We have seen more coaches move around in the past week so it is time to give out more grades. You can read part one of the series here. We are still sticking to the power five teams, mainly because I am not educated enough on the programs in the group of five to give honest and correct feedback. I will leave the group of five to Justin.
Miami FL – Mario Cristobal (Oregon Head Coach) Grade A: Mario Cristobal is headed home after Miami parted ways with Manny Diaz after three seasons. Cristobal is from Miami and played for the Hurricanes from 1989-1992 which included two national championships. While at Oregon, Cristobal went 35-13 with two Pac-12 titles and another appearance in the Pac-12 Championship. One of Cristobal’s biggest strengths is his ability to recruit. The last four classes for Cristobal have been ranked no lower than 13. South Florida is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country and Cristobal should be able to maximize on the talent. Cristoball should be able to recruit well and use his past experience of staying in south Florida to his advantage. The Hurricanes have been looking for consistency and stability over the past two decades and the program has reason for optimism and hope.
Notre Dame – Marcus Freeman (Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator) Grade B: Before anyone jumps down my throat and says Marcus Freeman deserves a higher grade, hear me out. Marcus Freeman has been a fantastic defensive coordinator but he was only at Notre Dame for one season before being promoted to head coach. Freeman is a players coach and should continue to recruit well. He was also able to retain most of the Fighting Irish staff which should be viewed as a victory. The biggest concern I have about Freeman is his limited experience with the upper echelon of college football. Freeman spent the past few years at Cincinnati and a few years at Purdue prior. Notre Dame will continue to have high expectations which include the goal of making the playoffs and contending for a national championship. We could be talking about Freeman being one of the best hires this offseason, but I also would not be surprised to see him flame out because he was not ready for this big of a stage. I think Freeman was the right choice, but I also do not get paid to make these choices.
Oklahoma – Brent Venables (Clemson Defensive Coordinator) Grade A-: Most coaches in Brent Venables’ position would have left years ago to be a head coach but Venables stayed loyal to Clemson. Venables was a fit for Oklahoma because he spent more than a decade with the Sooners while helping them win a national title. He understands the culture and the expectations which come with leading the Oklahoma program. Venables has had numerous opportunities to become a head coach over the past decade but has chosen to wait for the right time and opportunity. Venables first task will be retaining and building the current roster. Oklahoma’s stud quarterback, Caleb Williams, has been rumored to be transfer candidate. Venables will need to retain Williams or Oklahoma could be looking in the transfer portal for their next signal caller. Oklahoma should continue to be one of the premier Big 12 teams during the remainder of their time in the conference.
Virginia – Tony Elliott (Clemson Offensive Coordinator) Grade B-: I believe Tony Elliott was a very good position coach but the higher in rank he obtained, the lower my opinion of him went. This could be recency bias because Clemson’s offense was anemic this past year. The Tigers ranked 78th in points per game and 95th in yards per game. The Tigers offense was still loaded with players such as DJ Uiagalelei, Justyn Ross, Will Shipley, Joseph Ngata, and Davis Allen but only totaled 37 offensive touchdowns. Clemson only scored more than 21 points once in the first seven games and it came against South Carolina State. The Clemson offense started to come alive in the second half of the season where they scored at least 30 in the remaining five games. Tony Elliott will not have the talent at Virginia he had at Clemson. If he struggled to score points against ACC teams with superior talent, how will he fare with inferior talent?