The year of the college coaching change.

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Who will be this year’s Hugh Freeze?

I can’t remember more a year with more coaching changes in college football.  Several are Cheddar* favorites from last year.

History shows that Cheddar favorites often make an immediate difference at their new teams.  It pays to be up on who has moved where.  Hello-old-friend-from-Arky-St-and-now-at-Ole-Miss Hugh Freeze.  You-were-quite-awesome-at-Houston-I-bet-you’ll-do-well-at-TAMU Kevin Sumlin.  Oh you too Urbz.

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Chow and Weis haven’t been terrific for Hawaii and Kansas.

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Of course they’re not all homeruns. >>>

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Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss was 10-3 ATS last year and the Rebels figure to be harder to get value with in Vegas this year; although I intend to try.  Meanwhile Chow and Weis were both 4-8 ATS and that seems high.

Anyway, as part of my Cheddar pre-season prep, I like to take a look at this year’s coaching changes, identify the Warlocks and the Shurmurs, and make sure I know who is coaching where.  This year there look to be quite a few warlocks and potential warlocks in new places.

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The biggest coaching trade-ups.

1.  Wisconsin.  Gary Andersen from Utah State.
This here is the best coaching hire of the year and Wisconsin figures to take a big step up.  You made money if you rode USU last year, 11-1-1 ATS.  If you watched their games you came away impressed at how hard USU worked and their sense of team.  Andersen’s teams had been doing that for years.

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If Andersen brings USU’s guts to Wiscy, look out.

2.  Purdue.  Darrell Hazell from Kent State.
I learned a hard lesson in coaching evaluations last year when I took UBuffalo -3.5 over Kent and cited Jeff Quinn’s experience as OC for Brian Kelly as a reason.  Whoo boy was that stupid on its own.  When you layer on that Darrell Hazell has six years as a Jim Tressel assistant plus a couple stints at Oberlin and it all adds up to the worst essay pick of the year in a season full of bad essay picks.  (Minus three.. and a half???  Cripes.)  Kent wound up 11-3 ATS.  I didn’t hate Danny Hope at Purdue but I didn’t love him and I can’t imagine I’d choose to play for him if I had options.  Hazell on the other hand… he could be a star.  Definitely keep an eye on Purdue’s early games before jumping on-board.

3.  South Florida.  Willie Taggart from WKU.
Taggart’s just my favorite moving-on-up college coach and I’ve beat that drum enough on comment boards that even I’m tired of the subject.

Honorable mention, Colorado.  Mike MacIntyre from San Jose.
All I know is SJSU made me money the last two years.  He took over a 2-10 team and last year they’re 11-2 ATS.  I’m not sure the Buffs will see a big improvement this year though.  Just too much stank on that program to wash it off in one year.  But next year I’d expect Colorado to be where Arizona State is this year:  on the rise.

Which segues neatly to….

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Addition by subtraction:  The Todd Graham Trophy
As well as Sumlin and Freeze turned out for TAMU and Ole Miss, they weren’t replacing zombies.  Contrast that to Todd Graham who inherited a Dennis Erickson team that had quit the year before and now has Arizona State (8-4-1 ATS) playing sparkly ball.  Here’s this year’s list of train wrecks being cleared.  These teams figure to show the most improvement year-over-year.

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No place to go but up. But a very tall order to get Boston to take notice of college football.

1.  Arkansas:  Bret Bielema replaces John L. Smith.
Smith (3-9 ATS) was probably the worst coach of top team last year.  Not entirely Arkansas’ fault given the Bobby Petrino’s abrupt departure.

2.  BC:  Steve Addazio replaces Frank Spaziani.
Spaziani’s teams were pretty infuriating (3-6-3 ATS) looking great one week and dead the next.  Addazio will be fun to watch as he moves up the CFB food chain.  He could actually be a coach to make Boston take notice of college football.  (Can’t stand BC.)  (Can’t believe daughter starts there in a week.)

3.  NC State.  Dave Doeren replaces Tom O’Brien.
Don’t know where O’Brien lost his way but his teams were turnover disaster machines, last year in particular.  (This game in particular.  And yes this cost me money.)  Good riddance to O’Brien; things can only get better with Doeren’s 23-4 record (9-5 ATS last year).

