2013 College Football: 5 Best New Head Coaches Who Prove That Experience Pays Off
5 Best New Head Coaches of 2013
Hunting season might have started in the Fall everywhere else, but in some athletic departments across the country, it starts about now and lasts for at least a couple of weeks. This is because there’s big game in winning big games, and nothing ensures winning big games more than bagging a big-time college football coach, or at least a coach who knows what he’s doing with the clipboard in his hands.
Texas has already landed a good one in Charlie Strong, despite what some boosters might think. All Strong has done is win bowl games in consecutive years while head coach at Louisville, including wins over traditional SEC and ACC powerhouses.
If those universities are smart, they should either go big with the bucks needed to sign men with head coaching experience or go home. There is a reason why top college football coaches demand top money. They have proven the adage the best way to make money is to spend it.
If those hired one year ago prove anything, it's that the best hires of 2013 were head coaches who succeeded as head coaches elsewhere. Hiring an assistant coach is a crap shoot. You’ll never know if a great coordinator or assistant can be a great head coach until he’s held the clipboard on game day.
Hiring the right coach can turn half-filled stadiums into sold-out houses. The wrong hire, conversely, can be disastrous (think P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan). A half-full stadium could become no more than a handful of fans. Four of the five best new coaching jobs done this past season were done by men who had done it as a head coach somewhere else first. Only one guy rose from assistant to head coach. and that was at the same university he was hired (Northern Illinois). Even then, the Huskies fell off a game from their 2012 production. All of the coaches who improved their team’s record from the previous season were head coaches somewhere else first.
Despite installing new systems and coaching someone else’s players in almost all of the cases, four of these five coaches improved their team’s record from 2012-13,and the one who didn’t (but still did a good job), was a holdover from the previous staff.
5. Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
According to several published reports, the hiring of Bobby Petrino at Louisville is said to be "imminent." Despite a checkered past, which included a ride on a motorcycle and subsequent accident with a young beauty, winning is the bottom line and this guy knows how to win. Taking over for Willie Taggart (who went to South Florida), Petrino improved Western Kentucky from 7-5 to 8-4. That's pretty impressive considering none of those players were Petrino's and he installed a new system. Included among those eight wins was a 19-7 triumph over a pretty good Navy team.
4. Steve Addazio, Boston College
Any guy who takes a 2-10 team to a 7-5 regular-season mark in 12 months deserves props, and Steve Addazio certainly does. Addazio was named three-time national recruiter of the year while an assistant at Florida and went 13-11 in two years as a head coach at Temple, where his 2012 recruiting class was ranked No. 55 in the country -- the highest the Owls have ever been ranked. Daz's successor at Temple, unproven assistant Matt Rhule, took a 4-7 team and turned it into a 2-10 one despite inheriting a decent group of players.
3. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
When Brett Bielema left Wisconsin for Arkansas, few expected Andersen to come from Utah State and improve the Badgers, but that's exactly what he did. Wisconsin was 8-6 in 2012 and Andersen had the Badgers bowling with a 9-4 record.
2. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
For awhile there, it looked like Carey would have the Huskies unbeaten, but they imploded against Bowling Green in the MAC title game and subsequently lost a bowl game to Utah State. Still, it was an admirable job for an offensive line coach who never held the clipboard in his hand. The Huskies were 12-1 in 2012 and 11-2 this season.
1. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
After going 8-4 at Arkansas State, that was all Auburn needed to see to give the reins of its program to Malzahn. That kind of confidence was rewarded with a special season that saw the Tigers fall only 13 seconds short of winning the national championship. Auburn went 3-9 last season and 11-2 this season, unquestionably the best new coaching job of this recently completed season.