Going into the 2019 season, how do the Conference USA coaches stack up? Here’s the preseason ranking of all the head men.
Who do you want as your head coach for right now, and how good are the all the current Big Ten coaches?
Record and resumés aren’t necessarily everything, but of course they matter. Where are each of the teams going, which guys have the buzz, and which ones need to prove themselves a bit more?
These aren’t Hot Seat Rankings – those are coming later. These are the rankings based loosely on what the head coaches have done, and mostly about what they’re about to do.
Think of it this way. If you were to hold a head coaching draft …
14. Dana Dimel, UTEP
It’s going to take a ton of work to rework an impossible situation at UTEP. Known for his work as a key assistant under Bill Snyder at Kansas State, he went 8-26 in his three seasons at Houston in the early 2000s after a strong three-year run at Wyoming, but making UTEP a winner is a whole other challenge.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 13
– 2019 UTEP Preview
13. Will Healy, Charlotte
It’s a young football program that’s going with a very, very young head coach. The 34-year-old Healy took over a miserable Austin Peay program and went from 0-11 in his first season to a 13-10 run over the next two, and now he’s taking his brand of high-powered offense to the 49ers. He’ll have a chance to grow into the gig.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
– 2019 Charlotte Preview
12. Mike Bloomgren, Rice
This might take a little bit. The 42-year-old came in from Stanford after doing a brilliant job with the Cardinal running game, but getting the same caliber of very smart, very good linemen is going to take a bit. After a brutal 2-11 first season, he’s going to need a whole lot more time to get this going.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 12
– 2019 Rice Preview
11. Tyson Helton, WKU
Let’s try this again. WKU went with the solid offensive coordinator option with Mike Sanford, and that didn’t work like it had hoped for. Helton comes in after just one year as the Tennessee offensive coordinator, but he knows the program as the Hilltoppers OC for two years. This is a strong first head coaching gig for him, but he’s untested.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
– 2019 WKU Preview
10. Frank Wilson, UTSA
He has to pull up out of the nosedive in a big hurry. The 45-year-old was a brilliant recruiter and assistant for LSU before getting the UTSA gig, and he put together two strong seasons with killer defenses. But the offense … it has yet to show up. After an ugly 3-9 season, he needs a good year to show the program isn’t trending downward. The glitches have to be fixed.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 4
– 2019 UTSA Preview
9. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
He’s a survivor. Amazing for ODU over his first four seasons at the FCS level – going 38-10 with two playoff appearances – but with two straight losing seasons after going 10-3 with a Bahamas Bowl win in 2016, there has to be a bit of a rebound. He’s done wonderful things, but he has just one winning season in five years in Conference USA.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 9
– 2019 Old Dominion Preview
8. Jay Hopson, Southern Miss
Hopson has done a solid job after dominating at Alcorn State – going 21-16 with three straight winning seasons – but in Year Four, this is the year to take all the good parts of the puzzle and be a real, live challenger in the Conference USA race. He’s got a team good enough to potentially win the title, especially with a fantastic defense.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 11
– 2019 Southern Miss Preview
7. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
In his 14th year at the helm, Stockstill has put together a very consistent, very solid program that’s in the mix for the conference title every year. He finally got the Blue Raiders to the C-USA title game last season as part of his seventh straight campaign without a losing season, and he’s got the pieces to keep it all going.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 10
– 2019 Middle Tennessee Preview
6. Seth Littrell, North Texas
41 going into the season, he’s one of the hottest young offensive minds – it was a slight stunner that he wasn’t deeper in the hunt for the Texas Tech gig. He pulled the program up out from mediocrity with two straight nine-win seasons with a trip to the 2017 Conference USA championship game, but the three straight bowl losses – getting bombed in the last two by a combined score of 102-43 – are a bit alarming.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 2
– 2019 North Texas Preview