Predicting 2017 W-L Records for Every College Football Team Under New Direction

Greg WallaceFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2017

Predicting 2017 W-L Records for Every College Football Team Under New Direction

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    Will Tom Herman make a big impact in his first season at Texas?
    Will Tom Herman make a big impact in his first season at Texas?Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The college football coaching carousel churned as quickly as ever last winter, and it didn't stop turning until June.

    When Bob Stoops retired suddenly at Oklahoma and was replaced by offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, it left 21 FBS programs with new head coaches (not counting LSU, which elevated Ed Orgeron from interim status).

    Sustaining success is difficult: Only 11 current FBS coaches have completed at least a decade with their current programs. 

    Initial success isn't an ironclad predictor of long-term success, but it certainly helps.

    Which new head coaches are best set up to win early at their new jobs? Let's take a look.

    Here's a prediction of win-loss records for each new FBS coach in 2017. Factors considered included inherited talent, returning starters and difficulty of schedule.

Group of Five Programs 1

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    Is Lane Kiffin the right fit for Florida Atlantic?
    Is Lane Kiffin the right fit for Florida Atlantic?Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Cincinnati

    Cincinnati's hire of Tommy Tuberville didn't work out. Tubs went 29-22 in four seasons at Cincinnati, and a 4-8 record in 2016 was the final straw.

    The Bearcats made a solid hire in Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, but it could take some time to reverse the downward trend. Trips to Michigan, Navy and South Florida won't help.

    Predicted record: 4-8

              

    Connecticut

    You can't go home again. Or can you? UConn is about to find out with Randy Edsall. He led the best period in Husky history, taking them from the FCS to the Fiesta Bowl in his final season and winning 74 games in 12 seasons. But after going 22-34 at Maryland, he was a surprising choice to replace Bob Diaco.

    UConn had the nation's worst scoring offense last fall, and Edsall won't be able to fix it right away, especially with nonconference games against Boston College, Virginia and Missouri.

    Predicted record: 3-9

               

    Florida Atlantic

    After a 3-9 season, Florida Atlantic made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by hiring controversial Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

    Kiffin will garner plenty of attention for the Owls, but will that translate into wins immediately? We'll see.

    Former Florida State quarterback De'Andre Johnson will run the offense, and with 18 returning starters overall, FAU should be improved.

    Predicted record: 7-5

               

    Florida International

    Following a 4-8 record in 2016, Florida International took a chance on 65-year-old Butch Davis.

    Davis had great success at Miami before jumping to the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, but this return to south Florida could be different.

    FIU returns 15 starters but plays three of its first four games (Central Florida, Indiana and Rice) on the road. The Golden Panthers also travel to Florida Atlantic but host Western Kentucky to close the season.

    Here's guessing Davis will find the sledding a lot tougher across town.

    Predicted record: 3-9

                

    Fresno State

    Tim DeRuyter had a steady decline at Fresno State, going from 11-2 in 2013 to 1-7 before being fired in 2016. The answer? Former Cal coach Jeff Tedford.

    Tedford won 10 games in 2004 and 2006 at Cal but steadily declined and had losing records in two of his final three years, including a 3-9 mark in 2012.

    He understands Fresno State after spending five seasons there as an assistant coach (four as offensive coordinator), but trips to Alabama and Washington in September, as well as later-season jaunts to San Diego State and Wyoming, could make his first year tough.

    Predicted record: 3-9

               

    Georgia State

    Georgia State is something of a sleeping giant. The Panthers have a great location in Atlanta and a fertile recruiting ground. But coach Trent Miles never got it going and was fired after going 9-38 in four seasons.

    South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott was a solid hire given his ties to the region. But the Sun Belt is an improving league, and making inroads will take time.

    Predicted record: 4-8

Group of Five Programs 2

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    Charlie Strong has an excellent situation at South Florida.
    Charlie Strong has an excellent situation at South Florida.Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Houston

    The biggest question with Tom Herman was how long Houston would be able to keep him in town. After Houston posted 22 wins over two seasons, Texas plucked him to lead its program.

    Following a national search, the Cougars went in-house and elevated offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. Good call.

    However, Houston must replace do-everything quarterback Greg Ward Jr., likely with Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen. Is he ready to shoulder the load?

