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Analyzing the New Head Coaches ... 2013
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
Posted Jan 11, 2013

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 2013's new head coaches.

The New Head Coaches

Introducing The Class of 2013

By Richard Cirminiello

The New Head Coaches For ...
- 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

- 2013 New Head Coaches - Arkansas to Idaho
- 2013 New Head Coaches - Kent State to South Florida
- 2012 New Head Coaches - Southern Miss to Wisconsin

The coaching carousel has spun at warp speed since Idaho’s Robb Akey was fired on Oct. 21, ushering in new eras on more than two dozen campuses across the country. Out with the old and in with the new once again, as nearly half of the country’s FBS programs have had a changing of the guard since the fall of 2011.

Significant change is in the air in every corner of the map. From Kent State to Kentucky, and from BC to Tennessee, new staffs are feverishly beginning to put their own stamp on programs, while attempting to maintain the integrity of recruiting classes. As always, there have been surprises delivered by Bret Bielema and Tommy Tuberville, to go along with the high-profile return to the sidelines of Bobby Petrino at Western Kentucky. More than anything else, though, youth has been served like never before, with the hiring of a smattering of 30-somethings being asked to breathe fresh energy into programs.

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.


Out With the Old … John L. Smith
In With the New … Bret Bielema
He Got the Job Because … he was wildly successful at Wisconsin, using a formula for success that’s been time-tested in the SEC. His Badgers were 68-24 over the last seven years, and are prepping for their third straight Rose Bowl, thanks to a power running game, outstanding line play and a gritty, well-coached D. With far more resources at his disposal in Fayetteville, the Arkansas brass believes that the country has yet to see the full potential of Bielema as a head coach.
His Top Priority Will Be To … learn the terrain. The biggest knock on the hiring of Bielema is that he’s a Big Ten guy, playing for Iowa and evolving over the last decade in Madison. He’ll have to get up to speed quickly on the unique challenges of being an SEC head coach. In the early going, Bielema has targeted assistant coaches who have a reputation for recruiting in the south, a wise move for the newcomer in town.

Arkansas State

Out With the Old … Gus Malzahn
In With the New … Bryan Harsin
He Got the Job Because … among athletic directors, he’s considered one of the top young offensive assistants in America. Though just 35, Harsin has already been a coordinator with Boise State for Chris Petersen and Texas for Mack Brown. He has a tremendous future ahead on the sidelines, and the Red Wolves wanted him to begin realizing it in Jonesboro.
His Top Priority Will Be To … provide a message of stability and continuity to his frustrated players. Harsin will be the Red Wolves’ fourth head coach in the last four years. Hugh Freeze and Malzahn said all the right things as well when they arrived, but used Arkansas State as a one-year launching pad to the SEC. It’ll be up to Harsin and his assistants to dispatch a message to recruits and underclassmen that they’ll be around for at least the 2014 season.


Out With the Old … Gene Chizik
In With the New … Gus Malzahn
He Got the Job Because … he’s won wherever he’s been, including a national championship when he was the Tigers’ offensive coordinator in 2010. Obviously, Malzahn knows what it takes to survive in the SEC, and knows the pressure that comes with being in the same state as Alabama. He has a sharp offensive mind and a successful season as a head coach on the resume, which wasn’t the case when he left the Plains for Arkansas State a year ago.
His Top Priority Will Be To … make inroads with the offense. The Tigers have been necrotic ever since Cam Newton left the program following the 2010 season. Auburn was 104th nationally in offense in 2011, and 115th in the country this past year. The new staff will spend a chunk of the offseason trying to sort out a dire quarterback situation that produced eight touchdown passes and 15 picks last fall.

Boston College

Out With the Old … Frank Spaziani
In With the New … Steve Addazio
He Got the Job Because … new AD Brad Bates was seeking a proven winner who could bring a jolt of passion and energy to a sagging program. And Addazio fit the job requirement. After dealing with the stoicism of Franz Spaziani and Tom O’Brien for well over a decade, the new coach is being counted on to energize the base, while generating more interest in the Eagles program. Addazio is also a Northeast guy, who Bates believes will excel in recruiting the region now that he’s left behind the mediocrity of Temple.
His Top Priority Will Be To … reboot the short-term memories of the Eagles he inherits. Boston College is fresh off its worst two-year stint in more than two decades. The players are demoralized and the fans are frustrated. It’ll be up to Addazio and his newly-minted staff of assistants to restore the confidence of those players who’ve grown too accustomed to being the ACC’s piñata.


