Ranking the 10 Best 2022 CFB Coaching Hires so Far

Morgan MoriartyDecember 9, 2022

Ranking the 10 Best 2022 CFB Coaching Hires so Far

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    Deion Sanders
    Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    The college football coaching carousel has been well underway all season. So far, 18 hires have been made.

    While it is pretty tough to predict how a hire will pan out in college football, there are certain expectations that come with them. Head coaches that have done well at smaller schools might be expected to have their success translate to a Power Five school. Or maybe coordinators that have done well have expectations to succeed at their first crack at a head coaching job.

    We've already seen some big names take jobs, such as "Prime Time" Deion Sanders heading to Colorado, Luke Fickell taking the Wisconsin job and Matt Rhule heading back to college to coach Nebraska.

    Let's rank the 10 best 2022 college football coaching hires so far, with an emphasis on recruiting potential, amount of success in their most recent CFB job and a small advantage for those with previous head coaching experience.

    Author's note: All hires officially announced as of Dec. 8

The Rest

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    Lance Taylor
    AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

    Hugh Freeze, Auburn

    Freeze's hire at Auburn was met with some backlash. Freeze resigned from Ole Miss in 2017 after using his school-issued cellphone to call a female escort service. More recently, Freeze also sent unsolicited direct messages to a former Liberty University student regarding her criticism of Liberty AD Ian McCaw over the summer.

    Freeze went 34-15 over four seasons at Liberty. At Ole Miss, he went 19-21 against the SEC and had two wins against Alabama—one of which was vacated by the NCAA after Ole Miss was accused of 15 Level I violations.

    Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State

    Kenny Dillingham will be looking to translate his success as an offensive coordinator into his gig at ASU. Dillingham arrives after one season with Oregon. Dillingham helped lead Oregon to a 9-3 regular season, while quarterback Bo Nix ranks among the top 20 passers. Previously, Dillingham was an offensive coordinator at Florida State from 2020 to '21 and Auburn in 2019, where he helped Nix finish as the SEC Freshman of the Year.

    Kevin Wilson, Tulsa

    Tulsa moved on from head coach Philip Montgomery, who had just three seasons above .500 since 2015. Wilson has spent the last five seasons on Ohio State's staff. Prior to coaching at Ohio State, Wilson was the head coach at Indiana for six seasons, where he compiled a 26-47 record. Wilson resigned in 2016 after reports about his treatment of players.

    Biff Poggi, Charlotte

    Charlotte moved to the FBS in 2015, and the 49ers have struggled significantly since then. In eight seasons, Charlotte has gone 29-62. Former 49ers head coach Will Healy, who was fired after Charlotte's 1-7 start, had just one season above .500 (2019). Poggi arrives in Charlotte with not much college football experience. He has spent most of his coaching career at the high school level at Gilman School in Maryland from 1988 to 2015. In 2016, he was on Michigan's staff as an analyst before returning to coach high school from 2017 to 2020. Poggi was an associate head coach at Michigan from 2021 to '22.

    G.J. Kinne, Texas State

    Kinne gets his first crack at the FBS after leading FCS Incarnate Word to an 11-1 season in 2022. Prior to coaching at Incarnate Word, he had a handful of season-long stints elsewhere. He spent the 2021 season as UCF's co-offensive coordinator and QBs coach. He was the OC and QBs coach at Hawai'i for the 2020 season and was an offensive special projects coach for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019. He was an offensive analyst at Arkansas in 2018 and a graduate assistant at SMU in 2017. The Bobcats haven't had a winning season since 2014, so this program is hoping Kinne can repeat the success he had at Incarnate Word.

    Tim Beck, Coastal Carolina

    It'll be hard replacing Jamey Chadwell, a coach that went 39-22 over five seasons with the Chanticleers. But the former NC State offensive coordinator will look to do just that in his first-ever head coaching gig. Prior to coaching at NC State, Beck was an OC at Texas and Ohio State. Most recently, Beck coached quarterback Devin Leary, one of the most prolific passers in the country in 2021.

    Lance Taylor, Western Michigan

    Taylor spent the 2022 season as Louisville's offensive coordinator. The Cardinals are just 76th in scoring offense, averaging 27.2 points per game.

