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Nick: Can you guys do one on the new coaching hires this offseason?
Nick: Can you do Herm Edwards last since otherwise I know you guys will just make fun of Arizona State the whole time?
Seth: (sigh) fine.
We’ll do the Power Five, reverse alphabetical order.
1. UCLA. Out: Jim Mora Jr. In: Chip Kelly.
David: I'm not sure they could have done better.
Brian: I am disappointed that UCLA broke with tradition and did not hire a washed-up ex-NFL coach who was last in college when he was literally in college.
Seth: I am disappointed our reaction to losing recruits to UCLA now won't be /giphy Her?
Ace: They kinda got halfway there?
But washing out under that 49ers regime doesn’t really count.
Brian: I do wonder if Kelly is a bit of a Rich Rod analogue, though, and now that everyone's caught up to him he'll be mediocre. Smart Football's articles on Kelly's time in the NFL are really damning.
Instead, Kelly’s answer has been to simply run plays that look like read-options, but without any reads or options. This has not gone well. Defenders who used to stand and watch the QB as the running back ran free now immediately collapse toward the runner to stuff the play.
Kelly once said that the shotgun inside zone “is not a great play if the quarterback hands off to the running back and everyone in the stadium knows who has the ball.” He was right, and his NFL offense is now proof.
Still: best possible hire for UCLA and they managed to woo Kelly away from Florida. A.
Ace: Yeah, not sure it’s an absolute slam dunk like people seem to think, but definitely a good hire and a huge upgrade over Mora. A.
BiSB: Agreed. The concerns are all "no hire is a guaranteed success"-type concerns. A.
David: Oh, actual grades. Ok. A.
Seth: He's still Rich Rod-good at offensive tweaks for an offense that is highly efficient, and whatever difference half a decade of defensive catch-up makes is made up for by Southern California and the fact that a UCLA degree is an easier sell than being a Nike barbie doll. A+
[After THE JUMP: BERRRRT! Consider yourself warned]
2. Texas A&M. Out: Kevin Sumlin. In: Jimbo Fisher for a LOT of money
Nathan Hunsinger/The Dallas Morning News
David: This is will be interesting, but I'm thinking kinda similar to Kelly. Who else that would be potentially available would A&M have wanted? I'm guessing probably no one.
Brian: An unprecedented heist. Nobody leaves terminal college jobs for other college jobs. That's why they're terminal. Fisher's bloom is maybe a little off the rose after falling back to earth this year... because his starting QB got hurt and he had to play a true freshman. I imagine the "resources" at A&M are about on par with those at FSU, so recruiting will be fine. And even if Fisher lingers in the 10-3 zone he was the past two years that's still an order of magnitude better than anything A&M has done in living memory. A fully guaranteed contract is a risk worth taking; dude is just 52. A+.
Ace: Man, I dunno if Texas A&M provides him quite as much as Florida State, which had solidified its standing as the top program in an insane talent-producing state. That exit still strikes me as weird in a way where it feels like we don’t know the whole story. That’s a fast falling-out. But, again, no idea how TAMU could do better. A-minus just because I get some weird feels from this one. Sumlin felt pretty close to can’t-miss (albeit without being nearly as proven at the top level) before he got to College Station.
BiSB: If it weren't for the contract, I'd give it an A. But... man, what happens if this REALLY isn't working out in Year 4? And how much extra pressure does that already insane fanbase apply based in large part on that contract? It's not terribly likely, but of his eight seasons at FSU, he had three years that were fantastic, and five years with 3+ losses. And now he's moving into the SEC West, which has some pretty serious obstacles. B+
Brian: A&M fans will be thrilled with a 10-3 season featuring a win over Michigan in a NY6 game.
Seth: How many Texas A&M fans do you know? Their whole thing is "Let's not be reasonable about this."
Also agree with Ace that to leave FSU suggests some sort of burnout. This feels to me more like Bret to Arkansas on steroids.
