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Assessing the head coaching hires of 2012

Twenty-eight head coaches were hired between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and only 21 remain in those jobs today. That's a turnover rate of 25 percent just two-and-a-half years in. Surprising, no?

Here's the full list:


2011 Coach

2012 Coach


Rob Ianello

Terry Bowden


Bobby Petrino

John L. Smith

Arkansas State

Hugh Freeze

Gus Malzahn


Mike Stoops

Rich Rodriguez

Arizona State

Dennis Erickson

Todd Graham

Colorado State

Steve Fairchild

Jim McElwain

Florida Atlantic

Howard Schnellenberger

Carl Pelini

Fresno State

Pat Hill

Tim DeRuyter


Greg McMakin

Norm Chow


Kevin Sumlin

Tony Levine


Ron Zook

Tim Bekman


Turner Gill

Charlie Weis


Kevin Morris

Charley Molnar


Larry Porter

Justin Fuente

New Mexico

Mike Locksley

Bob Davie

North Carolina

Everett Withers

Larry Fedora

Ohio State

Luke Fickell

Urban Meyer

Ole Miss

Houston Nutt

Hugh Freeze

Penn State

Joe Paterno

Bill O'Brien


Todd Graham

Paul Chryst


Greg Schiano

Kyle Flood

Southern Miss

Larry Fedora

Ellis Johnson

Texas A&M

Mike Sherman

Kevin Sumlin


Tim Beckman

Matt Campbell


Bob Toledo

Curtis Johnson


Neil Callaway

Garrick McGee


Rick Neuheisel

Jim L. Mora

Washington State

Paul Wulff

Mike Leach

With the three-year mark approaching, it's now fair to judge each hire on one simple but all-encompassing question: Is the program in a better shape now now than when the new coach took over?

Let's assess each situation one-by-one:

Akron: Terry Bowden (9-20, 5-12 MAC)
Thumps Up or Down? Up. It hasn't happened over night, but Bowden has steadily put the program on more solid footing after taking over a club that was 2-22 under Ianello. The Zips managed a 4-4 mark in MAC play a year ago, and have held three opponents to 10 points or less this season, including a 21-10 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 27.

Arkansas: John L. Smith (4-8, 2-6 SEC)
Thumps Up or Down? Down. Jeff Long concocted an extended interim coaching strategy as a way to bridge the gap between the mess Bobby Petrino left behind and the hiring that would lead to Bret Bielema, and blew up what many thought could be a really good 2012 Arkansas team in the process.

Arkansas State: Gus Malzahn (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt Champions)
Thumbs Up or DownUp. The Red Wolves would have surely loved to keep Malzahn for longer than 10 months, but a shooting star only passes through your eyesight for so long.

Arizona: Rich Rodriguez (21-10, 10-10 Pac-12)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. Rich Rod brought immediate credibility and identity to Arizona, with back-to-back 8-5 seasons to begin his tenure in Tucson. With a 5-0 start to this season, the Wildcats have their eyes on much more than eight wins this season.

Arizona State: Todd Graham (22-10, 15-6 Pac-12)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. When Graham sticks around a job for longer than a year, good things happen. He led Tulsa to one Conference USA championship and three C-USA West titles in four seasons, and guided Arizona State to a Pac-12 South championship in 2012. Going 2-0 against Arizona and 2-1 against USC doesn't hurt, either.

Colorado State: Jim McElwain (16-15, 8-9 Mountain West)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. McElwain's Rams are 10-3 in their last 13 games, and averaged more than five yards per carry in doing so.

Florida Atlantic: Carl Pelini (5-15, 3-10 Sun Belt/Conference USA)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. Aside from not getting it done on the field, Pelini damaged the family-friendly image that Schnellenberger worked to create and Charlie Partridge is now efforting to rebuild.

Fresno State: Tim DeRuyter (23-9, 16-2 Mountain West)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. DeRuyter got a lot of help from quarterback Derek Carr, but he's off to a 2-0 start in league play without him this season.

Hawaii: Norm Chow (5-24, 1-15 Mountain West)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. There aren't many harder places to win in FBS, but Hawaii shouldn't be "1-15 in the Mountain West" bad.

Houston: Tony Levine (16-15, 9-8 Conference USA/American)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. Levine hasn't built on the momentum Sumlin left behind and brand new TDECU Stadium generated. It looked like Houston had turned things around with an 8-5 mark in 2013, but the Cougars haven't lived up to their sleeper status in 2014.

