Analyzing the New Coaches - Hawaii-Ole Miss
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 21, 2012


Meet the new bosses. Learn about all the new coaching hires - Hawaii to Ole Miss

The New Head Coaches

The Class of 2012 - Part 2


By Richard Cirminiello

- 2011 New Head Coaches
- 2010 New Head Coaches
- 2009 New Head Coaches
- 2007 New Head Coaches
- 2006 New Head Coaches
- 2005 New Head Coaches

- 2012 New Head Coaches - Akron to Fresno State
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Hawaii to Ole Miss
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Penn State to Washington State
 
The coaching carousel has spun at warp speed since November, ushering in new eras on more than two dozen campuses across the country. Out with the old and in with the new. Significant change is in the air in every corner of the map. From UCLA to UAB, and Ohio State to Washington State, new staffs are feverishly beginning to put their own stamp on programs, while attempting to maintain the integrity of recruiting classes. There have been a handful of surprises to go along with a bunch high-profile returns to FBS sidelines, such as Urban Meyer, Mike Leach, Terry Bowden, Bob Davie and Charlie Weis. Welcome back to the boiler room, gentlemen.

Each and every new hire arrives with cause for celebration ... and concern. It’ll be years before it’s known which athletic directors flourished during this cycle of new hires and which flopped, meaning all of this season’s tenderfoots begin their careers on relatively equal ground. C Hawaii
Head Coach: Norm Chow
Replaces: Greg McMackin
Last Gig: Utah offensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: Not only is the Honolulu native returning home, but he has also finally landed that coveted first head coaching job later in life. He’s Ralph Friedgen with a lei. As an assistant, Chow has long been recognized as one of the top teachers of offensive personnel, especially quarterbacks. When the Warriors have flourished, it’s always been supported by the passing game, a trend the new staff will continue. On so many levels, this is a perfect marriage of coach and University.

Reason to question the hire: Chow, now 65, was passed over for openings for years. Did those other schools know something that Hawaii doesn’t? The last time the coach was truly at the top of his game, he was leading a stacked USC squad seven years ago. Since that stint as a member of Pete Carroll’s staff, Chow has had three mediocre stops as the offensive coordinator of UCLA, Utah and the Tennessee Titans.

Houston
Head Coach: Tony Levine
Replaces: Kevin Sumlin
Last Gig: Houston inside receivers coach/special teams coordinator

Reason to like the hire: The Cougars have maintained a sense of continuity by promoting from within. Those who have played for or worked alongside Levine have long labeled him a rising star within the profession. He’s a respected leader inside the program, yet is also very well-liked by his players. The last time Houston stayed within the family, replacing Art Briles with the then little-known Sumlin, the move worked out quite well.

Reason to question the hire: Obviously, a lack of experience will be the biggest hurdle for Levine, 39, to clear. Forget head coaching familiarity. The former wide receiver at Minnesota has never even been a coordinator. Maintaining the renaissance built by Briles and Sumlin will come with all kinds of new challenges, from hiring assistants and attracting new talent to dealing with loftier expectations and the countless rigors of being a young executive.

Illinois
Head Coach: Tim Beckman
Replaces: Ron Zook
Last Gig: Toledo head coach

Reason to like the hire: After a series of successful shifts as a coordinator, Beckman proved he can handle top billing by leading a turnaround at Toledo. His Rockets offenses were exciting and prolific, promising news for an Illini team pining for an infusion of new ideas on that side of the ball. In three years in the MAC, he proved to be one of the league’s premier recruiters, showing an affinity for landing wins throughout the Midwest. Illinois needs a guy who can occasionally beat out the likes of Urban Meyer, Brady Hoke and Bret Bielema.

Reason to question the hire: If Illinois was looking to make a splash with this personnel move, it missed the mark. While Beckman is a stable and steady hire, he wasn’t even the program’s first choice to supplant Zook. He’s a defensive coach by trade, but his Rockets teams were fundamentally challenged, and had all kinds of problems slowing down opponents. If Beckman attempts to live solely off the proceeds of his skill players, he’ll have a very short stay in the Big Ten.

Kansas
Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Replaces: Turner Gill
Last Gig: Florida offensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: Within a few days of being hired in December, Weis had attracted a pair of disgruntled former blue-chip quarterbacks, Notre Dame’s Dayne Crist and BYU’s Jake Heaps, to Lawrence. The guy can recruit, and he’s rarely had problems orchestrating high-powered offensive attacks. He also owns three Super Bowl rings from his days as the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, a level of experience and success that can only help a wayward program, such as Kansas.

Reason to question the hire: In five years at Notre Dame, Weis was just 35-27, failing to back up his bluster with results on the field. His defenses were always a problem in South Bend, which should be cause for concern for any team residing in the pass-happy Big 12. He’s bounced around the last two years with Florida and the Kansas City Chiefs, and his abrasive, in-your-face approach will be even harder to digest if he can’t turn the Jayhawks around.

Massachusetts
Head Coach: Charley Molnar
Replaces: Kevin Morris
Last Gig: Notre Dame offensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: Like Kansas, soon-to-be MAC member Massachusetts has handed the reins to a former Notre Dame offensive coordinator. Molnar not only brings boundless energy to the Minutemen, but also a 28-year resume that includes stint with four different Mid-American Conference programs. Having studied under Brian Kelly for the past seven years, he has the blueprint for a fast-paced offense that could generate more interest in the program around Amherst.

