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The college football coaching landscape has changed greatly in December.
The coaching carousel in college football has been as crazy as ever this offseason. It started with former Notre Dame boss Bob Davie going to New Mexico, and now has progressed to where Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach are in the Pac-12 and Urban Meyer is feeling healthy enough to lead Ohio State. Speaking of leaving Gainesville, Charlie Weis takes over at Kansas and will be on his third job in three years since leaving South Bend. The Arizona State search was very strange before landing on Todd Graham, who barely had time to text his former Pittsburgh players before heading to Tempe. Gus Malzahn will actually take a pay cut in going from Auburn offensive coordinator to Arkansas State head coach, and add new UCLA boss Jim Mora to the list of coaches heading back to the sidelines after some television time. Many of the new hires seemed to come out of left field, leaving fan bases stressed. However, sometimes we see stranger hires end up working well in the wild world of college football.
Most curious coaching hire of the offseason?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I think UCLA’s decision to hire Jim Mora is one of the most curious coaching moves from this offseason. Mora has no collegiate head coaching experience, but has a solid NFL background, including stops with five different teams (head coach with the Seahawks and Falcons). His only experience as a college coach came in 1984, when he served as a graduate assistant at Washington. Although some have called this hire a huge mistake, I think it’s worth the risk for the Bruins. Mora is putting together a solid coaching staff, which includes ace recruiter Adrian Klemm and former Arizona State offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. He has yet to name a defensive staff, but considering his background, Mora will play a large role in calling the shots on that side of the ball. Only time will tell if Mora is a good fit in college. However, with the options on the table, Mora is worth the risk - especially if he continues to assemble a solid coaching staff.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Well, Gus Malzahn’s decision to take over at Arkansas State was a curious decision on his part, but it was a great move by the school. From the school’s point of view, I’d say New Mexico’s hiring of Bob Davie is very questionable. Davie has been out of coaching for more than a decade and, more important, he wasn’t very successful during his five years as the boss at Notre Dame. His overall record of 35–25 doesn’t look too bad, but keep in mind that he took over a program that had averaged 9.6 wins in the previous nine seasons under Lou Holtz. Davie went 7–6 in his first season (1997) and went on to have a losing record two times in his final three years with the Irish. I don’t understand why the powers at be at New Mexico believe that a coach who could not succeed at Notre Dame — a school with a ton of built-in advantages — can win consistently with the Lobos. And again, the man has been out of coaching for more than 10 years. This one doesn’t make sense.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Curious is an interesting word to describe a coaching hire. Charlie Weis at Kansas isn't as much curious as is it underwhelming and questionable. But by far the biggest head-scratcher in this year's coaching carousel was UCLA's hiring of Jim Mora. He has energy, personality and will be a great spokesman for the university. Isn't that what Rick Neuheisel was — except he played quarterback at UCLA and had more than a decade of head coaching experience at the highest levels of college football. What makes anyone believe that Mora, a man with one year of college coaching experience as a graduate assistant 27 years ago, will be able to achieve where Neuheisel failed? Clearly the Bruins athletic department needs to commit to football once and for all if it ever expects to compete with their Trojan brethren from across town, but seeing Mora’s name atop the headlines this weekend was curious to say the least.
Charlie Weis to Kansas, huh? Was anyone in Lawrence cheering "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!" after that hire? The big man is a proven NFL offensive coordinator, but has struggled at the college level, as both a head coach and coordinator. Weis went 35–27 over five years at Notre Dame, carrying 19–6 record over his first two seasons with "Tyrone Willingham's players" and a 16–21 mark over his last three seasons once he was comfortably settled into his rut at South Bend. In his one season as the playcaller at Florida, Weis' Gators struggled as the nation's 72nd scoring offense, 75th rushing attack and 87th passing game. Weis has failed to find success, and the end zone, at two of the country's premier football institutions. Now KU expects him to reverse that trend at a basketball school playing in a dying football conference. Too bad Jimmy Clausen doesn't have any eligibility left.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I thought the UCLA decision to go with Jim Mora was curious. It seemed like the Bruins were trying to duplicate the Pete Carroll hire at USC instead of signing a current college coach who would be more equipped to succeed with some limitations on the football program. Mora may do well, but I do not see UCLA’s struggles as the same situation that USC was in after a bad Paul Hackett tenure. The strangest situation in the offseason had to be Gus Malzahn’s decision to leave a higher-paying gig as the Auburn OC to go to Arkansas State, but that should work out well for the Red Wolves.