This week’s post looks at the new head coaches entering the fold for the Mountain West. Here is the post from 2020 for reference. This post will evaluate each head coach based on a few different categories.
The first is the initial reaction. This is defined as the perception when the coach was officially announced and had yet to do anything other than sign the contract. This basically evaluates the hiring at face value.
The next is recruiting. While it is accurate to say recruiting is a small sample size and not all of the coaches had the same starting points due to different dates of hires, it is still important to look at their initial recruiting abilities.
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.
Initial Reaction: A
Colorado State made a surprising but great hire in Jay Norvell. His success with the Air-Raid offense in Nevada is obvious, and it’s hard to imagine the Rams hiring a better coach within their price range who wasn’t a retread type. The fact that they stole him away from a conference foe sweetens the deal a bit as well.
While the transfer portal made life especially easy for Norvell when compiling a recruiting class, he still made a plan and executed it well. In addition to importing core players for his system from Nevada, he and his staff also secured some impressive talent from the high school ranks. It is difficult for Norvell to do much better in his initial class between the two sides of recruiting.
The inter-conference move is a rare one among the Group of 5 ranks and one that was directly related to the lack of resources at Nevada. Due to this, it is hard to see Norvell staying at Colorado State for the long haul. If he can capitalize on a few good seasons, it would make sense that he should start getting Power 5 offers, and honestly, it is puzzling he did not this past off-season. While this take could prove foolish down the line, it seems likely at the moment.
Initial Reaction: A
Coach Tedford’s return to coaching was rumored towards the end of the season and gained a lot of traction once Coach DeBoer left for Washington. This was really the best-case scenario for Fresno State as their previous coach comes back for another round. It helped a great deal as far as retaining players, coaches, and schemes.
Much of this recruiting class was already in place when Tedford came in, but credit should be given for keeping the class committed when they easily could have looked elsewhere. After all, not many would have been recruited by Tedford two years ago, and some may not even know much about him. Also, he and his staff were active in the transfer portal and brought in a reasonable amount of talent with the opportunities they had.
Tedford gets marked down a bit for this, but not by much compared to some others. It would be shocking if he lasted more than three or four years. But that is by design, and really, he is the one who gets to decide that. The plan seems to be that he can coach and be successful with this group while developing a successor to continue with what he is finishing.
Initial Reaction: B
As everyone knows, Timmy Chang was not the first choice Hawaii was considering. In some ways, there is a bit of a letdown after the June Jones possibility fell through. However, in terms of hype and excitement, Chang is the next best possibility. Having the hometown hero return to attempt to restore the culture and relevance to Hawaii’s program is always full of promise. On the other hand, Chang hasn’t even been a coordinator yet, so there may be growing pains.
Chang has little to no chance to truly salvage the Rainbow Warriors recruiting class, but that should not be held against him, considering he was hired so late in the cycle. Chang does get a small bump in his grade due to the groundwork he is laying for the recruiting class of 2023 and beyond. He is bringing hype to social media and prioritizing local recruits, both of which should pay off in the long term.
As long as Chang is moderately successful, it is easy to see him sticking around for a while (whatever a while means in college football these days). He will be on a learning curve early in his career, so he isn’t likely to be poached. Plus, both the state and school are where he is from, which usually buys an extra year or two even when success does come.
Initial Reaction: C-
In many ways, the hiring of Ken Wilson is similar to the one described above with Timmy Chang. He is an off-the-radar hire who has strong ties to the program. Also, he is making the jump from position coach to head coach without being a coordinator in between. Wilson loves the Nevada football program as much as anyone, but he is seen as a step (or two) down from Jay Norvell.
Thanks to the transfer portal and Norvell taking the core of the roster with him, the Wolf Pack football roster is in a major rebuild. Wilson and his staff did everything they could. He signed four players in December with no other coaches yet in the fold. They managed to sign a full class by February thanks to looking for unsigned talent and the transfer portal, especially players coming over from Oregon, where Wilson previously was. It was a good strategy considering the circumstances.
It really depends on how Wilson does, but chances are he isn’t leaving anytime soon unless he is asked to. He will grow alongside the players and the program, and it would be surprising if the powers that be weren’t patient with him and his progress. Also, Wilson has spent 19 seasons at Nevada over his coaching career, so he likely isn’t in a hurry to leave.
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.