David: Yeah, B+/A-
Ace: Yeah, in what world are TAMU fans reasonable?
Especially now that they’re throwing $TEXAS money around, those expectations are going to be astronomical.
Seth: To use a Texas A&M example, when they threw $TEXAS money at Bo and he turned them down, they offered the same to Jackie Sherrill, who had built Pitt into a national power and was dirty as hell. That...did not go well. I don't want to overstate my case here; I'm saying this is a B- with a low floor.
Brian: I don't know where TAMU fans get this reputation. RC Slocum got 12 years. Franchione got hired away. Mike Sherman was 25-25 in year four and a clear nobody. Sumlin got four consecutive 5 loss seasons before getting the ziggy and that may have been prompted by under the table Fisher overtures.
Ace: Administration being reasonably patient doesn’t mean the fans didn’t hate those guys.
Brian: Okay but if it clearly doesn't matter when it comes to pulling the trigger on an early firing, who cares?
This is a relatively patient program that hasn't had an elite coach in decades taking a swing. Have to take the shot.
Ace: It just has some ugly potential with them locked into a huge contract. I’m not totally sold on Fisher as a strategist who can make it work when he doesn’t have FSU-level talent.
I still think it’s the right call, but I feel better about Kelly’s situation.
BiSB: Sure, you gotta shoot your shot. But if it lands with a thud, this is a program-destroyer.
Brian: What is there to destroy? A Ridiculous Sponsor Bowl on December 23rd kind of program?
BiSB: Ask Nebraska, who would have said similar things about the Pelini Era
Seth: Yeah this a contract where they'll be forced to stick with him after going 7-5 in year 3 when Jimbo effigies are the top-selling product in Eastern Texas Wal-Marts. The 12th man would literally be a man.
Brian: Conflating Jimbo Fisher with Mike Riley, counselor?
Seth: Bert. Berrrrrrt.
Ace: That’s a way better comp, albeit still probably unfair to Jimbo. But the SEC can eat you alive, man.
BiSB: I was trying to avoid the obvious "replace a stagnant program with an outsider" comparison: RichRod
Seth: Jimbo's not substantially changing the program culture here.
Brian: Yeah, SEC can be tough. Here's bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Bert in 2011…
BiSB: Don't do it, man...
Look at him, all full of hope and joy.
Seth: …and Milwaukee's Best.
Ace: The year-by-year progression photos of Bert are downright terrifying.
BiSB: At least warn the readers about what is about to happen.
Brian: Also Bert did more or less what Arkansas football has done historically.
David: This is quite the Rabbit Hole. How many more teams are we covering? Is this a Three-Parter?
Ace: We’ll have less to talk about when the hires are “…who?”
Seth: Yeah like this guy...
3. Tennessee. Out: Butch Jones. In: Greg Schiano. Out: Greg Schiano. Out: Errrrrybody. In: Phil Fulmer. In: Jeremy Pruitt
Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel
Ace: Hiring Saban assistants always works out great, right?
Seth: Especially at Tennessee.
David: Screw Kirby. My only comment is being thankful he took Otis Reese's primary recruiter
BiSB: In the abstract, Pruitt is fine, I guess. Saban assistants don't have a great track record, but he seems like a good defensive coach and a potential "program culture" guy, so who knows. B-/C+ hire, and worlds better than Schiano.
The real problem here is the insane process, and the Fulmer coup. The schism down here between people who think Fulmer is a savior and those who think he is is a scheming weasel is shockingly stark. He fully expected to ride in as the white knight and be embraced with open arms, and I think he's going to have a Barry-Alvarez-over-your-shoulder-while-you-pee influence on the program that isn't going to be healthy for anyone.
Brian: Search was a disaster but they got a guy who doesn't have Schiano's baggage and is just 43; he's also not just a Saban disciple, with DC stints at FSU and Georgia. I do wonder how combustible a personality he is. He's been bouncing around a ton. And who else was Tennessee going to get? It's secretly a bad job. They're about as distant from SEC recruiting hotbeds as you can get.
