Its now only 110 days until the first Saturday in the College Football season kicks off, but its never to early to start looking forward to what should be, as always, another terrific college football season. Last year saw Auburn come from the depths of nowhere to win the BCS National Championship game, led by the dominance of transfer QB Cam Newton. Now, that title may be vacated in 5 years, but why start the process of previewing next season by raining on someone’s parade? So we’ll ignore that for now. Anyways, over the course of the next 4 months, we’ll go through a series of topics, hoping to get you better prepared for September 3rd, the first Saturday of the College Football season. Continuing with the 3rd part of the preview, we look at the coaching shakeup across the country and who is taking over where. The following schedule is your guide as to what is to come and what has already been done that you can check out by clicking the link, with dates being a rough estimate given my tendency for procrastination. But here’s what you have to look forward to:
Part 1: Ten Teams on the Rise- April 20th
Part 2: Ten Teams due for a Fall- May 3rd
Part 3: New Coaching Faces- May 16th
Part 4: 10 Names to Learn (Replacements)- May 27th
Part 5: 5 Best Non-BCS teams (not named Boise St. or TCU)- June 8th
Part 6: Coaches Needing a Big Season- June 20th
Part 7: Storylines to Follow- July 2nd
Part 8: 5 Days to Circle on Your Calendar- July 14th
Part 9: Ranking the Conferences- July 26th
Part 10: 10 Heisman Candidates- August 8th
Part 11: Ten Games to Define NCG Race- August 20th
Part 12: Season Predictions- September 1st/September 2nd
The College Football offseason often means the pursuit of coaches as much as it does the pursuit of All-Americans. Each January marks the end of coaching tenures for some, and the beginning of a new challenge. In 2011 21 new head coaches will be on the sidelines when the season opens, some proven coaches who elected for a change of scenery, some coming to college from the NFL, and some looking for their first crack at it. We’ll take a look at some of the major coaching jobs that brought in new faces and run briefly through the rest to catch up on all the new coaches entering the 2011 College Football season.
New Coach: Will Muschamp (Formerly Texas D-Coordinator)
Replacing: Urban Meyer
Muschamp was expected to be the coach-in-waiting in Austin where he served as defensive coordinator under Mack Brown for 3 years, with prior gigs at Auburn and LSU. His 2003 defense at LSU that won the national title led the nation in PPG and total defense. He brought his credentials to Auburn where they were the 7th-best scoring defense in CFB in his first year, and the 2nd year were ranked top-10 nationally in 4 separate categories. At Texas, it was agreed that Muschamp would eventually replace Brown whenever it was that Brown elected to retire. However, he has been a hot commodity for years and when Florida came calling this offseason to replace Urban Meyer, and Muschamp got an interview, he agreed to leave the Longhorns for his shot at head coaching. He made a quick splash bringing in Charlie Weis to run the offense for the Gators, and despite only 4 starters returning on the defensive side of the ball for the Gators, Muschamp has a strong D-line to work with this upcoming season and Florida should be among the elite defenses in college football relatively quickly. The SEC East is again a crapshoot, but I’d wager Florida is looking at a 2nd-3rd place finish in the East in Muschamp’s first year unless the offense drastically improves under Weis.
New Coach: Randy Edsall (Formerly Uconn Head Coach)
Replacing: Ralph Friedgen
Despite a rather strong 2010 campaign, Ralph Friedgen accepted a 2 Million dollar buyout on the condition he wouldn’t return for the 2011 season despite a 9-4 season that saw them finish in a 2nd-place tie in the Atlantic Division of the ACC and a Military Bowl win. Friedgen started his tenure at Maryland on fire winning the ACC outright in his first year and making the Orange Bowl and winning at least 10 games each of the next two years. Despite some down years recently, he still finished his tenure at Maryland with a 75-50 record overall, 43-37 in ACC play. Friedgen took a program that was really nothing and turned it into a respectable program. Now the challenge continues with Randy Edsall. Edsall was a hot name after leading the Uconn Huskies to the Big East title and a Fiesta Bowl appearance last season, only 11 years after their transition into D-1 football. The Huskies went to 4 straight bowl games in his final 4 years there, and Edsall left Uconn with a 74-70 record. The Terrapins return 7 starters on each side of the ball, including Danny O’Brien and 4 starting O-linemen, but the loss of Torrey Smith to the NFL will be a challenge to replace. Edsall was very successful in his first head coaching gig, despite much less resources at his disposal that he’ll have at Maryland. The way Florida State is growing, Maryland may not break through in the Atlantic for a few years, but Edsall will have them competing and in bowl games routinely.
