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Analyzing The New Coaches - Malzahn, McElwain
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis
Posted Dec 14, 2011

The expectations and predictions for each new head coach.

The Coaching Changes

The Expectations - Part 1 

E-mail Pete Fiutak
#CFBnews & #ColFootballNews

- Coaching Changes & Expectations, Part 2

No one hires a coach thinking he'll be fired or will quickly move on to bigger and better things, but outside of a very, very select, Barry Alvarez-like few, that's the fate of every new coaching hire.

Did anyone think the Rich Neuheisel era at UCLA would be such a dud? Who could've seen what a disaster the seemingly perfect marriage of Dan Hawkins and Colorado was going to be?

And Joe Paterno was fired.

But on the flip side, no one knew who Bret Bielema was before Alvarez picked his successor; few had any clue who Bob Stoops was before he made Oklahoma special again; and many USC fans went ballistic after a failed pro coach like Pete Carroll was brought aboard.

For good and mostly for bad, college football head coaches are too often the faces and spokesmen for their respective schools, so the hiring of a new head man is more than just about finding a guy who can teach others how to block and tackle; it's about making a statement.

With that in mind, here are the expectations for all 24 football programs starting 2012 with a new coach, and for those who have made their hire, the prediction for how it'll end.

But that's simple. The coach will almost certainly be fired or he'll take a better job. The 24 schools below would prefer the latter.

Out With The Old … Rob Ianello
… In With The New: JOB STILL OPEN
Expectations: The program went from bad to worse in the two years under Ianello and hasn’t had a winning season since the 2005 MAC championship campaign. It doesn’t take a huge offense to succeed in the MAC East, but the Zips need an attack that can do something for an attack that finished 118th in the nation in scoring. The new head coach doesn’t need to win the MAC title on a regular basis, but he needs to make Akron competitive again.

Out With The Old … Mike Stoops
… In With The New: Rich Rodriguez
Expectations: Under Rodriguez, Arizona needs to be in the Pac-12 South hunt on a regular basis. Considering Arizona State and UCLA are in rebuilding mode, USC is still coming off its NCAA issues, and Colorado and Utah aren’t exactly superpowers, the time is now for Arizona to turn a corner, and RichRod is the one to do it. There were problems from Day One at Michigan, but this was the season Rodriguez was building towards and Brady Hoke benefitted, taking the team to a 10-2 record and a BCS game. Rodriguez’s offense will work right away for Arizona, but he needs the defense to be night-and-day better than it was in Ann Arbor.
Prediction: It’ll be a rebirth. There was scorched earth at West Virginia and Michigan, but Rodriguez will put together the offense to give the Pac-12 South a world of problems.

Arizona State
Out With The Old … Dennis Erickson
… In With The New: JOB STILL OPEN
Expectations: After Joe Paterno was fired, Erickson – along with Nick Saban – was one of just two active head coaches with multiple national titles. ASU keeps trying to find the right fit to take the program to another level, but no one has been able to find the formula to blend all the athletic talent that flows through Tempe with the production needed to be consistently great. ASU has been looking at offensive head coaches like June Jones and Kevin Sumlin – with neither one taking the gig – but it might need a strong defensive mind to bring back the success of the 1990s under Bruce Snyder.

Arkansas State
Out With The Old … Hugh Freeze
… In With The New: Gus Malzahn
Expectations: All Freeze did was step in and take Arkansas State to its greatest football season in school history. Now, Red Wolf fans are going to be expecting 10-2 production on a regular basis. The school has been in the mix for Sun Belt titles throughout the years, and the new coach has to get it done on a consistent basis. However, anyone of substance might be a rental.
Prediction: One and done. Freeze used the ASU job as a stepping-stone for the Ole Miss gig, and while Malzahn had his shot at other jobs last year, this time around he'll make a splash with the solid Red Wolves and will be the hot head man next year.

Colorado State
Out With The Old … Steve Fairchild
… In With The New: Jim McElwain
Expectations: There’s this idea that Colorado State just needs a little bit of tweaking to get back to the years when Sonny Lubick made the program the star of the mid-majors, but Lubick couldn’t sustain the success and Fairchild couldn’t make the team as physical and tough as he wanted and was canned after his third straight three-win season. The goal is to find a head coach who can create enough of a buzz to get a bigger conference interested, and that will only come by beating up the leftovers in the Mountain West.
Prediction: It'll take a few recruiting classes. McElwain might have done a terrific job with the Bama attack, but he was also had an O loaded with NFL talent. The Rams don't have a Mark Ingram, a Julio Jones or a Trent Richardson to play around with.