The potential for a Dave Brandon-esque "hi I'm sitting in on quarterback meetings" situation is very high, admittedly.
Ace: It’s really hard to separate this hire from the process.
Brian: But even if that happens Fulmer is still going to be a better AD than their previous two jabronis. This is a school that hired Derek Dooley!
Ace: On its own, it’s a B hire. Given how they got there, I think it’s a B-/C+ depending on how much Fulmer is involved. It doesn’t help with recruiting that it’s very obvious they went with Plan Q.
Brian: Tennessee is the ultimate Life Comes At You Fast program. From 1977 to 2008 they had two head coaches. They're on their fourth since. Anyway: B-.
Seth: Somehow, the way this worked out it's like whatever the opposite of a Pyrrhic victory is...like they took the L here but it's an 'L' for ‘L’earnin’. Pruitt will get some recruits and improve to "NOT 0-8 VERSUS THE SEC" and then he'll be expendable. They also managed to off an apparently Maximum Suit of an AD in the process. Barry Alvarez may be annoying but Wisconsin's been really good under him. Fulmer is a dick—particularly to Michigan—but I respect his dickishness. The people who hate him seem to be the right kind of people. Incomplete.
BiSB: He was the best available after the crap they put themselves through, but they could have had better people by just not screwing up in epic, hilarious fashion. Hell, they had a deal done with Jeff Brohm. Joe Moorhead was out there. But I suppose we should have expected this from the people who brought you "Jon Gruden or Bust."
Brian: No incompletes.
wait no C+
that they rescued after skipping every class up to and including the midterm.
David: He probably can't buy like Kirby or coach like Mullen, so...meh. They're probably not beating Alabama...so, staring down 3rd/4th in the East pretty much every year.
4. Oregon State. Out: Gary Anderson. In: Jon Smith
IT’S A NEW WORLD IN CORVALLIS!
Seth: Do we care? We don't care right?
Ace: Nah, they’re turrible
Brian: It's a standard "oh no we suck, let's grab a former player hire." C.
5. Oregon. Out: Willie Taggart (FSU), In: Mario Cristobal
Brian: I don't know?
David: or its "we got totally boned by this whole process and everyone was gone or has new $"
Seth: Yeah Oregon was the guy without a chair when the music stopped.
David: After apparently making a terrific hire last year, and getting the best recruitment in program history, now they're an airport job? I guess maybe they could have looked at Pelini?
BiSB: Cristobal was fine at FIU. He’ll be replacement-level at Oregon. But I feel like Oregon could have gotten someone better. Hiring the interim when you are a major program with money who isn’t facing sanctions seems less than ideal, regardless of how much the players like him. B-
Brian: Losing Taggart late in the process after one year after all the good candidates had already been scooped up is brutal. And Cristobal did good work at FIU before getting inexplicably axed after one bad season. And Cristobal's been a bang-up recruiter since. And they laid out a bunch of cash to keep Jim Leavitt. But... I mean, how you gonna have an OL coach at the head of the Oregon Ducks?
BiSB: He just signed for 1.7 Million goddang dollars.
(Insert every comment about the college football financial model here)
Brian: C, I guess. This one might deserve an incomplete. At least if you go the wrong direction you can axe the dude for cheap.
David: or wait for when Frost realizes he's better than Nebraska (spoiler alert!)
I still think it was probably the best they could do given the situation...especially if they're keeping Leavitt
Seth: This one's like a weird Brady Hoke counterfactual where they give Calvin Magee a huge contract and the keys. B. Was a C until they locked up Leavitt.
Ace: C+ for at least getting some continuity and financial flexibility in a tough situation.
[ED: Yeah, so we forgot Mississippi State. We’re all happy to have Moorhead out of the conference so it was probably a great hire.]
6. Ole Miss. Spending Time With the Family: Hugh Freeze. In: Matt Luke/Bankruptcy Judge
Ace: lol, F.
