Stock Watch on Year 1 College Football Coaches
The offseason coaching carousel was a wild one, with several big-name programs making changes. As a result, there are 29 head coaches making their debuts during the 2022 season. Fourteen of the new faces are coaching in the Power Five, too.
After three weeks, let's check in on how each is doing. No, we're not hitting the panic button on anyone yet—it's too early.
But let's evaluate the early results and adjust expectations for the rest of the year.
AAC, Conference USA and MAC
Stan Drayton, Temple
Temple has had a rough start. The Owls lost 30-0 to Duke in Week 1 before beating FCS program Lafayette 30-14 in Week 2. Last week, Temple dropped its second game of the season to Rutgers 16-14, which made Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano the winningest head coach in program history. Temple is a nine-point home favorite against UMass on Saturday.
Rhett Lashlee, SMU
Lashlee was an offensive coordinator at Samford, Arkansas State, Auburn, UConn, SMU and Miami before returning to Dallas as the Mustangs' new head coach. SMU is 2-1, winning against North Texas and Lamar before falling 34-27 on the road against Maryland. No one likes a loss, but a one-score loss to a Power Five opponent isn't terrible. Next up is TCU, and SMU is a 2.5-point home dog. A win over the Horned Frogs would increase Lashlee's stock significantly.
Sonny Cumbie, Louisiana Tech
Sonny Cumbie, who was an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and TCU since 2013, took over for longtime Bulldogs head coach Skip Holtz, who went 64-50 from 2013-21. Cumbie went 2-3 as Texas Tech's interim head coach last year, taking over for the fired Matt Wells. Louisiana Tech opened the season with a 52-24 road loss to Missouri, won 52-17 in Week 2 against FCS Stephen F. Austin and fell on the road to No. 5 Clemson 48-20. It's hard to tell just how good the Bulldogs might be, but we should have a better idea when they open conference play Oct. 8 against UTEP.
Stock: Down, for now
Mike MacIntyre, Florida International
MacIntyre, who went 30-44 as Colorado's head coach from 2013-18, is struggling early on. In Week 1, the Panthers needed overtime to get past FCS Bryant 38-37. Then, FIU fell 41-12 against Texas State. It is a 31-point underdog against Western Kentucky this weekend. This looks like it could be a long season for the program, which was 1-16 in 2020 and 2021.
Joe Moorhead, Akron
Moorhead was fired after just two seasons at Mississippi State in 2018-19, when he finished 14-12. Akron, meanwhile, hasn't finished at .500 since 2017 and was 3-27 over the previous three seasons. The Zips won their season opener against FCS St. Francis (Pa.). But they lost to Michigan State and Tennessee by a combined 115-6. They have another tough test this weekend before opening conference play, going on the road to face 2-1 Liberty.
Sun Belt and Mountain West
Michael Desormeaux, Louisiana
The Ragin' Cajuns' 15-game winning streak ended last week with a 33-21 loss at Rice. Still, Louisiana is 2-1 with wins over Southeastern Louisiana and Eastern Michigan. It will begin to defend its Sun Belt title against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Clay Helton, Georgia Southern
Clay Helton kicked off the wild coaching carousel last season, when he was fired from USC in mid-September. The Trojans went 46-24 under Helton. Georgia Southern is 2-1 after the Eagles went into Lincoln and upset Nebraska 45-42 in Week 2. Prior to that game, the Cornhuskers were 214-0 when scoring 35 points or more at home. Georgia Southern put up 642 yards of offense, and Nebraska fired Frost less than 24 hours later. The Eagles dropped their first game to UAB last week, but the win over Nebraska was huge.
Jon Sumrall, Troy
First-time head coach Jon Sumrall, who was Kentucky's offensive coordinator from 2019-21, took over a program that hasn't had a winning season since its third straight 10-plus-win campaign in 2018. Last week, the Trojans were on the losing end of a Hail Mary, which gave Appalachian State a 32-28 win. Troy dropped to 1-2. It also lost 28-10 at Ole Miss in Week 1 and beat FCS Alabama A&M in Week 2. We'll see if the Trojans, who are three-point home dogs, can get their first Sun Belt win over Marshall.
Timmy Chang, Hawai‘i
Hawai'i is hoping Chang, a Rainbow Warrior quarterback in the early 2000s, can get the program back on track. But Hawai‘i started 0-3, dropping blowouts against Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky and Michigan. The Rainbow Warriors got their first win of the season against FCS Duquesne and will face New Mexico State on the road this week before traveling to San Diego State to open conference play.
