Barring more crazy movement the college football head coaching market is all dried up. When it’s all said and done there will be 26 new head coaching positions for 2019, a turnover of a perfect 20% of the entire country. There remains one coach who was hired prior to 2000 (Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz in 1999), one additional coach was hired prior to 2005 (TCU’s Gary Patterson in 2000), which means 98.4% of all current jobs have been filled no later than the last 14 seasons.
Even more startling, 35.3% of the jobs have been filled since 2018, 49.2% since 2017, and 64.6% since 2016. Only 14 coaches have been at their current schools longer than Brian Kelly has worked at Notre Dame.
Today, let’s explore some of the country’s head coaching hires.
Mike Houston, East Carolina
It’s been hard times for East Carolina with a trio of 9-loss seasons heading into 2019. Houston comes directly from a strong stint with FCS James Madison (37-6, National Championship in 2016) and has a quality background of improving programs at their separate stop so far in his career. He’s a major upgrade for the Pirates.
Dana Holgorsen, Houston
The 8-year journey in Morgantown is over and Holgo moving on to an AAC job–while a little odd to take a step down in conference prestige–should be a fun return to his early roots where he was offensive coordinator for 2 years. Make no mistake, Houston has been forcibly acting like a big dog among the G5 programs and just made a big dog hire.
Fouled Off a Bunch, Hit a Double
Rod Carey, Temple
Temple had Manny Diaz locked up for about 6 minutes before he jumped ship back to Coral Gables. You couldn’t blame Temple if they fell on their face in the mad scramble that followed but Carey is a solid hire. Although, after being promoted from within at Northern Illinois and starting 23-5 in his first full 2 seasons, Carey finished 29-24 and didn’t have that program trending in a great direction even if they were still one of the strongest in the MAC.
Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech
The ACC’s long triple option nightmare is over. The above job opened up after Collins–a Georgia native and former Yellow Jacket assistant–made the dash down south. We can debate the merits of Collins’ resume (his 11-5 conference record at Temple was surprisingly good) it’s just so nice to see Georgia Tech doing something different finally.
More with Less
Scott Satterfield, Louisville
Neal Brown, West Virginia
Both Satterfield at Appalachian State and Brown at Troy were phenomenal coaches at doing more with less. Now, they step up into the Power 5 arena where–due to each of their school’s recruiting limitations–they will have to survive using a very similar formula. Satterfield is worth a deep dive this off-season as the first coach on Notre Dame’s 2019 schedule.
Staff Turnover (Chain)
Manny Diaz, Miami
On November 24, 2017 Miami was No. 2 in the country in a season that would bring Mark Richt the Walter Camp National Coach of the Year award. He’d go on to lose 9 of his next 16 games and retired suddenly on December 30th. Manny Diaz took the Temple job only to reverse course and return to Miami (where he was DC) the same day Richt retired. Things aren’t exactly running like clockwork for the Canes these days.
Back II the Future
Mack Brown, North Carolina
Gary Andersen, Utah State
Mack Brown is 5 years older than when Lou Holtz took over at South Carolina. Five years is also the amount of time Brown has spent not coaching and instead up in the broadcast booth. He was sneaky successful in his first stint in Chapel Hill (54-18 final 6 seasons after a 2-20 initial start) so hopes run wild that he can rekindle that magic almost a quarter century after leaving.
Andersen’s career has been bizarre. After parlaying an 11-win season at Utah State, he was wildly unpopular at Wisconsin (although 20-7, 13-3 in league), before bombing out to 7-23 record with Oregon State. His reputation has fallen off a cliff although they must be comfortable with him returning to the Aggies.
Better than Beverage Commercials
Les Miles, Kansas
There’s seemingly only two ways out of this Kansas mess that’s a decade running of losing seasons, 8 straight years of at least 9 losses, and only 23 wins since 2009. Either a coach punches far above his weight with the players on the roster and/or he recruits like a madman. Miles–a sneaky 65 years old and suddenly in a spot where blue-chippers aren’t falling out of the sky like at LSU–seems super ill equipped to turn this around.
It’s Getting Harder
Chris Klieman, Kansas State
Moving from a culture of winning to a culture of JUCO’s is going to be fascinating for Klieman. He took over a machine at North Dakota State going 69-6 with 4 National Titles, including a perfect 15-0 season this past fall. Now, he steps into a Kansas State program stuck in mediocrity. This increase in difficulty will be fascinating to watch at a place that knows no success without Bill Snyder.
Mike Locksley, Maryland
I still contend that Maryland, pound for pound, is the worst job in college football. Just enough expectations, poor administrative leadership, and a difficult conference division. Add in the tragic McNair death, resulting embarrassing investigation, and this is a stay-away. Locksley was terrible at New Mexico, terrible in an interim capacity at Maryland a few years ago, and has won 3 of his 34 games as a head coach. It could get really ugly for the Terps but they likely had very few options on the open market.
These Shoes are Rather Large
Ryan Day, Ohio State
This is potentially a massive downgrade for Ohio State at a place with the most stable history of winning in the country. Day just started his second year in Columbus last year and was a little know NFL assistant in 2016! It could turn out that Day really is a hot rising assistant who is plenty competent. He’s still potentially starting over at the all-important quarterback position and is coaching at a place with very little patience for rebuilding or losing.
Technically This Counts
Hugh Freeze, Liberty
The nation was shocked when investigations proved Hugh Freeze ran a whole bunch of cheating and lying while at Ole Miss. After a 2-year break, Freeze is back! He takes over at Liberty who is entering their second season at the FBS level following a solid 6-6 debut with wins over Old Dominion, Troy, and New Mexico State. Fun fact, Liberty played NMSU twice in 2018 and will do so again in 2019.
The Fall is Hard
Jim McElwain, Central Michigan
With all of the turnover in assistants at Alabama it’s amazing that McElwain served for 4 seasons as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator. He’s potentially a great pick up for Central Michigan–a school that has been spinning its wheels for a decade and is coming off an 11-loss season. This is still a tough fall from grace for McElwain who was doing not terrible at Florida before crazy friction with the administration led to his firing less than a year and a half ago.
Eyes Bigger than the Stomach
Mel Tucker, Colorado
It was a far too quick 2017-18 pair of seasons for Mike MacIntyre who won 10 games as Walter Camp Coach of the Year in 2016 but was fired recently after a 10-13 finish. It’s a bold move by Colorado who moves on, and while Mel Tucker becomes a first-time head coach, he’s a really high-ceiling hire for a program that has been one of the worst in the Power 5 this century.
The Young Buck
Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State
Coming off successful stints as the offensive coordinator at Boise State and NC State–and still just 35 years old–Drinkwitz could be exactly the right person to keep App State’s recent strong run on the field going. There are a lot of people out there who believe this is the next big, young head coach.
Matt Wells, Texas Tech
Will Healy, Charlotte
Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky
Walt Bell, UMass
Tom Arth, Akron
Scott Loeffler, Bowling Green
Jake Spavital, Texas State
Chip Lindsey, Troy
Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois
This a pretty large group of unknown coaches with the exception of Wells who kept the Gary Andersen train running at Utah State for a couple years (19-9), then fell into a pit of sadness for 3 seasons (15-23), before a really super strong 2018 culminating in a 10-2 record. He’ll definitely be a culture change from Kliff Kingsbury.