Brian: F. Hired Brady Hoke's younger brother, who manages a Sonic.
But really he's just the guy who eats crap for two years until they make their real hire.
David: Hiring actual Sonic might have been better
BiSB: In their defense, who would want that job?
Brian: Bob Stitt
Seth: Oh lord please don't make Bob Stitt the Tommy Amaker of Oxford.
David: Moorhead went to their 'little brother'
BiSB: At least by hiring the substitute gym teacher for the full-time gig, they have a prayer of holding onto some of their talent. It’s still a shitty hire, but any of their hires would be shitty.
Brian: Yeah, kept Greg Little I guess. He's cheap and you can fire him in two years and go get a real coach. Prediction: Kendall Briles.
Brian: Because Ole Miss ain't got no shame at all.
Seth: At the very least they could have gone with someone who wouldn't perpetuate the worst program culture in college football.
The Mathlete: It's not like the options are going to be great in 2 years.
Brian: That's why it's perfect.
Ace: And Ole Miss hasn’t produced a player/coach worthy of bringing back as a savior, either.
Eli Manning 2019, I guess?
I would love to see constant Manningface watching Ole Miss be terrible at football.David: only if Pruitt bombs and Tennessee brings back Peyton simultaneously
Brian: NFL QBs have too much money to put up with coaching bullshit unless they're insane.
Ace: Oh, fully aware it’s never, ever gonna happen. But a man can dream.
Seth: Speaking of bringing back your glory days QB…
7. Nebraska. Nice guy: Mike Riley. In: Scott Frost, Mom.
David: For Nebraska? A+ For Frost? lolwut...unless he wants stay forever.
Ace: A+ for Nebraska, F for Rivals board threads.
Brian: A+. Frost cut his teeth as an OC at Oregon, turned around UCF, pisses off a ton of Michigan fans, and has a lovely mother no one wants to hit with a shovel.
Ace: I’m honestly glad this happened just so Wisconsin’s reign of terror by competency can end soon.
Brian: Dude was the scout team QB when UCF played Navy this year. MOAR CLEAT WEARING HEAD COACHES PLEASE
Ace: The Big Ten, where our coaches are better quarterbacks than the SEC’s actual quarterbacks.
David: Nebraska won Coaching Carousal 2017
Seth: A+ Every college football player dreams of going back to his alma mater and wrecking shit.
Brian: Also for the love of God get some running QBs back at Nebraska. College football with a pocket passer in Lincoln is sick and wrong.
BiSB: They hired above their weight class. A+
Ace: Savage, Bryan.
Ace: Also true.
8. Florida State. Out: Jimbo Fisher (TAMU). In: Willie Taggart
Mark Wallheiser/via Orlando Sentinel
Brian: As with the other half of this... I don't know?
BiSB: For a late-cycle hire, that’s a hell of a pull.
David: especially if they were blind-sided by Jimbo. I wonder if they took a shot at Frost?
Ace: Given the situation, yeah, they couldn’t have done much better. Taggert at worst has been pretty successful at each stop and has a ton of area recruiting connections. Also: is part of the Harbaugh coaching tree, which is a good tree to be from.
Brian: The immediate uptick in Oregon's recruiting is a major point in his favor. Even when the Ducks were setting people on fire under Kelly and Belotti they usually hovered between 15th and 20th by the end of the year. They're 11th this year despite the coaching turnover and were probably headed for a first-ever top ten class if Taggart stayed.
Ace: Yeah, my bet is he absolutely crushes it on the recruiting trail at FSU.
David: They were 6th in November.
Brian: (David is also an Oregon fan, for anyone wonder why he's so depressed about this.)
He did launch two impressive turnarounds at USF and WKU.
BiSB: The one question mark is longevity, but that’s a reasonable worst concern (see: Harbaugh, James)
Ace: He also has an eye for coaching talent, I think. Brought in Tom Allen as his DC at USF before Allen got yoinked by Indiana.