Jay Norvell, Colorado State
Norvell, who went 33-26 at Nevada from 2017-21, has been struggling to get wins. The Rams are 0-3, and are riding a nine-game losing streak. That's the worst in the FBS. Colorado State had five straight winning years from 2013-17 but was 11-29 over the next four.
Jeff Tedford, Fresno State
Jeff Tedford was the Bulldogs' head coach from 2017-19 before stepping down for health reasons. He took over for Kalen DeBoer, who left for Washington. Fresno State finished 10-3 last season, but it looks like the Bulldogs will take a massive step back. Tedford's team is 1-2, including back-to-back losses to Oregon State and USC. What's worse is that the Bulldogs lost their starting quarterback, Jake Haener, to a high ankle sprain in the third quarter against USC. They won't play again until Oct. 1 at UConn.
Ken Wilson, Nevada
Nevada has had mixed results. The Wolf Pack started 2-0 with victories over New Mexico State and Texas State but dropped a home game to FCS Incarnate Word 55-41. Nevada then lost 27-0 at Iowa on Saturday. It opens conference play at 2-1 Air Force on Friday.
Don Brown, UMass
Don Brown got his first victory in Week 3, defeating FCS Stony Brook 20-3. The Minutemen have struggled significantly in recent years, failing to get more than one win in every season since 2018. We'll see if Brown can get UMass to more than one win this year. Getting your first win in the third week of the season might be a positive sign, but there's still a long way to go.
Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame
It's hard to think of a tougher start for a head coach. Following Week 1 and 2 losses to Ohio State and Marshall, Freeman became the first Fighting Irish head coach to start 0-3—which includes Notre Dame's Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State in January. Notre Dame's home loss to the Thundering Herd also marked its first loss to an unranked, non-Power Five team as a Top 10 team since 1996. At least it beat Cal at home in Week 3, but this could be a long season.
Jerry Kill, New Mexico State
Jerry Kill went 29-29 over five seasons at Minnesota from 2011-15 before stepping down because of health reasons. He was 2-2 as TCU's interim head coach last season. This year, the Aggies are the nation's only 0-4 team, and they've lost their games by combined 147-32. New Mexico State will host 1-3 Hawai‘i this week.
Jim Mora, UConn
Jim Mora was UCLA's head coach from 2012-17, when he finished 46-30. The Huskies were 10-50 from 2016-21. UConn hasn't reached more than three wins since Bob Diaco's 6-7 season in 2015. Like with UMass, it's hard to gauge what a successful season will look like. The Huskies got their first win over Central Connecticut State in Week 1. But they lost 31-20 at Utah State in Week 0 and have dropped their last two in routs against Syracuse and Michigan.
Stock: Steady, for now
Kalen DeBoer, Washington
Deboer went 12-6 over two seasons at Fresno State, including a 9-3 record last season. Washington hasn't reached a bowl game since Chris Petersen's final season in 2019. The Huskies are 3-0 and coming off a huge home win over then-No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday. They scored 29 points in the first half and held a 29-8 lead. Sparty scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make it closer, but Washington still got a 39-28 win. With that victory, the Huskies look like they'll be in the mix to win the Pac-12. No. 18 UW opens conference play Saturday against Stanford.
Jake Dickert, Washington State
Jake Dickert took over as Wazzu's interim head coach after Nick Rolovich was fired last season for failing to comply with a vaccine mandate for state employees. Dickert led the Cougars to a 3-3 mark and was named head coach in late November. The Cougars are off to an impressive start with a 3-0 record, including a 17-14 upset at then-No. 19 Wisconsin in Week 2. The defense ranks 22nd in SP+, having allowed just 38 points through three games.
Dan Lanning, Oregon
It's interesting to see the difference in the Ducks over these three weeks. Oregon got throttled by Georgia 49-3 in Week 1 but rebounded with a 70-14 win over Eastern Washington. Last week, the Ducks upset No. 12 BYU 41-20 at home. Oregon shot up 10 spots in the Associated Press poll and now sits at No. 15. It opens its Pac-12 schedule at Washington State on Saturday.
