Would you hire them again? Grading the 2017 Power 5 coaching carousel
Thirteen Power 5 programs hired head coaches in 2016. Just 6 remain.
The coaching carousel slowed a bit in 2017. Just 9 Power 5 programs changed hands. There were some clear misses, but in 4 years, this coaching class also delivered 1 national championship, 3 Heisman Trophy winners and repeated Playoff berths.
Who was the best hire? The worst hire? Let’s take a look.
The best hire
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
All Riley has done is coach 2 Heisman Trophy award winners, another Heisman finalist and lead the Sooners to the Playoff 3 times in his 4 seasons.
With a revamped defense, there’s zero reason to think the Sooners Express is about to slow down anytime soon, either.
The next-best hires
Tom Allen, Indiana
The list of “firsts” and “first-time since …” accomplishments is long after a breakthrough 2020 season in which Allen had the Hoosiers in position to compete for a B1G championship.
With 24 wins, Allen set the program mark for most wins through 4 seasons.
He has exceeded every realistic goal and dramatically raised the Hoosiers’ floor and ceiling, which is why IU recently extended his contract through 2027.
PJ Fleck, Minnesota
Minnesota hired Tracy Claeys in 2016 and fired him after 1 season — a 9-4 season at that.
Why? Serious off-field issues prompted the need for a culture change.
Enter Fleck, who row-boated the Gophers to a top-10 finish in 2019. No, 2020 didn’t go as planned and the Gophers will be rebuilding a bit in 2021, and critics still wonder whether 2019 was an outlier or building block.
One thing is clear: This is Fleck’s program, his vision, his culture. He signed a 7-year extension through 2026, in part to thwart off annual pursuers who understand exactly what Minnesota has.
Ed Orgeron, LSU
Orgeron was the perfect man to take over LSU football, and he led the Tigers to the greatest offensive season in college football history. He’s the only coach in this class who won a national title, and nobody will ever forget 2019.
But … the off-field issues are so serious and severe that they’ve taken the shine off those 2019 accomplishments.
Orgeron wasn’t in charge when many of the issues began, but various investigative reports show that he could have done much, much more in the fight to lead change.
All things considered, LSU would hire him again. Without question.
Matt Rhule, Baylor
It didn’t start well (1-11) and ended way too early (Rhule left for the NFL after posting an 11-3 record in Year 3), but Baylor can’t be blamed for the latter.
He had the program on the rise and the NFL noticed.
It’s been OK …
Justin Wilcox, Cal
Progress. How much is debatable, but each year Cal has seemingly improved under Wilcox. He is 21-21 and guided the Bears to bowl games in 2018 and 2019.
That might sound like faint praise, but the Bears had been to just 2 bowl games in the 7 seasons before he arrived. His extension runs through the 2023 season.
Jeff Brohm, Purdue
The Boilers are still paying for their impatient, greedy decision to fire Joe Tiller in 2008.
In the 12 seasons since, the Boilers have had 10 losing seasons, including last year’s abbreviated version.
Brohm is the 3rd coach in that post-Tiller span. He started well and has generally recruited well by Purdue standards. But there are also growing concerns about how committed he is to Purdue, even though he has an extension through the 2026 season.
What were you thinking?
Tom Herman, Texas
Herman is gone, but not by his choice.
Texas fired him after 4 somewhat successful seasons. Not championship-chasing seasons, by any means, but Herman compiled a 32-18 mark in his 4 seasons.
The numbers that mattered most? He was 1-4 vs. Oklahoma with 0 conference titles and 0 Playoff appearances.
Willie Taggart, Oregon
It wasn’t so much that Taggart went 7-5 in Year 1, it was that he immediately bolted for FSU, where he replaced Jimbo Fisher.
Oregon recovered quickly, however, promoting Mario Cristobal, and the Ducks are better now than they were under Taggart. Regardless, no Power 5 program with a history as rich as Oregon’s expects to have to replace a head coach after 1 season.