Honorable mention, Cal:  Sonny Dykes for Jeff Tedford.
Cal (3-9 ATS) had the look of a team who’d quit on their coach by the end of last season.  I saw them almost beat OSU in Columbus early in the year and for the rest of the year I wondered where that team went.

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You’re going the wrong direction.
We’ve seen how Kansas and Hawaii fared by throwing big contracts at old coaches on the decline.

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“You gonna do something or stand there and bleed?”
Click for classic LSUFreek gif.

1.  Cincy:  Tommy Tuberville replaces Butch Jones.
This is a bona fide “what the hell are you doing” hire.  Coaches need the respect of their players and assistants.  They need to recruit.   Congrats Cincy, you’re paying $2.2M/yr to a 58 year old coach who brings none of these things to your program.  (The better hire:  Todd Berry from ULM.)

2.  WKU:  Bobby Petrino replaces Willie Taggart.
The problem here is the first year.  Petrino and Taggart could not be more different.  Taggart ran a buttoned-down offense and defense and ground down his opponents and fostered a great esprit-de-corps.  Petrino’s Arkansas teams were flashy and talented and undisciplined.  I just don’t think that wins in the Sun Belt.  There’s already ULL and MTSU .. wait scratch that MTSU is now in C-USA.  Maybe there is room for Petrino.  But it won’t flip in one year.

Maybe doesn’t belong on list, Nevada.  Chris Ault retires, Brian Polian steps in.
I don’t know a lot about Brian Polian but tend to be suspicious of hiring a famous name.  But he’s paid his dues, did work under Sumlin and Harbaugh, is a John Carroll alumnus, these are good things.  But when you’re losing Chris Ault, you’re –by definition– going the wrong direction.  (On the other hand, Nevada was 4-8-1 ATS last year, very possibly Polian will move them in the right direction.  I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Wolfpack’s first couple games.)

When you’re replacing a legend, you’re going backward by definition, Oregon.  Mark Helfrich takes over for Chip Kelly.
Helfrich was Kelly’s OC since 2009.  The Ducks retain their innovative DC, Nick Aliotti.  They’re stacked with talent.  Stack, stack, stacked.  They should be ok.  But you can’t not take a step back when you lose the most creative offensive mind of the last twenty years.

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Penn State was a sleepy 9-2-1 ATS in 2012.

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Best non-moves and a general roll call of coaches we like.
As long as I’m doing this, here’s a list of coaches who killed ATS last year.  This is more a personal catalogue of coaches I’ll be happy to ride with on Saturdays this year.

Will leave eventually:  Tim DeRuyter, Fresno; Pete Lembo, Ball State; Dave Clawson, Bowling Green; Al Golden, Miami; Dabo Swinney, Clemson.

Staying put probably forever:  Bill Blankenship, Tulsa; Bill Snyder, KState; Art Briles, Baylor; Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; June Jones, SMU.

Don’t know what he’ll do but is a really good coach:  Bill O’Brien, Penn State.

Can’t stand watching his team but dang he has a good record:  Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech.

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* An update for the 2013 Cheddar Bay Reality Football Pickstravaganza with registration info is imminent.

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  • zarathustra

    I agree on most of these. Love Gary Anderson. Not so much on the B.C hire. As the leader of the hugh freeze bandwagon I feel compelled to let you know I have the rebels +50000 to win it all. That is not an extra zero by the way. Remember that speech he gave prior to the bama game last year? They didn’t win of course, but they hung in there for a half or so. They are a sleeper in the sec west this yr. If they can can make the sec championship–winner goes to bcs championship game–I think you will have a pretty fat hedge available.

    • lots to like with ole miss. for me it’s the egg bowl with bo wallace and donte moncrief making missy st’s two 2nd round NFL CBs — banks and slay — look sick. 300 pass yds, 5 pass TDs, 41-24 Ole Miss. they’re both back this year.

      fyi, last line i saw on the opener was ole miss -3.5 at vandy.

      • zarathustra

        Have liked vandy the last couple years and LOVE jame franklin, but without stacy this year I’ll take ole miss.
        Too soon to call it my essay pick?

        • as long as you don’t mind company as i may join you.

    • Speaking of BC… FootballStudyHall has a good piece on trying to determine which coaches improve their talent the most/least.

