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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Grading the New Head Coaching Hiring’s in College Football

Grading the New Head Coaching Hiring’s in College Football

Winners and losers!
SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 20: Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman looks on during a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on November 20, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Miami Hurricanes

Mario Cristobal

Grade B

The Canes got there, man, and I think this is an outstanding hire that could make the Hurricanes a contender within two years. Few head coaches are as tenacious and hard-nosed as Cristobal when recruiting. He undoubtedly will make an immediate impact with Miami-area recruits and enhance some of the progress Diaz made on the trail. No top-level FBS coach is more connected to the city and the university. So you might ask why only a B? That’s easy. Many questions surround Cristobal’s in-game decisions and gameday coaching in general. This year’s two losses against Utah raised many red flags as Cristobal’s Ducks looked unprepared and were physically manhandled by Utah. The Canes will have the roster to compete in the ACC quickly, but will his game-day approach get the Canes back to the top?

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Oklahoma Sooners

Brent Venables

Grade B+

Venables has been a Sooner before as he was one of the top Oklahoma defensive assistants from 1999 to 2011 under Bob Stoops. He went to Clemson and became one of the nation’s best defensive play-callers under coach Dabo Swinney, helping the Tigers to two national championships and six straight CFP appearances. Venables could have already been a Head Coach at a power five school, but he was loyal to Clemson and waiting for the right job. Will the right job did fall into Venables lap.  Venables seems to have a good plan on offense with coordinator Jeff Lebby, and I think it’s a great idea to bring in a defensive coach to run the team. The question is can Venables be the guy in charge? Can he learn to delegate responsibilities? If he can, this could be a great hire!


Notre Dame

Marcus Freeman

Grade A

The Irish had gone as far with former coach Brian Kelly as they were ever going to. That brings us to Marcus Freeman, a young, aggressive coach and a monster as a recruiter. It is true that Freeman is young and has never been a Head Coach, which kept this from being an A+. Recruiting is the big thing here for Freeman as he will recruit much better than Kelly as he is an honest man that the players love. Keeping Tommy Rees on as the offensive coordinator was huge, and I think the Irish are on the cusp of something great.



Brian Kelly

Grade C

Kelly is an outstanding football coach, but many questions surround this hire. The biggest knock against Kelly would be recruiting, and the question has to be, can he keep up with the Nick Saban’s and Jimbo Fishers of the SEC. He has only coached in the midwest, and will the southerner’s smell the bull shit that Kelly pedals? He is an excellent CEO as a Head Coach. He hires amazing assistants, but I have many issues with this hire. Kelly will go to a school with a low threshold for losing. Remember the guy he is replacing won a National Championship just a couple of years ago. LSU has a long and outstanding tradition of excellence, can Coach Kelly continue it?


USC Trojans

Lincoln Riley

Grade A

This hiring is a home run; the only reason it’s not an A+ is that Riley will end up in the NFL within five years. Do not be surprised if Riley brings the Trojans back to national prominence until then. Riley provides USC with the jolt it needs for fans, recruits, top donors and others in a crowded Los Angeles sporting market. In the Pac 12, I think the Trojans will be contenders every year that Riley is there.

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Florida Gators

Billy Napier

Grade A

Napier played the game very well while coaching at Louisiana; he remained with Louisiana despite multiple Power 5 inquiries in recent years and then landed a Tier 1 job in Florida. Napier is a strong recruiter who grew up in the Southeast and has worked at top programs like Alabama and Clemson. He’s the son of a Georgia high school coach, played college ball in South Carolina and worked in Florida as Florida State’s tight ends coach in 2013 when the Seminoles won a national title under Jimbo Fisher. Napier has seen it all at a young age, and his roots being in the South are a great indicator that he will be able to compete in recruiting. Napier has worked with some of the best coaches in the country, and this should be a home run for the Gators.


Washington Huskies

Kalen Deboer

Grade B+

Deboer is one of the finest offensive minds in the country and will bring excitement to the Husky program with an innovative offense that will have kids scrambling to play for him. He might not be the big-name coach that many Husky fans wanted, but when all is said and done, Deboer will be in Washington for a long time if he wants to be; he is that good of a coach. Deboer did an outstanding job at Fresno this past season, and I look for Washington to get much better quickly under the leadership of Coach DeBoer.



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