New Coach: Al Golden (Formerly Temple Head Coach)
Replacing: Randy Shannon
When it was announced that Randy Shannon was being replaced as head football coach of the Miami Hurricanes, a collective sigh was released throughout Hurricanes nation as many felt Shannon never quite lived up to expectations. Many felt he wasn’t the right guy for the job and could no longer bring in and coach elite talent. Yet, when Al Golden was named the replacement for Shannon, many were surprised and some mocked the Miami program for the hire. After weeks of hearing names like Jon Gruden, Hurricane fans were thinking big and yet the entire time Golden was very high on AD Kirby Hocutt’s list of candidates. In his 5 years at Temple, the Owls improved just about every season, starting at 1-11 in 2006 up to 8-4 last year, a season in which many felt they were wrongly omitted from a bowl game, as the only team with 6+ wins who was not invited. Though many felt he was waiting for the Penn St. job to open up to try and get back to his alma mater, Golden made it clear at his press conference how prestigious he still felt the Hurricanes job was. “Why here? Why now?” he was asked. A simple “Are you kidding me?” response was all it took. The ACC Coastal is wide open this year and though Miami is always supposed to be “on their way back up”, with Golden at the helm, the future could be bright in Miami. As it stands now, some places already have Miami as the #1 recruiting class for 2011.
New Coach: Brady Hoke (Formerly San Diego St. Head Coach)
Replacing: Rich Rodriguez
Rich Rodriguez was considered an elite coach in CFB when the Wolverines were able to pluck him away from West Virginia in 2007. Three years later and you won’t find a person in Michigan who has a nice thing to say about him. Rodriguez’s “spread-option”, heavily reliant on the run never produced piles of wins in his time at Michigan after a successful stint running the same offense at West Virginia with Pat White and Steve Slaton. His first two years at Michigan resulted in no bowls, and last year despite a 7-6 record, they were blown out in embarrassing fashion by Mississippi St. in the Gator Bowl, the last straw for Rodriguez. In hi 3 years, he finished 15-22 overall and a putrid 6-18 in Big Ten play, never finishing higher than a tie for 7th in the conference. This record left him as the worst head coach record wise in Michigan history. Michigan vowed they wanted a “Michigan Man” to come back to Ann Arbor and take over and despite their high interest in Stanford coach and former Michigan QB Jim Harbaugh, they ultimately elected Brady Hoke, a former Michigan assistant for 7 years. Hoke is expected to bring the toughness and defensive-mentality back to Michigan that has been their biggest problem in recent years. He turned the Ball St. and San Diego St. programs around in his last two stops and Michigan believes he can get them back into the Big Ten title picture in the near future. In my opinion, one of the best hires all offseason by any program. Hoke has stated his ultimate goal has been to coach Michigan and he’s earned rave reviews from his past players and coaches for his easy and convincing personality to play under or coach with.
New Coach: Todd Graham (Formerly Tulsa Head Coach)
Replacing: Dave Wannstedt
In the most odd coaching replacement of the offseason, Pittsburgh bid farewell to former player and well-known punchline Dave Wannstedt after 6 seasons as head coach. Some feel Pittsburgh never fully maximized the talent they had on the field as despite 3 consecutive seasons of 5-2 conference records, they never won the Big East title under Wannstedt. After a rough first 3 years, the Panthers rebounded to win 9 and 10 games respectively in the 2008 and 2009 seasons but could never get over the hump, even losing a de-facto Big East title game at home to Cincy in 2009 after climbing into the Top 10 of the national rankings. This offseason Pittsburgh was prepared to have Miami, OH head coach Mike Haywood replace Wannstedt after he guided the RedHawks to an 9-4 record and a conference title. However on New Year’s Eve, he was arrested for domestic violence and was fired by Pittsburgh the next day causing Pitt to hit the trails again. Eventually they settled on Tulsa head coach Todd Graham who won 10+ games 3 of his 4 years at Tulsa and played in two conference title games. Despite highly rated offenses at Tulsa, it remains to be seen what offensive attack Graham will possess at Pitt this year. They lose a lot of talent off last year’s offense with the losses of Dion Lewis and Jon Baldwin. As has been the case, the Big East isn’t exactly murderer’s row, so you can never rule teams out of competing for the conference crown.
