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Coaching Changes: Grades & Critiques

Jeremy Pruitt

College coaching changes are inevitable although they come much faster these days. Some ADs look for the best candidate and some look for the best name. My grading system is based on how good of a coach a guy is and how well he will fit at his new school.

Grade A

Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee) – Alabama fans seem to be upset they are losing him. There’s a reason – he’s a damn good coach and recruiter. After 12 days of train wrecks, this is an excellent ending for the Vols.

Scott Frost (Nebraska) – Scott Frost was the hot candidate and Nebraska locked him down. Most impressively was how Bill Moos was able to work again. He did the same sort of stealth search at Wazzu when he landed Mike Leach.

Willie Taggart (FSU) – I was dismissive of Willie when he went to USF because of his laughable Get on the Bus marketing but he impressed me at USF and at Oregon this year. He will kill Florida in recruiting at a top-tier in-state program.

Willie Taggart Bus

B is for Bang-Up

Dan Mullen (Florida) – Mullen seems like the safe pick as well as the only guy Florida could hire. They need a QB guru and Mullen has proven to be that. He could recruit to State’s level; can he do it as the head coach at Florida?

Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State) – This is the most interesting hire of the year. Moorhead has done very good work at UConn, Fordham, and Penn State but the SEC West is a different animal. It’s a helluva culture shock from the Bronx to Starkville and his most important job in year one is to prove he can relate. But State did well with their immediate marketing campaign.

moor cowbell

Capable / Caution

Dana Dimel (UTEP) – I have a little experience with Dana on a personal level and as the coach of my Coogs. He did a good job beginning to assemble the talent that led to UH’s rise but there were many issues during his tenure. But it’s been 15 years and hopefully for the Miners, plenty with him has changed.

Josh Heupel (UCF) – This hire, on the surface, is pretty underwhelming. But Heupel was able to get Randy Shannon as his DC and the combo should do well at UCF. Heupel’s work with Drew Lock was pretty impressive – if he can do the same with a different type of passer in McKenzie Milton, I’ll be impressed.

Chad Morris (Arkansas) – Morris is considered an offensive genius but with his hand-picked QB and two dynamic receivers, his SMU offense sputtered against most good teams. And his defenses give up over 39 ppg during his SMU tenure. Is this the right fit for an Arkansas team built for the power game?

Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) – This is supposed to be a great hire for the Ags but the cost is ridiculous for a guy that looks burned out ($75,000,000 for 10 years – all guaranteed). Jimbo’s former program went 19-2 against BC, Syracuse, and Wake Forest. His new program has gone 2-13 against Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in the last 5 years. We’re not in Tallahassee anymore, Toto.

Matt Luke (Ole Miss) – Nice guy, Southern as can be, and a placeholder til NCAA sanctions are over. All things considered, I think he was the right hire for OM at this time.

Disaster Awaits

Chip Kelly (UCLA) – I think this is a dangerous move for the Bruins. This is a guy with an NCAA show cause in his most recent collegiate job. He was so difficult to deal with that he wore out his welcome with the 49ers in just a year. I’m always weary of NCAA cheats and that’s why I don’t like this hire. That said, I understand why UCLA made it.

Flunk, Flop, Failure

Herm Edwards (Arizona State) – There are no words. What a joke.

2018 hot seat: Scottie Montgomery (ECU), Philip Montgomery (Tulsa), Larry Fedora (UNC), David Beaty (Kansas), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Brad Lambert (Charlotte), Everett Withers (Texas State).

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