Meet The New Coaches - New Mexico to Pitt
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
Posted Aug 2, 2012

With all the changes and all the surprises on the coaching front, do you know who all the new guys are? How good were the new hires and how will they all work out? Before jumping into the recruiting season, meet the new bosses who'll take over as Richard Cirminiello breaks down and analyzes 2012's new head coaches.

Preview 2012

Meet The New Coaches - Part 3

By Richard Cirminiello

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- 2012 New Head Coaches - Akron to Florida Atlantic
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Fresno State to Memphis 
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Rutgers to Washington State
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.

All August long, CFN and will get you ready for the season with these great features. But that's not all. Check CFN's 2012 preview page for even more coverage.
Aug. 1: Top coaches on the hot seat
Aug. 3: Meet the new coaches
Aug. 6: Teams that might surprise us
Aug. 8: Teams that might disappoint us
Aug. 10: Teams that could ruin your season
Aug. 13: Biggest unanswered questions
Aug. 15: Great programs heading nowhere
Aug. 17: Unknown programs on the rise
Aug. 20: Top Heisman Trophy candidates
Aug. 22: Best games of the regular season
Aug. 24: Toughest stadiums to play in
Aug. 27: Teams most likely to play in BCS
Aug. 29: Title game match-ups we'd love
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.

CFN prediction on how he'll do: He'll restore the respectability. The Lobos will never win a Mountain West title, but he'll get them to a bowl game again within three years.

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 last fall. Plus, his defenses were erratic, playing with a level of inconsistency that won't cut it at Carolina. Did Fedora really do enough in four years in Conference USA to warrant this promotion?

CFN prediction on how he'll do: It's going to be a rocky road. He won't get the talent Butch Davis was able to bring in, and he might not have the coaching chops to get the program to the elite level it has been hoping to become.

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.

CFN prediction on how he'll do: 2012, redshirt season. 2013, BCS game. 2014, playoff appearance. 2015, national championship.

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, the Mississippi native 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?

CFN prediction on how he'll do: While he might be a good head coach and he'll do a decent job, but he's in a division full of coaching heavyweights. There's a hard ceiling on what he'll be able to do, but he'll make Ole Miss respectable.

Penn State
Head Coach: Bill O'Brien
Replaces: Joe Paterno
Last Gig: New England Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach

Reason to like the hire: O'Brien possesses the qualities and characteristics Penn State is seeking to help guide it through this most trying period of its football history. He's a tough, focused and even-keeled man of integrity. Oh, and don't assume that his most recent stint at New England defines his coaching career; no, prior to landing in the NFL, he'd been at Duke, Maryland and Georgia Tech, institutions, like Penn State, that put a premium on academics. O'Brien's forte is offense, specifically quarterback, two areas where the Lions have long needed help. His handling of the NCAA sanctions that came down on July 24 has been remarkable so far, keeping his team together as competing schools attempt to poach talent off the roster. Despite recent events, the last time the school hired a Brown grad, it still worked out pretty well.

Reason to question the hire: Long gone are the days when it was assumed that Penn State would replace JoePa with a high-profile, accomplished head coach. Everything changed in early November, leaving the Lions to cross candidates off their wish list on a weekly basis. O'Brien is hardly a sure-thing, a first-time head coach walking into a uniquely challenging situation. Folks point to his relationship with Tom Brady, but the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback has a knack for making a lot of assistants look like geniuses. And his last two mentors, Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels, struggled when they left the nest to become head coaches.

CFN prediction on how he'll do: He'll have the job as long as he wants it – or at least for the next decade. 2015 is when he'll start to be judged, treading water for a few years before needing to come up with a whopper of a recruiting class three years from now to form a base for when there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Head Coach: Paul Chryst
Replaces: Todd Graham
Last Gig: Wisconsin offensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: Graham's unexpected departure could end up being a blessing for Pitt. Chryst has been one of the hottest assistants in America for some time, engineering a balanced, well-coached and potent offense in Madison. He's a terrific X's and O's guy who just completed an apprenticeship with one of the best run programs in the FBS. Fans in Western Pennsylvania will have no problems embracing Chryst's physical, power-based running game.

Reason to question the hire: Chryst is a blue-collar football guy from a blue-collar football family. However, he's not particularly verbose or prone to working the media, which become unavoidable duties of the profession. Ideally, he's the kind of coach who'd much rather be teaching and breaking down film than making public appearances. Those sorts of traits are ideal in a coordinator, but could be seen as aloof in a chief executive. Chryst will need to tweak his approach a little now he's the man in charge.

CFN prediction on how he'll do: He's the perfect coach at the perfect time for Pitt. However, he might be so good that he'll be destined for an NFL payday in the next few years. 

- 2012 New Head Coaches - Akron to Florida Atlantic
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Fresno State to Memphis
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Rutgers to Washington State