    The Cougars trade Oklahoma and Louisville for Arizona and Texas Tech but must travel to South Florida and Temple.

    Predicted record: 8-4

                 

    Nevada

    After a 5-7 mark in 2016, Nevada made a solid hire by bringing respected assistant Jay Norvell into town.

    The Wolf Pack return 14 starters but must travel to Northwestern and Washington State, as well as Boise State and San Diego State.

    There is potential here, but moving up the Mountain West ranks could be difficult.

    Predicted record: 4-8

               

    San Jose State

    San Jose State is one of college football's toughest outposts. Ron Caragher got the Spartans bowl-eligible in two of his four seasons, but going 19-30 overall couldn't save him.

    Oregon State receivers coach and former SJSU assistant Brent Brennan was named head coach.

    The Spartans return 15 starters, but facing South Florida and road trips to Texas and Utah in the first month are tough. A road trip to BYU and facing San Diego State and Wyoming in the final month of the season don't help either.

    Predicted record: 3-10

                

    South Florida

    Charlie Strong never got things rolling at Texas, but he found a soft landing spot at South Florida following Willie Taggart's departure to Oregon.

    The Bulls return 16 starters, led by multitalented quarterback Quinton Flowers, and they should be the clear favorite in the AAC.

    The toughest nonconference game is Illinois, with Temple and Houston at home. Strong has the pieces in place for a great start.

    Predicted record: 11-1

              

    Temple

    Matt Rhule set a high bar for his replacement at Temple with consecutive 10-win seasons.

    Geoff Collins is a capable replacement with a solid track record as Florida and Mississippi State defensive coordinator, but he could face a tough task in his debut season.

    The Owls return just 10 starters from 2016, and they open the season with Notre Dame in a schedule that also includes a road trip to South Florida and visits from Houston, Navy and Central Florida.

    Predicted record: 6-6

               

    Western Kentucky

    Western Kentucky has become something of a launching pad for coaches. Willie Taggart, Bobby Petrino and now Jeff Brohm have all left the Hilltoppers for Power Five jobs, but the Hilltoppers keep reloading, most recently hiring Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford.

    Sanford returns only 10 starters (four on offense), but one of them is quarterback Mike White, who threw for 4,363 yards with 37 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

    Nonconference games against Illinois and Vanderbilt could be tough, but WKU will again be a factor in Conference USA.

    Predicted record: 9-3

             

    Western Michigan

    2016 was a dream year for Western Michigan. The Broncos finished 13-1 and made the Cotton Bowl, but they saw P.J. Fleck leave for Minnesota in the offseason.

    New coach Tim Lester inherits 13 starters, but only five on offense, and potent passer-receiver duo Zach Terrell and Corey Davis are gone.

    It doesn't help to start the season at Southern California and Michigan State and close it at Northern Illinois and Toledo. A regression is coming.

    Predicted record: 7-5

Baylor

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    Matt Rhule faces a potentially difficult situation at Baylor.
    Matt Rhule faces a potentially difficult situation at Baylor.Rod Aydelotte/Associated Press

    Matt Rhule steps into a potentially difficult situation at Baylor.  

    Art Briles was highly successful with the Bears, but he was fired and the school's athletic director and president resigned following an independent investigation into the program's response to sexual assault and violence against women.

    Interim coach Jim Grobe led the Bears to a 6-0 start, but they then fell apart, losing their final six regular-season games before beating Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.

    Rhule went 28-23 at Temple with 10-win seasons in 2015 and 2016. His offensive style is slower than what Baylor fans are used to, but it should still be effective.

    The Bears return 14 starters overall, but they must pick between sophomore Zach Smith, Arizona graduate transfer Anu Solomon and freshman Charlie Brewer at quarterback.

    Smith threw 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions, starting the final four games following Seth Russell's season-ending ankle injury, but nothing is guaranteed for him this fall. Four starting offensive linemen return, but Baylor must replace explosive KD Cannon as its top receiver.

    With seven returning starters, the defense could be a strength and might need to win games for the Bears as they adjust to a new offensive attack.

    The entire nonconference schedule is winnable as the toughest test is a road game at Duke. Baylor hosts Oklahoma and Texas but must travel to Oklahoma State, Kansas State and TCU. It wouldn't be surprising if this was a transition year for Rhule.

