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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: The New Head Coaches in the Mountain West

Which schools hit a home run? Which school will strike out?

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Arizona State vs North Carolina State Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

The early off-season has not been lacking excitement. We have been occupied with talk about television deals, conference expansion, and recruiting. Perhaps the biggest topic this off-season will be how the new coaches will fare with their respective programs. This week, I will be taking a look at all six coaching hires and how I expect them to play out.

The Good:

New Mexico

I really like the Danny Gonzales hire for the Lobos, but I am not a huge fans of this move for Gonzales. I know he is an alum and has a special spot in his heart for New Mexico, but this feels like the kind of decision that could be a career killer. News continues to come out of the academic program that the school is not interested in investing into the football program, and there have been plenty of financial issues that have this program in trouble. I think Gonzales is an upgrade, but I’m not sure the school has the structure in place to have a football program that can sustain success long term. With that being said, Lobo fans couldn’t ask for a better hire considering the circumstances.


It has only been a few months, but the effects of the Marcus Arroyo hire are already being felt in Las Vegas. The Rebels finished out the recruiting cycle with the number two class in the Mountain West and did it without signing one player during the early signing period. We all know that Arroyo can recruit and that Las Vegas has plenty to offer, but Arroyo received a lot of criticism from Oregon fans for his play calling. With that being said, I think Arroyo will have the Rebels bowling in no time.

Fresno State

From the moment that Jeff Tedord stepped down, the obvious candidate was Kalen DeBoer. After DeBoer left Fresno State to become the offensive coordinator at Indiana, Fresno took a noticeable step back. DeBoer has proven to be an innovative offensive mind and should be a great leader for the Bulldogs. He is inheriting a young, but talented roster. Transfer quarterback Jake Haener should be an improvement at that position. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bulldogs are back on top of the West in the next few seasons.

The Bad:

Colorado State

From day one, I criticized the hire of Steve Addazio. Colorado State has better resources than most Mountain West schools and could have hired an elite coordinator. Instead, they decided to go with an average, Power Five coach that was recently fired. It’s not that I think Colorado State is getting worse because of this hire, but I don’t think Addazio will be able to challenge Boise State. I expected more from the Rams.

San Diego State

When Hoke came back, the writing was on the wall that he was going to replace Rocky Long when the time came. It turns out that time came a bit sooner than expected when Rocky Long stepped down as head coach. The Hoke hire feels a lot like the Addazio hire, to be honest. If Long would have stepped down earlier in the year, they might have had a chance to land Gonzales. How is that re-hire working out at Utah State so far? San Deigo State has not recruited well this year and could be in line for a step back this coming season.

The Ugly:


Hawaii: the place where head scratching coaching hires happen on the regular. Look, I think Todd Graham will do just fine in Honolulu, but if you guys are expecting the Rainbow Warriors to regularly contend in the West, you are crazy. Hawaii had an obvious candidate in house with Stutzman. He had the Hawaii ties to build on the success Rolovich brought to a football program that lacks funding. I like Todd Graham and think he is a fine football coach, but I am not sure if his style fits in with Hawaii. This felt like one of those coaching searches where the administration was trying too hard.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Stay tuned for next week’s edition that will take a look at recruiting in the Mountain West.