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Meet The New Coaches - Rutgers to Wazzu
Washington State head coach Mike Leach
Washington State head coach Mike Leach
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 4

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 - New Mexico to Pitt
Head Coach: Kyle Flood
Replaces: Greg Schiano
Last Gig: Rutgers assistant head coach and offensive line coach
Reason to like the hire: After getting blindsided by Schiano’s January decision to go to the pros, the Scarlet Knights did its best job of maintaining a sense of continuity on the staff. Flood has been at Rutgers for the past seven seasons, playing a key role on the program’s six bowl teams. He’s one of the Big East’s top recruiter, proving it by preserving a terrific 2012 class after Schiano bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just a week before Signing Day.

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: The only time Flood has ever held the title of head coach, it was almost two decades ago … at St. Francis (NY) Prep. He has largely spent his career coaching offensive lines at places like C.W. Post, Hofstra, Delaware and Rutgers, so this promotion qualifies as a major leap up the org chart. Of even greater concern for Scarlet Knights fans is that his O-lines in Piscataway have not been very good, too often struggling badly to protect to the pocket. Flood has a tough act to follow, and a thin resume with which to combat the challenge.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: As long as he can recruit, he’ll do fine. Schiano was great at making Rutgers relevant, but he needed a new challenge; the program got a little stale. Flood will win a Big East title soon.

Southern Miss
Head Coach: Ellis Johnson
Replaces: Larry Fedora
Last Gig: South Carolina defensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: Southern Miss has inked one of the country’s best defensive coaches, an ideal fix at a school that’s lacked consistency on that side of the ball. Johnson has a long and distinguished career, mostly in the South, of leading defenses, such as Clemson, Alabama and Mississippi State before flourishing on Steve Spurrier’s staff the last four seasons. He knows the local terrain extremely well, even spending two years in Hattiesburg in the late 1980’s, which will provide a much-needed edge in recruiting.

Reason to question the hire: Terrific coordinator, yes. But is everyone convinced Johnson is head coaching timber? He’s now 60 years old, which means Southern Miss has gotten much older on the sidelines, and in four years leading Gardner-Webb and The Citadel, he failed to produce a winning season. Although he’ll continue to run the spread that Fedora birthed in Hattiesburg, Johnson was accused in the past of being too conservative, and for putting the brakes on his team’s offensive attack.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: He’ll do wonderful. He’s a smart, tough defensive coach who’s a perfect fit for the USM program.

Texas A&M
Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin
Replaces: Mike Sherman
Last Gig: Houston head coach

Reason to like the hire: At the age of 47, Sumlin is creative, successful and in the prime of his coaching career. He took the baton from Art Briles in 2008, and elevated the Houston program, darn near leading the Cougars to an improbable BCS bowl bid this past year. He obviously knows the state of Texas intimately well, and has been adept at becoming a well-liked disciplinarian in the eyes of his players.

Reason to question the hire: As well as Sumlin did at Houston, he never won a Conference USA title. And now his new employer is relocating to a new league, the Southeastern Conference, with a whole new collection of opponents and challenges. The cynic will point out that the Cougars won a ton of games with record-setting Case Keenum in the saddle, but slumped to 5-7 in 2010, when the quarterback was injured. To survive in the SEC, you better have a stout D, which hasn’t been a Sumlin trademark.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: His tenure will be like a big budget movie with lots of special effects and a plot that goes nowhere. He’ll be able to come up with a big win here and there, and the team won’t exactly fall off the map, but it’ll be a fight because of the spot in the SEC West.

Head Coach: Matt Campbell
Replaces: Tim Beckman
Last Gig: Toledo offensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: The Rockets promoted from within, a wise move bearing in mind that their recent success was built on the shoulders of Campbell’s offense. A young and energetic student of the game, he relates well to the current players on the roster as well as those considering spending the next four years at Toledo. He’s also one of the MAC’s best recruiters, aided by a great feel for every corner of the Ohio map.

Reason to question the hire: Campbell isn’t just green—at 32, he’s now the youngest head coach in the FBS. Bright future? No doubt. However, the present will include a steep learning curve and a mess of responsibilities that never reach the coordinator’s office. While Campbell’s offense will continue to be dynamite, he’ll have to figure out a way to retool the D in order to cop a conference title.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: He’ll keep the momentum going and will be a hot name in two years. His career path is going to follow Tim Beckman’s and will be off to a BCS team soon.

