Sometimes You Feel Like A Nutt...
There were 16 coaching changes in the FBS this year. Some made big splashes (Rich Rodriguez at Michigan), and some went all but unnoticed (Jerry Kill at Northern Illinois), but all deserve to be talked about on this list. Some of you may not know half of these guys, but fear not...I know all of them, and I am here to tell you how each school did in their coaching hires this offseason. Feel free to yell at me, starting at the bottom of this page.
1. Houston Nutt (Ole Miss)
I wasn't a big fan of the Ed Orgeron firing, but I wasn't on the board that made the decision. That being said, Nutt is the perfect man for the job in Mississippi, as long as he can stay out of legal trouble. Orgeron - an incredible recruiter - wooed some talent to Oxford, and it's now up to Nutt to do more with it than his predecessor could.
2. Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech)
I don't know if his option offense will work in the ACC, but who is to say that it won't? This isn't the NFL. Kooky offenses still work when you are running them against 18-year-old kids on the other side. Once he gets the kids that he needs in his system, Johnson will be fighting for ACC crowns year after year.
3. Bo Pelini (Nebraska)
I heard that they like defense in the Cornhusker State. If that is still true, then they'll absolutely fall in love with Pelini there. If you want to know what this guy means to a team, look no further than last year's National Championship Game - where he, not head coach Les Miles, was the one doused with Gatorade after LSU's triumph over Ohio State.
4. Kevin Sumlin (Houston)
Kudos to Houston for hiring the first African-American to coach in the FBS in Texas. Sumlin is a little like Urban Meyer was in in Utah - a great all-around coach that won't be long for a school under him. That's not saying that Sumlin won't do great things in Houston; he just won't do it for long.
5. Rick Neuheisel (UCLA)
Many of you know that I am a huge Karl Dorrell fan, but it was time for a change in L.A. If Neuheisel can overcome all of the factors that Dorrell couldn't - USC, a lack of funds from the athletic department, fair-weather fans, etc. - then he'll have great successes in Southern California.
6. Art Briles (Baylor)
Briles did a great job at Houston, and some say that he should have stayed there to wait for a better BCS job. Why? Why can't Briles - one of the best offensive minds in the game - make Baylor a contender in the Big XII? He has great Texas talent all around him, and if he can get just an eighth of the players from that state, then he'll get this team into the top half of the Dandy Dozen.
7. Steve Fairchild (Colorado State)
Fairchild was on track to become a head coach in the NFL, but he decided to leave the rigors of the NFL behind (at least for now) to try to rebuild his alma mater after the departure of long-tenured Sonny Lubick. I have some doubts about this NFL man in the college game, but I'm assuming that Fairchild will win more than he loses during his days in Fort Collins.
8. Larry Fedora (Southern Miss)
USM fired a successful coach - Jeff Bower - to bring in Fedora, an offensive-minded coach known for his spread attack. If he can find a way to keep the defensive tradition alive at USM, then the Eagles will be playing for C-USA titles for years to come under Fedora, who already landed a big fish when a 5-star recruit committed to his program on signing day.
9. Ken Niumatalolo (Navy)
What Navy is hoping is that hiring Niumatalolo - a former Paul Johnson assistant - will eliminate some of the growing pains that often come in with a new coaching staff. If Niumatalolo can routinely get the Midshipmen to a bowl game like Johnson did, he'll be a success.
10. Bobby Petrino (Arkansas)
Arkansas thinks it can hang with the big boys in the SEC. That's why they fired Houston Nutt (although some speculate that there are other reasons), and hired vagabond Bobby Petrino after his one-year stint in the NFL. Petrino is a great coach, but he won't be long for Arkie, and they'll be in this exact same spot about 2 years from now.
11. Rich Rodriguez (Michigan)
OK, before you guys look to the right and throw down the Haterade, let me explain. RR runs a spread offense. He does not have the players for a spread offense at UM. RR had players that begged him to come play at West Virginia. He'll have to beg players to come to UM. RR is entering the Big Ten, where defense reigns supreme. The UM defense is atrocious (but the offense is worse). If Rodriguez can overcome all of these factors and be successful at UM, then I'll admit that I was wrong. But I'm betting that this program will implode before he ever makes a BCS bowl.
12. Jerry Kill (Northern Illinois)
NIU is a team in solid shape in the MAC. Kill brings in new life that should reignite the passion in De Kalb.
13. Paul Wulff (Washington State)
I hope that you are content with hearing this name alongside the Wazzu logo for a long time, because Wulff - a WSU alum - will get a million chances to turn this thing around. Hopefully his passion is enough to make this team a winner again.
14. June Jones (SMU)
I've been back and forth on this hiring since it was first announced. I love June Jones, but I'm not sure if I love him in Dallas in charge of a program that expects results. JJ is on record as saying that he has better position players this year at SMU than he had at Hawaii last year. If that is true - and Jones adapts to life on the mainland - then this could be one of your surprise teams in the land this year.
15. Greg McMackin (Hawaii)
I'm not sure how long it'll take him to make people forget about June Jones. Hopefully it's before the AD gives up on him.
16. Mike Sherman (Texas A&M)
This hiring totally blows my mind. A&M is a program in trouble, and Sherman is an NFL retread that probably won't do much in College Station. This reminds me of the Bill Callahan hiring at Nebraska. The Aggies hope that this one turns out better, though. Don't bet on it.