3. Kalen DeBoer, Fresno State
Jeff Tedford destroyed the curve when it comes to being a first year head coach, taking a Fresno State team that went 1-11 in 2016 to 10-4 and to the Mountain West title game in 2017.
The Bulldogs needed more of a tweak than an overhaul, but he still did a Coach of the Year job to push the program back to an elite level.
The 2020 need more of a tweak than an overhaul.
2019 was supposed to be a rebuilding year after a 22-6 run with two bowl wins and a Mountain West title. The team had USC in trouble, and lost. It had Minnesota in a LOT of trouble, and lost.
There were injuries and ineffective performances, but there were also four losses by seven points or fewer, not counting the 31-23 loss to the Trojans.
Helped by the transfer of QB Jake Haener from Washington and 12 starters back overall – especially on an offensive line that went way, way young last year – this is a team that should be able to bounce back quickly.
The 45-year-old Kalen DeBoer should have plenty to do with the improvement.
The former Fresno State offensive coordinator was terrific with the Indiana offense last season, but he was even better as the head coach of Sioux Falls, winning three NAIA championships in five seasons going 67-3. Two of those losses were in his first year.
There’s no Boise State on the slate, and missing Wyoming from the Mountain Division of the Mountain West helps, too.
There are six games against teams that didn’t go bowling, Air Force, Hawaii and San Diego State are home games, and DeBoer might just be able to double – at least – last year’s win total.