Ranking First Year Coaches Around the Country

10. Les Miles – Kansas

Miles is back after a few years off from coaching. He has the task of rebuilding a Kansas team that hasn’t had more than three wins this decade. While Miles has a career record of 142-55, there isn’t much hope.

Miles went 28-21 at Oklahoma State before moving on to LSU. His career at LSU started as an impressive one but eventually fizzled out. His lack to develop quarterbacks will also likely be a major problem. During his time with LSU, Miles signed 18 quarterbacks. Only three finished their career as a quarterback at LSU.

Miles doesn’t have to do much to be the best Kansas football coach this decade. But expecting a massive turn around is just unlikely at best. He should make things fun as they go 5-7 for a few years.

9. Chris Klieman – Kansas State

Klieman has proven himself at the FCS level by winning multiple championships at North Dakota State. The reason for a lower ranking really comes down to him being an unknown at the FBS level.

Other than experience, he checks the boxes. Multiple championships, a great defense, now it is just a whole new challenge. Replace a legend and convince people to come to Kansas State to make them relevant again.

It won’t be easy but he could be one of the better hires five years from now. Unfortunately everything outside of Bill Snider in the last 30 years (really four year) hasn’t been great.

8. Mack Brown – UNC

Brown falls under a similar category to Les Miles. A coach who has had success but was eventually run out of a storied program and has quarterback issues.

Brown has had an immediate impact for the Tar Heels and currently holds the 10th ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports. But that isn’t what is an issue for Mack Brown.

Brown is notorious for screwing up quarterbacks. He either passed or wanted to make a handful of elite college quarterbacks move to defensive back. Missing on Jameis Winston, RG3, Johnny Manziel, Drew Brees, Matt Stafford and Andrew Luck is not a great look.

With a lack of finding a quarterback, it could make an college program struggle. He should be just fine in Chapel Hill and could even compete for an ACC title. The ACC Coastal Champion went 7-6 last season. He has some rebuilding to do but a strong first class should jump start it for UNC.


7. Mel Tucker – Colorado

Tucker comes from the Nick Saban and Kirby Smart coaching tree. He has coached at some of the most prominent programs in college football and spent time in the NFL.

His only head coaching experience came as an interm for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. But coming from Saban, Jim Tressel and Kirby Smart has to help. He also gets to coach in the PAC-12 which has been slumping for the past few seasons.

To take even more pressure off, he takes over for Mike MacIntyre who only had one winning season during his tenure. Tucker has the background and the conference to make Colorado return to formidable quickly.

6. Dana Holgorsen – Houston

Holgorsen has been a well known name in college football and made a surprising jump this offseason. He left a Power 5 team to join Houston. Some (not me) will call the AAC a Power 6 conference and Houston has had an impressive run as of late.

Tom Herman built Houston into a contender before he left to take over Texas. Now Hologorson is trying to build off of what Herman started. He is a Mike Leach disciple and is known for making offenses go.

He had built up an impressive West Virginia offense in his last few seasons but could never really capitalize. Even with a loaded roster in 2018, the Mountaineers finished 8-4.

Now he is headed to a school that says eight win seasons are not enough. Luckily you play in the AAC and no the Big 12 because Dana only averaged 7.6 wins a season at West Virginia. With a weaker conference and talent rich Texas, Holgorson should be firmly planted at the top of the AAC.

5. Geoff Collins – Georgia Tech

The ACC is due for some unknowns in 2019, Geoff Collins and Georgia Tech are big players in that unknown. Collins is another coach on the list replacing a legend in Paul Johnson. He also has to take a roster built for the triple option and bring them into the 21st Century.

While a change of that magnitude will take time, Collins is doing a solid job finding his players. He currently has the 12th ranked recruiting class in 2020. He also has the benefit of coaching in a hotbed of talent.

Collins had success at Temple and was an impressive DC in the SEC. During his time at Florida, his defense was top 15 in scoring both seasons. He also ranked near the top in the SEC while coaching the defense at Mississippi State.

Collins is a talented defensive mind and can help restart the ideology of a program. But he also has to transition out of a triple option team and compete with the SEC in recruiting every year.

4. Scott Satterfield – Louisville

Satterfield has a mess to clean up at Louisville. Louisville has been a ticking time bomb but it was masked by Lamar Jackson. Once Jackson moved on, everything become exposed.

The good thing for Louisville is Satterfield is the right guy for the job. He took Appalachian State into the FBS level and found early success. His first season at the FBS level he went 7-5. Every year after ended with at least nine wins.

He now has to play in a tougher conference and has very little talent to do it in year one. While the cupboard wasn’t left totally bare, the previous staff didn’t do him to many favors.

Satterfield may not find it in year one with a difficult schedule. But he will have Louisville respectable quickly.

3. Neal Brown – West Virginia

If you ask just about anyone around the country, Neal Brown was a great hire. Some have said he could one day be a replacement to Nick Saban or head down to the SEC.

Brown comes from the school of Mike Leach. After just one losing season at Troy, he followed that up with three seasons of 10+ wins and 3-0 in bowl games.

Brown is in a similar situation as Satterfield with the roster he took over. The Mountaineers have talent on their roster but he isn’t walking in to a team that is loaded. With most of the 2018 talent gone, Brown has his work cut out for him in year one. He also replaces Dana Holgorsen who left to go to Houston.

Neal Brown has high expectations but he has done everything right to show people he can get it done. He also sits a spot higher than Satterfield because he has a more talented roster and an easier schedule. A winning season seems more attainable at this point in the offseason.

2. Manny Diaz – Miami

Diaz is bringing the swagger back to Miami. He was the defensive coordinator before taking over for Mark Richt. While running the defense, Miami brought out the Turnover Chain and had one of the best overall defenses in the country.

Now Diaz is running the program and has one of the best recruiting classes in 2020. Bringing in talent, being able to make serious noise in the ACC and starting one of the coolest traditions in football will make any recruit want to go there.

Miami had a disappointing 2018 but I expect that to change for the upcoming season. Some are unsure about Diaz and the Hurricanes. But the state of Florida is up for grabs right now. Florida is talented and on their way back but Florida State is a dumpster fire. If Miami can beat out the Gators, the Hurricanes will be dangerous.

1. Ryan Day – Ohio State

Taking over for one of the greats is never easy. As I said earlier, you don’t want to follow a legend. But Day has been impressive already.

If landing transfer QB Justin Fields wasn’t enough, Day also just landed the number one receiver in the 2020 class. He now has two players in the top 10 overall and 5 players in the top 100.

Day has already proven himself as a great recruiter. He also got a taste as the interim HC during the Urban Meyer suspension. The biggest question will be how Day can handle the team through an entire season. But even the floor for Ohio State is higher than most teams on this list. Outside of a catastrophic collapse, Ohio State is in good hands.

Ryan Day has done everything except the games at this point. But if he keeps bringing in this type of talent, it won’t be long.

2 thoughts on “Ranking First Year Coaches Around the Country

  1. How can you say that West Virginia has an easier schedule than Louisville? Seriously. Are you an idiot?

    1. Louisville has to play four teams that finished the season ranked and two playoff teams from 2018. WVU has to play one playoff team and two teams ranked in 2018. The toughest out of conference game for WVU is Missouri. They went 8-5 last season and lost their star QB. I didn’t say WVU had an easy schedule, just not as difficult as Louisville.

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