Brian: The Leavitt thing is maybe a little problem but he didn't have Leavitt at either of his two previous stops; I'd argue that's evidence that he's good at hiring guys. Cristobal, too. He does rather feel like Harbaugh after one year at Stanford.
A risk but one worth taking, A-.
Ace: The more I look at this, the more I think it’s a home run. If he can assemble a good staff, and I’m guessing he will, he should have them as regular playoff contenders. A.
Seth: The only bad thing I can say about Taggart is he had the least interesting things to say when doing the ESPN360 coaches' room thing. A.
Ace: I once used that to judge Paul Chryst and I think I was wrong in doing so.
David: hahaha, that originally scared me a bit, too
Seth: This might be a strength; coachspeak: A+.
9. Florida. Out: Jim “Lanifornication” McElwain. Got Out: Dan Mullen
David: 'A' for canning the shark guy
Brian: Oh look they hired the guy they should have hired last time now that their dumbass AD retired.
Ace: People really seem to overlook how hard it is to be consistently even half-decent at Mississippi State.
Mullen did a remarkable job there and has a real talent for developing quarterbacks, which… yeah, I’d say Florida could use.
Brian: Mullen was 69-46 at Mississippi State. In nine years. He survived nine years at the worst program in the SEC. He was six games below .500 in the SEC. The SEC West.
His floor at Florida is winning two thirds of his conference games, right? A. Maybe an A- just because it's such a stupid slam dunk.
Ace: Jackie Sherrill could only hit .500 there in a way worse version of the SEC while cheatin’ his ass off. Mullen has to be so happy to go to the SEC East. That’s a very reasonable floor for him. A.
Seth: A.When Mullen was a top "if Harbaugh doesn't..." candidate people were worried he might be a bit of a Dantonio with how he runs his program. In most SEC towns—especially Starkville—that's probably not even a downside but Florida might be the one where it's a potential bomb down the road. Other than that, somehow one of the top guys from Urban Meyer's coaching tree sat around surviving in the SEC West for way longer than he should have.
Ace: Yeah, the Jeffrey Simmons thing is worth mentioning. He handled that poorly and in a way that won’t fly at a program that gets way more attention.
Brian: Hopefully he's learned from that. For Orson's sake.
10. Arkansas. Out: Berrrrrrt. Also Jeff Long. In: Chad Morris?
Seth: Who is that?
David: My guess is not too bad. Higher upside? Dabo's old OC, no?
Brian: Former Clemson OC who had three years at SMU.
Ace: Remember to bump your grades up since this is making next year’s non-conference schedule easier.
Seth: We are the fancy prep school of coaching carousel grading.
Ace: Anyway, it’s probably going to be a rough transition from Bert’s MEATBALL to Morris, but I kinda like this long-term. Arkansas needs to do something different in the SEC West and maybe Morris can scheme them into a dangerous outfit instead of a doormat. B, I guess?
Brian: Took over dead thing that was SMU in the aftermath of June Jones, who you might remember quitting two games into the 2014 season. SMU was 1-11 and a complete uncoached disaster. Got them up to 7-5 in year three. Track record is still pretty pretty thin though. Spent most of his career as a high school head coach; unclear how much of Clemson's success was him when they went 14-1 after his departure.
Ace: Trying to out-muscle Bama was only gonna go one way.
The Mathlete: Trying to be Wisconsin of the SEC West as opposed to the B1G West turned out to be very different.
Brian: Yeah, and Arkansas doesn't have a lot of pull given its situation. B.
David: Good hire. If he's decently successful, I bet he's out on his own accord
Seth: This feels like a placeholder. They still haven't hired an AD, and they got a guy who's probably going to be making as much as Arkansas is paying Bielema over his tenure. C. Passing. Let’s move on; the sooner we finish these milk and cookies and put this one to bed the sooner we can get to that great big present under the tree.