Florida Atlantic
Out With The Old … Howard Schnellenberger
… In With The New: Carl Pelini
Expectations: FAU ran out of steam as Schnellenberger got to the end of his terrific run. He built the football program himself, made it a Sun Belt power for a few years, and then got lapped by the rest of the league and closed out fielding the worst team in college football. Pelini is a Pelini, and like his brother - Nebraska head coach, Bo - the intensity and fire will be there from Day One. If nothing else, the Owls are going to come out hitting right away and should quickly have one of the league’s best defenses. In the Sun Belt, it’s not hard to go from worst-to-first in a heartbeat, and Pelini will demand nothing less than an immediate improvement.
Prediction: Three years. It’ll be a rough first season, a good second year, a great third year, and then Pelini will take a next-step job up the chain.

Fresno State
Out With The Old … Pat Hill
… In With The New: JOB STILL OPEN
Expectations: Pat Hill was Fresno State football. He might not have put the program on the map – that was done by his predecessor, Jim Sweeney – but he gave it a national profile. The Bulldogs were fearless and productive, never afraid to take on any challenge in any stadium. The problem was they stopped winning those big games just as Boise State became something special and stole all the thunder. Hill’s teams were mired in mediocrity over the last few years, and bottomed out in a 4-9 campaign. The next head coach has to bring something fresh as FSU makes the move into the Mountain West, and he has to bring Hill’s swagger and confidence, but with the wins to back it up.

Out With The Old … Greg McMackin
… In With The New: JOB STILL OPEN
Expectations: It takes something a bit quirky and out-of-the-norm to lead Hawaii. It takes a head coach who’s willing to be unconventional, and it takes one who can work with no budget, poor facilities, and can embrace the positives of the situation and the players available while owning one of college football’s best home field advantages. McMackin wasn’t bad, and no one’s expecting BCS appearances on a regular basis, but Hawaii football has to be fun, the offense has to be special, and a bowl game ever year is a must.

Out With The Old … Kevin Sumlin
… In With The New: JOB STILL OPEN
Expectations: After all the success under Art Briles and then Sumlin, nothing less than a smart offensive-minded head coach will do. The expectations have been set: score lots of points, put up big numbers, and compete for conference titles on a consistent basis. With a move to the Big East coming, the new head coach has to be able to take what Briles and Sumlin started and do more. Those two succeeded against relatively light schedules, and now the competition level is being ramped up.

Out With The Old … Ron Zook
… In With The New: Tim Beckman
Expectations: Illinois football is desperate for anyone to care about Illinois football. It’s a basketball school with a mediocre basketball program, and even with the success of the football team earlier in the year, there wasn’t a ton of excitement. Beckman isn’t a wow name that’ll get the fan base fired up, but he has the energy and the fire of Ron Zook and the X’s and O’s ability to put together the type of offense the program is used to. His teams will put up numbers, but no one will get into the Illini until the winning seasons come on a regular basis. On the plus side, with Penn State in trouble, the Leaders division is suddenly easier.
Prediction: Enough success to hang around for a while. Beckman needs to show right away he can recruit the talent that Zook brought in, while doing a better job at coaching them. Illinois will be just good enough to make winning seasons the norm, but it’ll be third in the Leaders pecking order behind Ohio State and Wisconsin for the near future.

Out With The Old … Turner Gill
… In With The New: Charlie Weis
Expectations: Be interesting. Kansas got a taste of what it’s like with a good football team to go along with the basketball success, but when the Mark Mangino era went south, it went in a hurry. Turner Gill was the Bucky Dent of college football coaches – hitting one improbable home run with Buffalo when everything went right – and he couldn’t get the offense moving in two years. The hope will be for Weis to bring a decided schematic advantage to Lawrence and hope he can find the fire to prove to the world he can be a good college head football coach.
Prediction: Four years. Weis will do just enough in his first few years to give Jayhawk fans hope, and then the team will hit a hard ceiling. Weis isn’t a top-shelf recruiter, he doesn’t like to glad-hand the alumni, and he didn’t exactly do anything with all the talent at his disposal at Florida this season.

Out With The Old … Larry Porter
… In With The New: Justin Fuente
Expectations: There was a time when Memphis football wasn’t awful, but the team was among the worst in the country over the last two years under Larry Porter. The hope is for some of the TCU success to rub off with Fuente, and out-of-the-blue hire from Gary Patterson’s staff. The running game should be solid, but Fuente is as green as they come as a head coaching option.
Prediction: The offense will work. Fuente did a great job as the TCU quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator over the last few years, making Andy Dalton a star and helping Casey Pachall hit the ground running this year. It’s not going to be quick turnaround, but he’ll do better than the 3-21 record under Porter.

New Mexico
Out With The Old … Mike Locksley
… In With The New: Bob Davie
Expectations: Be solid again. New Mexico turned into a nice, consistently above-average program under Rocky Long, but he was canned because there weren’t any steps forward. After the disastrous Mike Locksley era – one of the worst coaching stints in recent college football history – Davie should reestablish some order. He should be able to make the Lobos a player in the Mountain West within two years.
Prediction: It’ll work. New Mexico isn’t going to be a superpower, but Davie, who wasn’t awful with Notre Dame, will instantly make the Lobo defense better and will get the ground game working from Day One.

- Coaching Changes & Expectations, Part 2