Coaching Carousel 2018-19
Coaching Carousel 2018-19

With the coaching carousel in full swing, I felt it'd be helpful to have a central place to keep track of the changes sweeping the college football landscape. This space will be updated with each new hire, and I will add in my analysis accordingly. Aside from having one convenient spot to find the latest coaching news, I wanted to give a review of the hire and add in a fantasy angle in terms of what each new coach may or may not be bringing to the table. I also take a brief inventory of what each coach is working with at his new program.

North Carolina

Who's Out?

Larry Fedora, who was finally shown the door after his second-consecutive nine-loss season.

Who's In?

Mack Brown

What does he bring to the table?

Brown's resume speaks for itself. He turned around a shiftless UNC program in the 1990s with five straight bowl bids before heading to Texas, where he won a national title in the 2005 season. Brown also took the Longhorns to the national championship in 2009, which they lost to Nick Saban's Alabama.

His final four years at Texas (30-21 with one ranked season) coupled with his long absence from the coaching circuit has bred immediate skepticism. College football, especially on the offensive side of things, has evolved at an unbelievable rate since the end of the 2013 season and it'll be an uphill battle for Brown to catch up.

Brown is in a position to help himself, though. He doesn't necessarily need to be a 2019 offensive mastermind to succeed. If Brown can nail his coordinator hires, he can focus more on the recruiting trail. That should be doable; North Carolina is an attractive job in and of itself that sits in fertile recruiting territory, and Brown is respected enough to bring in a sharp mind. If things go according to plan, North Carolina should be able to bring in top-five recruiting classes in the ACC by 2020.

Roster Status: Surprisingly Stocked

Fedora brought in the 29th and 20th-rated recruiting classes in 2017 and 2018, respectively (5th and 4th in the ACC) according to 247 Sports. As with any school undergoing a regime change, it'll be tough to salvage this year's class and get it out of the ACC's basement, but North Carolina has arguably the highest ceiling of any program in the state. Getting out from under Fedora is a good start, and even though Brown is not a long-term answer for the program, he's a big name with a strong track record that could attract some strong in-state talent.

Fantasy Spin

This is incomplete until we know who Brown brings in as his offensive coordinator. There is enough talent on the roster to where a good OC can make this a strong offense in 2019 and beyond.

Bowling Green

Who's Out?

Mike Jinks, who was fired in October after going 7-24 over the course of nearly three full seasons.

Who's In?

Scot Loeffler

What does he bring to the table?

Loeffler is taking over after three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Boston College. His previous stops include stints at Virginia Tech, Auburn, and Temple, where he held those same titles. Loeffler's offenses at Boston College ranked 101st and 95th in offensive S&P+ over the last two years, and that's while having a top-tier running back in AJ Dillon. With that, this hire strikes me as a bit of a head-scratcher. Bowling Green obviously went after a coach with an offensive background, but why hire one who has gotten such mediocre results in that regard?

Roster Status: Moderately Stocked

This year's recruiting class is a disaster at present but the Falcons brought in top-three classes in the MAC in 2017 and 2018, so if the roster attrition isn't brutal this offseason, Loeffler will be inheriting a decent squad.

Fantasy Spin

Loeffler's background as a quarterback and quarterbacks coach was largely obscured by his offenses at Boston College, where the Eagles had a passing play percentage at 40 percent-or-less over the last three years. Bowling Green had the 112th-ranked rushing attack in S&P+ in 2018 to go with the 86th-ranked passing attack. There are some promising pieces awaiting Loeffler in quarterback Jarret Doege and running back Andrew Clair, but the Falcons are also taking a big loss with the departure of receiver Scott Miller. I'll be skeptical of this offense until I see significant evidence to change my mind.

Western Kentucky

Who's Out?

Mike Sanford, who led Western Kentucky to a 9-16 record over two seasons.

Who's In?

Tyson Helton

What does he bring to the table?

Helton has a history at Western Kentucky as the offensive coordinator under Jeff Brohm in 2014 and 2015. The Hilltoppers ranked 9th in offensive S&P+ in 2014 and and 5th in 2015. He has since had stops at USC and Tennessee as a passing game coordinator and as an offensive coordinator.

Roster Status: Bare Cupboard

The 'Tops rank right around 6th in Conference-USA over the last three years (incl. 2019) as far as recruiting goes, so they're right around the middle of the pack among their peers. Western Kentucky is still a ways from being one of the top Group of Five teams like it was just a few years ago. Helton's program familiarity and offensive acumen make this a solid hire on its surface, and if he's able to strike gold with his next quarterback the way he was able to with Brandon Doughty, he'll have the 'Tops back in C-USA contention.

