Which head coaches did the best jobs this bowl season, and which ones struggled a bit? Here are all 76 head coaches this 2018-2019 bowl season, and how they did.
– Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews
Obviously, it takes a whole staff of coaches – some a lot better paid now than others – to prepare a team. Obviously, having one bad bowl game doesn’t make you a bad head coach, just as one great performance doesn’t make you the next Bear Bryant.
However, there were some particularly notable coaching performances this bowl season – for good and for bad. So who did a great job, and who struggled?
Loosely based on expectations, the way the teams played, execution, and how the team did compared to the norm from the regular season, here’s the ranking of all the head coaches this bowl season.
Yes, there were 78 head coaches – we’re not counting Boston College’s Steve Addazio or Boise State’s Bryan Harsin after the SERVPRO First Responder’s Bowl quit on itself.
76. Major Applewhite, Houston
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Army 70, Houston 14
The Cougars never showed up, never had an answer, and now Dana Holgorsen is the head coach. Applewhite lost three straight bowl games, but this was a whole lot different from the other two. The defense was able to come up with one turnover, and that was it for the stops – but that was expected, to a point. The offense was supposed to keep up, it didn’t and the result was an epic blowout loss.
– 5 Thoughts on the Armed Forces Bowl
75. Will Muschamp, South Carolina
Virginia 28, South Carolina 0
Virginia is good, but really? 251 yards, no points, and almost no defensive stops? Muschamp’s team had the ball for just over 17 minutes, but it was still in the game throughout. This was supposed to be when the Gamecocks showed off just how good they really were against an okay ACC team, and instead, they were shut down and shut out.
– 5 Thoughts on the Belk Bowl
74. Mark Richt, Miami
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Wisconsin 35, Miami 3
Miserable. Miami’s supposedly amazing defensive front seven got steamrolled over for the second year in a row, the offense was beyond pathetic – the passing game finished with 48 yards and four picks – and at no time did the team look or play like it had a prayer against a mediocre team with a backup quarterback. That’s not how the Richt coaching tenure should’ve ended, but there it is.
– 5 Thoughts on the New Era Pinstripe Bowl
73. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Quick Lane Bowl
Minnesota 34, Georgia Tech 10
It was the Paul Johnson farewell game and this is what the team came up with? It was as if Minnesota knew everything that was coming. The Yellow Jacket ground game was okay, but it was outgained by the Golden Gophers. Johnson’s team got down 20-3, finished with just 283 yards, and never had it.
– 5 Thoughts on the Quick Lane Bowl
72. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Florida 41, Michigan 15
Seriously? After the brutal loss to Ohio State at the end of the regular season, and with the way the team collapsed and gagged away last year’s bowl loss to South Carolina, this was supposed to be when Michigan showed that it was the real deal. Nope. Not even close.
– 5 Thoughts on the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
71. Jeff Brohm, Purdue
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Auburn 63, Purdue 14
Every once in a while, the talent disparity between Purdue and some of the stronger Power Fivers will be way too obvious. The Boilermakers ran into a buzzsaw, getting down 21-0 in the first ten minutes and 56-7 at the half. Just chalk this up to a bad day, but this was a breakdown in all phases.
– 5 Thoughts on the Music City Bowl
70. Kirby Smart, Georgia
Texas 28, Georgia 21
This wasn’t fair for Smart. His team really was one of the four best teams in college football, but it got its heart ripped out in the SEC Championship loss to Alabama. Everyone said everything the right way, but there was no way the team could gear up the intensity for this. That’s Smart’s job, though, to find a way to get the job done, but it couldn’t match Texas energy or execution until it was too late.
– 5 Thoughts on the Sugar Bowl
69. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl
UAB 37, Northern Illinois 13
Considering Northern Illinois has a bowl issue, getting rolled in yet another one is a problem. Carey might have led the way to a MAC title, but this was his sixth bowl loss in six tries. The offense couldn’t keep up the pace as NIU was out of it by halftime … and now Carey might be the new Temple head coach.
– 5 Thoughts on the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
68. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Ohio 27, San Diego State 0
Considering San Diego State had a rough season – and after losing to Army in last year’s Armed Forced Bowl – this was a chance to make things right. Instead, there was no energy, nothing happening from the offense outside of one big run, and the season ended with a shutout loss.
– 5 Thoughts on the DXL Frisco Bowl
67. Seth Littrell, North Texas
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Utah State 52, North Texas 13
To be fair, the Mean Green weren’t the same after star QB Mason Fine got hurt. But there weren’t any answers after he was out, and his absence wasn’t the total problem – they got down 38-7 at halftime. And now there’s a problem. Littrell is 0-3 in bowl games.
– 5 Thoughts on the New Mexico Bowl
66. Nick Rolovich, Hawaii
SoFi Hawai’i Bowl
Louisiana Tech 31 Hawaii 13
It’s a bowl game at home against an offensively challenged team. But instead of this being a fun showcase for Rolovich’s high-powered run-and-shoot offense, it fizzled. The Rainbow Warriors scored just 14 points, gave up 21 in the third, and got blown out in their house.
– 5 Thoughts on the SoFi Hawaii Bowl
65. Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State
Iowa 27, Mississippi State 22
Moorhead’s defensive front lived in the Iowa backfield, stuffing a ground game that finished with -15 yards. He had the chances in the second half to pull this off, and it didn’t happen, managing to lose a game despite outgaining the Hawkeyes 342 yards to 199.
– 5 Thoughts on the Outback Bowl
64. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Oregon 7, Michigan State 6
The system almost worked for Dantonio to pull this off without a functional offense, but there’s a fine line when it came to 2018 Michigan State football. If the kicking game worked at all, Dantonio is probably in the top 15 on this list. Instead, the O managed two field goals, the D had one bad drive, and the Spartans lost.
– 5 Thoughts on the Redbox Bowl
63. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
Military Bowl Presented By Northrup Grumman
Cincinnati 35, Virginia Tech 31
Arizona State lost to Fresno State, but that’s losing to a strong Mountain West champion. Virginia Tech was the only other Power Five team other than ASU to lose to a Group of Fiver. Fuente’s D couldn’t stop the run – not a shock for this season – and his team turned it over twice and committed ten penalties in the loss.
– 5 Thoughts on the Military Bowl
62. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Camping World Bowl
Syracuse 34, West Virginia 18
For the second straight bowl season, Holgorsen didn’t have Will Grier in a bowl game. For the second straight bowl season, the great team and season ended with a crashing thud. No matter what, Holgorsen is supposedly an offensive genius – that’s what Houston is paying for – and his team managed just three field goals in the final 28 minutes.
– 5 Thoughts on the Camping World Bowl
61. Tim Lester, Western Michigan
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
BYU 49, Western Michigan 18
BYU made the halftime adjustments, and Western Michigan didn’t. Lester’s Broncos were up 10-7 and got rocked the rest of the way, giving up 42 second half points and getting hit by the Cougar passing game that went 19-for-19.
– 5 Thoughts on the Famous Idaho Bowl