2021 School Soccer Coach Carousel: Outlook for each new rent from instantaneous success to shortest time period
After Kansas hired Lance Leipold, the college football coaching carousel eventually opted for the 2020-21 cycle. We often consider these coaching classes to be design classes – evaluate the attitudes and come back years later to reevaluate them with a perspective and results to aid analysis. Since it’s the end of May and everyone can feel the graduation and the mood at the end of school, we thought it would be fun to split up the 2020-21 coaching class like a senior class with superlatives.
While we were tempted to get involved with the subject and identify “Best Hair” (this group has a lot of tall and tight cuts), “Biggest Flirt” (Bret Bielema, duh) and more of the classic senior superlatives, we’re going to focus on Focus on awards and groupings that make the most sense for this college football coaching conversation.
Most likely to win big early on
Bryan Harsin, Auburn
Gus Malzahn, UCF
It is inadvertent to associate both Gus Malzahn’s old and new programs with high expectations for 2021, but both coaches inherit situations that are either at or not far from championship levels. In particular, both coaches take on offenses with a starting quarterback and a talent level in the roster that gives both teams a fairly high priority. Now, at their own conferences, both teams have an issue with a rival who is currently the ruling power in the league – Alabama for Auburn and Cincinnati for UCF – but the 2021 underdog has had enough of a hit-head streak lately too believe a quick return to the top is possible. Chances are Malzahn will win a conference championship ahead of Harsin, but I could see both of them battling for a place in the college football playoffs for their first three years.
Most likely to win big later
Steve Sarkisian, Texas
Why should Sark have to wait for delayed success? You have an Oklahoma problem in the Big 12, similar to the Alabama problem in the SEC. Why can’t the Longhorns have immediate success? First, Sarkisian doesn’t take on offense with an established starting quarterback and doesn’t have the most recent experience as a Harsin or Malzahn head coach. I think it’s fairer for Sark to delay some of those championship expectations as he gets back to his main job and immerses himself in the new routines and rhythms that will allow him to meet those expectations. There’s no doubt that Texas has college football playoffs and even national championship potential with Sarkisian. Although he has the highest cap of the 2020-21 class, I think the real rewards of his tenure are at least a few years later.
Can the results match the name?
Bret Bielema, Illinois
Butch Jones, state of Arkansas
Between 2007 and 2012, these two coaches won a total of seven conference championships before joining the SEC in the same year (2013) and being fired during or immediately after the completion of the fifth year. The way back to head coach led Bielema to the NFL while Jones worked for Nick Saban in Alabama, and now everyone gets one more chance to meet the expectations that have come from their early success in coaching. Bielema in Illinois clearly has different expectations than Jones in Arkansas, both in terms of competition at the conference and the status of the program compared to its peers. However, both fans expect results consistent with including a coach with championships on his resume.
Most difficult conversion
Lance Leipold, Kansas
Jedd Fish, Arizona
One of the reasons to be excited about Leipold’s setting in Kansas is the work he’s done transforming the Buffalo soccer program. It’s not likely that the Jayhawks will be playing for conference championships until the end of year fourth like the Bulls at MAC, but the approach to programming he took to a school that only made two bowl appearances prior to his arrival could lead to permanent change in Lawrence. Arizona has seen some success in recent times compared to the 12-year drought in Kansas, but the Rich Rodriguez-era loft became too much after his layoff and three years of Kevin Sumlin trying to fix things a low point situation. Sumlin went 9-20, never played a bowl game, and the Wildcats have been the last to land dead in the past two seasons at Pac-12 South.