Fantasy Spin

As noted above, Helton has it in him to get a lot out of his offenses at this level. Frankly, it can't get much worse than what the Hilltoppers did on offense this past season when they ranked 118th in offensive S&P+. Look for the passing game to once again be the focal point; Western Kentucky went to the air 57.3 percent of the time in 2014 and 55.2 percent of the time in 2015 while averaging 77.3 and 73.8 plays per game.

Kansas

Who's out?

David Beaty

Who's in?

Les Miles

What does he bring to the table?

Like Brown, Miles is a well-known figure in the college ranks with a championship to his credit. Also like Brown, there are questions as to whether Miles has had the game pass him by. Still, for a program as invisible as Kansas is at the Power 5 level, this is a great hire for the Jayhawks.

Miles is a proven recruiter with three top-10 classes in each of his last three years at LSU. Of course, LSU's built-in recruiting advantages make it unfair to expect anything close to that level of success at Kansas.

Roster Status: Surprisingly Stocked

Kansas' current recruiting class is basically non-existent with just one hard commit, but the ball has to start rolling soon, right? The Jayhawks brought in respectable recruiting classes (71st and 61st in 2017 and 2018, respectively) and this past year's freshmen, namely Pooka Williams, showed plenty of promise. With Miles on board and that recent track record of freshmen playing, Kansas has a chance to cobble together a reasonable recruiting class by the time February's National Signing Day arrives.

Fantasy Spin

Continuing the Mack Brown comparisons, we really don't know until Miles makes his coordinator hires. Miles' track record of being unable to bring an imaginative offensive coordinator is concerning, so a major passing game turnaround shouldn't be expected in the early part of this regime. Look for Miles to lean on his stars, namely Pooka, to create Kansas' offensive identity in 2019.

Texas State

Who's Out?

Everett Withers

Who's In?

Jake Spavital

What does he bring to the table?

Spavital is one of the more intriguing hires from this cycle. It's honestly surprising he didn't aim higher but hey, it's a boon for those Texas State Bobcats. Spavital, 33, comes over from West Virginia, where he held that role for two years and orchestrated the Mountaineer offense to 22nd and 9th in scoring in 2017 and 2018. Prior to his West Virginia stint, he was the offensive coordinator at California in 2016, when the Bears were 22nd in scoring. Perhaps his most famous stint was as Texas A&M's OC during one of the Manziel years.

Roster Status: Bare

As you may have guessed, Texas State isn't a recruiting powerhouse and hasn't been since moving up to the FBS level in 2011. It'll be an uphill battle for Spavital in that regard, but this is a conference where a quick turnaround is possible if he gets his offense installed and clicking in short order. If he can hang onto Texas State's current recruiting class that ranks third in the conference, it'll be a win for the the start of his tenure.

Fantasy Spin

There's plenty of upside here. Spavital is a young and innovative offensive mind that runs a system that may not require blue chip talent to succeed. The turnaround may not be instantaneous, but Texas State could end up producing some fantasy-relevant talent beginning next season.

Texas Tech

Who's Out?

Kliff Kingsbury

Who's In?

Matt Wells

What does he bring to the table?

Wells comes over from Utah State after an extremely successful campaign in which his Aggies averaged 46.4 points per game (3rd) and were ranked 13th in the Coaches Poll at point. Prior to that, Wells had led Utah State to four bowls in five years and notched three seasons with nine-or-more wins during his tenure. Now, Wells is a step outside the norm from what we've come to expect at Texas Tech. He's no Mike Leach and he's no Kliff Kingsbury; he doesn't have an Air Raid background and he doesn't have much in the way of a Texas background. Texas ties are important at a school like this, but Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt went so far as to say Wells "is putting together a staff that has tremendous Texas ties. He understands Texas, how important Texas HS football is, how important it is to have men on this staff that know Texas HS football." To draw a parallel, Matt Rhule raised similar concerns from the Baylor faithful when he was hired away from Temple, but he built a staff that helped bring in a pair of quality recruiting classes to go with a bowl berth in 2018. Back to Wells, he will be bringing his top assistants with him to Lubbock, with offensive coordinator David Yost and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, so the aforementioned coaches with Texas roots will slot in elsewhere on the staff.

Roster Status: Stocked

The raw recruiting rankings of Texas Tech's most recent class won't bowl you over with the Red Raiders pulling in the 72nd-rated haul of 2018, but several of those players have already outperformed their recruiting rankings and look to be building blocks. Freshman quarterback Alan Bowman was a revelation when healthy, completing 69.4 percent of his passes with a 8.1 YPA to go with 17 touchdowns and seven picks in just eight games. Ta'Zhwan Henry was another impact freshman who led the team in rushing. If receiver Antoine Wesley returns after a huge junior season, the Texas Tech offense will have the pieces to succeed even if the scheme looks a little different.