    Prior to his season at Louisville, he spent three seasons coaching Notre Dame's running backs, helping lead the Fighting Irish to a playoff bid in 2020. At WMU, Taylor has the chance to bring the Broncos a MAC title for the first time since 2016, when P.J. Fleck did so.

    Barry Odom, UNLV

    UNLV is hoping that Barry Odom, who spent the last three seasons as Arkansas' defensive coordinator, can bring some life back into this Rebels program. UNLV hasn't had a winning season since 2013, the last time the Rebels went to a bowl game. Odom's defense in Fayetteville allowed just 22.9 points per game in 2021, during the Razorbacks' 9-4 season. Prior to his time at Arkansas, Odom spent time on the defensive staffs of Missouri and Memphis.

10. Trent Dilfer, UAB

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    Trent Dilfer
    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    The UAB Blazers will look to have a smooth transition this offseason with the hire of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer.

    The Blazers finished 6-6 under interim head coach Bryant Vincent, who took over in June when longtime head coach Bill Clark stepped down due to health reasons. Although Blazers players sent an open letter to UAB's president urging him to retain Vincent, the school hired Dilfer last month.

    Dilfer, who spent over a decade in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, was an analyst at ESPN from 2008 to '17. More recently, Dilfer has been coaching high school football in Tennessee, where he led Lipscomb to a state title two times in four seasons.

    Hiring the former ESPN star was a bit of a surprise, but if Dilfer can win like he did in Tennessee—getting 42 wins over four seasons—this will be a great fit for UAB.

9. Alex Golesh, South Florida

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    Alex Golesh
    AP Photo/Wade Payne

    The South Florida Bulls are hoping new head coach Alex Golesh can help put together a massive turnaround. Over three seasons under head coach Jeff Scott, the Bulls won just four games.

    The good news is that Golesh seems to know how to produce offenses that can score points, which hopefully will translate to more wins for USF. He spent the last two seasons at Tennessee as the Vols offensive coordinator, coaching Hendon Hooker. This season, the Vols have the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation. In 2021, Tennessee was seventh.

    Prior to landing his first head coaching job at USF, Golesh has been an offensive assistant at several spots. In 2020 he was at UCF and spent 2016 to '19 on Matt Campbell's staff at Iowa State. Three seasons before that he was at Illinois.

    Golesh will look to bring a winning culture back to South Florida, which hasn't had a winning season since Charlie Strong's second-to-last year in 2018. We'll see if his success calling plays can translate into that.

8. Brent Key, Georgia Tech

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    Brent Key
    Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Georgia Tech didn't have to look too far to find its next head coach. That's because Key served as the Yellow Jackets' interim head coach after the school fired Geoff Collins in late September. Key led GT to a 4-4 record. It was an impressive turnaround for a team that started the year 1-3.

    His team's most impressive win came in Week 12, when it overcame a 17-0 deficit to upset then-No. 13 North Carolina on the road. The Yellow Jackets beat then-No. 24 Pitt earlier in the season, as well.

    Although there were reports that Tech was trying to hire Tulane's Willie Fritz, Tech hired Key, an alumnus of Tech, for the full-time gig. He played offensive lineman for Tech from 1997 to 2000 before spending the first two years of his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tech from 2001 to '02.

    Key spent most of his coaching career at UCF under longtime Knights head coach George O'Leary from 2005 to '15. Before Collins hired him in 2019, Key spent three seasons on Alabama's staff coaching the offensive line.

    Georgia Tech is looking to get back to the success that longtime head coach Paul Johnson achieved in Atlanta. Collins' attempt at doing so didn't work. Perhaps an alumnus like Key has just what it takes to do that at Tech and be in it for the long haul.

7. Jeff Brohm, Louisville

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    Jeff Brohm
    James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Louisville has made a splash with its hiring of head coach Jeff Brohm. Brohm replaces Satterfield after spending the last six seasons at Purdue, going 36-34.

    Most notably, Purdue upset then-No. 2 Ohio State 49-20 in 2018, when Purdue finished 6-7, capped off with a loss in the Music City Bowl. Last season, the Boilermakers went 9-4, their best finish since Joe Tiller's 9-4 season in 2003.

