CSD College Football Preview 2018 – Grading the Coaching Carousel Part One

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Arizona Wildcats (1990 - Pres)Arizona

Out: Rich Rodriguez (Fired)
In: Kevin Sumlin (Previously Head Coach at Texas A&M)

Arizona was the last team to fire (and hire) on the coaching carousel, but they still ended up with a great dance partner in Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin went 51-26 at Texas A&M including a winning record in SEC conference play, however, he never improved during his time with the Aggies, going from 11 wins to nine to eight to seven, leading to his firing. Before taking over A&M, Sumlin went 35-17 as the Head Coach for Houston and was Co-Offensive Coordinator under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. Sumlin inherits a great situation with Khalil Tate fitting right into his offensive scheme and this can only be described as a win for Arizona as Sumlin will help the Cats make inroads recruiting in Texas. Grade: B+

Arizona State Sun Devils (2011 - Pres)Arizona State

Out: Todd Graham (Fired)
In: Herm Edwards (Previously Analyst at ESPN)

Oh boy. For starters, Todd Graham should not have been fired after going 7-5 including a win over Washington that might have kept the Huskies out of the College Football Playoff conversation, but then the hire… oh boy. Herm Edwards went 54-74 as an NFL Head Coach and hasn’t been a college coach since the 1980’s, this decision just makes no sense. However, I’m going to take a bit of a contrarian view to some and say this hire wasn’t all bad. Arizona State has called Herm a “CEO” and because recruiting has picked up greatly after this hire was made, as long as Herm Edwards is a hands-off CEO when it comes to actual coaching, this will at least help recruiting. Grade: D

Arkansas Razorbacks (2014 - Pres)Arkansas

Out: Bret Bielema (Fired)
In: Chad Morris (Previously Head Coach at SMU)

Chad Morris, previously offensive coordinator at Clemson before leaving for Dallas, went 14-22 in his three years at SMU. That may not sound like a record worthy of being promoted to a power five job, but when you take into account the fact that the Mustangs went 0-12 the year before he got the year and he turned that into a winning record in just three years, you start to understand Arkansas’ reasoning behind this hire. Morris will completely revamp Arkansas’ offensive system and put into place a much quicker-paced attack, which will help recruiting. Morris also has deep connections in Texas from his time as a high school head coach there, and that should help the Razorbacks recruit the talent-rich state. Grade: B+

Florida Gators (2013 - Pres)Florida

Out: Jim McElwain (Fired)
In: Dan Mullen (Previously Head Coach at Mississippi State)

Jim McElwain’s firing is one of the few times when a coach can make the SEC Championship Game twice in three years and it still make sense to cut ties. McElwain just was not a good fit for Florida, and Gators fans will be hoping that his replacement, former Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen, will be the right type of guy to actually pick up some wins in that SEC Championship Game. Mullen went 69-46 at Mississippi State, so imagine him leading a program in a better spot geographically for recruiting with a more storied history and of course, more money. I believe Mullen will make magic in Gainesville, this is a home run hire. Grade: A

Florida State Seminoles (2014 - Pres)Florida State

Out: Jimbo Fisher (Left to become Head Coach at Texas A&M)
In: Willie Taggart (Previously Head Coach at Oregon)

After Jimbo Fisher shocked the world and left to become the head coach at Texas A&M, it was pretty obvious who Florida State was going to hire as his replacement. Willie Taggart, former Western Kentucky, USF, and then-Oregon Head Coach was said to be a lifelong Seminole fan, and he landed his dream job. Now it is time to see if he delivers. In his four years at USF, Taggart took the Bulls from 2-10 to 11-2, and while he only lasted one year at Oregon, he managed to get the Ducks to a bowl game despite an injury to quarterback Justin Herbert. Overall, a very good hire. Grade: A-

Georgia Southern Eagles (2010 - Pres)Georgia Southern

Out: Tyson Summers (Fired)
In: Chad Lunsford (Previously Assistant Head Coach at Georgia Southern)

After a 5-7 record in his first year and an 0-6 start to year two, Tyson Summers was quickly pushed out of the head job at Georgia Southern, leading to Assistant Head Coach Chad Lunsford to take over on an interim basis. Lunsford went 2-4 and after players pushed for him, the university decided to lift the interim tag from his name. The jury is still out on this one as Lunsford has never been a Head Coach at the FBS level outside of that interim stint last year, and I am always weary of first time hires. Grade: C+

Kent State Golden Flashes (2000 - Pres)Kent State

Out: Paul Haynes (Fired)
In: Sean Lewis (Previously Co-Offensive Coordinator at Syracuse)

Paul Haynes was one of the most obvious coaches on the hot seat heading into the 2017 season, and after a 2-10 record, the Golden Flashes decided to pull the plug on Paul Haynes. In to replace him is a young assistant from the midwest in former Dino Babers offensive coordinator Sean Lewis. Lewis helped Babers build prolific offenses at Bowling Green and Syracuse and looks to do the same with the Golden Flashes. This is another first time head coach hire, but the Flashes needed to make a change and I’m glad they did. Grade: C-

Louisiana Ragin Cajuns (2000 - Pres)Louisiana-Lafayette

Out: Mark Hudspeth (Fired)
In: Billy Napier (Previously Offensive Coordinator at Arizona State)

One of my favorite hires of this coaching cycle comes from the Sun Belt. Mark Hudspeth had been on the hot seat for while after NCAA sanctions came down involving academic fraud, which was fine when he was going 9-4 every year, but in his final three years, Hudspeth went just 15-22. Who ULL replaced him with is one of the hottest young stars in the coaching profession, Billy Napier, a former assistant under both Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban, Napier left to go be Todd Graham’s OC at Arizona State. After Herm Edwards was hired as Graham’s replacement, Napier decided to jump ship and take on a head coaching job with the Ragin’ Cajuns. The only drawback is he has no head coaching experience. Grade: B

Mississippi Rebels (1996 - Pres)Mississippi

Out: Hugh Freeze (Fired)
In: Matt Luke (Previously Co-Offensive Coordinator at Mississippi)

Matt Luke went 6-6 as the interim head coach last year coaching a team with a self imposed bowl ban and a ton of NCAA sanctions dragging them down, which is respectable, but you can’t help but think that Ole Miss, easily one of the top 25 jobs in the country, could find a better hire than Luke. This certainly feels like Ole Miss knows more NCAA sanctions are coming, and wants those to pass over before they go out and do their big coaching search, but maybe I’m reading too much into this and Luke really was just their preferred candidate. Grade: C+

Mississippi State Bulldogs (2009 - Pres)Mississippi State

Out: Dan Mullen (Left to become Head Coach at Florida)
In: Joe Moorhead (Previously Offensive Coordinator at Penn State)

Mississippi State lost one of the best coaches in the country in Dan Mullen, but they made about as good a hire as you can make in Starkville. The Bulldogs went out and hired former Penn State Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead, who transformed the Nittany Lions into a dynamic offense on the back of Saquon Barkley. Moorhead does not have any FBS head coaching experience, unusual for a power five hire, but he does bring to the table 38-13 record while the head guy at Fordham back in his FCS days. Grade: B+

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