Rating The New College Football Coaches In The PAC-12 and Mountain West – Is It Even Possible?

Did you know that nearly one-in-five teams in the FBS changed coaches in the past year? Several had three coaches in one season and Colorado had three in less than two months.

We published a preview of all 130 coaches two months ago and you can see that preview here.  

Today, my goal is to take a closer look at only those coaches who are new in the PAC-12 and Mountain West conferences this season.

Of course, it’s relatively easy to predict things when teams hire guys who have head coaching experience at the FBS level.  But, what about those who don’t?  And what about teams like Colorado that settled on Karl Dorrell who hasn’t head coached anything for nearly a half-decade?

How do you rate them?  Is it even possible?

Actually, it is. There are scores of clues and methods that can build a reliable resume’ for coaches who seem to have none.  We can talk about that methodology at a later time.  For now, let’s project the success expectations for each new coach the PAC-12 and we’ll throw in those from the Mountain West since those include former PAC-12 personalities.

Colorado, Karl Dorrell—   success projection: very good but a tough situation

Karl has 30 years as an offensive coach at both the college and professional levels.  He was the head coach at UCLA for five years and produced a 35-27 record and was PAC-12 coach of the year in 2005.  If Colorado is patient, Dorrell will return the Buffs to competitiveness.

Colorado State,  Steve Addazio  —   success projection: solid but not spectacular

Former head coach at Temple and Boston College with a 57-55 record.  Addizio will bring the Rams up in 2020 but he doesn’t rate as a long-term counterweight to CSU’s massive facility expenditures.

Fresno State:   Kalen DeBoer — success projection: less than average

Kalen has a head coaching record of 67-3 but all of that was at the NAIA level.  He has three years of FBS experience, none as head coach.  Credit must be given for winning three NAIA national championships but history tells us that moving up just one division seldom translates into success that is much above average.  DeBoer is moving up two divisions.

Hawai’i,   Todd Graham — success projection: excellent

Although Todd hasn’t been an FBS head coach for a few years, he is an excellent fit at Hawai’i.  Savvy Index projects that Graham will elevate the Hawai’i program, put plenty of points on the board, get the Rainbows to bowl games, and probably leave for a mainland program within three years.  There was no coach on the market that Hawai’i could have hired who would fit better and do more than Todd Graham.

New Mexico, Danny Gonzalez  —   success projection: poor

Danny has a long history of success as a defensive coordinator but none with elites and none as a head coach.  New Mexico is as short on talent as Gonzalez is on resume’.   He was forced out at Arizona State and the cupboards are bare in New Mexico.

San Diego State,   Brady Hoke  —  success projection: outstanding

Brady has been around the block and back again and it’s made him a better coach than when he was here before. Recruiting is on the up-trend and he has a new stadium coming very soon.  Things look bright for the futures of Hoke and SDSU.

UNLV,   Marcus Arroyo  —  success projection: very poor

Marcus has no elite training and his recent stint as offensive coordinator at Oregon ended amid speculation that he was forced out.  UNLV has struggled to win five games in any season and only won four last year.  There is nothing here to suggest that this is going to work.

Washington,  Jimmy Lake — success projection: better than average

Lake has spent most of the past 20 years as a defensive backs coach in college and NFL programs before becoming defensive coordinator at Washington in 2018.  Although it seems most analysts believe he is a great hire for Washington, our system projects him as only a little better than average.  Lake will return energy to a program that was losing momentum.

Washington State,  Nick Rolovich — success projection: solid

Nick didn’t need much time to turn Hawai’i around and he will do well in The Palouse.  But, the PAC-12 North is getting stronger so he will have his hands full.  He’s resourceful enough to lift this program but not enough to go Duck hunting anytime soon.If you’re looking for more sports, please visit our friends at Savvygameline.

About Bobby Albrant 72 Articles
Bobby Albrant is a former journalism major at the University of Oregon, creator of Savvygameline.com 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 bobbywildcat@gmail.com.

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