    This season might've been Brohm's most impressive one yet—Purdue won its last three regular-season games to clinch the Boilermakers' first-ever Big Ten West title and a berth in the Big Ten title game. Purdue played well, despite losing 43-22 to Michigan.

    Brohm heading to Louisville is a homecoming for the head coach. He played quarterback at Louisville under Howard Schnellenberger in the early 1990s. He went 15-10 as a starter for the Cardinals and threw for 5,451 yards. Brohm is still one of the school's leaders in touchdown passes (38) and total offense.

    A head coach returning to his alma mater is very cool in itself. Louisville getting a proven winner like Brohm to coach where he once played makes this hire even more fun.

6. Scott Satterfield, Cincinnati

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    Scott Satterfield
    Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Scott Satterfield will have big shoes to fill, replacing Luke Fickell, who led the Bearcats to a first-ever College Football Playoff bid last season and three double-digit-win seasons.

    Satterfield arrives at Cincinnati after spending the last four seasons at Louisville. Although his 25-24 tenure with the Cardinals wasn't wildly impressive, he did achieve a lot of success at App State. From 2014 to '18, the Mountaineers went 47-16, including three straight bowl wins, as well as three straight conference championships.

    It's a bit ironic that Satterfield is headed to Cincy, as he reportedly lost out to Fickell for the job back in December 2016. Here's what Satterfield had to say about that, via The Athletic:

    "I didn't know if I had it, but I knew it was close. I remember getting a call from (former athletic director) Mike (Bohn) on a Friday morning, and he said it was really close. But there were no hard feelings at all from me. I was at a great place; we were doing some good things. Wherever I'm at, I want to do the best job I can possibly do, so that's kind of how I see it."

    He got the job this time around, but now Satterfield won't be coaching Cincinnati as a Group of Five program. That's because starting in 2023, the Bearcats will be moving from the AAC to the Big 12.

    It'll be a unique challenge bringing the Bearcats up to the Power Five, but Satterfield has a chance to bring Cincy to the big leagues in a big way.

5. Tom Herman, FAU

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    Tom Herman
    AP Photo

    Tom Herman is back coaching in college football. The former Texas head coach spent 2021 as an offensive analyst with the Chicago Bears and 2022 as a television analyst with CBS Sports Network. FAU is hoping Herman can turn around a program that's gone 15-18 over the last three seasons under Willie Taggart. It was a big drop-off from Lane Kiffin, who put together two 11-win seasons in Boca Raton, Florida, before heading to Ole Miss.

    Although Herman didn't win quite big enough for Texas—the Longhorns went 32-18 over four seasons—Owls fans are hoping he can replicate the success he had at Houston. In 2015, the Cougars went 13-1, capped off with an upset Peach Bowl victory over Florida State. Houston went 9-3 the next season in Herman's last season there before Texas.

    In 2015, Houston finished 10th in scoring offense, averaging 40.4 points per game, and 21st in scoring defense, allowing 20.7 points per game. Per FAU, Houston was the only program in the country that season to rank in the top 10 in scoring offense and the top 25 in scoring defense.

    Prior to his first head coaching job at Houston, Herman made a name for himself as an offensive coordinator and recruiter at Ohio State from 2012 to '14. The Buckeyes won the national title at the conclusion of the 2014 season, with a team featuring current NFL stars such as running back Ezekiel Elliott, wide receiver Michael Thomas, safety Vonn Bell and defensive end Joey Bosa.

    If Herman can recruit well in a talent-rich South Florida for the Owls, FAU can win in a big way. This looks like a pretty decent hire for a program that's struggled since Kiffin's departure.

4. Jamey Chadwell, Liberty

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    Jamey Chadwell
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    If Jamey Chadwell can replicate the success he had at Coastal Carolina, Liberty will be in a great spot. Chadwell replaces Hugh Freeze and will guide the Flames as they move from an FBS Independent to Conference USA in 2023.

    Chadwell did a fantastic job over five seasons for the Chanticleers, finishing with a 39-22 overall record, and back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2020 and 2021.

