Ranking College Football's New Coaches From 2011

Where does Will Muschamp's 2011 season rank among new coaches?

As evidenced last season, new coaches can make an immediate impact on college football conference title races. Michigan's hire of Brady Hoke allowed the Wolverines to jump back into a BCS bowl, while James Franklin led Vanderbilt to its second bowl game since 1982.

Athlon ranks the new coaches from 2011 season:

1. Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State
Before: 4–8 (4–4); After: 9–3 (8–0)

Freeze guided the Red Wolves to their first-ever Sun Belt title in his only season in Jonesboro. Arkansas State swept through the league with an 8–0 record and an average margin of victory of 16.8 points.

2 . Brady Hoke, Michigan          
7–6 (3–5); After: 11–2 (6–2)

Hoke restored order in Ann Arbor, leading Michigan to a three-game improvement in the Big Ten, and, more important, its first win over Ohio State since 2003. The key? A defense that allowed 128.5 fewer yards per game and jumped 93 spots in the national rankings. 

3. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
2–10 (1–7); After: 6–7 (2–6)

The Commodores won more games last season (six) than the two previous seasons combined (four). They won four of those games by at least 23 points (including two in SEC play), and their final four league losses came by an average of 4.8 points. This team was dramatically improved.

4. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
3–9 (3–5); After: 9–4 (6–2)

The Ragin’ Cajuns improved by six wins and won a bowl game for the first time in school history, rallying past San Diego State, 32–30, at the New Orleans Bowl. They scored 30 points or more in all but three games.

5. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Before: 9-4 (5-2); After: 10-3 (5-2)

The Mountaineers improved their win total by only one in Holgorsen's first season, but they claimed a share of the Big East title and dismantled Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. Holgorsen's pass-first offense injected some energy into the fanbase, and the program is riding a wave of momentum going into 2012. 

6. David Shaw, Stanford
12–1 (8–1); After: 11–2 (8–1)

Jim Harbaugh made the move to the NFL, but the Cardinal were just as imposing with Shaw running the show. Stanford outscored its opponents by more than 21 points per game and went 5–0 in road games.

7. Pete Lembo, Ball State
4–8 (3–5); After: 6–6 (4–4)

The highlight of Lembo’s first season came early, a 27–20 win over Indiana in Indianapolis. The Cardinals also beat Ohio, champs of the MAC East, en route to a .500 record in league play.

8. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
10–3 (6–2); After: 8–5 (7–1)

The Golden Hurricane survived a brutal early schedule — at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State at home, at Boise State, all in September — and won seven straight games from Oct. 1 through Nov. 19. The offense wasn’t quite as explosive, but the Tulsa D was vastly improved.

9. Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois
Before: 11–3 (8-0); After: 11–3 (7–1)

Doeren and the Huskies were upset in their MAC opener against Central Michigan but reeled off nine straight wins to close the season. NIU won its first MAC title since 1983.

10. Dan McCarney, North Texas
3–9 (3–5); After: 5–7 (4–4)

The Mean Green closed strong, winning two of their final three to finish with a .500 mark in the Sun Belt for the first time since 2004. McCarney, the former Iowa State head coach, has North Texas on the right track.

11. Darrell Hazell, Kent State
5–7 (4–4); After: 5–7 (4–4)

The Golden Flashes took advantage of a softer second-half schedule to win four of their final five games to even their MAC record at .500. The defense was stout (No. 22 in the nation), but the offense struggled.

12. Al Golden, Miami (Fla.)
7–6 (5–3); After: 6–6 (3–5)

The Canes took a step back in the win column — most notably in ACC play — but were more consistently competitive under Golden. Miami’s six losses came by an average of 5.5 points; in ’10, the Canes’ six losses were by an average of 13.0 points.

13. Steve Addazio, Temple
8–4 (5–3); After: 9–4 (5–3)

Addazio got a lot done in his first year as a head coach. The Owls put a scare into Penn State (in a four-point loss), dominated Maryland on the road and won their first bowl game (37–15 over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl) since 1979.

14. Rocky Long, San Diego State
9–4 (5–3); After: 8–5 (4–3)

The Aztecs weren’t quite as formidable as in 2010, when they lost four games by five points or less, but they still won eight games and finished over .500 in MWC play.

15. Will Muschamp, Florida
8–5 (4–4); After: 7–6 (3–5)

You can argue that Urban Meyer didn’t leave a full cupboard of talent, but it’s hard to call the Gators’ 2011 season a success. They ranked 105th in the nation in total offense and had a losing record in the SEC for the first time since 1986.

16. Todd Graham, Pittsburgh
8–5 (5–2); After: 6–7 (4–3)

Graham is now hated by Panther faithful for his abrupt departure, but his only season at Pitt wasn’t a complete debacle. Playing with offensive personnel that didn’t fit his system, he still went 4–3 in the Big East, and it’s worth noting that four of his six losses (he wasn’t around for the bowl game) were by four points or less.

17. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
3–9 (2–6); After: 3–9 (2–6)

The Gophers lost at home to New Mexico State and North Dakota State in nonconference action, and their six Big Ten losses came by an average of 27.3 points.

18. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
8–5 (5–2); After: 5–7 (3–4)

The Huskies won at least eight games in the four seasons prior to Pasqualoni’s arrival but slumped to a 5–7 mark in 2011. The offense ranked 108th in the nation.

19. Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio)
10–4 (7–1); After: 4–8 (3–5)

The RedHawks captured the MAC title in 2010 but managed only four wins under Treadwell, despite the return of 16 starters. The defense regressed (from 28th to 48th), and they too often lost the turnover battle (85th in margin). 

20. Jon Embree, Colorado
5–7 (2–6); After: 3–10 (2–7)

The Buffs ended the season with an upset at Utah, but not much else went well in Embree’s first season at his alma mater. Colorado ranked 109th in the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

21. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
5–7 (1–7); After: 1–11 (0–8)

The Hoosiers were dreadful in 2011, with their only win coming over FCS foe South Carolina State. They were outscored in 11 games vs. FBS competition by 18.9 points per game.

22. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Before: 9–4 (5–3); After: 2–10 (1–7)

Where do we start? The Terps had the biggest drop in wins in the FBS ranks, from nine in 2010 to two in ’11. They lost their final 10 games against FBS opponents, including at home to Temple by 31 points. And in the season finale, they led NC State 41–14 in the third quarter before giving up 42 straight points. 

by Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch on Twitter)

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