College Football Betting: Eddie Walls Grades 2020’s Head Coaching Hires Part II
Today I continue my college football head coaching changes report card. For Part I, click here.
Washington State Cougars – Nick Rolovich B
I’m a big fan of Rolovich and the hire makes terrific sense. If he can keep scoring then they have a chance to remain a perennial bowl team. He also made a great hire at defensive coordinator by bringing in Wyoming’s Jake Dickert. The one downside is he has never recruited and the early returns show that with the Cougs ranked near the bottom of the PAC-12 by most publications.
Ole Miss Rebels – Lane Kiffin B
To me, this hire is a bit puzzling. It makes sense to bring in Kiffin from a PR standpoint and possibly a recruiting perspective but after that not so much. Kiffin is known for running an innovative offense that relies on the run-pass-option and if he can get the offense in high gear he can win. Ironically, he learned it from Rich Rodriguez who was Ole Miss’ offensive coordinator last season. Note that the Rebels finished behind only LSU and Alabama in terms of yards per game in conference play. Defense is where we can expect to see real struggles early on but a spike in recruiting may pay off in the long term.
Missouri Tigers – Eliah Drinkwitz B
If we know anything after one year of Drinkwitz as a head coach it’s that he doesn’t change what works. He also runs an innovative offense which is exactly what Mizzou needs after two years of Barry Odom. The concern is that he inherited a ton of talent at Appalachian State and didn’t really need to recruit. He’s also never coached a defense. He’ll need to excel at both considering the rebuild ahead of him.
Baylor Bears – Dave Aranda B
Anytime an assistant is linked to winning a National Championship and has consistently recruited future NFL talent, someone is going to offer him a high profile job. Baylor could have hired anyone it wanted and went defense first which was the direction they’d been heading under former head coach Matt Rhule. It was a sensible hire but first-time head coach with no ties to Texas could be tough.
Mississippi State Bulldogs – Mike Leach B-
Puzzling hire but it’s so out of the box that it just might work. Leach started off his tenure with a huge get in former Stanford quarterback KJ Costello. The Air Raid hasn’t had much success in the SEC though we’ve seen LSU and Alabama run something similar the last two years. The problem is Leach is never going to recruit top-tier classes and his one-sided game is a big gamble. I like to gamble and I like Leach even though this feels like a bad fit overall.
Florida Atlantic Owls – Willie Taggart B-
Other than being from Florida I don’t quite understand this hire. Sure Taggart recruits well and yes, he improved each season while at USF. But he’s also shown no ability to handle in-game adversity, doesn’t listen to his coordinators, and isn’t shy about bailing for bigger and better gigs. I guess it make some sense both financially and as mentioned, with his ties to the state.
Appalachian State Mountaineers – Shawn Clark B-
When you lose two coaches in two years to Power 5 schools you have to try to find someone that offers stability. And in the case of Appalachian State, promoting from within seems like the right move. Clark has been in Boone for a decade as an offensive line coach/recruiter. But he’s also never handled anything near what it takes to be a everyday head coach and lets face it, this is a program that could have had grabbed any number of high profile candidates.
Old Dominion Monarchs – Ricky Rahne C+
I love the out of the box approach here with a young offensive coordinator from a major program. Unfortunately Rahne hasn’t enjoyed much success unless you count last year at Penn State (56th nationally in total offense) — an obvious regression from previous seasons under Joe Moorhead. Rahne has also never coached defense or handled recruiting. He hired virtually the entire graduate assistant staff at Penn State which means everyone will be learning on the fly.
Memphis Tigers – Ryan Silverfield C+
This was a quick trigger hire. Silverfield has coached in the NFL, Australian football, and small and medium sized college programs. He also has experience on both sides of the ball but mostly the offensive line. Three years is his lengthiest tenure and prior to Memphis, he hadn’t had much success. Memphis could have hired almost anyone it wanted but instead chose someone with a suspect resume. This is a stepping stone job and Justin Fuentes and Mike Norvell thrived during their brief tenures. Memphis is the favorite again to win the AAC but I’m unsure Silverfield has the goods to keep the train rolling.