During the off-season, over two dozen college football programs introduced a new head coach, and that’s just at the FBS level. Some fired their coach and want to take things in a new direction while others saw their coach leave for greener pastures. Either way, over two dozen programs have a new coach, and naturally, some of those coaches are walking into a better situation than others. Here are the new coaches who will have a chance to make some waves in their first season at a new job.
Mack Brown, North Carolina
Over two decades after leaving North Carolina for Texas, Mack Brown is back in Chapel Hill. The last two seasons under Larry Fedora were rough for the Tar Heels, who went 5-18 over the last two years. But a string of injuries last season forced UNC to give younger players experience, and Brown has a chance to reap the benefits of that right away.
Manny Diaz, Miami
Diaz left his post as Miami’s defensive coordinator for the Temple job before returning to South Beach when Mark Richt suddenly retired. Despite lacking any head coaching experience, Diaz is familiar with most of Miami’s players and had a hand in recruiting most of the defensive players. The Hurricanes should have far more continuity than most teams going through a coaching change, which should make it easier for Diaz to have success right away. He just needs to find a quarterback he trusts, which is Miami’s biggest question heading into the season.
Gary Andersen, Utah State
Gary Andersen spent four seasons as the Utah State head coach from 2009 to 2012, so he’s familiar with the program and what it takes to build a winner there. More importantly, he’s taking over a team that won 11 games last year and finished the season in the top-25. The offense took some heavy losses, but the return of quarterback Jordan Love will help immensely, giving Andersen a chance to lead the Aggies to a conference title in his first season back in Logan.
Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State
Scott Satterfield has a big mess to clean up at Louisville, but he left Appalachian State in great shape for new coach Eliah Drinkwitz. The Mountaineers ran like a well-oiled machine the last few seasons and return a lot of experience, including quarterback Zac Thomas and some of their top skill players. Drinkwitz has never been a head coach before, but he’s stepping into a great situation, as Appalachian State has a roster that should compete for another Sun Belt title.
Ryan Day, Ohio State
Obviously, following Urban Meyer will have its challenges, but few first-time head coaches inherit a roster with this much talent. Meyer had no problem recruiting elite talent, so there’s no doubt that Day has the personnel at his disposal to win the Big Ten and compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Whether Day can deal with the pressure and responsibilities that come with coaching Ohio State is another matter, but all the pieces are in place if Day can quickly adjust to being a head coach.