Fantasy Spin

The offense will certainly have to adjust to the personnel that's on hand, and there figures to be concessions that cut both ways. The Yost offense was lethally effective at Utah State and actually yielded a higher S&P+ (21st) than Texas Tech's 2018 offense. However, it did so while employing the 39th-highest passing play rate (49.9 percent) while Texas Tech went to the air 57.63 percent of the time (5th). The 2018 numbers also show a significant tempo disparity between Utah State's system and Texas Tech's. The Red Raiders were fourth in plays per game (82.8) while the Aggies were middle of the pack at 72.1. All of this is to say that Texas Tech's offense will look different from the pure Air Raid years, but it won't necessarily be worse. Wells and Co. ground out 22 rushing touchdowns and 1,736 yards from two undersized backs in Darwin Thompson and Gerald Bright in 2018, which could bode well for Henry and other Texas Tech running backs next season. Wells will also get an upgrade at quarterback with Bowman, so don't expect a major downgrade in terms of the Red Raider passing game.

Ohio State

Who's Out?

Urban Meyer

Who's In?

Ryan Day

What does he bring to the table?

First and foremost, Day brings continuity and an already established command of the locker room thanks to his experience with the program that was highlighted by a three-game stint as acting head coach early in 2018. Day joined the Ohio State staff in 2017 after spending time with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. His offenses in that time have ranked sixth and eighth in the nation in points per game, respectively. His ability to transform and actually improve the Buckeye offense with pocket passer Dwayne Haskins after Ohio State had leaned on dual-threat quarterbacks for years is impressive to say the least. Looking back further, Day played under Chip Kelly during his college days and was his quarterbacks coach in San Francisco. Whether being from the Chip Kelly coaching tree means anything in 2018 is up for debate, but Day has shown over the last two years that he's more than ready to take on a job of this magnitude.

Roster Status: Title Contender

Thanks in large part to Urban Meyer, Ohio State has turned into a recruiting juggernaut on the same level as an Alabama. The Buckeyes have pulled in top-three classes in each of the last two years and is working on another top-10 class in this cycle.

Fantasy Spin

It's hard to envision a drop-off from the Buckeyes considering Day's established track record within the program. The roster is stacked and it's clear that Day is worth betting on as someone who will keep the offense and the team as a whole humming. A Dwayne Haskins return in 2019 would keep this passing game elite, but if it's Tate Martell taking over, Ohio State could have one of the most dominant run games in the nation. Either way, Ohio State will be a team with more than a few fantasy options in 2019.
Massachusetts

Who's Out?

Mark Whipple

Who's In?

Walt Bell

What does he bring to the table?

Bell, 34, is another promising and offensive-minded hire that should be a boon for the Minutemen. He comes to UMass after a one-year stint as Florida State's offensive coordinator under Willie Taggart, that was preceded by OC stints at Maryland and Arkansas State. The Florida State offense was a disaster for the most part, checking in with the 108th-ranked S&P+ rating. Most of that can be chalked up to inherited issues such as an offensive line that was among the worst in recent memory for any FBS program. Bell's teams at Arkansas State and Maryland give much more reason for optimism. Maryland had the 29th-ranked rushing attack in 2017 by S&P+ despite teams being able to key on the run with Maryland having to use its fourth-string quarterback. At Arkansas State, Bell notched the 38th-rated offense in 2014. Bell is also well-regarded as a recruiter, with the likes of former UMass great Adam Breneman chiming in with his seal of approval on the hire. Massachusetts isn't a recruiting hotbed and UMass' lack of national visibility will make this his toughest recruiting task since his days at Arkansas State. Still, there's plenty of reason to believe an innovative and young head coach will be able to win some recruiting battles that the Minutemen haven't in the past.

Roster Status: Worrisome

As mentioned earlier, Massachusetts generally has to fight an uphill battle on the trail, having fallen outside the top 100 classes in 2017 and 2018 with the likelihood of that streak being extended in 2019. Bell will be tasked with replacing two of the program's best players with Andy Isabella and Marquis Young both exhausting their eligibilities. He will also have to make do at quarterback with both Andrew Ford and Ross Comis gone for 2019. Adapting his scheme to the players on hand will be pivotal to the early part of Bell's tenure at UMass.

