2018 was an epic year for new head coaches. How did all of the new guys do, and what are the expectations going forward?
There were some very big, very important coaching changes last offseason. So how did all of the new guys do?
Yeah, it’s a wee bit unfair to judge a coach on what he did in one season – considering there’s probably a reason there was an opening in the first place. But some came up with a more impressive first run than others.
Loosely based on a combination of preseason expectations, what was in place, and how the respective seasons went, here’s how the new guys did.
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20. Chad Morris, Arkansas (2-10)
The hope was for Morris to come in from SMU and crank up the offense right away. Everyone knew the defense was going to be an issue, but at least the team was expected to be fun. An early loss at Colorado State, and a blowout against North Texas, killed that. The win over Tulsa was the lone victory over an FBS program, and the O managed just six points in the last two games.
2019 Expectation: Get to six wins. Go bowling, crank up the offense, and be more competitive. The schedule is easy enough to do just that.
19. Steve Campbell, South Alabama (3-9)
Great at Central Arkansas before making the move up to the FBS, Campbell’s first year was rough. He knows how to coach, and things should be fine in time, but there were only two wins over FBS teams and the defense fell off a cliff. The 2017 D allowed 38 points or more three times, and just once over the final ten games. This season, it gave up that many or more in eight games.
2019 Expectation: Be far more competitive. It would be a big jump to get to bowl eligibility, but merely being in more games would be a start. USA was blown out by double-digits eight times. The 2017 team lost by ten points or more just four times, and two of those losses came against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State.
18. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona (5-7)
Arizona was okay in 2017. Rich Rodriguez might have lost the Foster Farms Bowl, but at least it was a winning season. Sumlin stepped in and inherited a flawed team, but one that was good enough to at least go bowling again. The schedule wasn’t all that bad, Khalil Tate was expected to be special, and the Pac-12 South appeared to be there for the taking.
Instead, the scoring wasn’t there from 2017, losses to BYU and Houston killed the season right out of the gate, and worst of all, with a bowl on the line, the Wildcats lost to Arizona State.
2019 Expectation: Get hot right away and go bowling. Oh yeah, and beat Arizona State. There was an adjustment period, but the program didn’t need an overhaul. A seven-win season is a must.
17. Mike Bloomgren, Rice (2-11)
Thrown into an impossible situation, Bloomgren’s running game was supposed to be a differentiating factor, and it wasn’t. On the plus side, he managed to double the win total from 2017. However, the defense didn’t show up until the season finale, all 11 losses were wipeouts, and no, you don’t lose at home to UTEP.
2019 Expectation: Double the win total again. Going bowling would be a nice jump – there are always easy wins there for the taking in Conference USA – but get to four wins, establish the ground game, and it’ll be a good year.
16. Chip Kelly, UCLA (3-9)
To be fair, the expectations for Kelly to step in and be an instant miracle worker were way too unrealistic. And to be even more fair, Kelly had to kick in a youth movement in key spots of a total rebuild. He also inherited the same offensive line and run defense issues the 2017 team had. Even so, starting out 0-5 wasn’t what anyone had in mind. Beating USC, though, made the season.
2019 Expectation: More consistency, more explosion, and for the team that was so good at times over the season half of the season – at least offensively – to come up with at least seven wins.