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Hot Reads: Evaluating the 2018 Coaching Carousel

December 5, 2018
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Most of the horses have found their coaches on the 2018 coaching carousel, but instead of grading what's happened so far –– where most hires end up being a C, and probably should –– I'm just going to put them in order of how much I like the hire. (Very scientific, I know.)

I'll insert occasional markers to let you know where we're at on this very official scale. From the top.

Man, That Seems Smart

MATT WELLS, Texas Tech: This feels like the best P5 hire made thus far. Wells, two-time Mountain West Coach of the Year, reengineered Utah State for success post-Gary Andersen. The task is similar at Texas Tech. It can get lonely out there in Lubbock, but Wells, a South Carolina native, should be used to that. Logan, Utah, ain't exactly the center of the action.

WILL HEALY, Charlotte: I'm fascinated by this one on multiple fronts. Healy is just 33 and  joins the 49ers' program fresh off having made Austin Peay respectable. He should have as much time as he wants or needs at Charlotte, which is viewed as a pretty good spot for young coaches (decent access to talent, a city, an FBS future waiting to be written). Up-and-coming coach, meet up-and-coming program.

SCOTT SATTERFIELD, Louisville: As backup plans go, Satterfield is a pretty darn good one. That was always going to be the advantage of this particular spin on the carousel, which is lacking traditional heavyweights. It allows a guy like Satterfield, coming off three straight conference titles at Appalachian State, to be a school like Louisville's second choice and Louisville still gets him. Great for the Cards, though I'm not sure I love the fit for Satterfield.

I'm Curious

JIM MCELWAIN, Central Michigan: He's won as a head coach twice before and has spent time as an assistant at Michigan State and Michigan. I'm getting a strong Frank Solich-to-Ohio vibe here.

RYAN DAY, Ohio State: Under more typical circumstances, if Ohio State has an opening is Day the pick? Probably not, but that makes this one pretty interesting.

WALT BELL, UMass: The wunderkind OC parlayed quick success at Maryland into the same gig at Florida State, where he didn't get control of the offense until late in the season. It's tough in today's football to not think offense when hiring and Bell checks that box. His offense works. Now go make UMass exciting.

MIKE HOUSTON, East Carolina: Built a winner at James Madison and ECU can be a solid G5 job. It was in the past before the Pirates got a little lost.

Meh

JAKE SPAVITAL, Texas State

SCOTT LOEFFLER, Bowling Green

TYSON HELTON, Western Kentucky

I'm Starting Not to Like This

LES MILES, Kansas: The Jayhawks hired the guy from the Dos Equis commercials. (At least that was the thought I had last weekend every time I saw Les on TV during championship week.) This is a good hire in that it forces everyone to pay attention to Kansas football, but good PR is different that good football. Miles should make Kansas competitive but anything beyond that will probably be some other coach's task. And if that's the case, why not just try to find that guy now? I could be convinced this Miles play might work, but I'm not confident it will.

MIKE LOCKSLEY, Maryland: Born in D.C. and an alum of Towson, Locksley is DMV to the core. He'll recruit well, but it's highly unlikely that recruiting will win a division that includes Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State. You need someone who can recruit and coach. Locksley's evidence for the latter is lacking. He's been a head coach for 34 football games –– 2.33 seasons at New Mexico, six games as the interim at Maryland in 2015 –– and won three of them. He does come to College Park fresh off a three-year stay at Nick Saban's Home for Fired Coaches, however, a semi-exclusive rehabilitation facility located on the shores of the Black Warrior River.

Definitely Don't Like This

MACK BROWN, North Carolina: The difference between Kansas's "let's hire a coach with a national title" decision and North Carolina's? It's actually reasonable to have legitimate football expectations in Chapel Hill. It's a program that could be (should be?) good. Running Mack back for a second stint is the UNC brass effectively lowering what should be a pretty high ceiling.

The Grab Bag

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