Fantasy Spin

Bell runs a power-spread offense with the quarterback going out of the shotgun. His offenses at Arkansas State went to the run over 55 percent of the time in each of his two years, and the Terrapins ran it 57.53 percent of the time in 2016 and 54.7 percent of the time in 2017. Florida State ran it just 44.5 percent of the time in 2018, but part of that can be attributed to the 'Noles talent at receiver coupled with their inability to generate push up front in the run game to sustain a competent rushing attack. As for tempo, Bell adapts to what he has around him. At Arkansas State the Red Wolves pushed the pace and averaged 77.1 plays per game in 2015 while neither of his Maryland offenses cracked 71 plays per game. With that, it's tough to predict how much Massachusetts' tempo will change from its 71.9 plays-per-game mark from 2018. UMass' core offensive players should start to emerge as spring practice and fall camp unfold, and there will be reason to be bullish on those players given what Bell will be putting in place on offense.

Louisville

Who's Out?

Bobby Petrino

Who's In?

Scott Satterfield

What does he bring to the table?

Satterfield has been regarded as one of the Group of Five's best coaches for years thanks to the extremely impressive work he did at Appalachian State. He won at least 10 games in three of his last four seasons and helped Appalachian State make the transition from FCS program to Sun Belt powerhouse. A quarterback in his playing days, Satterfield is an offensive-minded coach that helped the Mountaineers rank in the top-three in the Sun Belt in scoring in all five seasons at the FBS level.

Roster Status: In Flux

We saw what the post-Lamar Jackson era looked like this season and it...wasn't good. The awful 2018 season coupled with the coaching uncertainty has led to Louisville 2019 recruiting class plummeting outside the top-100. Before things went off the rails, Louisville pulled in top-35 classes in 2017 and 2018, so there is some talent in-house.

There are significant questions at several key spots, however, and quarterback is chief among them. Whether it's getting Jawon Pass or Malik Cunningham on track or finding the next quarterback that fits what Satterfield wants out of the position, getting this move right is a crucial first step.

Fantasy Spin

Satterfield's offenses at Appalachian State were slow-paced but ruthlessly efficient. It could take some time for Louisville to reach the level of those Appalachian State offenses, but it's a system that has a proven track record of success.

The question: how does it translate to the ACC where Louisville can't bully its conference opponents the way Appalachian State could?

One recurring element from Satterfield's Appalachian State offenses was a great running game. The Mountaineers cranked out a 1,000-yard rusher each year since joining the FBS. While there's no guarantee Louisville will seamlessly become a clone of Satterfield's offenses in Boone, there has to at least be some optimism that Louisville will have a fantasy-relevant running back in 2019.
Maryland

Who's Out?

Matt Canada, who was the interim coach while D.J. Durkin was away from the team before ultimately being fired.

Who's In?

Mike Locksley

What does he bring to the table?
Locksley brings program familiarity along with an impressive resume. The Washington, D.C. native turned around his coaching career during his three-year stint at Alabama that was highlighted by his work as the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator in 2018. Locksley's offense ranked second in the nation in scoring at 47.9 points per game. Prior to his time in Tuscaloosa, Locksley had an unsuccessful stint at New Mexico in which he went 2-26, but that was seven years ago now. Locksley then took the offensive coordinator job at Maryland and had a hand in recruiting some of the state's top talent.

Roster Status: Middling The Terrapins had started to get some momentum on the recruiting trail in recent years with top-five recruiting classes among Big Ten teams in 2017 and 2018. However, the Jordan McNair tragedy and its fallout has put the program in a precarious position.

Locksley, while not a household name, is a coach with program familiarity that makes him the right coach to start the program's healing process.
Fantasy Spin Locksley won't be working with the talent base that he had at Alabama, so his coaching mettle will be tested. Still, there is a handful of intriguing players to help Locksley's offense get into gear. Upcoming redshirt sophomore Anthony McFarland exploded onto the scene down the stretch and will be among the best returning running backs in the Big Ten. Rising sophomores Jeshaun Jones and Dontay Demus both showed flashes of promise as 2018 freshmen as well.

A major factor will be how Locksley handles the quarterback situation. Rising junior Kasim Hill is recovering from his second torn ACL and may still be recovering when the 2019 season starts Tyrrell Pigrome was decent during his starting stint to end the year but doesn't appear to be the long-term answer, either.

Look for Locksley to emphasize the run game. His offense at Alabama ran the ball 56.5 percent of the time in 2018 and without a Tua Tagovailoa-level talent at quarterback, look for Maryland's run percentage to creep up near 60 percent.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John McKechnie
John is the 2016 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since early 2014.
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