Every offseason, several programs make changes at their head coaching positions. This year was no different with 27 schools getting new coaches. As the season approaches, what are the expectations for each new coach at their new school?
Colorado Buffaloes: Mel Tucker
Just a few seasons after one of Colorado’s best seasons in recent memory, Mike MacIntyre was fired and Mel Tucker was hired. Tucker has a lot of experience in coaching at both the NFL and college levels, but most recently he was Georgia’s defensive coordinator. He’ll have a new challenge at Colorado.
While Colorado only won five games last season, there are some things to be excited about. The Pac-12 South is completely up for grabs, as Utah is currently favored to win it this season. They will also have quarterback Steven Montez and wide receiver Laviska Shenault back, both of which will likely make it to the NFL.
Last season the Buffaloes lost seven straight to end the season. If Montez and Shenauly can help move the ball and Tucker can figure out the defense, Colorado is in play to make a bowl game. For the future of the program after this season, it will rely heavily on Tucker’s ability to build a defense.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Geoff Collins
After 11 seasons at Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson decided to retire. Collins was 15-10 at Temple over the last two seasons, but was hired by the Yellow Jackets, despite not having a lot of experience. He’ll have a lot of work to do to get this program running.
Replacing Johnson brings more things to be figured out than at other programs, as Johnson was one of the few coaches who ran the triple option. Collins has to implement a whole new offensive system, which could take years to get right, as the players currently on the team were recruited to play in an option offense.
Although they won seven games last season, this team will likely struggle to get wins this season because of the offensive switch. Collins will have to recruit hard, as Georgia Tech has tougher academic standards than most ACC schools and they have a lot of players that need to recruit for their new system. It could be years before Georgia Tech makes bowl games consistently.
Kansas Jayhawks: Les Miles
David Beaty had some nice moments for Kansas, including knocking off Texas in 2016, but his time with the Jayhawks ran out. Kansas made a splash with their hire when Les Miles signed on. Miles has a National Championship under his belt, but this will be unlike any other job Miles has had.
The Jayhawks won just three games last season and have only seven starters returning. Miles has said that he likes the talent on the roster, but it will still be hard to climb up from the Big 12 basement. With a bad offense and a below-average defense, Miles will have to bring energy to the program.
Miles is an older head coach, but will need to invest years into this program to turn it around. Kansas shouldn’t expect things to change immediately, but with time they can make some bowl games.
Kansas State Wildcats: Chris Klieman
Bill Snyder has retired before, but this time it seems permanent. Kansas State went to the FCS ranks to hire Klieman from North Dakota State. He steadied the ship at the best FCS program around, but now will have to build Kansas State back up.
The Wildcats have a lot of players returning from last year’s team, but they were only able to win five games. Klieman will be tasked with improving one of the worst offenses in the FBS. If he isn’t able to do so, he will likely fail at Kansas State.
Hiring Klieman should allow them to compete for a bowl game this season, but consistently making the Wildcats a contender in the BIg 12 will be tough. Klieman will need a few years before he can be truly evaluated for his work with the Wildcats.
Louisville Cardinals: Scott Satterfield
The Cardinals brought Bobby Petrino back for a few years, but he bottomed out last year with a 2-10 record. Louisville went to Appalachian State to find their next head coach in Scott Satterfield, who has helped the Mountaineers transition to the FBS level. He has a 47-16 record since Appalachian State joined the FBS.
Louisville couldn’t adequately cope with the loss of Lamar Jackson and now the program lacks talent. With an offense and defense that are both some of the worst in the country, Satterfield will likely not be able to get the Cardinals to a bowl game in one short season.
Satterfield needs to recruit to replenish the talent at Louisville before they have a chance to make bowl games. Expect a longer rebuild to take place for the Cardinals, as it won’t be easy to recruit all the players they need in just a year.
Maryland Terrapins: Mike Locksley
D.J. Durkin was fired after all the turmoil that took place last season at Maryland. Mike Locksley was named interim coach in 2011 after they fired Randy Edsall, but the Terrapins decided to bring him back as the permanent coach. He went 1-5 in 2015 as the interim coach and only had two wins in three seasons at New Mexico before that.
Locksley was most recently the offensive coordinator at Alabama, but will now have to deal with players who aren’t quite as talented. There aren’t many returning players from a team that won five games last season, but there is some talent to work with.
Maryland has a talent-rich area to recruit and Locksley should be able to pick up some solid players over the next few seasons. It will take a lot to make a bowl game this season, but Locksley could develop a program that consistently makes bowl games, even in a tough Big Ten East.
Miami Hurricanes: Manny Diaz
After only coaching there for two seasons at Miami, Mark Richt decided to call it quits. Manny Diaz left for the Temple job for 18 days, but returned to be the head coach of the team he had just been the defensive coordinator for. Diaz has been a long-time assistant at the collegiate level.
With the Hurricanes, Diaz will have a decently talented roster to work with this year. They had a top 20 defense last season, but they still need to figure out the offense. Tate Martell transferred in, but redshirt freshman Jarren Williams won the starting quarterback job. Either way, if they get good quarterback play they can be a good team.
Miami should make a bowl game and could win the ACC Coastal, which would be a good first season for Diaz. With the name brand of the “U”, Diaz could build things back up, especially in a conference where Clemson is head and shoulders above the rest.