      Top coaches for improving their talent:
      1.75 Sumlin
      1.48 Saban
      1.24 C. Kelly
      1.12 Jagodzinski
      1.08 B. Kelly
      1.04 Petrino
      1.02 Bielema

      One of these names is not like the other. LOL at BC for firing Jagodzinski for interview for the Jets job. They showed him. Seem to have blackballed him too because he’s currently OC for (new Sun Belt member) Georgia State.

  • Here are my two halfway relevant college football coaching thoughts:

    1) Based on where I live (Lexington, KY), everyone is drooling over Stoops and his recruiting class. Not sure how he’s pulling it off (probation in 2016?), but suddenly UK is a thing. How that translates to actually winning in the SEC, I don’t know. But at least UK is on the radar so to speak.

    2) Love the Browns but I’m indifferent to OSU. That being said, I assume Buckeye faithful have no problems with all the arrests on Urban Meyer’s team? Is this the price of having a top coach like Meyer? Speaking of which, when the player talent well runs dry and/or after the Buckeyes win a title, is Meyer going to bolt for bigger money?

    That’s all I got.

    • That’s interesting on Mark Stoops. I will take that data and file in a secure ‘wait and see’ time capsule to be opened in two years.

      I may be completely naive but I don’t think Meyer is going anywhere for at least ten year and then he’s going to retire to the town of Conneaut which he’s been secretly purchasing for the last five years.

    • Anonymous

      >>>Not sure how he’s pulling it off (probation in 2016?)>>>

      Herein lies about 3/4 of the reality of college football. But you have to realize Dave that the best of the best of the best are the ones that avoid probation altogether.

  • it seems as simple as $2M/yr to me. may be penny wise, i agree. i guess he thought it’d be awhile before another big ten opening came up (but i don’t think that’s so).

    • Max

      Hazell is trying to get a couple seasons B1G experience under his belt so he can possibly land the OSU job once Urban bails. I just don’t see him staying ANYWHERE longer than 5 years

    • As an Akron guy I was sad that Hazell left. He has to know something (I hope) because Kent and NIU are on a collision course again for a BCS berth and both of those programs had special players in Archer and Lynch. The sad part is that he will now be forgotten at Purdue for the next 2-3 years until he gets a chance to turn the corner.

      Say he takes Kent to the Orange Bowl and wins over a lazy power conference team (Think Florida this year) and Archer ends up in New York as a finalist for the Heisman. I think he gets a much better job than Purdue…but if he needs the money…hey God Bless America.

  • Great stuff here.

    Couple of random thoughts…

    I still can’t believe Wisconsin pulled off Gary Andersen. He is just a great creative coach who built a program out of nothing and his players will run through walls for him. Seriously…what college coach in this day personally calls every single player at USU to inform them he is leaving.

    This will be a great test for Hazell because this is the rare case of a guy going from the MAC to the Big 10 and having less talent. It could take a while there but if Purdue is patient good things could happen.

    Macintyre is obviously fascinating to me because if you can bring SJSU out of the ashes well I have a challenge for you…The biggest challenge for the Buffs will be finding QB play or turning the reins over to the true freshman Sefo. Outside of that it’s actually a good situation with no expectations a ton of returning sophomores who have a full year of PAC12 play under their belt. Paul Richardson returns this fall and if camp reports are true he will put up huge numbers…(if anyone can get him the ball)

    When can we start betting against Western Kentucky this year?

    Can we have a moment of silence for Paul Petrino? If you think Colorado and Purdue are rebuild projects I have never seen a worse D1 football team than Idaho last year.

    Consider this a confirmation of my 2013 entry for Cheddar Bay. Happy with the playoff berth and still need to get that Cincinnati/Duke taste out of my mouth.

    • on hazell/purdue it may be rare but not unprecedented: see beckman/illinois. i hope illinois doesn’t can him too quickly, beckman’s a good coach who inherited a turd.

      thanks for the cheddar entry, frowns and i are coordinating announcements. i’m all sorts of fired up for it.

      • Good point on Illinois. They have just fallen off the map to the point that I don’t even think about them anymore. Not bad enough like a Colorado for people to mock them and not even good enough to ever see unless you watch the noon games on Saturday. Give him 5 years though and he should turn it around.