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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Head Coaches

Analyzing where each head coach in the Mountain West ranks

NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Baylor vs Air Force Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we wrapped up our reviews of the position groups across the conference. This week, we are going to move our focus to the head coaches of each program. Let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly coaching situations for each team heading into the 2023 football season.

The Good

Troy Calhoun (Air Force)

Calhoun has remained loyal to Air Force despite other schools reaching out. Calhoun is also in one of the most unique coaching situations in the conference and has built a program that wins consistently. Air Force is lucky to have him; it will be interesting to see what happens to this program when Calhoun eventually moves on.

Andy Avalos (Boise State)

Last year I would have put Avalos in the “Bad” category. The Broncos underachieved during his first season. Avalos showed significant improvement in 2022 and proved that he is willing to make difficult decisions (firing the OC), and the future looks bright for a young Bronco squad.

Jeff Tedford (Fresno State)

Normally I hate it when schools bring back former coaches. However, Tedford was the obvious hire for the Bulldogs, and it has already paid dividends. Tedford is one of the most experienced coaches in the conference, and the Bulldogs will be a consistent contender under his leadership.

Craig Bohl (Wyoming)

Coaching in Laramie, Wyoming is no easy task. Cowboy football might not be exciting to the average fan, but they play tough football and consistently win games. I know many fans have become annoyed with 6-6 and 7-5 seasons, but I’m not sure this program can do better than Bohl.

Brent Brennan (San Jose State)

Brennan has done the impossible; he turned one of the worst programs in the country into a winner. Brennan has made San Jose State a winning football program that is exciting to watch. If any coach on this list deserves a lifetime contract, it’s Brennan.

Blake Anderson (Utah State)

I strongly considered putting Anderson in the “Bad” category after the Aggies took a major step back in 2022 and with the controversy that has recently surrounded the program. But I do believe that Anderson is a good football coach and will make this program a consistent bowl team. I’m just not sold on the Aggies being a consistent contender for the Mountain West Championship.

The Bad

Brady Hoke (San Diego State)

This will be a controversial pick, but Hoke seems to be in the waning years of his coaching career and he has not been able to solve the issues that have plagued this program for years. How long will the fanbase support a coach that can’t develop a passing game?

Timmy Chang (Hawaii)

Chang’s experience as a coach came nowhere close to warranting an FBS head coaching gig. However, Chang was really the only fit for this program prior to last season. I do believe that Chang can develop into a good coach if he is given the time and resources to do so. It is also critical that he surrounds himself with experienced coaches he can learn from.

Jay Norvell (Colorado State)

If you only take last season into account, it would be hard not to put Norvell in the “Ugly” category. Norvell seemed like a great hire after pulling him away from conference foe, Nevada. But Norvell’s supposedly high powered offense sputtered for most of the season. Norvell has done a really good job recruiting skill position players, but their lack of production in the trenches should cause concern for the future of this program.

The Ugly

Danny Gonzales (New Mexico)

At the time, Gonzales seemed like a great hire: a New Mexico alum,that was deadset on rebuilding a program he believes in. However, the Gonzales era has been nothing short of a disaster. Some of that is on Gonzales, but some of that is on a university that has mismanaged funds and does not prioritize football.

Ken Wilson (Nevada)

Wilson was a moderately successful coordinator, and Nevada had a very tight budget before hiring Wilson prior to the 2022 season. Wilson’s first season as a head coach was rough and Nevada has been forced to rely heavily on the transfer portal. Wilson is loyal to Nevada, but will the school be loyal to him if he continues to lose? I’m not sold on Wilson as a head coach.

Barry Odom (UNLV)

I absolutely hated this hire the moment it was announced. Odom did not seem like a fit for the Mountain West and the West Coast. UNLV has not had much success in football, and it is hard to see that changing with Odom at the helm.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” How would you rank the coaches of the Mountain West? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.