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New College Football Coaches in New Places and Their Situations

Every season, a bunch of new coaches change jobs, whether by choice or not. Each situation they find themselves in now is unique. Here are the new college football coaches in new places and their situations.


Boston College Eagles- Jeff Hafley

Hafley comes in after helping revamp Ohio State’s defense. The Eagles went 6-7 last season with a loss in the Birmingham Bowl. The .500 or so seasons got old and head coach Steve Addazio was fired. This season Hafley will have 15 returning starters to work with, but the team lost star running back A.J. Dillon and quarterback Anthony Brown. It will be hard for Hafley to do much better than Addazio, as Boston College hasn’t seriously competed since Matt Ryan was on campus.

New College Football Coaches

Mike Norvell (Photo by

Florida State Seminoles- Mike Norvell

After disappointing for two seasons, Willie Taggart was fired and Mike Norvell was hired from Memphis to try and bring Florida State back to what they were at one point under Jimbo Fisher. Norvell is an offensive-minded coach, but will have to figure out an offensive line that hasn’t performed in years. With quarterback James Blackmon and wide receiver Tamorrion Terry, they have some good talent behind the line. The defense was average last season, but defensive tackle Marvin Wilson will lead the charge to make it better this season. They went 6-7 last year, which is likely around where they’ll finish this season. In the long term, Norvell has shown he can recruit well enough to make the most out of his situation.

Big Ten

Michigan State Spartans- Mel Tucker

The Spartans went 7-6 last season and longtime head coach Mark Dantonio retired. Mel Tucker was hired from Colorado to take over. He is a defensive-minded head coach who will understand the culture in East Lansing. The problem is that the Spartans only have six returning starters on their roster. It may be hard to reach bowl eligibility in his first few years, but once he is set, Tucker should be able to annually make bowl games, like Dantonio.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights- Greg Schiano

The Scarlet Knights have not seen success since joining the Big Ten, so they decided to go back to a familiar face in Greg Schiano. He led Rutgers to their best days in recent memory, but that didn’t last when he went to the NFL and the school joined the Big Ten. The team went 2-10 last year and 10 returning starters won’t magically help the team compete for a bowl game. It will be hard for Rutgers to compete year in and year out in the Big Ten East, but Schiano may be their best bet to do so.

Big 12

Baylor Bears- Dave Aranda

He helped LSU win the National Championshp as their defensive coordinator and joined Baylor after Matt Rhule left for the NFL. He will have just eight returning starters, including quarterback Charlie Brewer, but only two of them are back on defense. Rhule built up a program to work with, so Baylor could be back again in a few years if Aranda can keep finding gems in recruiting.


Colorado Buffaloes- Karl Dorrell

Dorrell formerly coached at UCLA and has been an assistant in the pros. The Buffaloes had to react late in the coaching carousel market after Mel Tucker left, so Dorrell was not likely their first choice. He will however, have 15 returning starters back, which theoretically, should help them jump from five wins to bowl-eligibility. Sustaining that success will be hard for Dorrell.

Washington Huskies- Jimmy Lake

The Huskies hired from within when Chris Petersen said he had to take a break from coaching. Jimmy Lake was promoted to head coach and will have 11 returning starters back to help. The defense specifically should be good, as Lake is a defensive-minded head coach and they have seven starters back on that side of the ball. Lake will have to find some offense, but the Huskies should make a bowl game in 2020. The foundation is their for Lake to build on into the future, as Washington looks to continue to compete in the Pac-12.

Washington State Cougars- Nick Rolovich

After Mike Leach left for Mississippi State, Washington State wanted to hire a similar coach. Nick Rolovich comes in from Hawaii to keep the air raid offense alive in Pullman. Rolovich has 13 starters back (six on offense, seven on defense), so he should be able to keep the offense rolling. To replicate what Leach did will be hard. A bowl game in 2020 is possible, but after that point, Rolovich will have to show he can bring in his own recruits in the Pac-12.


Arkansas Razorbacks- Sam Pittman

The Razorbacks wanted to get more physical and hired Sam Pittman, an offensive line coach, to help them get that way. Arkansas won two games last season, but they do have 13 returning starters. The offense will need to take a huge step forward with Florida-transfer Feleipe Franks and running back Rakeem Boyd creating a decent duo. Making a bowl game is likely too much to ask. Building a program will be hard with the way things currently sit in the SEC West.

Mississippi State Bulldogs- Mike Leach

Leach has found success at every stop he has been at. Mississippi State will welcome his air raid offense to shake things up after a 6-7 season last year. Five starters are back on offense, which doesn’t even include Stanford-transfer, quarterback K.J. Costello. The offense will put up points, while the defense will be average at best, which is what Leach is used to. The Bulldogs should make a bowl game, but don’t expect too much more than that in 2020. Leach can make a lot out of a program, even if he doesn’t get the best recruits, so he will likely be there as long as he likes.

