For now, the coaching carousel has settled down. We may have some more changes after college football’s bowl season and the NFL wraps up, but 17 different jobs have been filled.
To accurately grade a hire, you should probably wait at least a few years to see how the coach fits at a program. Of course, there’s no fun in that.
CBS Sports‘ Dennis Dodd did just that today. He graded the 17 different hires, and he only has one that he is really down on.
Eight college football programs were named winners. That list includes the highest profile move of the off-season so far, Lane Kiffin to Ole Miss, which Dodd gave an ‘A.’
Kiffin was eventually getting back to Power Five. That it is with the Rebels makes so much sense. The school has already a shown a certain recruiting-friendly approach to the game (see: Hugh Freeze, NCAA sanctions). Not to say Kiffin will do anything underhanded, but Freeze set the template for how it can be done — 10 wins, one of them being over Nick Saban. Believe it or not, Kiffin brings a more reasoned and credible approach. The Boy King who has flaunted both authority and convention has proved he can coach and be a stabilizing force at age 44. Our little Lane may growing up before our eyes. Wouldn’t that be something at Ole Miss?
Dodd was similarly high on the Rutgers-Greg Schiano reunion, as well as Florida State’s hire of Mike Norvell. That’s good news for the ‘Noles, who desperately need to get things turned around, but people were also very high on lifelong FSU fan Willie Taggart, a voracious Florida recruiter, heading there two short years ago. This is a very inexact science.
FSU remains in disarray. That’s not to say Norvell can’t get things back quickly. In this search cycle, Norvell was the best name left on the board for FSU despite what you may have read about Bob Stoops being a candidate. (He wasn’t, by the way.) At age 38, Norvell has the energy and experience to at least try to make the Clemson game competitive again. That’s really what this is about, baby steps in the ACC before trying to regain national traction.
Taggart didn’t wait long to get a job. He steps in for Kiffin at FAU, a move that Dodd graded as a ‘B.’ Mizzou’s hire of Eli Drinkwitz earned a ‘B-,’ the last of the “winners” group.
Some other big openings landed in the “jury still out” category, including Jeff Hafley to Boston College (C+) and Sam Pittman to Arkansas (C-).
As an SEC head coach, Pittman is a heck of an offensive line coach. That’s not to disparage Pittman, 58, who has coached for 35 years and been a part of nine FBS programs. Pittman was one of Kirby Smart’s top coaches at Georgia. However, Arkansas’ last six coaches have brought a combined 49 years of head coaching experience to the job. Pittman has none.
The lone hire in the “loser” category is a retread who was fired a few weeks before landing a new job. Steve Addazio to Colorado State wasn’t very popular among CSU fans, and Dodd doesn’t really get it either, giving it a ‘D,’ the worst of his college football coaching grades.
This job went to Addazio after Urban Meyer reportedly intervened. Meyer’s second job as a college coach was as a receivers coach at Colorado State from 1990-95. Addazio, a former Meyer assistant, is 60 and a .500 coach in his career (57-55) with a reputation for sluggish ground-based offenses. CSU needs an exciting program to match its exciting home, Canvas Stadium, where beer flows at the New Belgium Porch. Addazio’s BC offenses finished above 68th nationally once in seven years. Pass the pale ale.
There’ve been ‘A’ hires that bust and “loser” moves that hit, but still, it’s hard to argue with this at least based on perception.