think Babers can be outstanding at Syracuse. Babers has been around and has a lot of experience as an assistant coach. Even though he is 54 years old, he’s only been a head coach for four years. At Eastern Illinois, Babers was 19-7 in two seasons with his last season being a rather impressive 12-2 record. He moved to Bowling Green where his team won 18 games against 9 losses. This is an exciting hire for Syracuse.
B+ UCF hired Scott Frost Oregon Offensive Coordinator: Frost takes his enormous potential to Central Florida. The only reason this is hire didn’t get an A from me is because Frost has never been a head coach. Frost was the Quarterback at Nebraska when they won the national title in 1997 (sorry Michigan) and he knows what it takes to win on both sides of the ball. He has been the Offensive Coordinator at Oregon in recent seasons and their offense has been nothing short of spectacular.
B Virginia hired Bronco Mendenhall from BYU: This hire just came out of the blue. Mendenhall was the head coach at BYU for 11 seasons and posted a 99-43 record. In those 11 seasons, he won 10 games or more in 5 of them. Mendenhall obviously was a successful coach at BYU, but why the sudden move all the way across the country? Also, at Virginia, he won’t be able to use the advantage of Church Missions.
B Georgia hired Kirby Smart Defensive Coordinator Alabama: This hire gets a B from me
because the Bulldogs fired a 9-3 known for a coach that has never been a head coach. Smart may turn out to be the next big thing, and that’s a chance that Georgia was willing to take. It would have gotten a C, but Smart has been working for Nick Saban and observing how things get done from one of the best. History does tell us that many schools don’t do well when firing a successful coach. I wish Kirby Smart the best, but I don’t feel that great about this move and Mark Richt deserved better.
B Chris Ash the Defensive Coordinator from Ohio State hired by Rutgers: Ash knows defense and he was a big part of Ohio State’s national championship. Ash is a 42 year old first time head coach and has the potential to do well at Rutgers. He has learned from the best, but time will tell.
B Missouri promoted Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom from within: Long time Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel stepped down because of his health. Odom was promoted from his Defensive Coordinator position to take over. The Odom hire was popular with the players which means little. The Tiger’s defense has been stout over the past few years and they won the SEC East 2 out of the last 3 years. Odom knows what it takes to win, but he has no head coaching experience. He’s also only 39 years old. Like Mark Richt and Kirby Smart, Odom was hired by his former school.
B Memphis hired Arizona State Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell: Norvell impresses as a pretty sharp guy. He is only 34 years old and Memphis may be a stepping stone for him and another big time school. Justin Fuente should have the program in good shape and if Norvell is the man I believe he is he should continue it. But, time will tell.
B Maryland hired Michigan Defensive Coordinator DJ Durkin: The 37 year old Durkin is a dynamic young head coaching prospect. He spent his graduate assistant years under Urban Meyer and coached this past season with Jim Harbaugh. He was also the Defensive Coordinator under Muschamp at Florida. He coached the Gators in last year’s bowl game after Muschamp had been fired and he is technically undefeated as a head coach at 1-0. Winning at Maryland in the Big 10 will be a tall task, but Durkin is also a good recruiter.
B Iowa State hired Matt Campbell from Toledo: Campbell came to Iowa State from Toledo and at 36 years old, he is really young and already experienced as the head man. He was outstanding in his time at Toledo and never had a losing season. His overall record was 35-15 and took the Rockets to 3 bowl games. He will find the going much tougher in the Big 12 at Iowa State. But, if anyone can do it, I like Campbell’s chances.
C UNT hired North Carolina Offensive Coordinator Seth Littrell: Tough job. There are a lot of top recruits in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but a lot of competition for those players. Littrell played under Bob Stoops and he coached one of the better offenses in the country last year at North Carolina. He is young and inexperienced as a head coach and a lot of coaches have failed at North Texas.
C USC hired interim coach Clay Helton: Call me unimpressed. The Trojans fired Steve Sarkisian after the Washington loss and they were 3-2. Helton took over and they went 5-4. This was a team that was pretty loaded at almost every position. Granted, they were youthful, but they didn’t perform much better under Helton than they did before. In my opinion, Athletic Director Pat Haden should be gone. This school has too many resources to suffer through 8-6 records.
C Illinois hired interim coach Bill Cubit: The Illini lost 6 out of their last 7 games to finish at 5-7. Cubit deserves a little time to build a program, but he was on the previous staff. I believe they should have looked outside the program. Hopefully, I am wrong.
C Minnesota hired interim coach Tracy Claeys: Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill was a good coach, but he had to resign due to health reasons. Claeys took over and was taken off of interim basis and was given the job. He is well liked by the players, but he posted a 2-4 record after Kill stepped down. He was an assistant under Kill for 21 years before being given this opportunity. He seems like a good man, but is head coaching material?
C East Carolina hired Scottie Montgomery: The reason this got a C from me is that they fired Ruffin McNeal to hire Montgomery. I am sure Montgomery will make a fine coach, but McNeal was a good coach for them, too. Montgomery played at Duke and in the NFL before getting into coaching. He could and should be good as a head coach, I just hate that they fired a good coach and a
good man like McNeal.
D South Carolina hired former Florida head coach Will Muschamp: Muschamp was fired at Florida after two bad seasons in a row and then he took the Auburn job and that program went downhill. South Carolina was said to have wanted Kirby Smart from Alabama, but Georgia ruined that. I think this was a bad idea for South Carolina and they may pay for this for a few years.
But, at least I get to post a picture of his angry face for a little while longer. Some of these coaches are going to have a head just explode one day with these tantrums. But, they are funny to watch.