20 for 2020 College Football Topics, No. 16: The five new head coaches who’ll rock right away this season.
24 college football teams are starting the season with a new full-time head coach.
It’s an interesting group with 12 first time FBS head men, a few retreads getting another shot (Brady Hoke at San Diego State and Karl Dorrell at Colorado), and a few brand-name upgrades (Mike Leach at Mississippi State and Steve Addazio at Colorado State).
Which five might just turn around their respective programs right away?
Who doesn’t make this list? Coaches inheriting heaters (Shawn Clark at Appalachian State and Ryan Silverfield at Memphis) and coaches who aren’t likely to make the team better than it was last year (Dave Aranda at Baylor and Willie Taggart at Florida Atlantic).
We did a decent job with last year’s 5 Instant Impact New Head Coaches, and these five have a whole lot to live up to in their new gigs.
The five new coaches about to make the biggest instant impact are …
5. Danny Gonzalez, New Mexico
It’s been a rough run for New Mexico football.
Rocky Long was able to make the program a regular on the bowl circuit with five post-season appearances in six years in the 2000s, and then came one bad year in 2008. That was it for Long, the program was stale, it couldn’t make that next step, and …
Long made San Diego State a Mountain West powerhouse.
Meanwhile, Mike Locksley had a miserable run, Bob Davie went to two bowls in eight years – going 8-28 in his final three seasons – and it’s up to new head man Danny Gonzalez to try reviving his alma mater.
Getting Long to help the cause is terrific, too.
Long returns to Albuquerque as the Lobo’s defensive coordinator under the 44-year-old former defensive back/punter/jack-of-all-trades, but they both have a whole lot of work to do.
You’re not going to have New Mexico football to push around anymore … eventually.
The team will need the positive injury-luck on offense it hasn’t had over the last few seasons, it needs to improve on the nation’s worst pass defenses, and it has to be a whole lot better than the second-worst overall D in America.
He’s bringing a nastiness to the defense, a no-excuses attitude, and he’s bringing a whole lot of talent.
And he’s bringing back Rocky Long, too.
There might not be a Mountain West title right away, but with Idaho State, New Mexico State and UMass on the slate, beating last year’s win total shouldn’t be a problem.
With this coaching staff, New Mexico might just win more than five games, not just five weeks of off-season practices.