North Carolina: Mack Brown
Larry Fedora was fired after seven seasons, so North Carolina decided to turn back the clock and hire Mack Brown away from ESPN. Brown is famous for winning Texas a National Championship, but had some success at North Carolina before that.
The Tar Heels went 2-9 last season with one of those wins coming over FCS Western Carolina. They do have some returning starters, but with how poorly they played last season, there is no reason to expect more wins this season.
The short-term looks bleak for UNC. To rebuild Brown will have to recruit well. He has done it before, but now at the age of 67, it could be harder for him. To be successful this time around with the Tar Heels, he’ll at least have to recruit at a decent level.
Ohio State Buckeyes: Ryan Day
Throughout all the distractions of last season, Urban Meyer finished out the year with the Buckeyes after his three-game suspension. He then retired and Ohio State turned to co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who filled in as head coach when Meyer was suspended. Day won the first three games as head coach, but now he is totally in charge.
Ohio State lost a lot from their team last season, but there are still plenty of good players on the roster. With J.K. Dobbins running the ball and the defense having some stars, the Buckeyes should be looking to compete for the Big Ten Title.
Day has the big program and current talent to keep things rolling at Ohio State. This year will give fans more good looks into how good of an in-game coach Day can be and the recruiting questions will be answered in the future. Meyer leaves big shoes to fill, but Day has been set up well at Ohio State.
Texas Tech Red Raiders: Matt Wells
Kliff Kingsbury was fired, but somehow fell upwards to get the job with the Arizona Cardinals. Matt Wells though, benefitted by getting the Texas Tech job as a result. He won 56.4 percent of his games at Utah State and is bringing a different feel to the Texas Tech program.
Texas Tech went 5-7 last season, boasting the usual good offense. They were below average on defense yet again, which is something that Wells will have to fix. They have some solid players, but fitting into a new system could be troublesome to start.
If the players take to the new system, Texas Tech could make a bowl game this season. The long-term success can come if Wells can recruit in Texas, but competing with other Big 12 and SEC schools in the state will be tough.
West Virginia Mountaineers: Neal Brown
The Mountaineers likely didn’t see Dana Holgorsen leaving for Houston coming. They still made a solid hire in Neal Brown from Troy. In his four seasons with the Trojans, Brown won 35 games. He is an offensive-minded coach, who could keep the offense moving in the coming seasons.
While some key players are back in Morgantown, they lost a lot of production in Will Grier, Gary Jennings and David Sills V. The defense was below average, but it doesn’t look like they will be improving. Brown will need to get the offense going early in his tenure to win games.
A bowl game could be in the cards for the Mountaineers in year one under Brown. Finding good quarterbacks to fit his offense and diamonds in the rough in recruiting will be key moving forward.
Group of Five Coaches
Akron Zips: Tom Arth- Arth has experience at lower levels of college football, but now must turn around a program that is projected to finish at the bottom of the MAC.
Appalachian State Mountaineers: Eliah Drinkwitz- Appalachian State is a consistent program in the Sun Belt and Drinkwitz will try to bring his offensive knowledge to the table to keep things going.
Bowling Green Falcons: Scott Loeffler- The former Temple, Auburn, Virginia Tech and Boston College offensive coordinator will try to breathe some life into an offense that scored just 24.3 points per game.
Central Michigan Chippewas: Jim McElwain- His time at Florida didn’t work out, but now McElwain will get a chance to build an offense, as the Chippewas finished 127th in scoring last season.
Charlotte 49ers: Will Healy- Healy completely turned around Austin Peay at the FCS level and is now moving on up to try and get Charlotte to the top of the C-USA.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers: Jamey Chadwell- Joe Moglia had health problems last season and his offensive coordinator Chadwell stepped in. Moglia retired and Chadwell is getting his chance to run the program.
East Carolina Pirates: Mike Houston- James Madison has been great at the FCS level for the last three years thanks to Houston, who now moves down to East Carolina for a chance to build a program.
Houston Cougars: Dana Holgorsen- Houston was able to lure away Holgorsen from West Virginia. Now the offensive coach will try to put Houston back on top of the AAC.
Liberty Flames: Hugh Freeze- Freeze was run out of town at Ole Miss for a variety of reasons, but Liberty took a chance on him to try and bring the Flames success in their second season in the FBS.
Massachusetts Minutemen: Walt Bell- It will look awfully different without Mark Whipple on the UMass sidelines, but Bell has experience as the offensive coordinator at Maryland and Florida State.
Northern Illinois Huskies: Thomas Hammock- The Huskies still have a chance to compete in the MAC with Hammock, who has some experience as an assistant in college and the pros.
Temple Owls: Rod Carey- Carey was successful at Northern Illinois, but now takes over a program that has been solid over the last decade or so.
Texas State Bobcats: Jake Spavital- Texas State isn’t an easy job, but Spavital has plenty of experience as an offensive coordinator in college football.
Troy Trojans: Chip Lindsey- Lindsey is now in charge of a program that is constantly near the top of the Sun Belt, after leading the Auburn offense for two years.
Utah State Aggies: Gary Andersen- He built the program up before leaving for Wisconsin then Oregon State, but now Andersen will have to do it again for Utah State.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: Tyson Helton- Western Kentucky has taken a huge step back over the last two seasons and Helton, Clay Helton’s brother, is now getting a chance after being an assistant at USC and Tennessee over the last three seasons.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more updates and rankings.