New Coach: David Shaw (Formerly Team’s O-Coordinator)
Replacing: Jim Harbaugh
Many were shocked when head coach Jim Harbaugh left the Stanford program after this past season, especially since his announcement came one day after Andrew Luck, the consensus #1 pick had he come out, declared he was returning to Stanford for his Junior season. Many felt the two were a package and Luck back meant that Harbaugh would pass on the calls from Michigan and the NFL but ultimately that was not the case. Harbaugh agreed to a 5 year deal to coach the nearby San Francisco 49ers and Stanford was stuck looking for a new coach. They didn’t go far though, electing to promote offensive coordinator David Shaw to the head coach position. Going back to his year as an assistant on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at The University of San Diego, his units have always been prolific nationally and he’s seen success as both a RB’s and WR’s coach. With Shaw at the helm now, the pro-style offense Stanford rode to a 12-1 record and Orange Bowl victory last year will remain intact and Stanford will once again be among the top 5-10 teams in all of college football. The expectations for Shaw and Stanford will not be mild as despite losing 6 starters off the offense, they will be strong again at the skill positions and obviously with Luck back for another year, the offense is expected to be prolific again. The schedule is very back heavy, and they potentially could be looking at an undefeated mark when they host Oregon on November 12th, a game that will almost certainly decide the Northern Division title of the PAC-12 and potentially could have serious National Championship implications.
New Coach: James Franklin (Formerly Maryland O-Coordinator)
Replacing: Robbie Caldwell
After years of serving as an offensive coordinator, among other assistant positions at a variety of schools and even the NFL, Franklin will get his first gig as a head coach this season when he takes over the Vanderbilt program. Franklin has spent the past 3 years as the offensive coordinator for Maryland where just last year his west coast offense helped QB Danny O’Brien win the ACC Rookie of the Year honors. Perhaps even more appealing to Vanderbilt than his work with the Maryland offense (especially when you consider their below average ranking last year) is the fact he is regarded as an elite recruiter and has done very well in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C areas of the country. With the Southeast region at his disposal now, it will be interesting to see how he does in the recruiting battles that often shape the upcoming season in the SEC. Robbie Caldwell only coached one year at Vanderbilt following a lengthy tenure as their OL coach and it wasn’t a memorable one. The Commodores continued in the programs long list of losing seasons finishing 2-10. The task is tall for Franklin trying to rebuild a Vanderbilt program that has exactly ONE winning season since 1983. In the SEC East with programs like Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and now South Carolina improving, it’s very hard to compete year in and year out. Needless to say Franklin will be tested early and often in his tenure to get results.
New Coach: Paul Pasqualoni (Formerly Cowboys (NFL) D-Coordinator)
Replacing: Randy Edsall
As is the case most times nowadays when a small program has a big season, it results in that team’s coach becoming a hot commodity for larger programs. Unfortunately, not every school can have a Chris Petersen or Gary Patterson who continuously passes on bigger offers. So when the Huskies won the Big East title this year and made it to the Fiesta Bowl, the school’s first BCS Bowl, many knew that the calls would come in for Edsall and soon enough he elected to leave to take the Maryland job. In search of a replacement, the Huskies turned to a Connecticut native and former longtime Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni who had spent the last 6 years in the NFL, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys. In his past experience, Pasqualoni was a very successful college coach compiling a record of 107-59-1 at Syracuse, which included a 73-34 conference record and 4 conference titles, 2 outright. He managed a 6-3 bowl record as well including two trips to the Fiesta Bowl and one to the Orange Bowl. The Huskies will struggle to replace the production of RB Jordan Todman who bolted for the NFL and may have to rely heavily on the defense early in the year. Fortunately for Pasqualoni, 9 starters do return this year. The challenging part for Uconn in his first year is arguably their 3 toughest conference games will all be on the road. This year, returning to a bowl game would be a good year for Uconn.