    Predicted record: 5-7

California

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    Justin Wilcox is a great fit for Cal's football culture.
    Justin Wilcox is a great fit for Cal's football culture.Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    Sonny Dykes was never a great fit at Cal. The Texas native energized the Golden Bears' offensive attack, but it never led to sustained success on the field, with three losing seasons in four years and the only winning season with top overall NFL draft pick Jared Goff at quarterback.

    Dykes went 19-30 at Cal. After interviewing with Baylor for its vacancy, he was fired following a 5-7 campaign in 2016, as athletic director Mike Williams said he wanted a coach who was "fully committed to our program and university."

    Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was a smart hire. He has ties to Cal after spending 2003-05 there as linebackers coach, and he understands West Coast culture better than Dykes.

    However, he has a tough road ahead early on. Cal returns 14 starters, including eight on defense, but the unit was the nation's second-worst scoring defense last fall.

    The schedule is tough: The Bears open at North Carolina, host Ole Miss Sept. 16 and Southern California Sept. 23, and travel to Oregon and Washington after that.

    It's hard to find a lot of wins on a slate that also includes trips to Stanford and UCLA to close the season.

    Predicted record: 3-9

Indiana

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    Indiana felt Tom Allen was the perfect choice to succeed Kevin Wilson.
    Indiana felt Tom Allen was the perfect choice to succeed Kevin Wilson.Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    For Indiana, on-field results weren't the issue over the past two years. A traditionally mediocre program won six games in 2015 and 2016, making bowls in consecutive seasons. But head coach Kevin Wilson was investigated for allegations of mistreatment of his players and resigned under pressure in early December.

    IU wasted no time in naming his replacement, elevating defensive coordinator Tom Allen to head coach on a full-time basis.

    Indiana returns nine starters to a defense that showed significant progress under Allen's watch, and quarterback Richard Lagow (who threw for 3,362 yards with 19 touchdowns against 17 interceptions) and wideout Nick Westbrook, who caught 54 passes for 995 yards and six touchdowns, will be vital players.

    The Hoosiers start by hosting Ohio State and traveling to Virginia, and their Big Ten slate continues with a trip to Penn State and hosting Michigan in the first three games of league play. IU does host Wisconsin and has nonconference games versus Florida International and Georgia Southern.

    There's reason to believe Allen will make the decision to promote him look smart.

    Predicted record: 7-5

Minnesota

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    P.J. Fleck brings immediate energy to Minnesota's program.
    P.J. Fleck brings immediate energy to Minnesota's program.Jim Mone/Associated Press

    On the field, Minnesota had a solid first full season under Tracy Claeys' watch. The Golden Gophers finished 9-4 with a Holiday Bowl win over a good Washington State team. Off it, however, turbulence reigned.

    Gopher players threatened to boycott the Holiday Bowl protesting the suspension of 10 players connected to a university sexual assault investigation, and Claeys supported their action. It helped to cost him his job, as he was fired in early January.

    Minnesota made an excellent hire by convincing Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck to "row the boat" to the Twin Cities.

    Fleck turned around the Broncos, going from 1-11 in his first season in 2013 to 13-1 with a MAC title and Cotton Bowl berth in 2016. He is a bombastic, polarizing figure, but he does have some talent to work with, including 12 starters led by talented tailbacks Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith.

    There are some questions on the offensive line and in the secondary, and Fleck must pick between Demry Croft or Conor Rhoda to replace Mitch Leidner at quarterback.

    The schedule is inviting, though. The Gophers avoid Ohio State and Penn State from the Big Ten East. Their top nonconference foe is Oregon State, and they get Nebraska and Wisconsin at home. We shouldn't expect much drop-off this fall.

    Predicted record: 8-4

Oklahoma

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    Lincoln Riley is ready to take the challenge of becoming Oklahoma's new head coach.
    Lincoln Riley is ready to take the challenge of becoming Oklahoma's new head coach.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The final move on the 2016-17 coaching carousel was perhaps the most surprising.

    On June 7, following 18 seasons at Oklahoma, 190 wins, a national title and 10 Big 12 championships, Bob Stoops announced his retirement as Sooners head coach.

