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New Year's Power Rankings: Coaching Hires and Tire Fires

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Everyone is about to be a year older, but schools and coaches continue to make the same old mistakes. It's absolutely incredible how many terrible hiring decisions are made in a multi-million dollar business televised to a mass audience.

He's baaaaaaaaaaaaack!
He's baaaaaaaaaaaaack!
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

2015 Coaching Hire Rankings

1. Virginia Tech

2015 Record (Conference Record) 6-6 (4-4)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 81
2015 Defensive S&P+ 28
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Frank Beamer (235-120-2)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Justin Fuente (26-23)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average
25
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (ACC Rank)
36 (8)
Likely Returning Starters? Good (offense)/Decent (defense)
Composite Grade A

Chris Pendley (Chris): For a program that hasn’t had to hire a head coach in football decades, this was an impressive coup, especially considering how it was kept under wraps. Even better, the administration managed to hire Fuente while keeping Bud Foster around as defensive coordinator. There are some potential areas of concern here (old-school versus new-school schisms; does anyone in Blacksburg know what an offense is), but this is as good as you can get in this market for being The Man after The Man. GRADE: A.

Hunter Turner (Hunter): Fuente resurrected a moribund Memphis program, leading a remarkable turnaround from 4-8 in his first season to 10-3 in his third. As Chris noted, it's also quite an achievement for the Virginia Tech athletic department to talk Fuente into coexisting with Foster (or vice versa), who might be the finest defensive coordinator in the nation. The only major concern I would have is Fuente's recruiting-- can he go head-to-head with North Carolina, Florida State, Tennessee, and Clemson for recruits in the DMV? Maryland's head coach D.J. Durkin is an unknown quantity, but it's no secret that a significant part of Beamer's decline was due to recruiting struggles in his later years. For Virginia Tech to be successful on the national stage, the Hokies must pull recruits out of Virginia Beach-Hampton Rhodes (home of the Vicks and Allen Iverson, among others), Northern Virginia, and the Carolinas. GRADE: B+.

KidBourbon (KidB): Virginia Tech: A Frank Beamer was like four years past washed up, and they just got a guy who took over what had become literally one of the five worst programs in the FBS, and he had them beating good SEC teams. The Fighting Christiansburgers didn't get a sentimental upgrade, but they got an upgrade. GRADE: A.

Likelihood of success: Fuente inherits some decent, if mismatched pieces on offense and Foster should be able to work his usual magic on the defense. If the new coaching staff can take advantage of the disarray in Charlottesville and Maryland and win some recruiting battles in Virginia Tech's primary recruiting areas, the Hokies should be fine.

Bottom line: Fuente can develop talent, manage a roster, and win with less. Can he recruit enough difference makers to bring the Hokies back to the top of the ACC? We'll see.

2. Miami

2015 Record (Conference Record) 8-4 (5-3)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 39
2015 Defensive S&P+ 57
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Al Golden (32-25)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Mark Richt (145-51)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average 19
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (ACC Rank)
16 (2)
Likely Returning Starters? Good
Composite Grade B+

Chris: Hot dang, y’all. Look, I freely admit wanting Lane Kiffin at Miami because I miss Da U-- Richt is not the guy who’s going to bring that back. Richt is a plus coach with ties to the school, has a long track record of success, and provided he didn’t move to Florida for a retirement job should get Miami back to something looking like success. Is that the success Miami boosters want? Maybe that’s a different question. GRADE: A-.

Hunter: Richt can absolutely coach the Hurricanes back to prominence... if he wants to. If Richt goes down to Coral Gables, grows a goatee, shaves his head, and morphs into Alternate Universe Evil Mark Richt-- expect to see the 'Canes in ACC Championship in no time. Even if he's moving down to the beach for an early retirement in the sun like George O'Leary, Richt is a good enough coach that Miami shouldn't finish any worse than third in the Coastal. Besides perennial disappointment North Carolina and rebuilding Virginia Tech, who else in that division scares you? Pitt? Duke? Come on. GRADE: A-.

