College Football’s Newest Coaching Hires
Several big-brand college football teams have made coaching changes already in this young offseason, and some will be expected to make immediate impacts.
The Big Ten made a pair of huge signings, including Luke Fickell to Wisconsin, and Matt Rhule to Nebraska.
Auburn has made waves in the headlines by hiring controversial head coach Hugh Freeze from Liberty.
Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer has also landed a job with UAB, another risky hire for the Blazers.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest moves in the coaching carousel so far this year.
Wisconsin - Luke Fickell
Wisconsin swung for the fences with this hire, landing what was probably the most desirable candidate out there in former Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell.
Fickell took the Cincinnati program to the next level in his time as head coach. He took over the program in 2017 after they had gone 4-8 in the season prior. In just his second season at the helm for the Bearcats he went 11-2 and he brought home the AAC coach of the year award.
Last season, Cincinnati did what many thought was impossible and made the College Football Playoff as a Group of Five team. The Bearcats had back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and had several players drafted highly, most notably Sauce Gardner at fourth overall.
Fickell has shown he has what it takes to take a program to the next level, and Wisconsin is banking on just that. The Badgers have been consistently good but not great for the majority of the last decade.
Former head coach Paul Chryst had a good run as the lead man, but it was time for a change. Fickell should provide a jolt in the recruiting department, one of the main responsibilities of a coach nowadays.
In the weak Big Ten West, Fickell has a chance to immediately return Wisconsin to its winning ways.
Nebraska - Matt Rhule
Nebraska made one of the safer hires in recent history, going with a proven commodity in Matt Rhule.
Rhule was fired as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers just five weeks into the 2022 regular season, but don’t let his NFL shortcomings fool you. Rhule revived a pair of programs after playing his college football at Penn State.
Rhule turned Temple into a real contender, winning the AAC championship in 2016 after years of mediocrity.
He then took a step up and became the head coach of the Baylor Bears. In Rhule’s first year at Baylor, he went 1-11. In two short years later, he had Baylor at an 11-3 record and an appearance in the Sugar Bowl, landing as high as eighth in the AP Poll.
Rhule is a known program builder, and Nebraska needs just that. Even in the weak Big Ten West, Nebraska has been a bottom-feeder in recent years, nowhere close to what they used to be when they competed in the Big 12.
Rhule has not spent much time at any of his last three head coaching positions, but Nebraska could change that if he is able to re-establish the Cornhuskers as a college football powerhouse.
Auburn - Hugh Freeze
Auburn was rumored to have interest in just about every candidate possible, even to the point of CBS posting that they had hired Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin in a deal that fell through. In the end, Auburn landed on another former Ole Miss coach - Hugh Freeze.
Freeze made some noise in his time at Mississippi, both on the field and off. There is no doubt that he is a great recruiter, as evidenced by the fact that he brought in the fifth-ranked recruiting class in 2013 on the heels of a 6-6 record.
Freeze has one thing on his resume that Auburn fans will love, he’s one of three SEC coaches to beat a Nick Saban-coached team in back-to-back seasons. Auburn has not been up to the caliber that they have come to expect in recent years, and Freeze is there to change that.
The thing that many have criticized Auburn for is hiring a coach that was removed from Ole Miss due to a “pattern of personal misconduct” that included several recruiting violations and more.
If Freeze can clean up his act he will be a home run hire for the Tigers, but that’s a big if.
Jameson Kramer is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.