    Oklahoma immediately moved to secure its future with Lincoln Riley, promoting him from offensive coordinator to head coach.

    In two seasons as offensive coordinator, Riley rejuvenated OU's offense. The Sooners had the nation's No. 3 scoring offense last fall, averaging 43.9 points per game. Oklahoma is poised for big things again this fall, returning 16 starters from an 11-2 team that won the Big 12 title in 2016.

    Having two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Baker Mayfield, who threw for 3,965 yards with 40 touchdowns against eight interceptions last fall, is a huge plus. However, the Sooners have questions at wide receiver following the graduation of fellow Heisman finalist Dede Westbrook and in the backfield after Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine departed for the NFL.

    But this should be one of the nation's best teams again. A Week 2 trip to Ohio State will test the Sooners, and Big 12 treks to Kansas State and Oklahoma State will be challenging.

    Riley is the youngest head coach in the FBS, but Stoops left him plenty of fuel for a smooth transition.

    Predicted record: 10-2

Oregon

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    Oregon could rebound quickly under Willie Taggart.
    Oregon could rebound quickly under Willie Taggart.Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

    Last fall was ugly for Oregon and Mark Helfrich. Two years after going 13-2 as the national runner-up, the Ducks bottomed out with a 4-8 record and a leaky defense that allowed an ugly 518.4 yards per game.

    Helfrich was fired, and Oregon officials made a solid hire, luring Willie Taggart from South Florida.

    Oregon has a solid offense returning led by quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw for 1,936 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions, as well as senior tailback Royce Freeman, one of the nation's top runners with over 4,000 career rushing yards.

    The defense is young, but Taggart made an excellent hire in veteran coordinator Jim Leavitt, who played a huge role in Colorado's turnaround.

    The Ducks have winnable nonconference games versus Nebraska and Wyoming, although they do travel to Stanford and Washington in Pac-12 play. Hosting Washington State, Utah and Oregon State is a positive.

    Taggart's high-powered offense is a good fit with this roster, and there should be quick improvement.

    Predicted record: 8-4

Purdue

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    Jeff Brohm faces a tough task in rebuilding Purdue.
    Jeff Brohm faces a tough task in rebuilding Purdue.Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Purdue needed change. Anyone paying attention knew this last fall.

    The Darrell Hazell regime just didn't work, and the former head coach was fired after going 9-33 in three-and-a-half seasons in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers made a smart change in hiring Jeff Brohm, who was excellent in three seasons at Western Kentucky.

    Brohm took the baton from Bobby Petrino after a one-year redemption pit stop at WKU and improved the program, going 30-10 with a pair of Conference USA titles.

    Brohm has a fast-paced, high-powered passing offense that could remind Boiler fans of former coach Joe Tiller's "basketball on grass" scheme. But they need to have patience with him.

    Quarterback David Blough has potential after throwing for 3,352 yards with 25 touchdowns against 21 interceptions, but there are serious questions on the offensive line, among other places.

    The schedule does him no favors either, with a neutral-site opener against Louisville in Indianapolis, consecutive September games at Missouri and versus Michigan, and trips to Wisconsin and Northwestern.

    Matching 2016's win total would be acceptable as Brohm builds this fall.

    Predicted record: 3-9

Texas

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    Can Tom Herman engineer an immediate turnaround at Texas?
    Can Tom Herman engineer an immediate turnaround at Texas?Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Last fall, Texas finally got tired of Charlie Strong. He brought toughness and leadership to Austin but didn't produce wins.

    The Longhorns didn't have a winning season in his three seasons at the helm, and they finally decided enough was enough. But Texas hit a home run in luring Tom Herman away from Houston, where he won 22 games in two seasons.

    Texas fans and officials won't likely have much patience with Herman. Is that fair? Strong left behind a talented roster, including a solid defense that returns 10 starters and an emerging star in sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele. But the Longhorns have a tough early schedule.

    They travel to Southern California on Sept. 16 and face Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks in October. K-State and OSU are at home, while Oklahoma is at the traditional rivalry location of Dallas' Cotton Bowl.

    Texas underachieved under Strong, and expecting improvement is fair. But it might be too much to expect a return to the top of the Big 12 in year one of the Herman era.

    Predicted record: 8-4