Rating school soccer’s new head coaches in a wacky season that noticed 28 groups make adjustments


A wild and wacky teaching cycle kicked off sooner than ever. Seven Soccer Bowl Subdivision packages, 5 within the Energy 5, made adjustments earlier than the top of October.

What unfolded was a sequence of high-profile strikes involving a number of the largest packages and head coaches within the nation. Come subsequent season, new coaches will make their debuts at Southern California, LSU, Notre Dame, Miami, Florida and Oklahoma, amongst others.

Twenty-eight packages in all, representing greater than a fifth of all groups within the FBS, will enter the 2022 season with a brand new head coach. The one convention to face pat throughout this cycle was the Huge Ten.

Time will inform which coaches will succeed and which is able to flop from subsequent yr’s crop of first-year coaches. For now, let’s try to look ahead and rank each FBS teaching transfer primarily based on finest match and the possibility for quick and long-term success.

1. Mario Cristobal, Miami (Fla.)

It is onerous to think about a extra excellent match. The previous Oregon coach is from Miami, performed for the Hurricanes and was a key assistant beneath Larry Coker earlier than taking the job at Florida Worldwide. He was a winner at FIU and a winner with the Geese, and is anticipated to do the identical at Miami after refreshing a roster that ought to at all times have as a lot as if no more expertise than each staff within the ACC. He is an absolute dwelling run for the Hurricanes.

2. Lincoln Riley, Southern California

Lincoln Riley is headed to Southern California.

Lincoln Riley is headed to Southern California.

Riley wasn’t mendacity when he mentioned after the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State in late November that he would not be the subsequent coach at LSU — as a substitute, he’d be subsequent at USC. He is an offense-driven coach who will know tips on how to make the most of the expertise outdoors his again door. And at solely 38 years outdated with 5 years of pressure-cooker Energy 5 expertise at OU, Riley could also be a long-term reply for the Trojans.

3. Sonny Dykes, TCU

Dykes will change zip codes however keep in very snug territory after turning SMU into one of many high groups within the Group of 5. His contact with quarterbacks, capacity to develop high-scoring offenses and success recruiting the Dallas-Ft. Value metroplex makes Dykes and TCU the most effective and most evident marriages on this cycle.

4. Joe Moorhead, Akron

Akron pulling in a coach with Moorhead’s monitor report is a complete coup. The previous Akron assistant (2004-08) has served because the offensive coordinator at Penn State and Oregon and was beforehand the top coach at Fordham and Mississippi State, giving him a résumé that appears nearly overqualified for one of many backside packages within the MAC. Search for Zips to take a noticeable step ahead in his first season.

5. Brian Kelly, LSU

Brian Kelly spent 12 seasons as the coach of Notre Dame.

Brian Kelly spent 12 seasons because the coach of Notre Dame.

Kelly’s subsequent problem is to deliver LSU again to the highest of the SEC and the FBS. After turning Notre Dame into an annual School Soccer Playoff contender, Kelly takes over a program that does not lack for expertise however wants course. The one query is how he suits from a cultural perspective, however even that concern is overblown. (Kelly’s magically showing southern drawl however.)

6. Billy Napier, Florida

Napier patiently waited his flip after a number of robust seasons at Louisiana and reeled in one of many premier jobs within the nation at Florida. The previous Alabama assistant is aware of tips on how to run a program however should steer via an SEC East dominated by Georgia. There’s additionally a query of what would represent success for a program that has jettisoned its previous two coaches not lengthy after taking part in for the convention championship.

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7. Clay Helton, Georgia Southern

Fired by USC two video games into this season, Helton made a tender touchdown on the off-and-on Solar Belt contender. This might not be a complete rebuild: Georgia Southern dipped to 3-9 in 2021 however had reached three straight bowl video games from 2018-20. Helton is the best coach to steer this proud program again to a spot among the many most persistently profitable groups within the Group of 5.

8. Brent Venables, Oklahoma

It is a testomony to the depth of high quality hires on this yr’s cycle that Venables is available in eighth amongst first-year coaches. After a memorable run at Clemson, the previous OU assistant returns to Norman greater than able to run the present at one of many elite packages within the nation. Search for OU to play with elevated vitality and exercise because the Sooners take a cue from one of many fieriest coaches within the sport.

