♬It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Who does not love the fun of all the coaching changes in college football? The entire landscape has changed in the matter of just a few days. We have seen big names such as Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly leave their blue blood programs to coach other top tier programs. It is time to hand out some coaching grades. We are sticking to power five jobs on today’s column. Disclosure, Notre Dame has not named a head coach when writing this.
Florida – Billy Napier (Louisiana Head Coach) Grade B: Billy Napier has done an overall good job at Louisiana. In his last three seasons Napier has gone 32-5. He has proven to be a winner at Louisiana and has devopled talent. The question for Napier is going to be his ability to recruit the state of Florida. Most of Napier’s recruits have come from Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. Recruiting the state of Florida is a completely different monster. Florida has been a revolving door for coaches with Will Muschamp, Jim McElwain, and Dan Mullen all leading the program within the past decade. Napier will be looking to put a wedge in the door and provide stability to the program.
LSU – Brian Kelly (Notre Dame Head Coach) Grade B+: When you look at Brian Kelly’s resume, you have no doubt he is a proven winner. The question for Kelly is his fit in the SEC. Kelly is coming off five straight seasons where he won at least 10 games including two appearances in the College Football Playoff. He has been a northern coach most of his career. Coaching in the south is a completely different culture. The SEC expects coaches to win at all costs. Ed Orgeron won a national title in 2019 and he was fired a month into the 2021 season. Kelly can recruit and develop but now he is expected to do so with the best of the best. Will his culture fit in the SEC?
TCU – Sonny Dykes (TCU Head Coach) Grade B+: Hey, I actually got one right! Sonny Dykes to TCU makes sense because he knows the recruiting landscape and can help bring higher level talent to the program. The concern I have for Dykes is his ability to coach in a power five conference. He went 19-30 at his tenure at Cal. The state of Texas is an incredibly fertile recruiting ground and he was able to pull some of the top recruits to SMU. The familiarity with recruiting in the state of Texas should help him on the recruiting trail. Dykes has already flipped 4 star Jordan Hudson from SMU to the Horned Frogs. Dykes will have his work cut out for him as star running back, Zach Evans, entered the transfer portal this week.
Texas Tech – Joey McGuire (Baylor Associate Head Coach) Grade B: Texas Tech wanted to make sure they hired a coach with roots in Texas and they found that person in Joey McGuire. Matt Rhule hired Joey McGuire when he started his tenure at Baylor. McGuire was a highly successful high school football coach in the state of Texas. While McGuire has been a head coach at the high school level, he has not been a coordinator or head coach at the college level. McGuire only has five years of experience coaching college football which could result in a few bumps along the road as he is learning to manager a college program. If Texas Tech is willing to give McGuire the time to build a program, he could be very successful.
USC – Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma Head Coach) Grade A: USC threw a hail mary and they completed the pass. The Trojans are looking for a complete overhaul of the program and to restore elite recruiting in California. USC has seen numerous blue chip prospects leave California for greener pastures when in years prior they would have been committed to USC. Riley has proven to be an elite recruiter as he has already begun to flip Oklahoma prospects from California to USC. Riley enters the Pac-12 to a situation where he can win immediately. While there is no guarantee Riley will ever win a national championship at USC, he should be expected to make the Pac-12 championship almost yearly. The Pac-12 is an overall weak conference but Riley should help boost the competitiveness.
Washington – Kalen DeBoer (Fresno State Head Coach) Grade B: I predicted Kalen DeBoer would be the Washington State head coach so that has to count for half of a point, right? DeBoar has found success at each of his coaching stops. He won three NAIA National Championships while at Sioux Falls. He has helped Fresno State go 9-3 this year and had the Bulldogs ranked twice this season. DeBoer has been viewed as one of the up and coming offensive minds which is exactly what Washington needs after floundering on offense the past few years. Recruiting will be the biggest question for DeBoer. Over the past decade DeBoer has at five programs. Switching programs that often makes judging his recruiting and development harder.
Washington State – Jake Dickert (Interim Head Coach) Grade A-: Jake Dickert stepped in for Nick Rolovich and did a solid job in his five games as the head coach. Rolovich was fired because of a vaccine mandate in the state of Washington. This allowed Dickert to become the interim head coach. Dickert most notably beat arch rival Washington by a score of 40-13 in his trial period. Washington State is one of the hardest jobs in college football because of the location. Finding a good and qualified head coach to come to Pullman Washington is never the easiest job. In this situation, Dickert did enough as the interim head coach to warrant giving him a chance as the permanent coach.
Virginia Tech – Brent Pry (Penn State Defensive Coordinator) Grade C+: I am ready to eat my words if I am wrong but I view the Brent Pry hire as the worst hire in the power five this off season. The main reason is because of what needs to happen within the Hokie program. The key for Pry is going to be surrounding himself with the right coaches. Virginia Tech has fallen behind in recruiting and also been dismal on offense. The Hokies ranked 93rd in scoring offense this past season. Since 2010, the Hokies scoring offense has ranked in the top 40 only twice. Pry will need to surround himself with offensive minded coaches to have success. He will also need a strong recruiting presence in the DMV area. The best recruits in Virginia and D.C. have been leaving the area. If Pry can get recruits to stay home and find an up and coming offensive mind to run the offense, we could see Virginia Tech return to being a strong program.