Thirteen Power 5 conference schools entered this season with new head coaches, some set up to succeed and others starting from scratch to rebuild their program. Although it isn’t fair to judge these new coaches based on their first six or seven games no matter their record, some have been looking the part thus far. Here is a quick rundown on how these thirteen have started their tenures.
Mario Cristobal, Oregon (5-1)
Cristobal entered a nice situation here, as the Ducks roster had significant talent and is on track for a top-5 2019 recruiting class. This program is in very good shape, especially if Cristobal can give them some continuity over the next few seasons.
Herm Edwards, Arizona State (3-3)
One of the more controversial head coach signings (and funniest, to me at least) was Herm Edwards, who is 10 years removed from his last coaching job with the Kansas City Chiefs, serving as an ESPN analyst during that time. Although there have been some questionable sideline decisions made, especially in the Colorado game, Edwards has started off fine as the Sun Devils have generally performed on par with expectations.
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M (5-2)
Fresh off a 10 year, $75 million contract signing, Fisher hasn’t just been rolling in his cash. After Kevin Sumlin’s uninspiring 7-6 season last year, Fisher has been getting the Aggies going. Their only losses have come at the hands of the defending champions Alabama, and a competitive two-point loss to #4 Clemson. Even better for the program, Texas A&M’s 2019 recruiting class is currently the top in the country.
Scott Frost, Nebraska (0-6)
Is Scott Frost the savior of Nebraska? Not yet at least, as one of the biggest offseason signings has yet to record his first victory for his alma mater. Obviously Husker fans shouldn’t think about giving up, as they have the second youngest team in college football. Nonetheless, a 24-19 loss to Troy has to hurt after watching Frost lead UCF to a perfect season and a “national championship” last year.
Chip Kelly, UCLA (1-5)
UCLA is 1-5, and there’s no getting around that. However, Chip Kelly shouldn’t be getting run out of town quite yet, as the Bruins have mostly been without starting quarterback Wilton Speight, and four of those five losses have come at the hands of ranked teams.
Matt Luke, Ole Miss (5-2)
Despite the NCAA sanctions imposed on Ole Miss, limiting their scholarships and rendering the Rebels ineligible for a bowl in Matt Luke’s first season… they’re actually not bad. No, they don’t really have a signature win, and their two losses have been blowouts (albeit to Alabama and LSU). However, Luke, the former interim, deserves some credit for keeping his team together and playing hard- not to mention helping run the third-ranked offense in the country in total yards.
Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State (4-2)
Moorhead, last year’s offensive coordinator for Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley at Penn State, was considered to be one of the top candidates to move to a high-profile head coaching job. Interestingly enough, the Bulldogs have pushed themselves into the top 25 through FBS’s premier scoring defense. Moorhead has some tests remaining on the schedule though, with a gauntlet SEC West stretch run including LSU, Texas A&M, and Alabama.
Chad Morris, Arkansas (1-6)
Expectations were reasonably low for Morris and his Razorbacks this season, but as of now he has been able to put together a top-20 2019 recuiting class despite his team’s 1-6 record. Former coach Bret Bielema was always solid on the recruiting trail but never quite able to put it together. We will need a few years to see how this one continues to play out.
Dan Mullen, Florida (6-1)
Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham have the Gators defense looking elite thus far, forcing 18 turnovers and holding opponents to 18.3 points per game. They have already logged quality wins against LSU and Mississippi State as well.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee (3-3)
The sixth SEC team to start this season with a new head coach, Tennessee is another program that could use some continuity. The Volunteers had a tumultuous 2017 that resulted in the first eight-loss season in their history. With another strong recruiting class coming in, Pruitt should be able to get Tennessee back on track soon enough.
Jonathan Smith, Oregon State (1-5)
Smith was sort of thrown into the fire here after the Beavers went 1-11 in 2017 and failed to record a conference win. It might be tough to judge the impact Smith makes until a few years into this tenure.
Kevin Sumlin, Arizona (3-4)
Sumlin was a high-profile offseason signing after a six year tenure at Texas A&M. Rich Rodriguez, the former coach, had a decent stretch but peaked in 2014 after winning the Pac-12 South division title. Wildcats fans are hoping Sumlin will be able to take them to the next level, though to this point the team has had a middling start and one of the lower ranked 2019 recruiting classes in the conference.
Willie Taggart, Florida State (3-3)
For a perennial powerhouse and a team that started the season ranked in the AP Top 25 even after Jimbo Fisher’s departure, this has to be a humbling start. In their first three games, the Seminoles were blown out by ACC opponents Virginia Tech and Syracuse, and had to make a fourth-quarter comeback to beat FCS school Samford. FSU fans, maybe relax on the GoFundMe’s to buy out Coach Taggart- this likely won’t be the season you hoped for, but Florida State is too strong of a program to continue on this track.
photo via USA Today