9. Jay Norvell, Colorado State

Norvell pulled off a uncommon in-conference change in leaving Nevada for Colorado State, which provides terrific amenities and assets in comparison with a lot of the Group of 5. Norvell’s acumen as a recruiter and developer of ability expertise can pay quick dividends for the Rams. However there must be a little bit of a hiccup as he transitions CSU from a run-based offense to his model of the Air Raid system. (The employees did signal 19 gamers set for offense throughout the early signing interval, which might assist.)

10. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State

Tedford is again out of retirement and again at Fresno State after successful 26 video games with the Bulldogs from 2017-19. His familiarity with this system and area, his in depth expertise as an FBS head coach and historical past of constructing top-tier quarterbacks all level towards one other profitable run. At 60 years outdated and with well being points within the current previous, Tedford might not be a long-term answer for the Bulldogs however he checks all of the packing containers.

11. Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame

Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman

Preventing Irish head coach Marcus Freeman

Freeman was destined to get a serious job in some unspecified time in the future within the close to future. Is that this too quickly to take over one of many largest jobs in teaching? Perhaps. Freeman’s lack of expertise as a head coach and total lack of expertise within the Energy 5 are clear drawbacks. However he is drawn the overwhelming assist of the gamers, is surrounded by a powerful employees and can be capable of be taught on the job with a roster that is adequate to compete for the nationwide championship. If given time to develop on the job, Freeman might find yourself the most effective rent of the cycle.

12. Joey McGuire, Texas Tech

McGuire has performed excellent work on the recruiting path since being employed halfway via the common season. With one other two full courses, Tech might have the expertise to be an actual issue within the Huge 12 race. It is a very troublesome place to win, nevertheless, and McGuire might want to depend on all his connections and expertise to make the Pink Raiders greater than only a staff able to successful seven or eight video games.

13. Tony Elliott, Virginia

Very similar to Napier, Elliott bided his time for the best alternative. That will very nicely be at Virginia, the place he takes over a really robust basis left by former coach Bronco Mendenhall. Getting quarterback Brennan Armstrong again in 2022 offers him an excellent constructing block on offense, however whether or not his first staff contends for the ACC Coastal relies on what kind of enchancment he milks out of a bottom-dwelling protection.



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14. Michael Desormeaux, Louisiana

Desormeaux is a former Louisiana quarterback who had a front-row seat throughout the Ragin’ Cajuns’ run of 40 wins in 4 years beneath Napier. The administration is on the lookout for a continuation of that very same philosophical strategy, and why not?

15. Stan Drayton, Temple

In Drayton, Temple has introduced in one of many high recruiters within the nation and a longtime assistant with hyperlinks to a number of the high packages within the FBS. That he is by no means been a coordinator is much much less necessary than Drayton’s capacity to attach with recruits and construct the type of chemistry and tradition that have been the hallmarks of the Owls’ current success beneath former coach Matt Rhule. His connections ought to assist Drayton rent a powerful employees for a first-time head coach within the Group of 5.

16. Dan Lanning, Oregon

Very similar to Freeman, Lanning was on a collision course for an elite Energy 5 job. Is that this an excessive amount of, too quickly for the 35-year-old former Georgia defensive coordinator? Once more, as with Freeman, he’ll have the possibility to be taught on the job with a roster that is adequate to win the Pac-12 and contend for the playoff from the beginning.

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17. Jerry Kill, New Mexico State

With profitable runs at Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Minnesota beneath his belt, Kill is likely one of the most achieved school coaches of the previous 30 years. NMSU represents the most important problem of his profession. The one massive query pertains to Kill’s well being; a sequence of epileptic seizures pressured him to resign because the coach at Minnesota and as an assistant at Rutgers. However from a purely teaching perspective, Kill is an excellent rent for the Aggies.

18. Sonny Cumbie, Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech dipped again into the Air Raid pool to nab Cumbie, who has spent a lot of the previous decade coordinating offenses within the Huge 12. The Bulldogs made a run beneath Sonny Dykes earlier than shifting gears beneath Skip Holtz, so Cumbie does make sense from a schematic perspective: Tech shall be a bit of totally different than the remainder of Convention USA and be a sexy touchdown spot for quarterbacks and different ability expertise.

19. Kalen DeBoer, Washington

Kalen DeBoer compiled a 12-6 record in his two seasons at Fresno State.

