So far this offseason, there have been 29 coaching moves made with the latest coming when the University of Oregon announced that Mark Helfrich was being promoted to head coach. With that in mind, here is our updated look at the coaching hires with grades.
The Buzz: Truth be told, Bielema’s hiring took a lot of people off guard including myself. The 42-year-old Bielema had Big Ten in his veins and I figured that’s where he would remain most of his career especially considering the recent success that Wisconsin has seen. In the past three seasons, the Badgers were 30-10 with three straight Rose Bowl appearances. Arkansas doesn’t need to be rebuilt as a football program, just some tweaks if it wants to contend with the likes of Alabama and LSU in the future.
Bryan Harsin (Arkansas State)
The Buzz: Harsin has been one of the most sought after college football assistant coaches over the past couple of seasons. He was the offensive coordinator at Boise State (2006-10) where he helped guide the Broncos to a 61-5 record thanks, in part, to the development of quarterback Kellen Moore. He spent the past two seasons as co-offensive coordinator for Texas under Mack Brown. He becomes the third head coach for the Red Wolves in the past three seasons with the two previous coaches – Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn – moving on to jobs in the SEC. He takes over a program that has gone 19-6 in the past two seasons and has won back-to-back Sun Belt titles.
Gus Malzahn (Auburn)
The Buzz: It’s hard to imagine that one person could mean so much to a team, but when you look at the state of the Tigers during this past season, you can see why. Malzahn helped transform Auburn into one of the best offensive teams in the country during his three seasons there, but after he left, the program took a major turn for the worst. The hire made sense in the way that he was familiar with the program, it’s traditions and he recruits the South really well. The biggest question will be just how patient will Auburn fans will be with Malzahn.
The Buzz: Addazio called Boston College his ‘dream job’ during his introductory press conference and Eagles fans are hoping that he can wipe away the memory of the past two seasons. The 53-year-old Addazio spent two seasons at Temple where he helped bring the Owls back to a certain level of relevance including a spot in the Big East, but it will take a lot more to get Boston College back on the map. Statistically, this year’s team ranked 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in both total offense and total defense with wins against FCS opponent Maine and Maryland.
Sonny Dykes (California)
The Buzz: Dykes was one of the hot names in coaching candidates this offseason. After transforming Louisiana Tech into a top 25 contender, the 43-year-old Dykes was mentioned for openings at Tennessee, Colorado and Arkansas before landing in Berkley. The Bulldogs were second in the nation in total offense behind only Baylor and Cal officials hope he can bring back a level of excitement to the program that it hasn’t seen in some time. He’ll have a tough task with at least six starters lost on offense next season including quarterback Zach Maynard and running back Isi Sofele.
Tommy Tuberville (Cincinnati)
The Buzz: This one is a head scratcher. On one hand, it’s a great move for Cincinnati officials to get a guy with the coaching pedigree of a Tuberville – he won 130 games including seven bowls at stops like Ole Miss and Auburn – but is he the right fit at your school? He’s leaving a lucrative job at Texas Tech, worth $2 million per season to take over a rising program in the Big East? Even in their best years, the money doesn’t translate. Plus, how long before he gets the itch to interview somewhere else?
Mike MacIntyre (Colorado)
The Buzz: MacIntyre turned around a San Jose State program that had one of its best season’s in almost 35 years. At 10-2, the Spartans qualified for only their second bowl game in more three decades. MacIntyre has a strong defensive background and recruits really well which could be key for a Colorado program that has been in severe disarray for more than a decade. The Buffaloes haven’t been relevant in the college football landscape in quite some time so MacIntyre’s biggest challenge will be getting the right players to fight his style and quite frankly, he needs to change the culture of losing in Boulder.
Ron Turner (Florida International)
The Buzz: At 59, Turner becomes the oldest coaching hire in an offseason full of new, fresh coaching faces. A journeyman coach, Turner has spent time at USC, Stanford and Texas A&M while making stops in the NFL with the Bears, Colts and Buccaneers. With not tangible tie to the program and an overall record of 42-61, Turner's hire was a questionable one. He needs to recruit the state of Florida hard and impress early on, or it will be a short stay in South Florida.
