This is basically a list of the most successful coaches at non-traditional powers. It could also be called “Coaches Most Likely to Be Hired By a Powerhouse Soon.” The list is in the same order as the last lists: 2017 Top 10, 2017 Bottom 10, 2005-2017 Top 10, 2005-2017 Bottom 10.
- *an asterisk indicates that the school was on probation for the majority of the coach’s tenure and that coach’s hands were tied so to speak.
- ** two asterisks mean that violations occurred under both the previous coach and the current coach.
- *** three asterisks means that a coach was either convicted of major violations to achieve his results or will likely be convicted of major violations in the near future (I speculate that Hugh Freeze earned this after Laremy Tunsil’s social media documentation and admission).
Matt Campbell takes the honors of having the biggest program upgrade last season. Iowa State defeated (at the time) #3 Oklahoma, #4 TCU, and #20 Memphis last year to claim a #20 finish in the Snapshot. Campbell was named Big 12 Coach of the Year and Iowa State smartly kept him off the market by signing him to a 6 year, $22.5M extension in November of last year.
Mike Leach is at #2 and he has done this before at Texas Tech. Leach’s Air Raid system is a proven winner and yet, at the same time, he has only had one Elite Season in his 10 years as a Head Coach. Washington’ State’s offense finished 2nd in the nation in passing last year and, with 2 top 20 years in a row in the Snapshot, Leach has successfully turned around a recently awful program. Speaking of good offense, what Leach is to passing, Jeff Monken is to running. Jeff Monken at Army comes in at #3. Monken is a Paul Johnson disciple and the student might be the teacher now. He and OC Brent Davis run that offensive style to a tee and led the nation in rushing offense last year. Army finished 10-3 and beat Navy for the 2nd year in a row after losing to the Midshipmen all 15 years before that.
Former SC interim coach, Shawn Elliot had a great first year at Georgia State to land at #7 on the list. We’ll see if this was an aberration or not, but I know some SC fans that think SC should’ve stuck with him after they whiffed on the “splash” hires.
Dabo Swinney is at #52, which is where you will find other successful coaches at power 5 programs using this metric: Urban Meyer is #54, David Shaw #55, and Gus Malzhan #56.
The Bottom 10 shows head coaches that were seemingly set up at an upwardly mobile program, and yet, turned in a disappointing season in 2017. Matt Rhule’s performance at Baylor last year was completely excusable. In fact, Rhule should get a pass in 2018 also for how Art Briles left the program.
Kalani Sitake is the first ever Tongan Head Coach in college football. He’s a BYU alum and former DC at Utah and Oregon State. After a solid first year (9-4), he turned in a bottom feeder year last year. He’s got some leeway, but another bottom feeder year might do him in.
Is Larry Fedora on the hot seat? UNC finished as a bottom feeder in the ACC last year which makes it 2 straight years of decline for the Tarheels. With an average ranking of 50th in the Snapshot during his tenure at UNC, the argument could certainly be made that he needs a good year this year. As mentioned in previous articles, the good graces from the ACC Coastal Title in 2015 won’t last forever.
In the 2005-2017 Top 10, we have a couple of cheaters at the top in Art Briles and Mark Hudspeth. Therefore, the real #1 is Scott Satterfield at Appalachian State. He’s been on these lists three years straight and yet, you never hear his name when power 5 jobs come open. That will change if he keeps this up. He’s signed through 2020, but with a base salary of $437k, you would think he would jump ship.
Of the rest of the top 10, #3 through #7 are candidates to move to a bigger program with another good year.
The 2005-2017 Bottom 10, as you can see, are guys that are unemployed and not likely to get a head coaching job anytime soon. Only Dave Beatty and Ed Orgeron have jobs currently. Kansas is a disaster and has been for a decade, so Dave Beatty has enjoyed some leeway here. You would still have to think that a 4th straight bottom feeder season next year would probably cost him his job. Orgeron has only been at LSU for a year, so the damage was done during his 3-year stint at Ole Miss. It took him a decade to get another head coaching job after his time at Ole Miss and his leash is going to be pretty short at LSU.