Kalen DeBoer compiled a 12-6 report in his two seasons at Fresno State.

The second may not be too massive for DeBoer, who did a pleasant job in his two seasons at Fresno State and beforehand received three NAIA nationwide championships at Sioux Falls. However he’ll must show he can recruit with the highest groups within the Pac-12 and shortly replace an offense in dire want of a top-to-bottom reboot. Ultimately, DeBoer’s tenure could also be outlined by how he develops quarterbacks. If that’s the case, his current work with the place at Indiana and with the Bulldogs breeds optimism.

20. Brent Pry, Virginia Tech

Pry’s expertise as a graduate assistant beneath Frank Beamer within the Nineties and his success recruiting the talent-rich area are quick positives. However he takes over a roster in want of an overhaul and a program slipping down the ladder within the ACC, so the rookie head coach might want to present he is able to fixing the issues which have plagued the Hokies for the higher a part of a decade.

21. Jake Dickert, Washington State

Dickert impressed the WSU administration sufficient because the interim coach to earn the everlasting job late within the common season. Getting consistency at head coach is a large optimistic after a number of years of controversy from Dickert’s two predecessors within the place. He ought to get credit score for making an excellent preliminary rent at offensive coordinator in former Texas Tech assistant and Incarnate Phrase head coach Eric Morris.

22. Jon Sumrall, Troy

The previous Kentucky assistant discovered about program constructing beneath Mark Stoops, who has turned the Wildcats right into a perennial contender for the Prime 25. However the Troy he takes over has slumped from the excessive level of the Neal Brown period and must be reimagined beneath a brand new identification. Sumrall should carry out this rebuild amid this system’s fairly lofty expectations: Troy believes it must be the most effective groups within the Solar Belt and even all the Group of 5 frequently.

23. Rhett Lashlee, SMU

Rhett Lashlee leaves his post as Miami's offensive coordinator to return to SMU.

Rhett Lashlee leaves his publish as Miami’s offensive coordinator to return to SMU.

Dykes leaves a program in a strong situation for his former offensive coordinator, who spent the previous two years in the identical place at Miami. Lashlee has hung out beneath high-profile coaches at a number of the largest packages within the nation however continues to be solely 38 years outdated, so there shall be a studying curve on this transition.

24. Ken Wilson, Nevada

The most important asset in Wilson’s favor are the 19 seasons he spent as a Nevada assistant earlier than spending the previous 9 years within the Pac-12. He has recruiting connections within the state and should not view Nevada as a stepping-stone place for a greater job within the Group of 5 or Energy 5. Wilson will not get to teach star quarterback Carson Sturdy, who’s off to the NFL, and it is nonetheless unclear what course he’d prefer to take the offense.

25. Mike MacIntyre, Florida Worldwide

MacIntyre has earned nationwide coach of the yr honors at San Jose State and Colorado, so do not query the general physique of labor. His accomplishment at these faculties shall be good preparation for what he takes over at FIU, which is totally devoid of the expertise wanted to make a run at bowl play after an already skinny roster noticed greater than a dozen gamers enter the switch portal. There are additionally issues about how the college will put money into this system.

26. Don Brown, Massachusetts

Brown is again for a second go along with the Minutemen, however this time with a program that’s simply within the backside 5 within the FBS. His expertise and deal with protection will assist UMass button up a number of the points that outlined the staff’s run beneath former coach Walt Bell, however this can be a large rebuild at a really troublesome place to win.

27. Mike Elko, Duke

Elko has served as a high defensive assistant beneath Dave Clawson, Brian Kelly and Jimbo Fisher, and there are worse tutors to have heading into one of the daunting positions within the Energy 5. His background ought to assist the Blue Devils’ protection climb out of the underside of the ACC. Might Duke have been higher served hiring a coach with expertise on this seat? It is onerous to argue in opposition to the significance of operating your personal program earlier than taking over this type of problem.

28. Jim Mora, Connecticut

Mora will deliver a long time of expertise, together with stints as a head coach within the NFL and at UCLA, into his first offseason with the Huskies. That is nonetheless one of the shocking hires of this or any teaching cycle given how Mora was not on the radar for any main FBS job since his firing by the Bruins.

Comply with schools reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: School soccer: Rating all 28 new head coaches



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