Head Coach: Curtis Johnson
Replaces: Bob Toledo
Last Gig: New Orleans Saints wide receivers coach

Reason to like the hire: The Green Wave would have been hard-pressed to find a candidate with better ties to the Big Easy than Johnson. He’s not only a native of New Orleans, but has also been on Sean Payton’s Saints staff since 2006. While LSU has nothing to worry about, the new staff will have a much better chance of luring local talent to Tulane than recent head coaches Bob Toledo and Chris Scelfo. Despite coming via the NFL, Johnson has held numerous college jobs.

Reason to question the hire: Johnson has skipped a few steps en route to his first head coaching job. Sure, he’s dynamite at handling wide receivers, but he’s never even held a coordinator’s title. Having been surrounded by first-rate talent since 1996, with the Saints and the Miami Hurricanes, Johnson could suffer through a bout of culture shock after digesting the Tulane roster. He has also been away from the college ranks for a while, yet another tough adjustment to manage.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: While his offenses will be entertaining, he’s not going to get the defensive production needed to make a big splash.

Head Coach: Garrick McGee
Replaces: Neil Callaway
Last Gig: Arkansas offensive coordinator

Reason to like the hire: Successful stints coordinating the Northwestern and Arkansas offenses since 2006 have McGee climbing the coaching ladder, and landing his first head job long before his 40th birthday. More than just a quality coach, he’s a leader and a mentor to his players. McGee has shown a penchant for teaching his kids in such a way that they want to go the extra mile for him.

Reason to question the hire: Like any first-time head coach in his 30’s, there’s a legitimate concern about his ability to handle the challenges associated with the job. Not only have his responsibilities exploded practically overnight, but he’s in the unenviable position of trying to breathe life into one of the lowest of the FBS programs. Callaway, too, was a coveted SEC assistant not long ago, but wound up leaving Birmingham as his coaching career circled the drain.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: UAB is a tough program to turn around. He’ll be gone if he has even a little bit of success, but it’s going to take away least two years to come up with the one big season he’ll need.

Head Coach: Jim L. Mora
Replaces: Rick Neuheisel
Last Gig: NFL Network analyst

Reason to like the hire: In dire need of a new direction, the Bruins sure did orchestrate one with this hire, their first since 1949 with no ties to UCLA. Mora brings a fresh outlook and renewed energy to Westwood, where malaise and reduced expectations have hit the campus. The longtime veteran of the NFL will not be infected by the program’s culture of losing, or become unnerved by butting heads with crosstown rival USC. Mora is a pro, the kind of new sheriff who’ll look to transform UCLA right down to its core.

Reason to question the hire: Who’s about to undergo more of a culture shock, Mora or his new employer? The coach has no relevant experience at the college level. None. That’ll guarantee a steep learning curve with recruiting, the region, NCAA guidelines, the Pac-12 and more. Not only has Mora been in a studio the last two years, but his production was on a steady decline in the NFL. After starting fast in Atlanta, he missed the playoffs the next two years and was fired. In his only season as the Seattle Seahawks head coach, he went 5-11, and was ironically replaced by former USC coach Pete Carroll. You never know how these things might work out, but this will begin as a very strange hire for a school that has to get it right.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: He’s not going to make UCLA into another USC, but he’s going to close the gap and turn the program around.

Washington State
Head Coach: Mike Leach
Replaces: Paul Wulff
Last Gig: CBS Sports Network analyst

Reason to like the hire: Wazzu needed to make a splash. Leach is Shamu. Say whatever you want about the coach, but he does two things extremely well—win football games and ratchet up interest in a program. Both of those characteristics are very appealing to an athletic director. Leach’s offenses at Texas Tech were perennially among the highest scoring during a decade-long tenure marked by 10 bowl games and five Top 25 finishes. Leach is a free spirit and a quote machine, the kind of character that’ll put the Cougars back on the national radar before too long.

Reason to question the hire: Leach’s eccentric personality can get him and his program in hot water at times. Witness his controversial departure from Lubbock, which ended with allegations of player mistreatment and a wrongful termination lawsuit. As successful as the swashbuckler was with the Red Raiders, he was never able to get them over the hump. Often challenged defensively, Tech won 10 games just one time, and was never able to break through and capture the Big 12 South.

CFN prediction on how he’ll do: Get your popcorn ready. He’ll do for Washington State what he did for Texas Tech and make the program relevant again.

- 2012 New Head Coaches - Akron to Florida Atlantic
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Fresno State to Memphis
- 2012 New Head Coaches - New Mexico to Pitt