The Buzz: It wasn’t the Petrino I’m sure many Vandals fans were exactly hoping for, but Bobby’s brother Paul was a solid hire for a program that is in transition. During his time as offensive coordinator at Arkansas, Paul Petrino was able to transform the Razorbacks into one of the most explosive offensive teams in the SEC. His past history with the Idaho program will benefit him while he tries to recruit the type of players he will need to fit his offensive style.
Paul Haynes (Kent State)
The Buzz: The 43-year-old Haynes returns to his alma mater, this time as head coach. He spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas and before that, he was the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Jim Tressel. It was there he worked with former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell, who left the program to coach at Purdue. Haynes brings a familiarity of the program as well as the Midwest, having also been an assistant coach at Louisville and Michigan State.
Mark Stoops (Kentucky)
The Buzz: The youngest of the Stoops brothers, Mark will finally get his shot at being a head football coach after several successful stops as coordinator including Florida State the past several seasons. He takes over a major task though, of turning around a Kentucky program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2009. His first order of business is transforming the Wildcats defense that was ranked 11th in the league in total defense.
Skip Holtz (Louisiana Tech)
The Buzz: While most of the coaching hires this offseason involved coaches with little to no head coaching experience, Holtz is on the opposite end of that spectrum. With 13 years of head coaching behind him including stops at Connecticut, East Carolina and USF, he brings a tone of experience to the Louisiana Tech program. He takes over a program that has steadily improved under former coach Sonny Dykes including this season’s 9-3 record. The knock on Holtz is his struggles at USF, where the Bulls underperformed during his three seasons.
Dave Doeren (N.C. State)
The Buzz: Doeren knows what it takes to win at big time programs. He was a coordinator at both Kansas and Wisconsin before landing his first head coaching job at Northern Illinois. In a short period of time, he had the Huskies in back-to-back conference championships and a berth in the Orange Bowl this season. He will take over a Wolfpack program that needs a bit of a spark if they plan to compete with the likes of Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech for conference championships.
Brian Polian (Nevada)
The Buzz: The son of former NFL executive Bill Polian, Brian previously was a coordinator at UCF, Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M before landing the head coaching job at Nevada, where he will replace legendary coach Chris Ault. He has no previous head coaching experience, but has coached in several highly successful programs.
Rod Carey (Northern Illinois)
The Buzz: A Midwestern guy, Carey looks to add some stability to a program that has seen three head coaches in its past three seasons. Dave Doeren led the Huskies to a 12-1 record and a spot in the Orange Bowl, before leaving to take the head coaching job at N.C. State. Carey will coach NIU when it faces Florida State in Miami. A win on a national stage would do a lot to boost his status in DeKalb.
Mark Helfrich (Oregon)
The Buzz: While not a total shock, Chip Kelly's decision to leave and take the Philadelphia Eagles job wasn't without some thought. Ever since his flirtations with the NFL last season, Kelly was high on Helfrich succeeding him in Eugene. The Ducks offensive coordinator has spent the past four seasons under Kelly developing one of the most talented and explosive offenses in the country. He knows what worked and will continue to keep the program on a similar track of success that it experienced under Kelly.
Darrell Hazell (Purdue)
The Buzz: Hazell is another coach who cut his teeth in the Mid-American Conference, but who has strong ties to the Big Ten. He spent five seasons at Ohio State before taking the head coaching job at Kent State where he led the Golden Flashes to one of their best seasons in school history including a spot in the MAC championship. He takes over a Purdue program that looks to lose at least 10 starters from a team that finished 6-6 and earned a bowl bid.
Ron Caragher (San Jose State)
The Buzz: San Jose State officials didn’t have to go far to find their next head coach. Ron Caragher spent the past six seasons leading the San Diego program to a 44-22 record. He took over the Toreros program after Jim Harbaugh left to take the head coaching job at Stanford. He will look to continue to build on the success that Mike MacIntyre had with the program before leaving to take the Colorado job.
Todd Monken (Southern Miss)
The Buzz: For the second time in less than a decade, Southern Miss has hired a former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator to be its next head coach. The 46-year-old Monken spent that past two seasons guiding the Cowboys offense, making OSU one of the most explosive teams in the country. Previously, the school found great success with another Oklahoma State assistant coach when it hired Larry Fedora. Fedora led the school to a 34-19 record before leaving to take the head coaching job at North Carolina. Monken’s background is one of college and NFL mix and should be a big get for the Golden Eagles, who are looking to put last season far behind them.
