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Peak Perspective: Grading the New MWC Coaches

The grades are in.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while. It was originally planned for sometime in February, but I didn’t get around to it before all the recruiting breakdowns I was doing. Then other things came up, and it kept getting pushed down the line. But here it is.

It’s very rare a conference overturns half of its coaches in one single offseason. This was no ordinary offseason for the Mountain West, though. Some are familiar names, and others may be new. This post is giving each hire grades, broken up into different categories.

The first is the initial reaction, meaning perception when the coach was officially announced and had yet to do anything other than sign the contract, as some of the hires carried a bit more weight than others.

The next is their 2020 recruiting class. Yes, it’s a small sample size, and yes they all started at different times. But really, there isn’t much else to go off of at this point.

Lastly, there will be a grade on longevity. Although it is a bit silly to think about how long these coaches will stay when they just got hired, ADs are certainly asking that question. Again, it’s hard to predict, will be subjective, and not the end-all, be-all when it comes to hiring a coach, but it does matter. Finding a coach who won’t bolt after one winning season will help build or sustain the program.

Danny Gonzales

Initial Reaction: A

Hiring Gonzales, the former Lobo player, and assistant coach was nothing short of a home run. The fact that they were able to hire him before the head coaching job at San Diego State opened up, and then he hired Rocky Long as his DC make stellar move continue to pay dividends.

Recruiting: B-

The fact that he is recruiting at all is a huge success, and one could argue this grade should be higher because of it. They turned in a pretty nice recruiting class all things considered, and it may be the first in a string of positively trending classes.

Longevity: A

Gonzales has strong ties to the New Mexico program and wouldn’t figure to leave for just any job opening. He is as safe of a bet as any coach in the college football world.

Kalen DeBoer

Initial Reaction: A-

DeBoer was considered one of the top choices in the sudden Fresno State opening, having served as the offensive coordinator under Tedford before leaving for Indiana. He’s fairly young, is familiar with the program and players, and wanted the job. There is a lot to like here.

Recruiting: C-

DeBoer turned in a recruiting class similar to the ones Tedford produced. That is to say, average with some promise, but nothing that popped off the page. There will be some work to do in this area, or at least he will need to continue the emphasis on player development Tedford and his coaches were so good at.

Longevity: B

It’s tough to say, but as a first-time coach, DeBoer will likely need to stay around to produce a few strong seasons before suitors begin to line up. It’s unlikely he bolts before establishing himself.

Marcus Arroyo

Initial Reaction: A+

If Gonzales was a home run hire, then Arroyo was a grand slam. A top assistant at a top program, this was likely the best hire they could have made. It brought instant energy into the Rebel program, and they sorely needed it.

Recruiting: A

Arroryo got to work right away and landed one of the best recruiting classes in the entire conference. There is a lot of talent coming into the program, and it’s clear he is playing to his strength here.

Longevity: C+

Just a hunch, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if this job is only a stepping stone for Arroyo. If he does well, he could easily cash in for a PAC12 job. However, it’s hard to be sure until the games are actually played, and the dominos begin to fall.

Steve Addazio

Initial Reaction: D+

This hire was puzzling when it was announced. The Rams were trading one .500 coach for another one? Addazio has head coaching experience, but he was just fired himself, and it appeared there were up and coming assistants with ties to the school available.

Recruiting: C+

Addazio went to work on the recruiting trail, going both local and nationwide for talent. He did alright with the time and challenges he had.

Longevity: B-

This one is actually a bit tougher to make a guess on. Does Addazio continue to be the coach he was before, and eventually Colorado State tries to upgrade again? Does he have success and try to get back into the P5? Or does he have success and settle in for the long haul, content with being a bigger fish in a smaller pond?

Brady Hoke

Initial Reaction: C+

Some may see this as a pretty good rehire, similar to Gary Andersen last year. Others may see these are a poor hire, since Hoke bolted after one good season the first time at SDSU and didn’t do much at his other stops (which also sounds like Andersen). This grade splits the difference.

Recruiting: B-

San Diego State has turned in good but never great recruiting classes under Coach Long, and that basically seemed like what the Long/Hoke combo did this winter. Going forward, it seems like Hoke is focusing on recruiting earlier in the year, and it will be interesting to see if there is a shift in the type of players they recruit.

Longevity: C+

Similar to Addazio, maybe Hoke learns the grass isn’t always greener, and it’s better to stay in a place where success is being had. Although, that success has been difficult to come by lately, so it seems like more of a toss-up.

Todd Graham

Initial Reaction: C+

This hire was another one that was a bit questionable, but at least Graham has a pretty good track record as a coach and a very good track record as a person. He gets dinged a bit for not having ties to Hawaii, but he should be able to establish a culture there.

Recruiting: D+

Graham had next to no time to recruit and thus had to scrape things together in the last few weeks. I considered grading on a curve, but figured I’d just tell it like it is, even if things were stacked against him. It will be interesting to see what happens in the class of 2021.

Longevity: B-

Who knows, really. Graham has made quite a few stops in his coaching career thus far. There are worse places to be at than the islands, but Hawaii doesn’t pay much, and that’s what caused local guy Rolovich to leave. It’s probably safe to assume he stays a few seasons, which is a fairly long time in today’s CFB landscape.

Again, it’s hard to honestly grade any of these hires until there are actual games being played. This is just going off of the perception of the hire and the small sample size of recruiting. It’s guesswork, but there isn’t much going on, so why not? Objectively, all of them have incomplete grades as it is too early to really judge. As for if these grades will hold up or be proven foolish, only time will tell.

These are one set of opinions. What do you think? Post in the comments below.