KidB: I've long been suspicious of anyone who dresses up for a job when they don't have to. It strikes me as something you'd only do if you were otherwise incompetent at your job. I've also long been suspicious of a man who intentionally rocks a terrible haircut. But I'm less suspicious of the terrible haircut person than of the guy who dresses nice when he doesn't have to. And so I think Miami has to consider the transition of Golden to Richt to be an upgrade, trading "nice dresser" for "terrible haircut." As an aside, Butch Jones' haircut is as almost as terrible as a butt-cut and possibly even worse in that it so lacks imagination that I don't even know how to characterize it. And then is at least a smidgeon of the reason why I think Butch's competence should be questioned, and why you should think so too. I mean, really? GRADE: B-.

Likelihood of success: Outgoing coach Al Golden left the cupboard reasonably well stocked for Richt-- there's a blue chip quarterback (Brad Kaaya), good skill position players, and a well balanced mix of experience and youth. With the right staff hires and some outreach to Dade County high school coaches, Richt should be able to guarantee the flow of talented recruits into his program. Plus, and I hate to harp on it-- the Coastal is not exactly a murderer's row of prominent programs.

Bottom line: Miami's administration fired a coach doing a decent job in tough circumstances, only to luck into a much better coach willing to overlook the structural deficiencies in the Hurricanes program (terrible stadium, poor facilities, overly intrusive central administration, cash-strapped athletic department). If Richt has the fire to coach and recruit like his early 2000s self, the rest of the ACC should be terrified.

3. Syracuse

2015 Record (Conference Record) 4-8 (2-6)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 65
2015 Defensive S&P+ 70
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Scott Shafer (14-23)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Dino Babers (37-16)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average 68
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (ACC Rank)
64 (13)
Likely Returning Starters? Decent (offense)/Poor (defense)
Composite Grade A-

Chris: Somehow Syracuse ended up locking in one of the top …what, three or four head coaches on the market (non-insane division)? Babers may not be able to put together an elite squad, but he kept up the work Dave Clawson started at Bowling Green and should get a few years to pull Syracuse out of the mire. GRADE: B.

Hunter: Every coaching search is a crapshoot in major college football-- heck, Fortune 100 companies pay executive search companies millions of dollars in search of the right hire and often fail. So despite all appearances to the contrary, maybe Babers isn't the guy. Still, the Syracuse athletic department should be high-fiving everyone within sight. Babers runs an exciting, uptempo offense that should bring fun back to the Carrier Dome and recruits from warmer climates. If you're trying to dig your way out of a wretched stretch of football, it helps to distinguish yourself schematically from what everyone else in your division is doing, and Babers' "throw it all the time" philosophy is markedly different from the more balanced attacks at Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville. Syracuse has also relied on home-field advantage and South Florida recruits to keep up with the speed of conference rivals-- running an exciting uptempo attack using smaller, faster players should help recruiting and get the Dome rocking. GRADE: A+.

KidB: Here's the deal: you don't hire a defensive-minded coach when you don't live in a part of the country where you can recruit loads of talented defensive studs. When are people gonna get this? Defense isn't about scheming? It's about having guys that are fast and strong and mean. And those guys aren't in upstate New York, or wherever it is that Syracuse is. What you need is an offensive coach. That's what tilts the balance one way or the other when you can't just lean on teams with your talent. And Syracuse got that. Bowling Green was legiznit this year and they were legiznit this year because they were scoring like 50 points a game. Which, by the way, is the only Syracuse is going to be good. Excellent hire. GRADE: A.

Likelihood of success: Babers inherits a pitiful defensive roster, but he should be able to make some noise with the returning talent on offense. Long term, he needs to hire someone capable of recruiting South Florida.

