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An early look at which FBS teams seemed to have handled the strange 2020 off season the best

As COVID-19 swept the country earlier this year, causing a national emergency and stay-at-home order which prompted the typical offseason to come to a screeching halt. No conclusion to winter workouts, and no spring ball for new staffs was a tough pill to swallow.

The pandemic forced coaches everywhere to shift to Zoom meetings and prescribing workouts virtually to players that may, or may not, have access to a weight room. On top of that, new staffs are trying to figure out the best way to change the culture without being around their guys (at least in the traditional sense) and it made finding out what the players on their new roster were capable of nearly impossible without a preseason to learn about one another.

It's wild to think about all the obstacles that stood in the way for all college football staffs, but it has been really a unique hurdle for first-year staffs.

So, a few games into the season, is it clear which staffs found a way to navigate the situation the most effectively?

There were 24 head coaching changes last season, and while not all of them have coached a game yet, here is a look at how first-year head coaches have fared so far and which ones have done an impressive job preparing their team despite the obstacles created by COVID.

A few quick, personal observations after putting this together.
Most Impressive: Jeff Hafley at Boston College
Most Impressive Despite Record to Date: Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss
Biggest Surprise: Sam Pittman at Arkansas
Most Puzzling: Mike Leach at Mississippi State
Give Him Some Time: Mike Norvell at Florida State
Quietly Taking Care of Business: Jeff Traylor at UTSA

Head Coach: Shawn Clark
Games Played: 3
Record: 2-1
So Far: Clark has led the Mountaineers to convincing wins over Charlotte and FCS Campbell, with a loss to Marshall sandwiched in between there. The rest of the schedule, outside of key games against Arkansas State, looks to be favorable.
Games Remaining: vs. Arkansas State, @ ULM, @Texas State, vs. Georgia State, @ Coastal Carolina, vs. Troy, @ Georgia Southern.

Head Coach: Sam Pittman
Games Played: 3
Record: 1-2
So Far: For many, Sam Pittman and the Razorbacks has been one of the surprises of the first part of the season. After losing to Georgia to open the year, they were able to knock off a confident Mississippi State team (who had just thrown the ball all over on LSU the week before) to end their SEC losing streak in week 2. This past weekend they went toe-to-toe with Auburn and were robbed of an opportunity to make things really interesting after a controversial backward spike was called incomplete. The SEC has since come out and said they made a mistake on the play. The Razorbacks are just a few plays away from being 2-1 with wins over two top 20 teams.
Games Remaining: vs. Ole Miss, @ Texas A&M, vs. Tennessee, @ Florida, vs. LSU, @ Missouri, vs. Alabama.

Head Coach: Dave Aranda
Games Played: 2
Record: 1-1
So Far: After having their first two games (vs. LA Tech and vs. Houston) postponed, Dave Aranda made his head coaching debut with an impressive 47-14 win over Kansas. The next week, the Bears lost 27-21 to Neal Brown and West Virginia. Baylor had to recently shut down the football facility due to COVID results, and their upcoming game scheduled for this Saturday vs. Oklahoma State has been rescheduled for December 12th.
Games Remaining: @ Texas, vs. TCU, @ Iowa State, vs. Kansas State, @ Oklahoma, vs. Oklahoma State

Head Coach: Jeff Hafley
Games Played: 4
Record: 3-1
So Far: Jeff Hafley and his staff have done an impressive job through the first few games of 2020. They beat Duke 26-6 to open the year, squeaked by Texas State 24-21 before losing a close 26-22 decision to a ranked UNC squad. This past weekend they won a nail biter against Pitt after the Panthers missed a PAT in overtime.
Remaining Games: vs GT, @ Clemson, @ Syracuse, vs. Notre Dame, vs. Louisville, @ UVA

Head Coach: Karl Dorrell
Games Played: 0 (PAC-12 starts November 6th)

Head Coach: Steve Addazio
Games Played: 0 (Mountain West starts October 24th)

Head Coach: Willie Taggart
Games Played: 1
Record: 1-0
So Far: The first two games of the Taggart era at FAU were cancelled (@ Georgia Southern and vs. South Florida), and the Owls were able to get in the win column with a win over Charlotte back in the first week of October. Their game this past weekend against Southern Miss was also postponed.
Remaining Games: @ Marshall, vs. UTSA, vs. Western Kentucky, @ FIU, @ Middle Tennessee

Head Coach: Mike Norvell
Games Played: 4
Record: 1-3
So Far: After an opening season loss to Georgia Tech, Mike Norvell became the first FBS head coach to test positive for COVID, requiring him to quarantine for the next ten days weeks. That first weekend they had an open date, and Norvell missed the team's 52-10 loss to Miami. They were able to get back on track against FCS Jacksonville State before being handed another loss to a top 5 Notre Dame team this past weekend.
Remaining Games: vs. UNC, @ Louisville, vs. Pitt, @ NC State, vs. Clemson, vs. UVA, @ Duke

