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College Football Coaching Carousel Grades Pt. 2

In the most eventful coaching carousel in College Football History, the action never stops.


Oklahoma, Brent Venables: A++++++++


Hire of the year. Not close either. The Sooners completely upgraded from Lincoln Riley as they went out and got one of the best defensive minds in football. With a Broyles award in 2016, multiple national championships and an absurd amount of NFL players produced, everything about Venables just screams excellence. He is a proven winner and even in a tough year for Clemson, his defense was amongst the most elite in the nation. A few players have transferred from OU, but keeping Caleb Williams will pay off big time, plus they have a top 10 recruiting class coming in and just hired Jeff Lebby from Ole Miss. This was the perfect hire for the Sooners as they will soon make the transition into SEC play.


Miami, Mario Cristobal: D


At best, Cristobal is a glorified recruiter but a terrible on field coach. Justin Herbert carried him to a Rose Bowl win and everyone suddenly thought he was elite, which he will always be far from. His gameplans are always terrible and despite always finishing in the top 2 in the conference every year in recruiting, he only won one legitimate conference title, and that was when Justin Herbert, who wasn’t even his own recruit, was his quarterback. Manny Diaz was terrible for Miami, but I am having a hard time seeing Cristobal being much better as recruiting was never an issue for Diaz and that is all Cristobal is really good at. Maybe Tyler Van Dyke can save Miami on his own.


Oregon, Dan Lanning: C-


Kirby Smart hiring Will Muschamp last offseason is really what made Georgia’s defense elite, not Dan Lanning. However, Lanning is not a terrible hire in the short run as Oregon’s current linebacking core is one of the best in college football and with Lanning’s strong track record coaching linebackers, the sky's the limit for Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe. My main concern goes hand in hand with the fact Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp are notorious for handling quarterbacks terribly, whether that be developing them or simply choosing who to start, there is always turmoil in that department. Learning from them, I find it hard seeing Lanning developing quarterbacks to an elite level and with not much experience without a defensive mastermind helping him, Lanning could turn out to be a terrible hire.


Virginia, Tony Elliot: B+


With the Cavaliers current team, hiring an offensive mind was definitely the way to go and just like Brent Venables, Elliot is a Broyles Award winner, has won multiple national championships and has produced a ton of NFL studs. He probably would have had some better offers if Clemson’s offense was better in 2021, but in a funky season for the Tigers the Cavaliers swooped in at the perfect time to hire Elliot. With this hire expect UVA’s recruiting to take a turn for the better and for them to be a player in the ACC.


Texas Tech, Joey McGuire: A


Baylor’s recent success and McGuire being an assistant to both Matt Rhule and Dave Aranda is not a coincidence. McGuire is a proven winner and has experience coaching positions on both sides of the ball, which is a match made in heaven for a Texas Tech team that actually had a very talented roster this past season, but only amounted to 6-6 as they had QB and coaching troubles. I expect that to change very quickly under McGuire as they have put together a nice recruiting class and have already landed 2 power five transfers. This is easily the most underrated hire of the offseason and the fact Tech poached him from a conference rival is an even bigger bonus.


Colorado State, Jay Norvell: A-


As Carson Strong leaves Nevada, Jay Norvell does as well. This was a very surprising hire as Norvell is going to an in conference rival from a place where he had a lot of stability and found consistency over the past few years. With Norvell’s offensive experience in both college and the NFL, him taking over a team with an all American tight end and an explosive offense is perfect. With Norvell’s experience in the Mountain West, this is an all around great get for the Rams and they can be a sneaky contender in a wide open Mountain West in 2022.


Duke, Mike Elko: D-


Elko is a fine defensive coordinator as Texas A&M’s defense this year was among the best in the SEC, however I do doubt Elko’s ability as a head coach. Duke is in shambles right now, there is no other way to put it. Mateo Durant was literally their only good player and both their offense and defense was terrible. They should have gone for a coach with valuable head coaching experience, who could build from the ground up, similar to how UNC did with Mack Brown. Instead, they hire a guy who has no head coaching experience and only assistant coaching experience was at Hofstra in 2008. Maybe Duke knows something about Elko that no one else does, but for now this is a head scratching hire.


Fresno State, Jeff Tedford: A


I feel like an A is obligated for this hire as he was literally their coach two years ago and had no issues on the field, only issues with his health. In his three year tenure, he had two 10 win seasons and he was able to keep quarterback Jake Haener around, which is huge for the Bulldogs as he was the main reason they succeeded in 2021. The Bulldogs know what they are getting into with Tedford and he has had success there in the past. The Bulldogs offense will shine again in 2022.


Nevada, Ken Wilson: B


This is definitely more of a long run hire as Nevada is going from an offensive minded, veteran coach with NFL experience to a defensive minded coach with no prior head coaching experience. However in the long run I can see this being a great move for Nevada as Wilson was on their staff from 1989-2012 and gained valuable experience between then and now at a big name program in Oregon. With Carson Strong moving on and a new staff coming in, expect Nevada to experience some growing pains at first, but in a few years they can be a major player in the Mountain West.







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