First Year Head Coach Rankings: How Did The New Guys Do?

First Year Head Coach Rankings: How Did The New Guys Do?

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First Year Head Coach Rankings: How Did The New Guys Do?

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10. Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee (5-7)

Try to remember what a total mess Pruitt walked into. The coaching search was a disaster, and the program was coming off a puzzling 4-8 season when the offense went nowhere for long stretches. Pruitt and the Vols, got a big win over Kentucky and stunned Auburn, but losing to Vanderbilt with bowl eligibility on the line wasn’t okay.

2019 Expectation: Start to look the part. The SEC East title is a long way off, but knock off a big boy or two, and win eight games.

9. Scott Frost, Nebraska (4-8)

The first six games of the season were a disaster. There wasn’t a bad penalty that Frost’s team didn’t like to commit, the collapse against Northwestern was ugly, and the defense was an issue. But Frost showed glimpses of what’s to come, winning four of the last six games as the offense ramped up. The two losses were tight battles against Ohio State and Iowa.

2019 Expectation: Get to eight wins and a bowl. Most importantly, the offense has to keep blowing up. This is the year when Frost needs his team to be more consistent – and it has to win the tight ones. Last year’s team lost five games that were there for the taking.

8. Herm Edwards, Arizona State (7-6)

There was no improvement. The 2017 team won just seven games, and head coach Todd Graham was canned. This year’s team won seven games. So why the relatively high ranking? Edwards faced the criticism of being too old and too out of touch with the college world, and yet he stepped right in and was brilliant against a tough-looking schedule. His Sun Devils beat Michigan State, USC and – most importantly – Arizona.

2019 Expectation: Do even more. This year’s team lost five games by a touchdown or less. Edwards coached ASU’s defense into an instant killer, and now it has to be even better.

7. Mario Cristobal, Oregon (9-5)

This might too low for one key reason – he has turned the program into a thing again. The 2018 season was fine – closing out with three wins in the final four games with a bowl victory – beating Washington was great, and taking down Michigan State for the first bowl win since 2014 was wonderful. But this season set the tone for …

2019 Expectation: Win the Pac-12 Championship. The team is loaded, Justin Herbert is back, the recruiting class is amazing, and the pieces are there to be the star of the conference.

6. Billy Napier, Louisiana (7-7)

Napier came in from Arizona State and inherited a 5-7 team that couldn’t score. The defense was far better, the offense was more consistent, and the program got to the Sun Belt title game and a bowl. There were a whole lot of wins over bad teams, but the seven victories were the most by the Ragin’ Cajuns since 2014.

2019 Expectation: Get back to the Sun Belt Championship. That’s where the bar is set now. Get back to a bowl, too.

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