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Coaching Hire Grades

What was initially a pretty slow coaching hire season proved to be relatively busy, with significant openings at schools like Miami and West Virginia. No real splash hires in my opinion, but a lot of solid ones with big upsides.

So for the sake of fun and projecting let’s give these hires a grade and Y'all can point and laugh at this article in four years when I’m painfully wrong. 

Manny Diaz - Miami (Former Miami DC): B

I was not a fan of this hire at first. Just thought it was lazy on Miami’s part hiring their former defensive coordinator mere hours after their former head coach Mark Richt had retired. Diaz was actually hired by Temple to be their head coach so Miami had to pay his buyout at Temple. 

I was ready to give this hire a C at best, but then Diaz went out and hired Alabama Quarterbacks Coach Dan Enos who was instrumental in the development of Tua Tagovailoa and the improvement of Jalen Hurts. Ironically enough Hurts is considering a transfer to the U. 

Diaz knows defense and will recruit South Florida very well. The key will be the development of the offense and hiring Enos was a great first step. 


Mike Locksley - Maryland (Former Alabama OC): D

Coach Locksley posted a 2-26 record at New Mexico in three seasons, including multiple off the field issues involving him personally. He also had a stint as Interim Head Coach at Maryland after Randy Edsall was fired and put up a walloping 1-5 record. 

You could easily make an argument that Dan Enos had more to do with the success of the Alabama offense in 2018 than Locksley. Yet here we are with the Terps hiring him as their head man. Just a lazy an uninspiring hire by Maryland. 

Evidently, the Maryland board of trustees wanted Locksley hired as their head coach and this lack in judgment isn’t surprising given that they initially reinstated D.J. Durkin. Maryland football will continue to be a laughing stock in the Big Ten. 

Mel Tucker - Colorado (Former Georgia DC): B

In my humble opinion, this one has the highest ceiling and also the lowest basement. The key here for Tucker and the Buffs is no doubt going to be recruiting. Tucker made it clear in his introductory press conference in Boulder which I attended that recruiting Texas, Louisiana, and California was going to be critical.

Tucker wants to bring physicality to Boulder, something the program has been lacking since the departure of Gary Barnett in 2005. If you look at the most consistent programs in the Pac 12, Stanford and Washington, they are both physical. If Tucker can land the right players he could have huge success in a watered down Pac 12 South division.

Chris Klieman - Kansas State (Former North Dakota State Head Coach): B+

Klieman won four FCS national championships in five years at North Dakota State. He coached in Fargo, North Dakota so he will feel right at home in a small town on the plains. 

Klieman appears to be a perfect cultural fit in Manhattan, Kansas and I think this hire has virtually no bust potential. With that being said I think the ceiling is probably what Bill Snyder accomplished. I think the Wildcats will be a perennial lower-tier bowl team with a 7-5ish record under Klieman.

Like with Snyder and what Klieman accomplished at NDSU player development will be critical. 

Dana Holgerson - Houston (Former West Virginia Head Coach): B

Holgie took a demotion and is now coaching a Group of 5 school that averages about 30,000 fans a game. That’s how much he hates the administration at West Virginia. 

Holgie obviously will do a good job at Houston. He won’t play anyone except maybe one team in the non-conference and he will have access to the best talent pool of any Group of 5 program in the Houston metro area. He will regularly win 10 games a year. However, you can’t win a national championship at Houston, so how long will he coach here before he starts to get bored?

Neal Brown - West Virginia (Former Troy Head Coach): B

Yet another solid hire. Brown went 35-16 at Troy winning double-digit games his last three years. He also went on the road and beat LSU in 2017. This dude can flat out coach. The only real question is, how will he do coaching a big boy program with all the pressure? We shall see.

I think Brown will ultimately produce similar results to that of Holgerson, that is 8-9 wins a year, but he will be more liked than Holgie and that will produce more equity in the bank. 

Mack Brown - North Carolina (Retired Former North Carolina and Texas Head Coach): C-

This also falls under the category of lazy hire. Also, trying to romanticize the past almost never works, whether it’s coaching hires or just life in general. This one has dumpster fire written all over it. 

Mack did bring in Tim Brewster as his Tight Ends Coach and most important recruiting coordinator and that produced prized quarterback signee Sam Howell. No doubt Mack will be able to recruit with his charm and personality, but his on the field coaching leaves a lot to be desired and that’s putting it modestly. Did you watch Texas during his final days in Austin? 

Unless old Mack is taking M-Drive I don’t see the energy long term with this hire. By the way, I’m not a paid endorser of M-Drive for men, but I could be. $$$$

Rod Carey - Temple (Former Northern Illinois Head Coach): C

Carey got off to a hot start at Northern Illinois winning double digits in each of his first two seasons with the Huskies, however things flat-lined a bit into mediocrity producing 5-8 win season for the next four years. This hire has meh written all over it. 

Temple is also due for a lousy hire after hitting home run after home run. The Owls finally made a less than spectacular hire here with Carey. 

I should give the Owls some credit because I thought Manny Diaz was a brilliant hire, but of course, he bolted right away for the Miami gig. 

Les Miles - Kansas (Retired Former LSU Head Coach): C-

Before I put this hire in a body-bag let me say that Les is a good solid football coach, but he isn’t what Kansas needs. I mean come on the dude couldn’t get it done at the end at LSU, do you really think he’s going to take over a struggling Kansas program and suddenly figure it out at the ripe old age of 65?!

Kansas needed an up and coming coach with a ton of upside that could turn this program into a better job. Les won’t be a disaster, but is winning 4-5 games a year going to get people excited about Kansas football? The answer is no. 

Ryan Day - Ohio State (Former Ohio State OC): B

Hiring the young offensive minded guy is all the rage not only in college but the NFL as well. I’m guessing the Buckeye administration is hoping that this pans out like Lincoln Riley at OU. Day is very highly regarded so I doubt this will be a catastrophe, but to maintain what Urban Meyer did in Columbus I think is unreasonable. I see a gradual pullback. 

Look for Day to be good, but not great in Columbus. 

Scott Saterfield - Louisville (Former Appalachian State Head Coach): B

This is a solid hire after missing on native son Jeff Brohm, who elected to stay at Purdue. Satterfield is a meat and potatoes hire that won’t embarrass the Louisville program like Bobby Petrino did, but he won’t take Louisville anywhere special either. 

Matt Wells - Texas Tech (Former Utah State Head Coach): C

I’m not as high on this hire as others. Name a coach not named Mike Leach that has won in Lubbock? I’ll wait. Wells did a nice job in Logan, Utah, but winning in Lubbock, Texas in the Big Twelve is a whole other animal.

Wells just feels like an awkward fit at Texas Tech. Outside of a four-year stint coaching tight ends at Tulsa in the early 2000’s he doesn’t really have any experience coaching or recruiting that region of the country. 

I see a bunch of 5 to 7 win seasons under Wells. He won’t be a disaster, but he also won’t be any better than the guy he is replacing (Kliff Kingsbury).

Geoff Collins - Georgia Tech (Former Utah State Head Coach): C+

Collins isn’t a bad coach, my grade here reflects his lack of upside. Again, Tech won’t embarrass themselves, but they won’t be any better than they were under Paul Johnson. That I can promise you. This will be a 5 to 7 win program under Collins and in the ACC that’s not great.