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Independent Coaching Analysis, Rebuild Factor
Posted Apr 9, 2013

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2013 Indys Coaches

The Building Factor

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1. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Career Record: 199-68-2
Forget about what happened in the BCS championship fiasco against Alabama; the guy turned around Notre Dame and got it to the national championship. Now it’s all about maintaining the success and building on it, and while he might not be quite the superstar as other coaches like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have become, that’s changing. After a dominant era at Grand Valley State, complete with two D-II national championships, he turned a woeful Central Michigan program into a MAC powerhouse before dominating at Cincinnati going 34-6 in his brief time. In 22 years of coaching he has had one losing season – the inaugural campaign at Central Michigan going 4-7 in 2004.
Hot Seat Status: Always hot – it’s Notre Dame. That halo can become a noose with one bad year, and now that the fan base has tasted what life is like back in the national championship mix, it’s not going to want to g back to mediocrity.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within the next two years. Where do you go after Notre Dame? The NFL. Turning 52, there’s only one other step possible for a coach like Kelly to take, and it’s not going to be another college job.

2. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Career Record: 74-29
An elite talent who has done a fantastic job with the Cougars, he worked his way up as a defensive coordinator at his alma mater, Oregon State, to go along with stints at New Mexico and BYU before taking over in 2005. With seven straight winning seasons after starting out with a 6-6 campaign, he has put together some phenomenal defenses and the success keeps on coming. After winning ten or more games in four straight seasons, he has dipped under the nine-win mark in two of the last three years, but he’s still cranking out great teams.
Hot Seat Status: Always mild. There’s always pressure on the BYU head coach, but he’s been so good and has earned so much goodwill that he can afford a bad year or two.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within the next four years. He hasn’t been in the mix for several openings, but at 47 he’s at the point in his career when he should be ready to make another move. BYU is big, but he’s good enough to be in line for the mega-gigs.

3. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
Career Record: 38-10
Growing into a red hot prospect, Wilder stepped in and won right away as an FCS independent before finishing tenth in the nation in 2011 and third last season. He has ODU rocking at just the right time with a move to Conference USA coming next season and the best offense in the FCS about to start throwing at will in one year as an independent. The former Maine quarterback and offensive coordinator is going to become very big, very fast.
Hot Seat Status: None. ODU is lucky to still have him. It won’t for long.
The Coaching Change Will Come … very, very soon. The record is about to take a hit in the move up to the FCS, but he’s still destined to go to a mid-level program thanks to his explosive offense.

4. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Career Record: 40-26
A 5-7 2011 season aside, he has done a terrific job of keeping the momentum going after Paul Johnson turned Navy into a consistent winner. By going to five bowl games in six years, and with regular wins over Army, Niumatalolo has done exactly what Navy head coaches are supposed to do. He has the right attitude and vision to keep everything working, and he’s expected to be around for a long while. Johnson was terrific, and Niumatalolo has been every bit as good.
Hot Seat Status: None. While a few losses to Army and a few bad seasons would change that, Navy is lucky to have him.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. If Johnson does more at Georgia Tech and the option starts to do a bit more at the higher level, Niumatalolo will be a hotter prospect. The Hawaii native and former quarterback for the Warriors might be a fit if Norm Chow’s era continues to have problems.

5. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
Career Record: 29-53
The former Kent State head man and Kentucky quarterback is coming back to New Mexico State, where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in 2011. It’s a rough job as the program had to deal with life without a conference for this year and is trying to keep things going after a rough stretch from DeWayne Walker. While he struggled with the Golden Flashes with no winning seasons and just one 6-6 campaign in his seven years, he was able to keep them from going into the tank with two straight 5-7 seasons before getting canned.
Hot Seat Status: None. He’ll get a long, long time to try making something out of the Aggies before they head off to the Sun Belt.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. Walker got four years, Martin will get more. This is going to be a long process.

6. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Career Record: 0-0
Can Bobby’s brother be anywhere near as good? The former Illinois and Arkansas offensive coordinator knows how to get an offense moving, and he’s going to have some major work to do with an Idaho program that can’t seem to do anything right on a regular basis, especially defensively. This is his first head coaching job, and while it could be a stepping-stone if he has any success, he’ll get a while to try taking away some of the luster off of Boise State.
Hot Seat Status: A little bit. Rob Akey got six years to try to make something happen at a program that had excellent success over the years under Dennis Erickson and John L. Smith. Petrino needs to win, but he’ll get a few years.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three years. It’s not going to take more than just a little bit of success before he does what most good Idaho coaches do and move on. 46 this season, he’s not exactly a spring chicken – he has to start moving when he gets the opportunity.

7. Rich Ellerson, Army
Career Record: 77-72
It isn’t quite working out. After dong wonders at Cal Poly and doing a great job as the Arizona defensive coordinator, he hasn’t been able to turn Army into the new Navy. After winning three Great West titles in five years, he took over the Black Knights and in two years got to a bowl game with a win. But he followed it up by going 5-19 over the last two seasons. The offense hasn’t been consistent and the defense hasn’t shown up like it’s needed to.
Hot Seat Status: Warming. 17-31 isn’t exactly what everyone had in mind, and while he’s a great coach with a nice track record, not beating Navy and the current slide has been a problem.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three years. At 60, he needs to make this work and he has to make Army more of a factor, but it’s been tough. It’s going to take a bit of a surprise to come up with a good year to get the needle pointing up.