Every year there is a crazy coaching firing and hiring frenzy brought on by crazy fans that think there’s is never good enough. Sometimes it actually works, but a lot of times they fire the new coach in about 3 to 5 years and start over again and again. It worked out for Georgia with Kirby Smart, but it didn’t for Tennessee with Butch Jones. It’s often just a crap shoot.
But, how did they do this year?
Nebraska: A few years ago, the Huskers fired their nasty coach Bo Pelini and hired Mike Riley from Oregon State. It was a strange decision and I said so at the time and many times since. After a very unsuccessful stint at Nebraska, they made a move again and this time they brought in former Husker quarterback Scott Frost.
Frost was the offensive coordinator at Oregon when the Huskers hired Riley, and soon after the Knights of Central Florida hired Frost to take over their 0-13 team. In his first season, Frost led the Knights to a 6-7 record and then in his second season as a head coach, he led his team to a fantastic 13-0 record. This might have been the fastest turnaround in the history of college football.
Florida: The Gators won the SEC East title twice with Jim McElwain, but he was never loved by the fans. When McElwain claimed to have received death threats and refused to show evidence, the Gators had their excuse to be rid of him. They hired Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State after his successful career there. Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida when Tim Tebow was there and is given credit for Tebow’s development. At Mississippi State, Mullen developed Dak Prescott and then Nick Fitzgerald. If he is a quarterback whisperer, he has his work cut out for him at Florida with the messy quarterback situation that goes back to Will Muschamp days. If anyone is up to the challenge, it might be Dan Mullen. Let’s see what he can do with Feleipe Franks, or Kyle Trask, or even somebody else. But, I think the Gators took a step up with Mullen.
Florida State: Willie Taggart turned around Western Kentucky and he turned around USF. He left South Florida in great shape for his replacement, Charlie Strong. In one season at Oregon, he had the Ducks improving. Leaving a coaching job after only one season sounds bad, but how often does your dream job come open? This was an opportunity that Taggart had to jump on. In his first recruiting class, the Seminoles finished 11th in the country and he only had a short time to recruit. Also, the last
regime cut Bobby Bowden off from FSU. That’s just wrong, and Taggart reached out to Bowden early on and brought him back into the program. Great idea. Bowden was the one to build this monster and he should be involved with the Seminole program as long as he is able and desiring to be. Taggart can coach and he can recruit and he seems to have good sense proven by the Bowden deal. Honestly, I think the Seminoles were fortunate and got an upgrade with Taggart.
Florida State: A
UCLA: Chip Kelly was the guy that Florida wanted, but he turned them down for the Bruins. Kelly knows the west coast and he desired to return there, apparently. UCLA has not been without talent, but the last coaching staff was not taking advantage of it. Kelly may just be the shot in the arm that the Pac 12 seems to need at this point. The conference was pretty average a year ago and Kelly will bring some attention. He may even force USC, it’s cross town rival, to make some changes to keep up. Kelly was a failure in the NFL and he’s not great dealing with boosters, or he wasn’t at Oregon. But, Pete Carroll was also a failure in the NFL his first time there as a head coach. Kelly has a chance to make the Bruins a competitive program nationally. If nothing else, he will have ESPN showing his Bruins on their highlight videos on Sports Center.
Texas A%M: Jimbo Fisher is a guy that gives me mixed feelings. He won a national title in 2013, but before and after he seems to have underachieved. The Seminoles were always loaded and came up short. Then, there’s the blowout loss at Louisville in 2016 and the collapse in 2017. There were other issues which I refuse to write about, but Fisher has a lot of dirt on him.
At A%M, Fisher will be expected to take over the SEC West and that’s probably not going to happen. Fisher has a reputation of developing quarterbacks and he will need to get to work.
Texas A%M: B
Tennessee: The Volunteers had the biggest fiasco I have ever seen in 50 years of following this game. They finally settled on Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and that was probably a very good choice. One never really knows completely until they are under fire and the pressure is on, but Pruitt was a part of the 2013 national championship with Florida State and he was with Alabama. He knows what it takes to win, but can he do it as the head man is the question. We won’t know for a few years, but on paper, this looks like a good hire for the Vols.
Arizona: The Wildcats finally got a reason and they made a move on firing Rodriguez. The coach had had his moments at Arizona, but the lack of defense and other inconsistencies was enough to get him fired. The Wildcats hired recently fired Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin and I don’t think this is a bad hire for them, actually. His offenses were often dangerous in College Station when he had a quarterback and he coached NFL quarterback Case Keenum at Houston. At Arizona, he will have a really promising quarterback in Khalil Tate. Going into his junior season, Tate is a much better runner than he is a passer, but he’s got a strong and dangerous arm. Some may not agree with me, but I think this is more than a decent hire for the Wildcats. Sumlin did really well at Houston and he can do the same at Arizona.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs hired Joe Moorhead from Penn State who had been the Nittany Lions offensive coordinator the past couple of seasons. Moorhead has been a head coach before and he did really well. But, that was not a big time school and the power 5 conferences are different and if you asked somebody in the south, it’s a lot tougher in the SEC. Moorhead is a good coach, but can a guy from New York City fit in with the folks in Starkville, Mississippi? On the football side of things, Moorhead brings it all.
Mississippi State: B
Arkansas – The Hogs went to SMU and hired Chad Morris and I think this is a very good hire and that the Hogs will love him after suffering through Bret Bielema. SMU is a difficult job and they’ve
not been very good since they received the death penalty. I thought this was the guy that the Aggies should have hired and Morris is an A%M grad and would have thrown himself on the job. Morris won state at Lake Travis High School in Texas before he was hired by Clemson as their offensive coordinator. Morris is innovative and he is highly intelligent and he should win at Arkansas. I think this is a good hire, but he has not done it at a top level school.
Arizona State: This was a strange, strange hire. Herm Edwards has been out of football for years and he hasn’t been in college football in decades. Edwards still knows football basics, but the game changes constantly. Can he relate to high school kids on the recruiting trail? NFL doesn’t have angry boosters and it’s hard to tell whether he can work
Very, very bizarre hire. I wish him well, but not sure what to think about this.
Arizona State: C
The Nebraska Cornhuskers won the coaching sweepstakes this time around, but Florida, Florida State and UCLA came out on the top end, as well. It’s all pretty exciting, but strange at the same time. I’m all for events that help college football and Scott Frost to Nebraska helps. The Florida schools with good hires is exciting and so is Chip Kelly back to the college game.
This was also one of the craziest coach firing and hiring seasons ever.