Illinois: Tim Beckman (9-27, 1-23 Big Ten)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. Look at this this way: Illinois fired Ron Zook after he beat UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to close a 7-6 season. They haven't approached a bowl game since.

Kansas: Charlie Weis (6-22, 1-18 Big 12)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. Now two weeks removed from his job, the Weis hiring played into every complaint critics lobbied upon his hiring.

Massachusetts: Charley Molnar (2-22, 2-14 MAC)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. Not a good year for offensive coaches named Charles with Notre Dame connections. Molnar has since been replaced by Mark Whipple.

Memphis: Justin Fuente (10-19, 6-11 Conference USA/American)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. Don't look at the numbers, look at the vibe. Memphis football has a heartbeat again. With a 3-2 start to this season, the wins are beginning to come. Also, the American moves to a divisional structure when Navy comes aboard in 2015. Don't you have to peg Memphis as the early favorite from the West?

New Mexico: Bob Davie (9-21, 2-15 Mountain West)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. This program was in shambles under Locksley with three straight 1-11 seasons. Davie has brought stability and an identity in the triple option offense.

North Carolina: Larry Fedora (17-13, 9-9 ACC)
Thumbs Up or Down? Sideways. Fedora is one of the few cases where the answer to the all-important question isn't obvious. Fedora had the Tar Heels in the preseason Top 25, but UNC has sputtered to a 2-3 start.

Ohio State: Urban Meyer (28-3, 17-1 Big Ten)
Thumbs Up or Down?Up. Every athletics director wishes they could be as lucky as Ohio State's Gene Smith, where a future College Football Hall of Famer falls into your lap to save your program from a potential tailspin.

Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze (20-11, 8-10 SEC)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. See: October 4, 2014. Although, you have to admit you're surprised Freeze is under .500 in the SEC, right?

Penn State: Bill O'Brien (15-9, 10-6 Big Ten)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. O'Brien obviously never planned to set roots down in State College, but he was the anchor that kept the ship from capsizing in turbulent waters. (That may be a bad analogy. I'm no seafarer.)

Pittsburgh: Paul Chryst (16-16, 7-10 Big East/ACC)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. After cycling through Dave Wannstedt, one game under interim coach Phil Bennett, the abrupt departure of Mike Haywood, one year of Todd Graham and one game under Keith Patterson, Chryst has stopped the revolving door and given Pitt an identity.

Rutgers: Kyle Flood (20-12, 9-8 Big East/American/Big Ten)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. Flood is guilty of not being Greg Schiano, but 20-12 should always work at Rutgers. The weakness that could be Flood's downfall? Finishing seasons. The Scarlet Knights started 9-1 and finished 9-4 in 2012, started 4-1 and finished 6-7 in 2013, and started 2014 with a 5-1 mark. We'll see if the trend continues.

Southern Miss: Ellis Johnson (0-12, 0-8 Conference USA)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. Someone needs to make a 30 for 30 about the fall of Southern Miss football. How do you go from 12-2 to 0-12?

Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin (25-7, 12-7 SEC)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. I can't think of another coach in this class or since that has so swiftly changed the perception of a program. A&M went from square to hip in fifteen minutes. Sumlin hasn't played for an SEC championship yet and faces an uphill climb to get there this season, but inject some truth serum in his SEC West rivals and they'll admit it's coming.

Toledo: Matt Campbell (21-11, 14-5 MAC)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. It's a rare thing when a MAC school loses a coach to the Big Ten and upgrades, but that's what Toledo managed to do in promoting Matt Campbell. These two are a perfect match for each other.

Tulane: Curtis Johnson (10-20, 7-10 Conference USA/American)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. Johnson got Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl in 2013, and opened much-needed Yulman Stadium in 2014.

UAB: Garrick McGee (5-19, 3-13 Conference USA)
Thumbs Up or Down? Down. McGee's tenure at UAB got off to a weird start when he nearly left before he coached his first game to return to Arkansas. A parting of ways was best for both sides.

UCLA: Jim L. Mora (23-9, 13-7 Pac-12)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. Mora, a Washington graduate, did what Rick Neuheisel, a UCLA graduate, never could: treat itself like a major college football power, and win like one.

Washington State: Mike Leach (11-20, 6-15 Pac-12)
Thumbs Up or Down? Up. Leach hasn't taken Washington State to Mike Price-like heights, but the climate in the Pacific Northwest is much more difficult now. Most importantly, Leach brought the Cougars a pulse.