Shane Beamer, South Carolina
Clark Lea, Vanderbilt
While there is certainly a conversion or at least conversion angle for what is in stock for both South Carolina and Vanderbilt, the adjustments made by both schools were of a family nature, which can result in a longer leash, or at least more patience Program creation process. Beamer was Steve Spurrier’s assistant for four years during the early stages of one of the most successful periods in South Carolina football history. As the recruiting coordinator, Beamer helped bring in NFL-caliber players like Alshon Jeffery and Stephon Gillmore, and there is a real dynamic behind the idea of knowing the state of the country in a unique way that can help South Carolina rise again . As a Vanderbilt alum and a native of Nashville, Lea brings an even more familiar atmosphere with her. Both coaches are younger than 45 and have their first job as head coach. You always have more patience with family members than with strangers, especially when it’s their first time trying to figure something out. That will result in a longer leash for these two newcomers to the SEC.
Josh Heupel, Tennessee
The circumstances in which Jeremy Pruitt was fired in mid-January as part of an internal investigation into suspected recruitment violations raises all sorts of questions about the many factions in and around Tennessee football. Danny White, who was hired by UCF as the new sporting director, likely facilitated a simple screening process when he hired Heupel for the second time, but I’m not ready to say the relationship is reason enough to believe he’s on a long leash or plenty of time to move things in the right direction. An exodus of transfers has created talent and depth issues that need to be addressed immediately before Tennessee finds itself with a rapidly widening gap between itself and the teams it considers peers (Florida, Georgia and, yes, Alabama) . In contrast to the newcomers Beamer and Lea, this is not the first time that Heupel has been the head coach. If the early results in the field are more in line with South Carolina and Vanderbilt than, say, Missouri and Kentucky, Knoxville will be exciting.
The easiest program to maintain
Andy Avalos, Boise State
Go all the way back to Dirk Koetter and the Big West Conference in 1999 and you won’t find more than two straight years in which Boise State didn’t win at least one share of the conference championship. Conferences and coaches have changed, but from Koetter to Dan Hawkins to Chris Petersen to Bryan Harsin, Boise State continues to offer seasons with 10 wins and the opportunity to win championships every year. When Avalos, the team’s lead tackler and an all-WAC linebacker of the first team for the Broncos, was hired to replace Harsin in the early 2000s, we transferred the same expectations to a young coach who knows exactly what it is needs to win in Boise.
The hardest program to wait for
Maurice Linguist, Buffalo
It’s difficult to spend months preparing to become the co-defensive coordinator for Michigan and then, in May, decide to swap out all of these folders for your first job as head coach. Not only did Lance Leipold build the Bulls program fantastically, but he also went with several assistants and took them to Kansas with him. The linguist spent two years (2012-13) with Jeff Quinn in Buffalo, but was not closely tied to the program’s promotion to the MAC championship bout. The late rental means even less time to adapt to the environment and hurts the chances of keeping the cops at the forefront of the conference.
Power Five candidate
Blake Anderson, State of Utah
The state of Utah is a pretty good landing spot for Anderson looking for a fresh start. In seven years in the state of Arkansas, the Red Wolves won two Sun Belt championships, another championship title, and appeared in six straight bowl games under his watch. If he is able to replicate that type of success with the Aggies in the mountains west, he will quickly move up the list of potential candidates to make the leap from the group of five to the power five in future coaching cycles .
Longest term in office
Will Hall, southern lady
Charles Huff, Marshall
Kane Wommack, South Alabama
Part of that projection has to do with the runway, as Hall is the oldest of the group at 41 and Wommack is the youngest at 34. For Huff and Wommack, this is also their first job as head coach, while Hall has experience as head coach (and success as head coach) at the Division II level. These attitudes are designed to enable the trainer to grow as a professional and bring either stability or a new direction into their new program. Southern Miss, Marshall, and South Alabama would like to know their soccer coach is banned for years to come. But as always, the risk of too much success could lead to a short stay for her new hiring.
Shortest term of office
Terry Bowden, ULM
Two years as a graduate assistant – yes, you read that right, graduate assistant – has opened up some new perspectives for Bowden to return to head coaching. Even so, this is a 65-year-old coach taking on a program that hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2012. Bowden can bring a lot of experience and guidance, but whether he’s the right person for the job over a six or seven year period remains to be seen.