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10 College Football Head Coaches Who Should Have Stayed Assistants

Alex CallosCorrespondent INovember 10, 2016

10 College Football Head Coaches Who Should Have Stayed Assistants

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    Every year, new college football head coaches burst onto the scene and make a name for themselves.

    The step from assistant to head coach is one of the toughest in sports, and while some make the transition easier than others, there is no question it is a difficult step for anybody.

    The step can be especially hard for those taking over a completely new program. For some, it is so difficult because the program they are taking over is decimated with no hope of a revival, no matter who the head coach is.

    Others, on the other hand, are just not ready for the big time.

    Here are 10 head coaches who may have been better-served keeping their jobs as assistants.

10. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

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    For a long time, Jimbo Fisher was the man in waiting at Florida State. He served as offensive coordinator from 2007-2010, and when legendary head coach Bobby Bowden finally called it quits, the job was all Fisher's.

    While he has had two successful seasons, going a combined 19-8 at Florida State, the Seminoles have not lived up to expectations in either of the first two years.

    Fisher has been recruiting top-notch talent the past few years, so success should be on the way—but so far, Fisher has not done enough with the talent he has.

9. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo

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    Jeff Quinn had it made in the shadow of Brian Kelly as his offensive coordinator at both Central Michigan and then at Cincinnati. He did a tremendous job, and after coaching Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl when Kelly left for Notre Dame, Quinn took the head coaching job at Buffalo.

    Not many people have had success at Buffalo, and Quinn is no different. He has gone 5-19 over his first two seasons and is going nowhere with the Bulls.

    Quinn may have been better-suited as an offensive coordinator at a big-name program.

8. Joker Phillips, Kentucky

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    Joker Phillips has been at Kentucky since 2003, serving in a number of different positions, and he took over as head coach in 2010.

    There is nothing like a head coaching job in the SEC, but Kentucky will always be a basketball school, and Phillips has not been able to change that. The Wildcats are 11-14 in his first two seasons and have only won four SEC games over that span.

    He has brought some success to the program, but Phillips had much more as an assistant.

7. David Cutcliffe, Duke

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    Speaking of basketball schools, Duke may be the biggest of them all.

    David Cutcliffe is a solid head football coach, but the only problem is he is coaching a school that does not pay much attention to their football team. He is 15-33 over his first four seasons at Duke and had much more success as the head coach of Ole Miss from 1998-2004, where he went 44-29.

    Cutcliffe was excellent as the offensive coordinator at Tennessee before taking the head job, and getting away from Duke may be what is best for him.

6. John L. Smith, Arkansas

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    John L. Smith was placed into a tough situation, having to take over Arkansas after the sudden departure of Bobby Petrino.

    Over the past three seasons, Smith has been the special teams coach for the Razorbacks and has done a great job. This will be his fifth head coaching job at the collegiate level, and while it is hard to turn down the Arkansas job, he will be asked to do more than he can handle.

    Smith seems more suited to be an assistant at this point in his career.

5. Charlie Weis, Kansas

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    Charlie Weis has proven that he is not the head coach many people thought he would be.

    While it is not a bad hire for Kansas, taking over the Jayhawk program is no easy task. Kansas has not had a lot of success, and Weis does not seem to be the man for the job.

    While he is a big-name hire, it does not look like Weis is going to have too much success in a competitive Big 12. He probably should have kept that cozy offensive coordinator job at Florida.

4. Will Muschamp, Florida

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    Will Muschamp was one of the most sought-after coordinators for a head coaching job just more than a year ago, as he was the defensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns.

    Urban Meyer knew exactly when to leave Florida, and the Gators are not really in the best shape, but it is still Florida.

    With that being said, they struggled to a 7-6 year in 2011 and lost offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to Kansas. There is a long way to go for Florida to get back to where it once was a few years ago, and it is no certainty that Muschamp is the man for the job.

3. Frank Spaziani, Boston College

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    Frank Spaziani has been at Boston College for quite some time. He served as the running backs coach from 1997-1998 and was the defensive coordinator from 1999-2008.

    In 2009, he took over as the head coach and has gotten progressively worse each season.

    There is not any head coach in the country who is more on the hot seat than Spaziani, and if the Eagles do not have a bowl-type season in 2012, he will likely get the boot.

    While he excelled so much as a defensive coordinator, he has done nothing to prove his worth as a head coach and would be better-served in his previous job.

2. Derek Dooley, Tennessee

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    Derek Dooley has not had much success in his two seasons at Tennessee. He has a combined record of 11-14 and could be on the hot seat if he does not have a good 2012 campaign.

    Before Tennessee, Dooley was the head coach at Louisiana Tech for three seasons, where he went a combined 17-20.

    Needless to say, he does not have an excellent track record as a head coach.

    Dooley might be advised to go back to coaching an offensive position like he did at Georgia, SMU, LSU and with the Miami Dolphins.

1. Kevin Wilson, Indiana

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    Like a few other names on the list, Kevin Wilson had it made as an offensive coordinator.

    He was running the show for the Oklahoma Sooners offense from 2002-2010. He did one heck of a job in that position and took over as the head coach for the Indiana Hoosiers in 2011.

    While the Hoosiers have never been too great of a football school, they are rarely as bad as the 1-11 record he led them to last season.

    Wilson spent the better part of 19 seasons as an offensive coordinator at some major college football programs, and that seems to be his calling. It may not be long before he is doing that again at a big-time college program.


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