Arkansas hires HC Chad Morris: B+ Grade
Arkansas has employed two coaches with winning records since 1989, and one was Bobby Petrino. It's safe to say that they've been starved for head-coaching talent, and they may have found it with Chad Morris. The 49-year-old thrived as Clemson's offensive coordinator and then turned SMU into a competitive program this past season. He's a sharp offensive mind and has great recruiting ties to Texas. Good quarterbacks are going to want to play for him, so this seems like it could turn out to be a very good hire for Arkansas.
Tennessee hires HC Jeremy Pruitt: D Grade
This grade is more for Tennessee's overall coaching search than this hiring. However, it's fair to be skeptical of Jeremy Pruitt, as he has no head-coaching experience. He's been a good defensive coordinator, but he was passed over by Mississippi State and similar schools for a reason.
Pruitt could pan out, but you have to wonder what the Vols are thinking. They had a nice hire in Greg Schiano, but they catered toward a hate mob that spread disgusting rumors about him. The Vols couldn't hire any of their top choices as a result, so they had to settle for Pruitt, which doesn't seem great. Tennessee has become college football's version of the Cleveland Browns.
Florida State hires HC Willie Taggart: C+ Grade
Florida State lost Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M, a move that still happens to be a head-scratcher, but the school found a replacement rather quickly, hiring Willie Taggart. Florida State went after Rosewood first, but had to settle for Taggart.
This is another grade in the "C" range. Willie Taggart's career coaching record is 47-50. He's had one season in which he achieved better than an 8-5 record. He's coached in one bowl game (the heralded Miami Beach Bowl, which he lost). He lasted just one season at Oregon, in which he went 7-5. Granted, his quarterback was hurt, but it's not like he earned this job. Plus, it's a little sketchy that he lasted only one year in Oregon, as we don't know if he could've turned that program around. Florida State is his dream job, so he likely won't leave the Seminoles like Fisher did, but he's never had lasting success at a program.
Central Florida hires HC Josh Heupel: C- Grade
Central Florida lost Scott Frost, but seemingly was going to find a great replacement in Kevin Sumlin. For some reason, that didn't work out, and the Knights had to settle for Josh Heupel instead.
This isn't a good hire, but at least it's not Herm Edwards, right? Heupel, who won a national championship as the quarterback for Oklahoma in 2000, struggled as an offensive coordinator at his alma mater before getting fired. He rebounded with Missouri, doing great work with quarterback Drew Lock.
Is just one recent good year as a coordinator enough to warrant this hire over Sumlin? That's the question Central Florida has to ask itself. I'd say no, which would explain the C- grade.
Arizona State hires HC Herm Edwards: WEIS Grade
I have "Millen" to stand for "F" grades for terrible decisions made by NFL general managers. I have "York" to stand for "F" grades for bad moves made by NFL owners. I needed an "F" for horrible head-coaching hires, and after some deliberation, I've decided that "Weis" (for Charlie Weis) makes the most sense.
I don't understand what Arizona State is doing. Todd Graham was a fine head coach who didn't deserve to get fired. The only way letting him go made sense is if the school had a promising replacement. Like, if for some reason, Jon Gruden wanted to leave ESPN to coach at Arizona State for some strange reason, letting go of Graham would have been a great decision.
But Herm Edwards? Are you kidding me? Edwards hasn't coached in a decade, and he hasn't been in college football since the late 80s. He's a great motivator, for sure, but he's a terrible X's-and-O's coach who was constantly overwhelmed and outmatched. This hiring has nepotism written all over it, as Edwards was a former client of athletic director Ray Anderson. Had the two not been close friends, Edwards would not have gotten the job. This is awful, and it deserves the first "Weis" ever.
Nebraska hires HC Scott Frost: A Grade
Scott Frost was one of the hottest, young coaching candidates after doing a tremendous job with Central Florida. Frost, 42, took over the Knights when they finished 0-12 in 2015. Two years later, Frost had Central Florida at 12-0 and champions of the American Athletic Conference. It's a shame that the college football playoff doesn't comprise eight teams or more; otherwise, it would be fun to see what Frost's Central Florida squad could do against the top competition in the country.
