2013 C-USA Coaches
The Building Factor
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C-USA Coaching Rebuild Rankings
Coach You Want To Build Around - Part
Picture this. You’re a beleaguered athletic director with an opening at the top of the football organizational chart. Your checkbook is open, and your fan base is glaring at you with unwavering anticipation. Which of the
Conference USA's current head coaches would you put in charge of the program for the next
several years? Knowing that your own job hangs in the balance, to which man would you entrust your future?
Who gets to be the one you'd want to build around?
This is NOT necessarily a ranking of how good the head coaches are. This is a ranking based on who would be best to take over a program and build it up, so age is a major factor. A coach might be legendary, but he might not have another five years of greatness left. So with that in mind, who are the top candidates to run your program?
1. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Career Record: 0-0
Anything will be better than last year’s 0-12 campaign. Monken was a terrific hire for a Southern Miss program with the potential and talent to turn things back around right away with his ability to crank up the offense. The offensive coordinator during Oklahoma State’s last two monster statistical seasons, he was a good get for the program with plenty of upside. He was rumored for several bigger jobs before signing on.
Hot Seat Status: None. After the 0-12 from Ellis Johnson, Monken has at least a year to get his pieces in place.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three years. He’s too good an offensive mind and way too hot. Dana Holgorsen was able to get the West Virginia job, and at just 48 and with a history of bouncing around, he should be able to parlay a good season or two into a mid-level BCS job.
2. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Career Record: 19-8
While he’s hardly a household name, he managed to come up with two fantastic seasons finishing second in the West in 2011 and winning the Conference USA title in 2012. He has managed to keep the program’s recent momentum going, and now the excitement is truly building with the move to the Big East in a few years. A high school coach up until 2007, he has managed to get a hang of the college world in a hurry.
Hot Seat Status: None. While Tulsa has become a nice underground success story, and it’s Conference USA title or bust, Blankenship is a good coaching prospect who can hang around for a while.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in just over five years. He’s turning 57 this season, but with the move to the Big East and with the recent success, the Tulsa graduate will be able to keep the job as long as he’d like. He’s not going to take another job at this point.
3. Garrick McGee, UAB
Career Record: 3-9
Don’t let the mediocre first season at UAB fool you – McGee is a good head coaching prospect. The 40-year-old cut his teeth as an offensive coordinator at Northwestern before rising up to become Bobby Petrino’s OC at Arkansas. It was a wee big of a shocker that he didn’t get the job after Petrino’s fiasco, but the program wanted someone with more experience. UAB is hardly a cradle of coaches, but he got the offense moving in his first year with little talent to work with.
Hot Seat Status: None. He’ll get plenty of time to make the program his. A few more losing seasons won’t take the bloom off the rose as long as the offensive attack is working.
The Coaching Change Will Come … soon. All he needs is one decent season to be offered a stepping-stone job. If he has any success whatsoever, he’ll be gone. Just 40 and with his offensive skills, the future is bright.
4. Sean Kugler, UTEP
Career Record: 0-0
Easily the biggest X factor coach in the new Conference USA, Kugler worked as an NFL assistant for the last 12 seasons before finally getting his first head coaching gig. Turning 47 this football season, he’s just now growing into his coaching career, but can he handle the monumental task of turning around his alma mater? He might be an unknown, but he’s a big name among the coaches. At the moment, he’s mostly known for his sons, especially Patrick, a major-league offensive tackle prospect who’s on his way to Michigan.
Hot Seat Status: Zip. He’ll get at least four years to show what he can do.
The Coaching Change Will Come … further down the road than you might think. It will take a few years to make anything happen, and by then he’s going to want to stick around to make his school better. If he leaves it’ll be for an NFL job.
5. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Career Record: 88-71
He was a far hotter prospect a few seasons ago and was stronger in the late 1990s after moving on from UConn to become a terrific offensive coordinator. Able to parlay back-to-back Conference USA championships with East Carolina into the South Florida job, it seemed like the situation was perfect. The Bulls were full of great athletes, Holtz’s name was big enough to at least be thrown out there for the Notre Dame job, and it seemed like everything was in place. Instead, the last two seasons were a puzzling disaster, going 8-16 after an 8-5 first season.
Hot Seat Status: Medium. Louisiana Tech got good under Sonny Dykes, and now it’s finally in a better league. There’s a major rebuilding job to be done, but he can’t come in and go 4-8 right out of the box.
The Coaching Change Will Come … fast. Just 49, if he has any success in Ruston he’s going to use it to grab a high-profile spot. He won’t get South Carolina if and when Steve Spurrier is done, but he could get a USF-level job.
6. David Baliff, Rice
Career Record: 51-59
Don’t get hung up on the losing record; he has managed to make Rice solid with a 7-6 2012 season complete with a strong enough bowl performance to think that more big things are ahead. It’s Rice, so there will be some 4-8 downers here and there, but every once in a while he’ll come up with a big season like the 10-3 campaign in 2008.
Hot Seat Status: Lukewarm. Considering six of his nine career seasons were losers, he might not be 100% safe if the Owls stink it up. However, he’ll be given plenty of time even if this season doesn’t work out because …
The Coaching Change Will Come … no earlier than 2015. Rice isn’t going to want to pay off his contract. It’s a tough program to make a success, but he’s doing a decent job with it. Turning 55 this season, he’s at the in-between phase. He’s not quite good enough to pull a Todd Graham and jet, but he’s going to be just good enough once in a while to stick around.
7. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Career Record: 17-20
The offense has been a whole bunch of fun, but the team isn’t winning. Considering Holliday was a linebacker and was known for being more of a defensive coach, it’s been the high-octane offense that’s been Marshall’s calling card during his tenure. A great recruiter at other stops, he’s a tireless worker who’s good at bringing in the talent. Now he has to start doing more with it.
Hot Seat Status: It’s getting there. The players and tools are in place to start winning, but he has to come up with a big year in the win-loss column and not just the stat sheet.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three years. 56 by the start of the season, he still has plenty of coaching to do. However, with his recruiting skills and ability to crank up the offense, he might be the type who’s night-and-day stronger as an assistant.