I can’t remember more a year with more coaching changes in college football. Several are Cheddar* favorites from last year.
History shows that Cheddar favorites often make an immediate difference at their new teams. It pays to be up on who has moved where. Hello-old-friend-from-Arky-St-and-now-at-Ole-Miss Hugh Freeze. You-were-quite-awesome-at-Houston-I-bet-you’ll-do-well-at-TAMU Kevin Sumlin. Oh you too Urbz.
Of course they’re not all homeruns. >>>
Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss was 10-3 ATS last year and the Rebels figure to be harder to get value with in Vegas this year; although I intend to try. Meanwhile Chow and Weis were both 4-8 ATS and that seems high.
Anyway, as part of my Cheddar pre-season prep, I like to take a look at this year’s coaching changes, identify the Warlocks and the Shurmurs, and make sure I know who is coaching where. This year there look to be quite a few warlocks and potential warlocks in new places.
The biggest coaching trade-ups.
1. Wisconsin. Gary Andersen from Utah State.
This here is the best coaching hire of the year and Wisconsin figures to take a big step up. You made money if you rode USU last year, 11-1-1 ATS. If you watched their games you came away impressed at how hard USU worked and their sense of team. Andersen’s teams had been doing that for years.
2. Purdue. Darrell Hazell from Kent State.
I learned a hard lesson in coaching evaluations last year when I took UBuffalo -3.5 over Kent and cited Jeff Quinn’s experience as OC for Brian Kelly as a reason. Whoo boy was that stupid on its own. When you layer on that Darrell Hazell has six years as a Jim Tressel assistant plus a couple stints at Oberlin and it all adds up to the worst essay pick of the year in a season full of bad essay picks. (Minus three.. and a half??? Cripes.) Kent wound up 11-3 ATS. I didn’t hate Danny Hope at Purdue but I didn’t love him and I can’t imagine I’d choose to play for him if I had options. Hazell on the other hand… he could be a star. Definitely keep an eye on Purdue’s early games before jumping on-board.
Honorable mention, Colorado. Mike MacIntyre from San Jose.
All I know is SJSU made me money the last two years. He took over a 2-10 team and last year they’re 11-2 ATS. I’m not sure the Buffs will see a big improvement this year though. Just too much stank on that program to wash it off in one year. But next year I’d expect Colorado to be where Arizona State is this year: on the rise.
Which segues neatly to….
Addition by subtraction: The Todd Graham Trophy
As well as Sumlin and Freeze turned out for TAMU and Ole Miss, they weren’t replacing zombies. Contrast that to Todd Graham who inherited a Dennis Erickson team that had quit the year before and now has Arizona State (8-4-1 ATS) playing sparkly ball. Here’s this year’s list of train wrecks being cleared. These teams figure to show the most improvement year-over-year.
1. Arkansas: Bret Bielema replaces John L. Smith.
Smith (3-9 ATS) was probably the worst coach of top team last year. Not entirely Arkansas’ fault given the Bobby Petrino’s abrupt departure.
2. BC: Steve Addazio replaces Frank Spaziani.
Spaziani’s teams were pretty infuriating (3-6-3 ATS) looking great one week and dead the next. Addazio will be fun to watch as he moves up the CFB food chain. He could actually be a coach to make Boston take notice of college football. (Can’t stand BC.) (Can’t believe daughter starts there in a week.)
3. NC State. Dave Doeren replaces Tom O’Brien.
Don’t know where O’Brien lost his way but his teams were turnover disaster machines, last year in particular. (This game in particular. And yes this cost me money.) Good riddance to O’Brien; things can only get better with Doeren’s 23-4 record (9-5 ATS last year).
Honorable mention, Cal: Sonny Dykes for Jeff Tedford.
Cal (3-9 ATS) had the look of a team who’d quit on their coach by the end of last season. I saw them almost beat OSU in Columbus early in the year and for the rest of the year I wondered where that team went.
You’re going the wrong direction.
We’ve seen how Kansas and Hawaii fared by throwing big contracts at old coaches on the decline.
1. Cincy: Tommy Tuberville replaces Butch Jones.
This is a bona fide “what the hell are you doing” hire. Coaches need the respect of their players and assistants. They need to recruit. Congrats Cincy, you’re paying $2.2M/yr to a 58 year old coach who brings none of these things to your program. (The better hire: Todd Berry from ULM.)
2. WKU: Bobby Petrino replaces Willie Taggart.
The problem here is the first year. Petrino and Taggart could not be more different. Taggart ran a buttoned-down offense and defense and ground down his opponents and fostered a great esprit-de-corps. Petrino’s Arkansas teams were flashy and talented and undisciplined. I just don’t think that wins in the Sun Belt. There’s already ULL and MTSU .. wait scratch that MTSU is now in C-USA. Maybe there is room for Petrino. But it won’t flip in one year.
Maybe doesn’t belong on list, Nevada. Chris Ault retires, Brian Polian steps in.
I don’t know a lot about Brian Polian but tend to be suspicious of hiring a famous name. But he’s paid his dues, did work under Sumlin and Harbaugh, is a John Carroll alumnus, these are good things. But when you’re losing Chris Ault, you’re –by definition– going the wrong direction. (On the other hand, Nevada was 4-8-1 ATS last year, very possibly Polian will move them in the right direction. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Wolfpack’s first couple games.)
When you’re replacing a legend, you’re going backward by definition, Oregon. Mark Helfrich takes over for Chip Kelly.
Helfrich was Kelly’s OC since 2009. The Ducks retain their innovative DC, Nick Aliotti. They’re stacked with talent. Stack, stack, stacked. They should be ok. But you can’t not take a step back when you lose the most creative offensive mind of the last twenty years.
Best non-moves and a general roll call of coaches we like.
As long as I’m doing this, here’s a list of coaches who killed ATS last year. This is more a personal catalogue of coaches I’ll be happy to ride with on Saturdays this year.
Will leave eventually: Tim DeRuyter, Fresno; Pete Lembo, Ball State; Dave Clawson, Bowling Green; Al Golden, Miami; Dabo Swinney, Clemson.
Staying put probably forever: Bill Blankenship, Tulsa; Bill Snyder, KState; Art Briles, Baylor; Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; June Jones, SMU.
Don’t know what he’ll do but is a really good coach: Bill O’Brien, Penn State.
Can’t stand watching his team but dang he has a good record: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech.
* An update for the 2013 Cheddar Bay Reality Football Pickstravaganza with registration info is imminent.