This is a great hire for the Huskers, and not just because Frost had so much success at Central Florida. The big selling point is that Nebraska is Frost's alma mater. He was a great quarterback for the Huskers in the mid-90s, and this is his dream job. Thus, he's not going to leave Nebraska for a better job if he thrives there. With all that in mind, this almost has to be an "A" hire.
Texas A&M hires HC Jimbo Fisher: B Grade
Jimbo Fisher literally took the money and ran, leaving a better college football program for more money at Texas A&M. Fisher is a nice hire on the surface for the Aggies, but there are a couple of issues.
Recruiting against SEC programs and the other Texas schools will be very difficult for Fisher. It also remains to be seen how he'll do in a much tougher conference. Plus, if he's so willing to bolt at the first sign of money, what if another program with even more cash to spend comes to him with a better offer? Fisher has shown that he has no allegiance, so an unexpected departure from him could hurt the Aggies.
Still, Fisher is a good coach, so I'm not willing to go below a "B" for this hire.
Mississippi State hires HC Joe Moorhead: A Grade
Joe Moorhead was a hot head-coaching candidate in the wake of what he did at Penn State. Moorhead was one of the top offensive coordinators in college football, as he did a great job with the Nittany Lions. Saquon Barkley certainly helped matters, but Moorhead transformed Trace McSorley into a potent quarterback and did tremendous work with the other offensive players.
Moorhead, 44, has head-coaching experience, as he took Fordham to a 38-13 record in four seasons. Fordham had a prolific offense under Moorhead's watch, so what he did at Penn State was no fluke. He's a great hire for Mississippi State.
Oregon State hires HC Jonathan Smith: B+ Grade
Jonathan Smith has never been a head coach before, so it's not completely clear how he'll fare at Oregon State. However, he has the credentials for the job, as he was a solid offensive coordinator for Washington.
Smith was also once a tremendous quarterback for the school, so there's a good chance he'll want to stick around if he has success at Oregon State. This isn't a great hire, but it's definitely a quality one that could definitely pan out.
Florida hires HC Dan Mullen: A- Grade
Chip Kelly was rumored to be in consideration for the Florida job. The Gators lost out on him, but Dan Mullen certainly isn't a bad consolation prize.
Mullen, who has ties to Florida - he was the quarterbacks coach there from 2005 to 2008 - is coming off an impressive tenure at Mississippi State in which he went 69-46. He should have even more success at Florida. He's been able to develop some talented collegiate quarterbacks, including Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott, so he'll be able to turn things around offensively.
This is a great move, worthy of some sort of "A" grade. Mullen wasn't the first choice, so it can't be an A+ as it would've been for Kelly, but I think A- makes sense.
Arizona State fires HC Todd Graham: C- Grade
I'm not sure who Arizona State thinks it is by firing a head coach who was 46-31 over a 6-year span. If this were Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas, etc. this would not be an acceptable record. But 46-31 at Arizona State is quite the feat, so I don't understand why the Sun Devils would fire Graham.
It's slightly possible that Arizona State might find someone better than Graham, but even if it does, that coach will just move on to bigger and better things after a couple of seasons. Graham took the Sun Devils to five bowl games in six years. Granted, he was just 12-12 the past two seasons, but I don't think he deserved to be fired. The Sun Devils need to reevaluate who they are.
UCLA hires Chip Kelly: A+ Grade
If you check out my NFL Coach Hiring and Firing Grades, you'll see that I gave the 49ers an "F" for hiring Chip Kelly a couple of years ago. Kelly was completely outmatched as an NFL head coach, and this was painfully obvious months into him becoming the Eagles' coach. As soon as Kelly stressed system over personnel, it was clear that he was going to fail. System over personnel seldom works in the NFL, and Kelly ruined the Eagles by getting rid of most of their talent. He was clueless in the pros, and he didn't learn anything when he went to San Francisco. It was no surprise that he was axed after one year.
This, however, is an outstanding hiring. Kelly is a horrific pro coach, but he's outstanding in college. System over personnel works in the college ranks, and Kelly's college system is a proven winner. It also helps that he knows the Pac-12 extremely well. That's why I liked this fit better for him than Florida. If he joined the Gators, he'd have to compete with Nick Saban for recruits. The Pac-12, conversely, is pretty much wide open for him to dominate, just as he did in Oregon.
This is definitely an A+ hire. UCLA should be a college football playoff contender in a couple of years under Kelly.