Lincoln Riley, USC
One of the biggest moves of the coaching carousel was Lincoln Riley's leaving Oklahoma for USC. Riley led the Sooners to a 55-10 record over five seasons, including three College Football Playoff berths. The Trojans are 3-0 with wins over Rice, Stanford and Fresno State. The offense is humming under quarterback Caleb Williams—ranking seventh in scoring with 50.7 points per game and 10th in total offense. But USC is 83rd nationally in total defense.
Brian Kelly, LSU
Brian Kelly was the longtime Notre Dame head coach who went 113-40 over 12 seasons. His Week 1 debut didn't go well, as LSU lost 24-23 to Florida State in New Orleans. The Seminoles blocked the Tigers' potential game-tying extra point with no time remaining. But in Week 3, LSU got to 1-0 in the SEC West, defeating Mississippi State 31-16. After games against New Mexico and Auburn, the Tigers have to face No. 11 Tennessee and No. 20 Florida in the SEC East before going through the rest of the SEC West slate, which means four teams ranked in the Top 25. We'll see how LSU holds up.
Stock: Slightly down
Billy Napier, Florida
The Gators are looking to become nationally relevant for the first time since head coach Urban Meyer's departure following the 2010 season. Billy Napier went 40-12 over four seasons at Louisiana, and his debut season got off to a great start with an upset of then-No. 7 Utah at the Swamp. But things changed quickly in Week 2, as Florida fell 26-16 to visiting Kentucky. Quarterback Anthony Richardson threw two interceptions, and one was a pick-six. Florida's struggles continued versus South Florida in Week 3. Despite entering as a 23.5-point favorite, it escaped with a 31-28 victory. The Gators will visit No. 11 Tennessee this week—and have yet to throw a touchdown pass.
ACC, Big 12
Mario Cristobal, Miami
Mario Cristobal, who played at Miami in the 1980s and early '90s, went 35-13 as Oregon's head coach from 2017-21. Things have been shaky for the Hurricanes in Cristobal's first season. After Miami blew out Bethune-Cookman 70-13 in Week 1, the Canes offense struggled against Southern Mississippi at home, leading just 10-7 at halftime. Some fans even booed. In Week 3, Miami lost 17-9 at No. 24 Texas A&M, failing to score a touchdown against a team that had been upset by visiting Appalachian State the week prior.
Stock: Slightly down
Mike Elko, Duke
The Blue Devils have had one heck of a start. They are already 3-0, matching their win total from last year. Duke beat Temple 30-0, Northwestern 31-23 and North Carolina A&T 49-20. Quarterback Riley Leonard has thrown for 723 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. Next up is a date with another 3-0 team, Kansas.
Tony Elliott, Virginia
The Cavaliers are 2-1, having defeated FCS Richmond in Week 1 before falling to Illinois 24-3. UVA had to rally for its second win of the year against Old Dominion, as the Monarchs took a 14-13 lead with 1:01 left. But Brendan Farrell kicked a 26-yard field goal with no time left.
Brent Pry, Virginia Tech
The Hokies had a rough start, getting upset at Old Dominion. Virginia Tech rebounded with a 27-10 win over Boston College in Week 2, followed by a 27-7 win over Wofford. If it can stay competitive in the ACC Coastal, the Old Dominion loss might be something Hokies fans can forget easily.
Sonny Dykes, TCU
Sonny Dykes struggled as Cal's head coach from 2013-16 but found success at SMU over four-plus seasons, going 30-18. The Horned Frogs opened the season with a 38-13 win over Colorado and beat Tarleton State in Week 2. They will visit SMU on Saturday. With just two wins over the 0-3 Buffaloes and FCS Texans, there isn't much to go on to accurately assess this team just yet.
Joey McGuire, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders had a hot start, beating No. 25 Houston 33-30 in double overtime to start 2-0. But in a big opportunity at No. 16 North Carolina State, Tech fell flat and lost 27-14. McGuire can get things back on track against No. 22 Texas this week; the Longhorns are 6.5-point favorites.
Brent Venables, Oklahoma
Longtime Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is looking to pick up right where Lincoln Riley left off. The good news for the preseason Big 12 favorite Sooners is that the offense is rolling. OU is averaging 42.3 points per game, and quarterback Dillon Gabriel has accounted for nine touchdowns. A 3-0 start against UTEP, Kent State and Nebraska isn't surprising, so let's see if the Sooners can meet expectations and win the Big 12. They open conference play against Kansas State on Saturday, and Oklahoma is a 12.5-point favorite.
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
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