Out With the Old … Jeff Tedford
In With the New … Sonny Dykes
He Got the Job Because … the Bears needed to make a splash, both to narrow the growing divide with rival Stanford and to improve attendance. Dykes not only had success at Louisiana Tech, where a nine-win season is a once-every-generation thing, but his Air Raid attack was instrumental in the Bulldogs averaging over 50 points per game. If the pass-happy offense works at Cal, West Coast skill players might flock to Strawberry Canyon.
His Top Priority Will Be To … install his offense as quickly as possible. As the Air Raid goes, so goes a Dykes production. If he’s unable to get the nuances of his system and the playbook in place during the spring and summer, Cal will once again lag behind the rest of the Pac-12 in 2013. Dykes would like to form a connection right away with QB Zach Kline, the prized who redshirted last season.


Out With the Old … Butch Jones
In With the New … Tommy Tuberville
He Got the Job Because … he represents the most established head coach ever hired by the football program. The Bearcats typically land candidates on the upswing of their careers. However, Tuberville is well-established, with 17 years of head coaching experience at Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas Tech. He’s won a lot of games in the SEC, and just finished a stint in the Big 12, so the Big East will offer nothing the coach hasn’t seen a million times already.
His Top Priority Will Be To … spruce up his image. Tuberville’s exit from Lubbock was something out of Bobby Petrino’s playbook, bolting on recruits mid-dinner just prior to taking this job. The coach has been justifiably slammed for his actions, which could bleed into the recruiting cycle. Having spent his entire career in the south and southwest, he’ll need a crash course in recruiting the state of Ohio.


Out With the Old … Jon Embree
In With the New … Mike MacIntyre
He Got the Job Because … if he can transform San Jose State into a winner, no challenge is too big for this guy. MacIntyre was highly-regarded before the start of the 2012 season, but he entered a new realm of respect after guiding the Spartans to their best year since 1940. Colorado brings daunting challenges, both fiscally and competitively, but the new coach was hardly spoiled rotten in recent two-year stints at Duke and San Jose State.
His Top Priority Will Be To … gradually improve the climate in Boulder. The talent on the Spartans’ roster didn’t change when MacIntyre took the job in 2011. But the mindset of the kids did. And the wins followed. While Colorado is not void of talent, its psyche and confidence have been shattered by seven straight losing seasons. It’ll be a long process, but MacIntyre must get inside his new players’ heads before even evaluating their physical ability.

Florida International

Out With the Old … Mario Cristobal
In With the New … Ron Turner
He Got the Job Because … he possessed a level of experience that the administration was seeking at this time. The Golden Panthers were looking for someone who’d not only been a head coach before, but also one who’d put a staff together multiple times. Turner has done and seen it all since becoming a coach 35 years ago, leading Illinois from 1997-2004, and spending the last eight seasons in the NFL.
His Top Priority Will Be To … hit the ground running. Florida International was painfully slow at making this decision following the surprising firing of Cristobal. Turner must familiarize himself with a roster experiencing heavy turnover, and sharpen his recruiting chops in order to make a late save to salvage the leg work started by the previous staff.


Out With the Old … Robb Akey
In With the New … Paul Petrino
He Got the Job Because … the Vandals need a high-powered, high-scoring offense in order to become competitive again. The administration feels as if Petrino is just the coach to manufacture an attack that ups the tempo, pressures the opposition and improves attendance. He did a three-year stint with Idaho two decades ago, and has a proven track record as an offensive innovator, most recently at Arkansas.
His Top Priority Will Be To … create a product on the field that makes the Vandals attractive to the Mountain West, Sun Belt or Conference USA. Idaho needs a home now that the WAC is dissolving, and will play next season as an Independent. It’s a tall order for Petrino and his new staff, but they’ll be asked to make a school that’s had one winning season since 2000 more marketable to other leagues.