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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Coaching Moves

Turnover Runs at a High Clip

Let’s do the math: 120 teams in the F.B.S.; 21 coaching changes heading into the 2011 season; that’s roughly a new coach at one of every six programs in the country, an astonishing level of turnover — one that highlights the win-first, win-now mentality that leaves even the lowliest program begging for immediate results. To be fair, a handful of coaching moves have come about due to an incumbent’s promotion elsewhere, such as was the case at Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois and San Diego State. That wasn’t the case along the B.C.S. conference ranks, as you’ll see below.


Maryland: Randy Edsall replaces Ralph Friedgen

Edsall turned his coaching fortunes around rather quickly, parlaying a Big East title and Fiesta Bowl berth with Connecticut into a more lucrative contract at Maryland. What of Friegden? Pushed out, summarily dismissed, forced to sign a letter of resignation after winning conference coach of the year honors, the coach with the third-most wins in program history is out of coaching for the first time since 1972.

Miami (Fla.): Al Golden replaces Randy Shannon

Golden might not have been Miami’s first choice — that seems to have been Jon Gruden — but the Hurricanes remain confident in the former Temple coach’s ability to lead the program back into A.C.C. and national title contention. It won’t happen overnight, however; the roster has talent but faces holes at several key spots on both sides of the ball. Having a set starting quarterback would help matter infinitely.

Big East

Connecticut: Paul Pasqualoni replaces Randy Edsall

Now 62, Pasqualoni is no longer the young, fiery coach who led Syracuse to 107 wins from 1991-2004. Well, Pasqualoni still has the fire to reenter the Big East coaching ranks, one would assume, and inherits an enviable situation: the Huskies are the defending conference champs, and while there is some work to be done on offense, the team should remain a leading conference contender in 2011.

Pittsburgh: Todd Graham replaces Dave Wannstedt

Graham replaces Mike Haywood, actually, who first replaced Wannstedt back in mid-December. We know how that turned out: after 16 days, an alleged occurrence of domestic abuse ended Haywood’s tenure. Now the job falls to Graham; one wonders why he wasn’t the choice in the first place.

Big Ten

Indiana: Kevin Wilson replaces Bill Lynch

Indiana believed that Lynch would provide the program with some much-needed continuity following the untimely passing of Terry Hoeppner, his predecessor, who had the Hoosiers on the verge of a bowl berth after two seasons in charge. Lynch did achieve this goal in 2007, his debut campaign, but Indiana went downhill rapidly shortly thereafter. It’s hoped that Wilson will provide more consistency.

Michigan: Brady Hoke replaces Rich Rodriguez

Now that his school paraphernalia has been donated to charity, the only thing that will continue to tie Rich Rodriguez to Michigan is that woeful three-year stretch — that will always be found in the Michigan record books. Good thing his replacement is adept at turning around the moribund: at both Ball State and San Diego State, Hoke impressed with his ability to reverse losing cultures.

Minnesota: Jerry Kill replaces Tim Brewster

Mercifully, Minnesota pulled the plug on Tim Brewster well in advance of the season finale; the pair needed as much time apart as humanly possible. His replacement, Jerry Kill, lacks flash but has substance: like his teams at Northern Illinois, Kill is a no-nonsense, get-back-to-fundamentals coach who should play well with the Golden Gophers.

Conference USA

Tulsa: Bill Blankenship replaces Todd Graham

Tulsa replace Graham from within, opting not to either return to Steve Kragthorpe, a former T.U. coach, or nab up Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. In Blankenship, Tulsa is getting a coach it knows is best suited to continue running the type of system his predecessor installed to such great success; it’s also getting an old hand, one who has worked on both the Oklahoma high school and college level and is familiar with what it takes to recruit to Tulsa.


Ball State: Pete Lembo replaces Stan Parrish

Se above: like Indiana, Ball State believed it would be wise to promote Parrish to replace Hoke once the latter went to San Diego State instead of making a wider search for his replacement. Not a great decision by Ball State, one it hopes it can rectify by landing Lembo, who achieved a high level of success at Elon — though that was on the F.C.S. level.

Kent State: Darrell Hazell replaces Doug Martin

After nearly a decade of mediocrity, Kent State opted to cut ties with Doug Martin. He needed to head to bowl play in 2010 to keep his job — Kent State was again good at stopping the run and on defense altogether, but it wasn’t enough. K.S.U. tabbed Hazell, the former Ohio State receivers coach and assistant head coach, as his replacement. Hazell brings a quarter-century of college experience to the table, so he’s earned this chance.

Miami (Ohio): Don Treadwell replaces Mike Haywood

Talk about a no-brainer: Treadwell, a Miami (Ohio) alum, was the clear choice to replace Haywood after the latter was hired — for 16 days — at Pittsburgh. The program did its homework, interviewing a number of candidates in addition to Treadwell, but this was a good decision.