    The Chanticleers saw massive offensive success under Chadwell. During the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Coastal led the Sun Belt in scoring offense, averaging 37.2 points per game in 2020 and 40.9 points per game in 2021.

    His quarterback, Grayson McCall, threw for 8,019 yards and 78 touchdowns over his Chanticleers career. Chadwell's offense also featured current Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely.

    Although Coastal never had a real shot at making it into the playoff—the highest it got ranked was 12th by the committee—Chadwell is setting his sights on that goal as he takes over at Liberty.

    "To have the opportunity to take this football program to the next level in Conference USA, to compete for conference championships, starting in 2024 we're going to start competing for the CFP," Chadwell said in a news conference, as transcribed by ESPN. "That's our ultimate goal. Everything that we do will be working towards that."

    We'll see how high Chadwell can take this Liberty program.

3. Matt Rhule, Nebraska

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    Matt Rhule
    Eakin Howard/Getty Images

    Matt Rhule is back in college football. After spending the last three seasons in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers compiling an 11-27 record, Rhule will look to bring Nebraska back to national relevance.

    Rhule has had success at the college level. From 2017 to 2019, he was the head coach at Baylor and led the Bears from 1-11 to 7-6 with a win in the Texas Bowl. In 2019, the Bears finished 11-2 in the regular season and earned a Sugar Bowl berth. Baylor lost 26-14 to Georgia, but the season still marked a successful turnaround after the Art Briles era.

    Rhule had spent four seasons at Temple in his first head coaching gig. He went 28-23, including back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2015 and 2016, and led the Owls to the AAC Championship in 2016.

    Rhule, a New York City native who played at Penn State from 1994 to 1997, will look to rebuild a program that's been in turmoil. Over the last five seasons under Scott Frost (and interim coach Mickey Joseph), the Cornhuskers have not finished above .500. Before Frost, Mike Riley went 19-19 over three seasons.

    Nebraska needs a head coach who can help it compete in the Big Ten. We'll see if Rhule is the one who gets things going.

2. Luke Fickell, Wisconsin

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    Luke Fickell
    Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    It was a surprise when Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst midway through the season. Chryst had not had a losing season since his arrival in 2015, but the Badgers chose to move on after a 2-3 start.

    But with the hiring of Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, the decision to move on from Chryst looks like a good one in hindsight. Over six seasons with the Bearcats, Fickell went 57-18, including five straight bowl appearances and back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2018 and 2019. Perhaps his most impressive feat was leading Cincy to a playoff bid last season—the first time a Group of Five program made it into the final four.

    Prior to joining Cincinnati in 2017, Fickell spent most of his coaching career with Ohio State, dating back to 2002. He was the interim head coach in 2011 after Jim Tressel resigned. He then stayed on with Urban Meyer's staff until leaving for the Bearcats.

    Fickell has already hired big names to join him, and it seems like the Wisconsin offense will look different than its historically run-heavy scheme. That's because North Carolina's Phil Longo will take over as offensive coordinator. Longo and the Tar Heels finished with a top-10 passing offense this season.

    If Fickell achieves the same success he did at Cincinnati at the Power Five level, Wisconsin will have gotten a massive upgrade.

1. Deion Sanders, Colorado

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     Deion Sanders
    Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    Deion "Prime Time" Sanders has arrived to the FBS. After leading HBCU Jackson State to a 27-5 record over three seasons, Sanders is now the head coach at Colorado.

    He is a huge name but inherits a program that has struggled remarkably in recent years. The Buffaloes have gone 14-28 over the last four seasons, and they haven't finished above .500 since Mike MacIntyre's 10-4 season in 2016.

    Sanders can bring in big talent on the recruiting trail and with the transfer portal. Earlier this year, he made headlines when he flipped the nation's No. 1 overall recruit in Travis Hunter from Florida State to Jackson State. Sanders, though, came under fire for his comments to Colorado players in which he said he was "bringing my luggage with me" and suggested they transfer. But transfers happen, and Sanders likely will bring a lot of players with him, so why not be honest from the get-go?

    Colorado hasn't competed with its Pac-12 counterparts for quite a while now. If Sanders can match what he did at Jackson State, he could make a name for himself as a big-time head coach.

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