New Coach: Kevin Wilson (Formerly Oklahoma O-Coordinator)
Replacing: Bill Lynch
What started out as a good initial season ultimately led to a few down years for Bill Lynch who couldn’t keep the Indiana program afloat in the Big Ten. After a 7-6 record and bowl game in his first year, the Hoosiers followed that up with 3 straight losing seasons, including 3 seasons of 1-7 in Big Ten Play that led to his dismissal after the 2010 season. Kevin Wilson comes over from Oklahoma after a lengthy career as an assistant for programs such as UNC (as a graduate assistant), Miami, and Northwestern, before spending the last 9 years serving as an assistant on the Oklahoma staff. Entering the 2006 season he was named offensive coordinator, a position he shared with Chuck Long for a few years and quickly lived up to the high praise Long gave him. The Sooners are regularly among the elite offenses in CFB and have excelled with a multitude of pros in recent years such as Adrian Peterson, Sam Bradford, and Jermaine Gresham. In 2008 he was named the winner of the Broyles Award which is designated each year to the top assistant coach in America. In his first collegiate head coaching gig (he was a head coach for one year at the HS level), Wilson will have the responsibility of turning around a perennial cellar-dwellar in the Big Ten recently and bring some life to an offense that ranked 52nd in CFB last year.
Miami, OH RedHawks
New Coach: Don Treadwell (Formerly Michigan St. O-Coordinator)
Replacing: Mike Haywood
Despite only two years at Miami, OH, Maike Haywood was able to impress enough in his 2nd year, leading Miami to a 9-4 record and conference title that he was able to draw the attention of Pittsburgh as I mentioned earlier. With no need to revisit that whole ordeal, things didn’t work out well and Miami Ohio brought in Don Treadwell to replace Haywood, giving us another coach who will make his head coaching debut this fall. Treadwell has a long track record of assistant coaching, covering 9 different schools and it was his work with Mark Dantonio over the years that led to him following Dantonio to Cincinnati and Michigan State. In his one stint as a head coach at Michigan State, he filled in for Dantonio after Dantonio suffered a heart attack and led Michigan State to wins over Northern Colorado and Wisconsin who was 11th in the country at the time. The win over Wisconsin would play a pivotal role in helping Michigan State grab a share of the Big Ten title last year. The Redhawks do bring 17 combined starters back from the defending MAC championship squad and should be a strong contender to win the title again. Treadwell led a decent Spartans offense for years that was never heavily reliant on either the passing game or running game. He’ll have plenty of weapons back this year at his disposal.
The Rest of College Football’s Coaching Changes:
Arkansas St. Red Wolverines
New Coach: Hugh Freeze (Formerly Team’s O-Coordinator)
Replacing: Steve Roberts
Ball State Cardinals
New Coach: Pete Lembo (Formerly Elon Head Coach)
Replacing: Stan Parrish
New Coach: Jon Embree (Formerly Redskins (NFL) TE Coach)
Replacing: Dan Hawkins
Kent State Golden Flashes
New Coach: Darrell Hazell (Formerly Ohio St. WR Coach)
Replacing: Doug Martin
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
New Coach: Mark Hudspeth (Formerly Mississippi St. WR Coach)
Replacing: Rickey Bustle
New Coach: Jerry Kill (Formerly Northern Illinois Head Coach)
Replacing: Tim Brewster
North Texas Mean Green
New Coach: Dan McCarney (Formerly Florida DL Coach)
Replacing: Todd Dodge
Northern Illinois Huskies
New Coach: Dave Doeren (Formerly Wisconsin D-Coordinator)
Replacing: Jerry Kill
San Diego St. Aztecs
New Coach: Rocky Long (Formerly Team’s D-Coordinator)
Replacing: Brady Hoke
New Coach: Steve Addazio (Formerly Florida O-Coordinator)
Replacing: Al Golden
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
New Coach: Bill Blankenship (Formerly Team’s RB/Sp. Team Coach)
Replacing: Todd Graham
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