Scott Shafer (Syracuse)
The Buzz: Syracuse didn't have to look far when it came to finding a replacement for departing Doug Marrone as officials turned to defensive coordinator Scott Shafer as the next Orange coach. Shafer spent the past three seasons as DC under Marrone and will look to continue the direction that program has been heading under Marrone. He becomes the 13th coach hired this offseason with no previous head coaching experience.
Matt Rhule (Temple)
The Buzz: Rhule spent six seasons at Temple from 2006 to 2011 where he spent time as an assistant coach working with the quarterbacks, defensive line, offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. In fact, he applied for the job in 2010 before losing out to Steve Addazio. His background with the Temple program along with his years of recruiting the area will be a huge plus for a program trying to build itself into a power in the Big East.
Butch Jones (Tennessee)
The Buzz: Tennessee was hoping to make a splash with its next coaching hire, but Jones won’t send shockwaves throughout the SEC. He’s a solid hire: 50-27 overall at Central Michigan and Cincinnati with five bowl appearances, but it’s no Jon Gruden. Over his six seasons as a head coach, he is 0-5 versus top 25 teams, but 1-2 against SEC teams. He has a strong offensive background which should help the Volunteers who need to rebuild the program while also rebuilding trust from the surrounding fan base.
Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech)
The Buzz: Hot off the success of Texas A&M this season and the development of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, Kingsbury appeared to be an easy decision for Texas Tech officials when they began the search to replace Tommy Tuberville. Kingsbury played quarterback for the Red Raiders where he had a successful collegiate career. After the pros, he became an assistant at Houston, where he worked to help develop quarterback Case Keenum. A&M’s offense was ranked third in the nation in total offense with 552 yards per game.
Willie Taggart (USF)
The Buzz: Taggart’s hire was probably one of the best this offseason. USF officials get a guy who grew up in Florida and knows the area well. He was responsible for building a power running game at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh before leaving to take over a struggling Western Kentucky program. It was there his teams were built with a strong defense and power running attacks. He will look to bring the same to the Bulls.
Matt Wells (Utah State)
The Buzz: If you are going to have to make a coaching hire, I guess it's always good to find someone who is familiar with the progam. That's what the Aggies got with Wells, who spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator under Gary Andersen and played football at the school in the early 1990s. He provides some stability in the program and will look to continue its growth. The only knock is lack of head coaching experience.
Sean Kugler (UTEP)
The Buzz: It’s always a big plus when a school can hire a coach who has previous ties with the program. That’s what UTEP gets in Kugler, who spent some time with the Miners from 1993-2000 before moving on to stops at Boise State and the NFL where he was the offensive line coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s not a splashy hire, but sometimes those can help out in the end.
Bobby Petrino (Western Kentucky)
The Buzz: It shouldn’t shock anyone that Petrino found his way back to the sidelines. Everyone loves a redemption story and Petrino’s starts at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers get a high-profile name in Petrino who has proven that he can win: 34-17 during his four seasons at Arkansas. He has familiarity with the area from his days at Louisville, which will help during recruiting. The biggest question surrounding the hire will be how long he remains in Bowling Green?
P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan)
The Buzz: Another young assistant coach, Fleck returns to the Mid-American Conference where he began his playing career with Northern Illinois. He coached at Ohio State before returning to NIU to coach the wide receivers before moving on to Rutgers to coach under former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano. He left with Schiano to coach receivers with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He becomes the youngest coach in college football at 32.
Gary Andersen (Wisconsin)
The Buzz: Andersen’s hire – several media outlets are reporting he will be named the Wisconsin coach on Thursday – may have been out of left field, but it’s a huge get for athletic director Barry Alvarez. The Utah native spent four seasons as the head coach at Utah State where he turned a Western Athletic Conference team into a national contender. The Aggies were 26-24 under Andersen including an 11-2 record this year and an impressive win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Toledo. Andersen was the defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer during his days at Utah and appeared content to stay in at Utah State, but Alvarez managed to lure him away to Madison.
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