Bottom line: After a long stretch of mediocre to terrible football seasons, Syracuse should be patient enough with Babers to give him the opportunity to build the depth and talent he'll need to compete in the ACC. If Babers can put up some points and make 'Cuse football fun again, he could ride homefield advantage into the kind of decent start he'll need to improve recruiting. This is as good as it gets for non-Saban level hire.

4. Iowa State

2015 Record (Conference Record) 3-9 (2-7)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 60
2015 Defensive S&P+ 64
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Paul Rhoads (32-55)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Matt Campbell (35-15)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average 66
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (B12 Rank)
75 (9)
Likely Returning Starters? Decent (offense)/Poor (defense)
Composite Grade B+

Chris: As things go, Iowa State opting for the stay-in-your-lane hire of Campbell was about as good as they were going to get. This is a tough job; Iowa isn’t exactly a talent-rich state and they’re anywhere between the 2nd and 4th-most likely to get talent out of their state in the first place. Credit the Cyclones for recognizing that and striking quickly to get a sneakily-good hire in Campbell, who took Toledo into Arkansas and came out with a win. If you think the only reason I put this in here was to make fun of BERT, you win! GRADE: B+.

Hunter: Well, if there's a bright center to the football universe, Ames is the town that it's farthest from. GRADE: B+.

KidB: What's an "Iowa State?" GRADE: Incomplete.

Likelihood of success: Campbell will figure it out-- he'll use the football Force. [Chris: That's not how the Force works!]

Bottom line: I've got a bad feeling about this. Not because Campbell is a bad coach (he's not) or a bad hire (he's not), but Ames is a place that coaching dreams go to die. Campbell: "Never tell me the odds!"

5. Southern Cal

2015 Record (Conference Record) 8-5 (6-3)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 12
2015 Defensive S&P+ 49
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Steve Sarkisian (12-6)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Clay Helton (6-3)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average
2
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (PAC Rank)
17 (3)
Likely Returning Starters? Good (offense)/Decent (defense)
Composite Grade C+

Chris: Made their decision to retain Helton as the permanent head coach after the Cubit hiring. Proceeded to ignore the lesson Illinois used in opting for the two-year hire and signed him to a five-year deal. I’d ask if Pat Haden knew what he was doing, but what happened with Steve Sarkisian should answer that question. Helton might be good, but is going to have to prove he isn’t bad to a large part of the fanbase. GRADE: C+.

Hunter: Haden's previous hire lost control and spun out into alcohol rehab, recriminations, and a civil suit against the University, so by that measure, hiring Helton is an improvement. Sure, it should be of at least moderate concern to alumni and fans that one of the top two or three jobs in all of college football settled for an unheralded interim coach, but they're not the only blue blood struggling to make good coaching hires. Remember, Charlie Strong is one bad season from being launched out of Austin into the sun in a solid gold spaceship (Texans are weird, man) and Jim McElwain finished a stellar first season by losing his starting quarterback and a bevy of defensive players.

There are also signs that Helton's relatively low key approach might work in Los Angeles. He promoted ace recruiter Tee Martin to offensive coordinator and he unceremoniously fired underachieving defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Southern Cal is talented enough that Helton still won the PAC-12 South despite a mediocre year overall-- small improvements on defense could be enough to return the Trojans to double digit wins. GRADE: B+.

KidB: I actually have no idea whether Clay Helton is good or bad, so I'll go with C by default because he definitely can't take Sark in a Patron shoot-off. GRADE: C.

Likelihood of success: Southern Cal's roster is loaded, most of the coaching staff is returning, and Haden shouldn't be able to meddle as much with all the blowback from Sarkisian still keeping him busy. If Helton can find a defensive coordinator who can mold the Trojans' raw talent into a disciplined unit, he'll be just fine.

Bottom line: Southern Cal fans were upset when Pete Carroll was hired as a third or fourth choice guy, but were super excited about swiping Lane Kiffin from Tennessee, so it might be that Helton will do just fine.

