Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Grading the First Year Coaches

The ACC had 4 new coaches and the SEC had just 1 this season, but that one was a pretty big name. We take a look at how each coach did in their first season and what the expectations will be going forward.

Miami – Randy Shannon
Shannon will get a pass this year being his first following several downward seasons under Larry Coker. The Miami native is doing very well on the recruiting front this year and that will have to be his savior. He has to get better QB play next year and better execution because this team has talent. If they go to a marginal bowl this year he gets a C+, but with no bowl then he gets a C-.

Expectations for next year would have to be a bowl game with a shot to play in the ACCCG still in November.

NC State – Tom O’Brien

The year started out very rough for the Wolfpack going 1-4 in their first 5 including a bad loss to O’Brien’s former team Boston College. After a bye week, the Pack turned it around by winning four straight. They lost their last two in blowouts which put a little sour taste in their mouths, but you definitely saw improvement as the year went on.

Expectations for next year should be a bowl game. I think NC State needs another year before thinking about competing for a division title.

North Carolina – Butch Davis

Some would say Davis laid an egg in his first year by not doing any better than his predecessor John Bunting. But if Davis can improve on what he did in a short time in recruiting last year then things are looking up in Chapel Hill for the future. The Heels lost every one of their games by 7 points or less, so they were very close in all of their losses, just short on depth and experience of winning. The close losses are why I give Davis a B- grade over a C or a C+.

Expectations next year should be a bowl game with another good crop of talent coming in. Davis will not have the talent pool he did at Miami and will have to rely more on coaching skills.

Boston College – Jeff Jagodzinski

Jags got off to a great start and then slipped a little near the end before recovering nicely to land the Eagles in the ACCCG. He took what Tom O’Brien left and put BC and Matt Ryan into the national spotlight for much of the year. After a brief two game slide, he managed a come from behind win at Clemson to get to Jacksonville. An ACC title gets Jags an A, but he came up just short in year one.

Expectations for next year will be high, but they will be hard pressed to match this year because of the loss of Matt Ryan. It is difficult for BC to land in a big time bowl game unless they win the conference due to the perception their fans don’t travel.

Alabama – Nick Saban

Without a doubt the biggest hire of the off season was Nick Saban at Alabama. The $4M per was looking like it was worth it after a win over Arkansas early in the year, but that was the highlight of the season. The Tide nearly pulled off the upset of LSU, but they must have put their whole season into that game because they lost their next three, including their home finale to La-Monroe. Alabama is just now getting back to full scholarship levels, but still had talent when Mike Shula was at the helm. Maybe Alabama fans will give Saban a few years, but none of the programs goals were accomplished this year (unless they had beating Arkansas down as one) – Loss to LSU, no SEC West title, and most importantly Auburn has now won 6 in a row.

Expectations next year should be to compete for the SEC West title and a New Years Day bowl. They will be an SEC West title with national title contention the following year. Notice I said should be and will be. There can be a big difference between expectation and reality at times in Tuscaloosa.

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