(at least I think that's how you guys do it. I'm over here celebrating the upset of the Hellenistic Age)
Ace: Dude didn’t even know the team’s nickname.
Seth: I want to point out that Herm Edwards is 11 years OLDER than Todd Graham.
David: YOU PLAY. TO WIN. THE GAME. HELLO.
Ace: Also the plan was to keep both coordinators and they lost both coordinators.
Brian: I'd just like to thank Arizona State AD Someone Just In Charge Of Things for bringing a little joy to college football with his flagrant incompetence. We lost Bo Pelini. We lost Jim "Lanifornication" McElwain. We needed an injection of straight up crazy into the sport.
Ace: Herm Edwards last coached college when I was two years old. He last coached anything when I was a sophomore in college.
Brian: You can be a total incompetent and hire Mike Riley and that's just boring and sad. Hiring Herm Edwards is neither of those things. Arizona State could--will--be down 54-3 in the second quarter and it will still be amazing and delightful.
David: I was a Jets fan when he was there. It was not fun.
Ace: That’s the other thing! Herm Edwards wasn’t a very good pro coach!
Brian: You guys are forgetting about the New Leadership Model™
Seth: The press release, which is entitled is “Vision Unveiled, Edwards Takes Helm,” is required reading for this offseason. It does a better job than I can of describing just how Brandon this is.
Edwards, who will oversee the New Leadership Model, arrives in Tempe with a football legacy that has impacted thousands, whether as a player, coach, analyst, motivational speaker and author, or community advocate and philanthropist.
Ace: Herm Edwards peaked in 1978!
And it was a total fluke!
"In the spirit of innovation, our vision for this program is to have a head coach who serves as a CEO and is the central leader with a collaborative staff around him that will elevate the performance of players and coaches on the field, in the classroom and in our community. Equally important, the head coach will be a dynamic and tireless recruiter."
Brian: Todd Graham went 6-3 in the Pac-12 this year and had a 12 million dollar buyout. He had two ten win seasons. To find two more ten win season in Arizona State history you have to go back to 1996.
Seth: When they were cheating their balls off.
Adam: At least in the picture in the press release Herm looks as confused as all of us
BiSB: Look, you guys aren’t considering the dynamic structural synergies here.
Brian: They went full Brandon. Never go full Brandon!
(This might actually be like 1.2 Brandon if I'm being honest.)
Ace: His most famous phrase is stating the most basic goal of football!
Brian: (Although getting twelve million dollars for a company you drove into bankruptcy is 1.5 Brandon)
Ace: (After suing for the privilege)
BiSB: Worse. They aren’t trying to build a corporate buzzword wrapping around a football team. They’re trying to make corporate buzzwords the foundation of the football team ITSELF.
The New Leadership Model affords coordinators and assistant coaches more flexibility in how they develop student-athletes on the field, and enables Sun Devil Football to build on the 'Championship Life' program already in place through the Office of Student-Athlete Development to better equip student-athletes with the tools and skills necessary to succeed in their respective future endeavors.
Ace: Right Synergy Z Post on three
Brian: Lifting is now iron leveraging
BiSB: Huddles are now brainstorming sessions
Brian: oh god, they're conference calls
they're going to have an infinite number of delay penalties
BiSB: “Dave... DAMMIT, Dave is on mute again”
Ace: “Herm forgot the passcode again.”
It makes this so much better that his name is Herm, by the way.
BiSB: “I can’t do overtime. I have a hard stop at 3:00”
Brian: Anyway, Herm Edwards gets an A++++++++ from me, because I don't care if Arizona State wins or loses.
We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive playcalling officer for the week. But all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting. By a simple majority in the case of purely standard downs but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more...
Ace: Best hire of the offseason.
BiSB: Viewership has to go up, at least initially. Who is NOT going to want to watch this?
They hired the Giant Kraft Noodle
Brian: Darren Rovell plays the AD in the movie.
Ace: I just gagged.
BiSB: I feel bad for the program, but this is amazing content.