Northern Illinois: Dave Doeren replaces Jerry Kill

This was a team making a rapid climb under Kill; Doeren, late of Wisconsin, is tasked with continuing this progress while putting his own spin on the program. His defensive background will come in handy, as will his recruiting ties throughout the region. Doeren might be wise to continue running the type of ball-control offense that led the Huskies to such success in 2010.

Temple: Steve Addazio replaces Al Golden

How do you replace the coach responsible for resuscitating one of the worst programs in the F.B.S.? Hiring one of the nation’s most maligned offensive coordinators wouldn’t seem like the best start, but take note of Addazio’s history in the area, which includes stints at Syracuse and on the Connecticut high school ranks, and remember that he is viewed as one of the top motivators in college football.

Mountain West

San Diego State: Rocky Long replaces Brady Hoke

Imagine how things could have gone differently: if Long had gotten the open job at Texas State, he would have taken over a weak F.C.S. program in the midst of a move to a higher level of play; he also would have made roughly a third less money per season. Now, Long will take over a very talented team, one that could make a run at the M.W.C. title in 2011.


Colorado: Jon Embree replaces Dan Hawkins

Colorado could have hired anyone — perhaps even Rick Neuheisel — and it would have pleased a fan base tired of the lack of progress accrued under Hawkins. Not that Embree is a name that will set the fan base abuzz: Colorado did inquire as to the availability of coaches like Les Miles, but opted for a coach with deep Colorado ties and a successful resume of success on the N.F.L. level.

Stanford: David Shaw replaces Jim Harbaugh

Job number one: maintain. Job number two, three, four, five and so on: maintain. Keep Stanford rolling along this same track, the university asks of Shaw, and everything will be just fine. It will be tough to do so in 2012 and beyond, but 2011 should be kind to the Cardinal and their first-year coach.


Florida: Will Muschamp replaces Urban Meyer

The fire had gone out for Meyer, who couldn’t reconcile his lack of drive and enthusiasm — at least compared to year’s past — with his diminishing energy level. So in comes Muschamp, who will rapidly become a favorite in Gainesville for his fire, energy, determination and rock-solid defenses. Of course, the fan base will quickly turn if Muschamp can’t deliver on what has become a Florida birthright: a national title.

Vanderbilt: James Franklin replaces Robbie Caldwell

Welcome to the most thankless job in college football: you can have the best team in recent program memory and still go 7-6, as Bobby Johnson discovered in 2008. Eventually, the mental grind of being consistently behind the eight ball got to Johnson, who was replaced for the 2010 by Robbie Caldwell, his former offensive line coach. Let’s see if Franklin has the mental toughness — let alone the coaching acumen — to withstand the pressure of building a winner at Vanderbilt.

Sun Belt

Arkansas State: Hugh Freeze replaces Steve Roberts

Yes, Arkansas State fires its coach. It wasn’t that Roberts was bad, it was just that he was never anything close to good, simply mediocre. Even at A.S.U., mediocrity breeds contempt. Freeze was promoted from offensive coordinator, and in my opinion will be a success: he’ll bring in talented prospects, will run a dynamic offense and will win games in the Sun Belt, though we’ll see if that will be good enough to overtake Troy and F.I.U. for a conference crown.

La.-Lafayette: Mark Hudspeth replaces Rickey Bustle

Talk about hitting the ground running: Hudspeth has already proven an adept recruiter, adding talented in-state prospects at a previously unheard of rate — and making his former boss, Dan Mullen, a little anxious in the process. Enthusiasm will only get you so far, of course, but it is nice to see some excitement surrounding this largely forgotten program.

North Texas: Dan McCarney replaces Todd Dodge

The experiment with a high school coach without significant college coaching experience backfired on North Texas, which cut ties with Dodge midway through the season and hired McCarney, formerly of Iowa State and Florida, as his replacement. Unfairly dismissed at I.S.U., McCarney should prove an immediate hit with the Mean Green.

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  1. keith mcGa says:

    Never did see your write up on TCU win over Wisconsin.

    I had it right, but so did the bookies. In fact, my son, who played 8 years in the pros, and attended the game, said if TCU hadn’t kept slipping down they could have scored 3 more touchdowns.

    Isn’t the description “power conferences” about the silliest thing you’ve ever heard? I thought it would go away when Utah embarrassed Alabama or Boise kicking OU. But it languishes in total ignorance. TCU added to thought.


  2. Burnt Orange says:

    Over under on DKM and/or Schedule NIT response – 3 hours. Taking the under.

  3. Burnt Orange says:

    DMK I meant – apologies.

  4. schedule nit says:

    Ha, you lose.

    Does Franchione at Tex State not count? Advice to the athletic department; count you inventory often.

    Paul: I didn’t count him only because Texas State will still be on the F.C.S. level in 2011. Get ready to see the Bobcats on the Countdown in 2012.

  5. [...] Myerberg from Pre-Snap Read breaks down the coaching turnover from each conference, including some nice words on Coach Kill and the prescription for what ails [...]

  6. DMK says:

    Celebrating the MLK, Burnt Orange. keith mcGa must be rabble rousing, because that’s the sort of dumb stuff you read on the other football fan sites. Logic has escaped him.

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