Explore our comprehensive ranking of the top 25 college football coaching hires in 2024. Get insights into the new faces leading Bowl Subdivision teams and their potential impact.
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In the ever-evolving world of college football, hiring a new coach can be a game-changer for any program.
Three years ago, Arizona’s Jedd Fisch was branded a “coaching vagabond” with doubts about his ability to lift his team from the depths of the conference.
Today, he is revered as one of the top hires, a testament to the unpredictable nature of coaching appointments.
Let us rank and evaluate every new hire in the Bowl Subdivision, with a new batch of coaches stepping into the spotlight.
Bronco Mendenhall, New Mexico
Mendenhall’s return to coaching, this time with New Mexico, is a significant coup. His successful stints at Brigham Young and Virginia, where he achieved bowl eligibility nearly every year, make him an absolute gem for the Lobos. His familiarity with New Mexico and the region amplifies his potential impact.
Willie Fritz, Houston
Fritz’s appointment at Houston is another home run. His impressive track record, including a 23-4 mark over the past two seasons and a New Year’s Six bowl victory, speaks volumes. Known for his inventive offenses, Fritz’s move to Houston promises exciting prospects.
Kalen DeBoer, Alabama
DeBoer’s challenge at Alabama is enormous, especially in the shadow of Nick Saban. His success at Washington, leading them to the national championship game, is commendable. Whether he can match the recruitment and coaching levels of powerhouses like Georgia and Ohio State remains the question.
Ken Niumatalolo, San Jose State
Returning as a head coach, Niumatalolo’s track record, including a successful tenure at Navy, makes him an intriguing pick for San Jose State. His decision to remove the option offense used at Navy suggests a fresh approach.
Jon Sumrall, Tulane
Sumrall, the rising star from Troy with back-to-back Sun Belt championships, is a promising hire for Tulane. His SEC experience and recent success hint at a bright future for the Green Wave program.
Pete Lembo, Buffalo
Lembo’s diverse and successful coaching history, especially at Ball State, positions him well for his new role at Buffalo. His expertise in player development and talent evaluation will be crucial for the program.
Curt Cignetti, Indiana
Cignetti’s undefeated record as a head coach across multiple levels makes him a fascinating choice for Indiana, a historically challenging program. His recent success at James Madison might signal a positive change for the Hoosiers.
Jonathan Smith, Michigan State
Smith’s under-the-radar work at Oregon State, especially in the past two seasons, perfectly fits the Michigan State ethos. His commitment to a physical offense and player development will serve him well in the competitive Big Ten.
Brent Brennan, Arizona
Brennan’s successful tenure at San Jose State bodes well for Arizona, especially as the team prepares to enter the Big 12. With key players returning, Brennan has a solid foundation to build upon.
Jedd Fisch, Washington
Fisch’s remarkable turnaround at Arizona, turning them into a Pac-12 contender, earned him a move to Washington. His rebuilding skills will be vital as Washington faces a tough schedule and roster changes.
Mike Elko, Texas A&M
Elko brings a fresh defensive approach to Texas A&M, contrasting previous offensive-minded hires. His potential to stabilize the program and build a strong culture could be exactly what the Aggies need.
Sherrone Moore, Michigan
Moore, taking over at Michigan, faces the daunting task of following Jim Harbaugh. While his track record within the program is impressive, his lack of head coaching experience raises questions.
Spencer Danielson, Boise State
Danielson, the latest in a line of Boise State assistants turned head coaches, brings energy and respect from the locker room. His successful stint as interim coach hints at a promising tenure.
Bob Chesney, James Madison
Chesney’s impressive record at Holy Cross, including multiple Patriot League titles, makes him an exciting pick for James Madison. His transition to a higher level of competition will be closely watched.
Sean Lewis, San Diego State
Despite a challenging season at Colorado, Lewis’s offensive acumen, proven at Kent State, could transform San Diego State’s offense. His potential to elevate the program’s offensive play is significant.
Manny Diaz, Duke
Diaz’s successful defensive work at Penn State and ACC experience with Miami make him a fitting choice for Duke. His ability to continue the Blue Devils’ upward trajectory is promising.
Jeff Choate, Nevada
Choate’s diverse experience, including a successful tenure at Montana State and time at Texas, prepares him well for Nevada. Despite the program’s challenges, his background suggests readiness for the role.
Fran Brown, Syracuse
Brown’s stint at Georgia and his history with Matt Rhule highlight his program-building skills. His exceptional recruiting ability could significantly benefit Syracuse, especially in the transfer portal era.
Major Applewhite, South Alabama
Applewhite’s experience as Houston’s head coach and his roles at top programs like Alabama and Texas set him up well for success at South Alabama. The program’s recent uptick in performance adds to the optimism.
Jay Sawvell, Wyoming
Sawvell’s promotion at Wyoming, following successful years as the team’s defensive coordinator, is a well-earned step. His history under renowned coaches adds to his credibility.
Derek Mason, Middle Tennessee
Based on his experience at Vanderbilt and as a top assistant, Mason’s return to a head coaching role is a solid move for Middle Tennessee. His defensive prowess will be key for the program’s direction.
Trent Bray, Oregon State
Given the program’s current standing, Bray’s internal promotion at Oregon State is a strategic choice. His successful stint as defensive coordinator is a positive sign, though his ability to lead the program remains to be seen.
Scotty Walden, Texas-El Paso
Walden’s relative youth and limited experience concern UTEP, but his Texas roots and energetic approach could spark the program.
Jeff Lebby, Mississippi State
Lebby’s offensive background promises to rejuvenate Mississippi State’s offense. However, his ability to foster a competitive culture in the SEC will be his ultimate test.
Bryant Vincent, Louisiana-Monroe
Vincent faces a daunting task at Louisiana-Monroe, one of the most challenging programs in the FBS. His role in UAB’s resurgence offers hope for a similar turnaround.
In conclusion, these new hires represent a fascinating mix of proven winners, rising stars, and intriguing wildcards.
Their ability to adapt, recruit, and develop talent will ultimately define their success in the highly competitive college football landscape.
As history has shown, the true impact of these appointments can only be judged with time.