Reason to question the hire: When making the daunting leap from the FCS to the FBS, it’s ideal to have an experienced head coach leading the way. Molnar isn’t that guy. Residing on Kelly’s staff is a double-edged sword. Yeah, he learned from one of the game’s brighter offensive minds, but he also got buffered and sheltered from a mess of chief executive challenges that are going to be on his desk beginning in 2012.

Memphis
Head Coach: Justin Fuente
Replaces: Larry Porter
Last Gig: TCU co-offensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: To those who’ve toiled alongside him, Fuente is considered one of the rising young stars of the coaching ranks. He operates with limitless energy, which resonates on the practice field and the recruiting trail. A former quarterback, who was instrumental in the development of current Cincinnati Bengal Andy Dalton, he’ll bring fresh ideas, an inventive approach and a winning attitude to Memphis from Fort Worth.

Reason to question the hire: A young, off-the-radar assistant from a highly successful program—didn’t the Tigers just finish going down this road with Porter? Yes, Fuente is extremely mature and advanced for his age, but he’s only 35, and will be asked to learn on the fly at a flailing program that’s won just five games over the last three years. After being surrounded by so much prosperity since joining TCU in 2007, he’ll need to show he can build from the bottom up without any past experience.

New Mexico
Head Coach: Bob Davie
Replaces: Mike Locksley
Last Gig: ESPN analyst

Reason to like the hire: In terms of discipline, relevant experience and defensive know-how, the upgrade from Locksley to Davie could not be more immediate or stark. The Lobos were a rudderless ship the past few years, but that’s about to change. Davie has the no-nonsense demeanor to gradually begin putting the pieces back together in Albuquerque, and the national identity to help improve the talent level on the staff and on the depth chart. New Mexico married up here.

Reason to question the hire: What’s more concerning, that Davie’s only head coaching job ended in failure at Notre Dame, or that it occurred a decade ago? The coach has been away from the sidelines for a long time, analyzing the game from a far more sterile and pressure-free environment. He has plenty to prove at a program that couldn’t be more different than his previous two schools, Notre Dame and Texas A&M. If he was unfamiliar with the JUCO ranks in California and Texas before, that’s going to change out of necessity.

North Carolina
Head Coach: Larry Fedora
Replaces: Everett Withers
Last Gig: Southern Miss head coach

Reason to like the hire: At a minimum, Fedora is going to bring to Chapel Hill the most high-powered offensive attack that it’s ever seen. Whether it was at Oklahoma State as a coordinator or Southern Miss as the head coach, his offenses have always been balanced, inventive and potent. He’s coming off his best season in Hattiesburg, guiding the Golden Eagles to a Conference USA title and their most victories in almost a quarter-century.

Reason to question the hire: Fedora’s tenure at Southern Miss was largely mediocre, marked by five and six-loss seasons prior to 2011. His teams had a knack for perennially getting caught off guard at least once by weaker opponents, losing to UAB and Marshall this past fall. Plus, his defenses were erratic, playing with a level of inconsistency that won’t cut it at Carolina. Did Fedora do enough in four years in Conference USA to warrant this promotion?

Ohio State
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Replaces: Luke Fickell
Last Gig: ESPN analyst

Reason to like the hire: What’s not to like? Only a program of Ohio State’s heft could actually upgrade from Jim Tressel. Meyer is in the pantheon of modern-day head coaches, having won two national championships before his 50th birthday. His Ohio roots run very deep, and his six-year stint in Gainesville will only open up new pathways for the Buckeyes to attract young talent from talent-rich Florida. Meyer always does a great job of assembling a top-notch staff, and his stoic, razor-focused demeanor will be a plus as the program begins to emerge from its scandal-ridden period.

Reason to question the hire: It was just a little over a year ago that a burned-out Meyer retired from Florida, citing a need for more balance in his life. Is he really a changed man who can manage the myriad rigors of piloting a behemoth, such as Ohio State? The Buckeyes don’t want the guy who was becoming unhinged toward the end of his tenure, leaving successor Will Muschamp with a flawed and vulnerable team. Considering his Type A personality, Meyer might be in Columbus much shorter than most fans would like.

Ole Miss
Head Coach: Hugh Freeze
Replaces: Houston Nutt
Last Gig: Arkansas State head coach

Reason to like the hire: Freeze doesn’t waste much time getting a job completed. Two years ago, his second at NAIA Lambuth, he guided the Eagles to a 12-1 record. In 2010, he debuted at Arkansas State with a Sun Belt championship and a 10-2 mark, a watershed season in Jonesboro. Now, Freeze is unlikely to transform the Rebels that quickly, but he’s building a strong reputation, and was successful guiding quality athletes to Ole Miss, when he was Ed Orgeron’s recruiting coordinator in 2006 and 2007.

Reason to question the hire: NAIA. Sun Belt. SEC? Obviously, this will be a major step up in weight class for Freeze, who takes over a struggling program that’s been under .500 in six of the last eight years. He doesn’t have a ton of experience in general, let alone trying to elevate a school that resides in one of the toughest divisions in the history of college football. A wiz with offenses, can he turn the Rebels into a respectable D?