Head Coach: Kalen DeBoer
Games Played: 0 (Mountain West starts October 24th)

Head Coach: Todd Graham
Games Played: 0 (Mountain West starts October 24th)

Head Coach:
Ryan Silverfield
Games Played: 2
Record: 1-1
So Far: Ryan Silverfield and Memphis have played just two games so far this season - a 37-24 win over Arkansas State and a tight 30-27 loss to SMU. Too small of a sample size with big games over the next three weeks to really draw a reasonable conclusion.
Remaining Games:
vs. UCF, vs. Temple, @ Cincinnati, vs. USF, @ Navy, vs. Stephen F. Austin, @ Tulane and vs. Houston

Head Coach: Mel Tucker
Games Played: 0 (Big Ten starts October 24th)

Head Coach: Mike Leach
Games Played: 3
Record: 1-2
So Far: Mississippi State came hot out of the gate in their first game of the season, handing defending national champs LSU a 44-34 loss while setting a new SEC record for passing yards. As impressive as that game was, the two games that followed (vs. Arkanas and @ Kentucky) were anything but impressive. Mike Leach's offense was shut out agianst Kentucky this past weekend, and Leach shared after the game that they'll be on a search for answers moving forward as they get ready to take on Texas A&M and Alabama in back-to-back weeks.
Games Remaining: vs. Texas A&M, @ Alabama, vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Auburn, @ Georgia, @ Ole Miss, vs. Missouri

Head Coach: Eli Drinkwitz
Games Played: 3
Record: 1-2
So Far: After one of the more difficult schedules to open the season (vs. Alabama, @ Tennessee and @ LSU), Missouri was able to stuff the LSU offense at the goal line this past weekend to get their first win of the Eli Drinkwitz era. With Vanderbilt coming to town this weekend, the Tigers have a shot at getting to 2-2 and have a handful of winnable games left on their schedule if they're able to duplicate the success they had against the LSU defense.
Games Remaining: vs. Vanderbilt, @ Florida. vs. Kentucky, vs. Georgia, @ South Carolina, vs. Arkansas, @ Mississippi State

Head Coach:
Danny Gonzales
Games Played: 0 (Mountain West starts October 24th)

Head Coach: Ricky Rahne
Games Played: 0 (ODU opted to not p-lay football this fall)

Head Coach: Lane Kiffin
Games Played: 3
Record: 1-2
So Far: Of all the coaches early on listed here, Lane Kiffin's Ole Miss squad may be showing the most promise. They've been in some shootouts (51-35 in a loss to Florida, 42-21 win over UK, and a 63-48 loss to the Crimson Tide) and in that loss to Alabama they put up the most yards Bama had ever given up in a game. If things can start to click on the defensive side of the ball for DJ Durkin and his guys, Ole Miss is going to be really fun to watch, and a nightmare to play.
Games Remaining: @ Arkansas, vs. Auburn, @ Vanderbilt, vs. South Carolina, @ Texas A&M, vs. Mississippi State, @ LSU

Head Coach: Greg Schiano
Games Played: 0 (Big Ten starts play October 24th)

Head Coach: Brady Hoke
Games Played: 0 (Mountain West starts play October 24th)

Head Coach: Jeff Scott
Games Played: 4
Record: 1-3
So Far: The transition for Jeff Scott from one of the most accomplished programs of the past decade to a rebuild in South Florida hasn't been kind thus far. With one game postponed (scheduled vs FAU on September 26th), the Bulls are searching for consistency. They beat FCS The Citadel in their season opener, and have dropped three straight to Notre Dame (52-0), Cincinnai (28-7) and East Carolina (44-24) in the weeks since.
Remaining Games: @ Temple, vs. Tulsa, @ Memphis, @ Houston, vs. Navy, vs. UCF

Head Coach:
Marcus Arroyo
Games Played: 0 (Mountain West starts October 24th)

Head Coach: Jeff Traylor
Games Played: 5
Record: 3-2
So Far: Traylor and the Road Runners started the year at 3-0 with wins over Texas State, Stephen F. Austin, and Middle Tennesse, but have dropped back to back games vs. UAB and an undefeated 27-20 decision to BYU. The rest of the schedule stacks up nicely for Traylor, and we could be looking back at this program at the end of the year asking for specifics about what he did to prepare his team during the pandemic that helped them turn around their fortunes on the field.
Remaining Games: vs. Army, vs. LA Tech, @ FAU, @ Rice, vs. UTEP, @ Southern Miss, vs. North Texas

Head Coach: Jimmy Lake
Games Played: 0 (PAC-12 starts November 6th)

Head Coach: Nick Rolovich
Games Played: 0 (PAC-12 starts November 6th)

Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching change information.