Missouri Tigers- Eliah Drinkwitz

Drinkwitz was only the head coach of Appalachian State for one season, but did well enough to get noticed by Missouri. The Tigers went 6-6 last season, but have just 11 returning starters. There is some talent on the roster, but the schedule will make it tough for them to make a bowl game. Drinkwitz will also have a tough time building a program in the SEC, even if he is in the easier SEC East.

New College Football Coaches
Lane Kiffin (Photo by

Ole Miss Rebels- Lane Kiffin

The Rebels made a splash hire with Kiffin, who did a really good job at Florida Atlantic the last few seasons. He joins a program that has 11 returning starters and went 4-8 last season. It will be hard for the team to make a bowl game in 2020, as they need to build the talent back up. Kiffin is capable of making Ole Miss a team that makes bowl games consistently. They could even be as good as they were under Hugh Freeze, when they would have a splash year every few seasons.

Group of Five

Appalachian State Mountaineers- Shawn Clark 

The Mountaineers hired their offensive line coach to replace Drinkwitz as head coach. He has ties to the program and it is solid at this point, so Appalachian State should continue to be one of the best group of five programs in college football. They have 15 returning starters and figure to be the best team in the Sun Belt once again.

Colorado State Rams- Steve Addazio

Colorado State made the play for the short term with the hire of Addazio, who is already 60 years old. He will have 15 starters back, but they have a lot to do to improve from their 4-8 record. The Rams may have a good season or two under Addazio, but they will likely be looking for a new coach soon, whether it due to the team not winning or because Addazio ages.

Florida Atlantic Owls- Willie Taggart

Taggart didn’t work out at Florida State, but he did do decently well at Oregon before that. He takes over a solid program that Lane Kiffin left behind, which returns nine starters. The offense will be rolling after ranking 14th in points scored per game last season. Taggart will need the defense to improve and to recruit well to help the team stay relevant in the C-USA.

Fresno State Bulldogs- Kalen DeBoar

Jeff Tedford stepped down and the Bulldogs wanted to bring in some offense, so they hired DeBoar, who helped Indiana’s offense. The problem is the team only has eight returning starters after the team went 4-8 last year. He has his work cut out for him this season, but Fresno State has proven to be able to be successful in recent years.

Hawaii Warriors- Todd Graham 

Graham has had chances at big schools and has done adequately, but now is at Hawaii to replace Rolovich. He has 11 starters back and will need to keep the offense rolling to have much of a shot to get to a bowl game. It took Rolovich a few seasons to build Hawaii, so Graham needs to make sure they don’t slip this year.

Memphis Tigers- Ryan Silverfield

The Tigers hired their offensive line coach in Silverfield to take over for Norvell. They have 13 returning starters, including quarterback Brady White and running back Kenneth Gainwell, who can help their offense make some noise again. Their defense just needs to be average and the Tigers can be the group of five representative in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. Silverfield can keep on winning games year in and year out at Memphis.

New Mexico Lobos- Danny Gonzales

Gonzales was the defensive coordinator at Arizona State and did well. He also has experience at New Mexico and San Diego State. He has nine returning starters to start, but the team won just two games last year. Gonzales is a good coach who should be able to build a program if given some time.

Old Dominion Monarchs- Ricky Rahne

The Monarchs won just one game and decided to bring in Rahne, who was the offensive coordinator at Penn State. He’ll have his work cut out for him, but the team does bring back eight starters on the defensive side of the ball. Building a program will be tough, but if he can do it, Rahne could use this job as a stepping stone.

San Diego State- Brady Hoke

Brady Hoke has resurfaced and is going to be back at San Diego State. Rocky Long had the program as one of the best group of five teams in the country each year. Hoke will have a chance to keep that going with 13 starters back. They will be one of the teams competing in the Moutain West.

UNLV Rebels- Marcus Arroyo

Arroyo comes into UNLV after being Oregon’s offensive coordinator. UNLV has had some chances to be a solid program, but hasn’t quite made it there. Arroyo has eight starters back on offense, which should help, but their defense will take a lot of time to fix. There is a chance to build the program, but it won’t be overnight.

USF Bulls- Jeff Scott

USF made a great hire in Scott, who was the co-defensive coordinator for Clemson. Scott has 12 returning starters back, with six on each side of the ball. Scott can build the program back up and they could make a bowl game this season.

UTSA Roadrunners- Jeff Traylor

Traylor was a running backs coach at Arkansas, but is known as a good recruiter. He’ll have to recruit well to help get UTSA near the top of the C-USA. The Roadrunners have 13 returning starters, but it will be tough to make a bowl game this season. Traylor will have his recruiting prowess put to the test at UTSA if he wants to find success longterm.

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