College Football – Previewing The FBS Hottest And Coldest Coaches, Four From The PAC-12

Now that all of our FBS football teams have coaches, we can take a look at each team’s situation, at least as it pertains to the coaches, and do some projections of how teams will do in the 2020 season.

That is, if there is a 2020 season.

Since we’re all in this Corona-mania thing, can I ask a question?  Who on earth gave this virus that name? I mean, is it beer? A cigar?  If it’s beer, then why choose some bland, pale lager like Corona? I mean really.  Don’t they have Dos Equis in China? Think about it. If you load the people up with Dos Equis, you won’t even have to tell them to self-quarantine.

Nonetheless, we move on.

We are using the same preseason system as always but this season, we’ve elected to merge thousands of cells of data into four elements and convert results into a projection of how many wins each team can expect if assessed just on its coaching situation against a traditional schedule.

Even more, we want to be able to predict the first full week of games in September and do it as well as we have in the past.  Last year, our prediction Index accurately predicted 74 winners in the 83 games of Week 1. (After the first game, the regular season program takes over.)

Today we are dealing only with the coaching module and our goal statement is this:

As much as it is dependent solely on the coach, how successful will each team be in the coming season?  

Later, we’ll plug this coaches-only data into assessments for other factors {quarterbacks, returning effective producers, assistant coaches, etc.) and we’ll produce a comprehensive win expectation for each team.

To keep things simple, we’re only going to look at four primary elements.  

Factor #1.  Program Situation

A coach might be good enough to win 12 games, but a big part of whether or not he will do that depends on the situation he is in.  Les Miles at Kansas is a good example. The Program Situation moderates each coach’s ability with the program he is in.

Factor #2.  Program Trend:

At what rate has each team been trending upward or downward in recent seasons?

Factor 3:  Recruiting Trend:

While we won’t post all of the statistics for each team’s recruiting, it is important to know if there is a measurable trend in recruiting performance.

Factor 4:  Coaches here less than two years

Our statistical summaries reveal that a new coach won’t show his value until just past the midway point of his second year—usually.  Until their third year at the same school, our system (Savvy Index) handles them as “new” coaches and uses a separate survey to project how successful they will be in their current situations.

It may seem like any team that has had the same head coach for a few years shouldn’t have to be rated each preseason. However, head coaches change assistant coaches and that affects the over all perception and rating of head coaches.

We have the complete list of 130 coaches at the bottom of this feature, but for now, let’s just look at which coaches are hot and which ones are cold and the reasons why they are listed as such.


 1.  Mario Cristobal, Oregon

Cristobal has won more games and recruited better every year over the season before.  He’s solved accountability issues, hired an elite staff and has just added Joe Moorehead as offensive coordinator, a move that will produce pure magic.

2.  Kyle Whittingham, Utah

I wasn’t expecting Whittingham to among the hotties but he’s increased wins and recruiting stats for three straight years.  He has steadily built Utah into a PAC-12 South champion and national contender.

3.  Dan Mullen, Florida

The Gators won four games before Mullen arrived. They’ve averaged 10.5 since.  Recruiting has spiked upward and Florida has become a popular destination for transfer players.

4. Brady Hoke, San Diego State

Hoke benefits somewhat from having had prior success at SDSU.

5.  Bronc Mendenhall, Virginia

Watch out for the Cavaliers because Mendenhall is a superior coach who has built perennial bowl teams everywhere he’s been.

6.  Herm Edwards, Arizona State

Not sure I am convinced that Edwards is “hot” but I have to admit, all four of his elements are solidly positive.

7.  Todd Graham, Hawai’i

Surprising to see Graham here, but yes, he does measure out as one of the best new hires in the FBS.  It’s been awhile since he coached FBS but his resume’ and style are ideal here.

8.  Dave Aranda, Baylor

This is Aranda’s first head coaching job and he is ready. A great hire who has an impressive background with elite teams.  He’s taking over a fast-rising program that is stocked with talent so this is a no-brainer. I personally think Aranda deserves a higher ranking.

9.  Hugh Freeze, Liberty

All four elements that we are assessing are positive and if he can win games while coaching from his hospital bed, then yeah, he deserves to be called a “hot” coach.

10.  Mack Brown, North Carolina 

Brown raised UNC wins by 250% and recruiting by 112%.  Still, there’s a sense that some of those wins were more good fortune than good coaching.  Can’t really buy into the Mack mystique unless he does it again in 2020.

11.   Will Healy, Charlotte

Is Healy really this good and is it too early the value his performance so far?  We expected Will to survive through 2019 but instead, he brought the house down. He increased wins by three and recruiting trends are all positive.

12.   Greg Schiano, Rutgers

I’ve had doubts about some of Schiano’s antics, but one thing is clear:  he is a great football coach and he has elite training. On his own, he is one of the top new hires in America, but … well … this is Rutgers.


1.  Josh Heupel, UCF

When Heupel took the UCF job, our metrics projected that he lacked the resume’ to perpetuate the Knights’ tradition as the top Mid-Major team in America.  Wins have decreased each year since his arrival at UCF and performance trends on our Index during 2018 and 2019 were net-negative for the first time in UCF’s past six seasons.

2.   Tom Herman, Texas

Herman isn’t on this “cold” list because of one bad season.  The Longhorns have routinely under-performed game expectations and, as we said at the time Herman was hired, he lacks the elite resume’ that supports his ability to elevate a Power Five, storied program. 

3.  Jason Candle, Toledo

Two years ago, Candle was celebrated as one of the hottest coaches in the nation.  Every year since 2017, wins have been less. Last season ended with the Rockets losing four of their last six and missing a bowl game for the first time in Candle’s tenure.

4.  Butch Davis, Florida International

Butch has been the darling of FIU fans and media but  all of his coaching metrics have been declining since he took over in 2017.  The program is in slow decay and it’s only a matter of time before FIU’ers figure it out.

5.  Matt Campbell, Iowa State

I’ve been a Campbell fan since he built Toledo into a M-M power.  But, the bloom is off the rose in Ames, Iowa and Campbell really should have accepted one of those other offers.  

6.  David Shaw, Stanford

In December, we covered the decline of Stanford and the reasons why the Tree has become the target for relief of all of their animal rivals in the PAC-12 North.  To read more, click here.  Fifteen players from Stransford entered the transfer portal in the off-season.

To see projections for all 130 FBS teams, please visit us here.

About Bobby Albrant 108 Articles
Bobby Albrant is a former journalism major at the University of Oregon, creator of for college football predictions and rankings, former analyst for Southern Mississippi football games, and twenty years coaching girls basketball for all ages through CIF high school. He has three grown children with his youngest daughter playing on the Ventura (Ca) High School basketball team that defeated Dom Lugo High School and was the last high school game ever played by Diana Taurasi. He can be reached at