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The Top 8 College Coaching Hires From A Crazy Coaching Carousel

The 2017 coaching carousel has been one to remember. From a national championship-winning coach switching conferences, an ESPN analyst joining the college coaching ranks for the first time since 1989 and a fan revolt resulting in a different athletic director and head coach, it was certainly one for the books. These power rankings are based on the candidate’s previous success as a coach, the cost to land him, and the fit within the program.

1. UCLA, Chip Kelly

Previously: ESPN Analyst (2017)

Chip Kelly had arguably the best resume of any coach on this year’s market, and he will be returning to the same conference in which he had great success. Kelly was 46-7 in his four seasons at Oregon, winning the Pac-12 in three of those four years. Florida made a run at him, but he made it clear he was headed back to the west coast. UCLA is showing a commitment to its football program by signing him to a five year, $23.3 million contract.

2. Nebraska, Scott Frost

Previously: UCF head coach (2016-17)

The Cornhuskers’ championship quarterback from the late 1990s is going back to his old stomping grounds and bringing his whole UCF staff with him. Frost is the hottest up-and-coming coach in the country, and Nebraska is lucky to be the place he calls home. Turning an 0-12 team to 12-0 in two years is a remarkable achievement, and Nebraska believes it will be worth his seven year, $35 million deal.

3. Texas A&M, Jimbo Fisher

Previously: Florida State head coach (2010-17)

Administrators in Aggieland wasted no time in getting their man, and were willing to take out the checkbooks to do so. Fisher will receive a whopping $75 million over the next ten years, showing the overwhelming commitment A&M has to fielding a championship football team. With SEC experience (most recently as LSU offensive coordinator under Nick Saban from 2000-06), an 83-23 record as a head coach, and a national championship in 2013, this was a home run hire for Texas A&M. The pressure will be on, however, for Fisher to live up to that massive paycheck.

4. Florida, Dan Mullen

Previously: Mississippi State head coach (2009-17)

In terms of fit, this was probably the most ideal hire for Florida. Mullen spent five seasons at Florida under Urban Meyer as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, coaching signal-callers Chris Leak and Tim Tebow to national championships. Add in that Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin was in the same role at Mississippi State when Mullen was brought on as head coach, and you’ve got a perfect match. Although not Florida’s first choice — or even second — the Gators had a pretty good safety net with Mullen.

5) Arkansas, Chad Morris

Previously: SMU head coach (2015-17)

Many will scoff at Morris’ 14-22 head coaching record, but he revitalized an SMU team that won one game in the the season prior to his arrival. Morris dipped out of Clemson before its national championship run last season, but is credited for shaping the Tigers’ offense with quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson as their offensive coordinator from 2011-2014. Also accomplished as a high school head coach in Texas, Morris will bring his recruiting ties from the Lone Star state to Fayetteville and should revive a dull offense left behind by Bret Bielema.

6) Tennessee, Jeremy Pruitt

Previously: Alabama defensive coordinator (2016-17)

If you take into consideration what Tennessee would have had with Greg Schiano, this is a home run hire. Pruitt has no head coaching experience, but has been an elite defensive coordinator at three of the best schools in the southeast: Florida State, Georgia, and Alabama. Pruitt is also is regarded as one of the nation’s top recruiters and has four national championship rings as an assistant coach. Making an average of $3.8 million per year, plenty of money has been allocated for Pruitt’s staff, which has begun to take shape. Despite Pruitt being an Alabama native and grad, his southern drawl and style of football will fit well with Tennessee fans.

7) Mississippi State, Joe Moorhead

Previously: Penn State offensive coordinator (2016-17)

Named the Sports Illustrated top rising assistant in August, Moorhead turned Penn State’s offense into one of the best in the country under James Franklin during the past two seasons. His only head coaching experience is at his alma mater, Fordham, turning around a dismal team to have a 38-13 total record in his four seasons at the FCS level. Moorhead’s contract is worth significantly less than Dan Mullen’s was in Starkville, making an average of $2.7 million per year over four years. He’ll be following the best coach in Mississippi State’s modern history, but will not be expected to win championships so soon, and fans have already embraced him.

8) Florida State, Willie Taggart

Previously: Oregon head coach (2017)

One year ago, it looked as though Taggart had found his landing spot in Eugene, and even called it his “dream job.” Fast-forward to 2017, where he will lead the Seminoles onto the field at Doak Campbell Stadium next season. Taggart is a Brandenton, Florida, native, and actually grew up as a Seminoles fan. He has a 47-50 record as a head coach, but was 18-7 in his last two seasons at South Florida, making them nationally relevant after years of low-level mediocrity. This is a good hire considering the shortage of options Florida State had after Jimbo Fisher bolted. It’s also a relatively cheap one, as Taggart will be making an average of $3.2 million yearly for five years. However, Fisher’s championship-level success will be a tough act to follow.

 

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