6. Central Florida

2015 Record (Conference Record) 0-12 (0-8)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 126
2015 Defensive S&P+ 112
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) George O'Leary (81-68)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Scott Frost (0-0)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average 59
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (AAC Rank)
81 (8)
Likely Returning Starters? Poor (offense)/Decent (defense)
Composite Grade C+

Chris: Frost was fairly beloved at Oregon for a while and it’s not really a surprise to see him get a shot. George O’Leary was kind enough to leave UCF the way he found it: burned to the ground. That alone should buy Frost a half-decade at a school with a large student base in a talent-rich state. if Frost is any good as a head coach, we’ll know. The issues: Frost doesn’t know the recruiting turf and hasn’t been a head coach before. Both are manageable, but require some patience to work through the growing pains. GRADE: B-.

Hunter: Yeah, yeah, Scott was a hot coaching candidate, but why would you hire a guy with no experience building a program to take on a total rebuild like Central Florida? No one hires an engineer fresh out of school to do the structural plans for a renovation of a massive existing structure. Sure, he has potential, but maybe start him out on something that worst case scenario won't collapse and kill everyone involved. GRADE: C+.

KidB: UCF: C- I was hoping they would get somebody better, or at least somebody who would be better equipped to steal good recruits from UF. GRADE: C-.

Likelihood of success: Central Florida is in a great recruiting area and the conference isn't too tough. If Frost can find a starting quarterback and hire a competent defensive staff, he could use his own expertise on the offensive side of the ball to cobble together a team capable of making a bowl.

Bottom line: Maybe Frost works out... or maybe hiring the exact opposite of your last head coach is a poor strategy. Central Florida would have been better off hiring Campbell or Babers.

7. Georgia

2015 Record (Conference Record) 9-3 (5-3)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 73
2015 Defensive S&P+ 11
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Mark Richt (145-51)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Kirby Smart (0-0)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average 6
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (SEC Rank)
12 (6)
Likely Returning Starters? Good
Composite Grade C

Chris: So you fire Mark Richt, a guy who—warts and all—was a consistent winner for a defensive coordinator who hasn’t been the head coach before? This is the definition of high-risk, high-reward. Smart is young, has school ties, and has extensive experience under Nick Saban. If it works out, Smart could deliver titles in the right circumstances. It’s not like the SEC East is a lion’s den these days and cobbling together a 24-point-a-game offense is probably going to be enough most days. That being said, didn’t they just fire a guy who could do that? GRADE: C+.

Hunter: Look, there wasn't a good reason to fire one of the most successful coaches in school history. It's lunacy to brave the uncertainty and expense of the coaching market to try and upgrade from a Maserati to a Ferrari. However... since the administration and boosters were bound and determined to get rid of Richt (and it looks like they were), at least they managed to land their top target, native son Kirby Smart. What's really interesting about Smart is that he's the most true Nick Saban disciple to get his own gig, except Derek Dooley. Every other head coach off the Saban tree spent significant time elsewhere, including Jimbo Fisher and Jim McElwain (for more, check out Saban's Coaching Tree). GRADE: F for risk management; A- for hiring Smart.

KidB: Georgia made the correct decision to get rid of their stale lifeless coach,* but did not make the correct in decision in hiring muschampionships by another name. But god bless them for doing just that. Georgia has finely positioned itself to remain a sleeping giant, and hopefully in perpetuity. "Oh man I'm so worried about the game this coming Saturday because I'm just absolutely frightened at the level of discipline and preparation that Coach Mark Richt will have instilled in his charges," said no opposing fan, ever. GRADE: C-.

Likelihood of success: What's hilarious about Smart's apparent strategy at Georgia is how much it resembles Dooley's disaster of a plan at Tennessee, including hiring Jim Chaney as offensive coordinator and Sam Pittman as offensive line coach. Smart also retained the most important recruiter on staff, running backs coach Thomas Brown, just as Dooley retained primary recruiter and running backs coach Jay Graham. So how successful can Smart be if he's following a plan laid down by the worst coach in Tennessee history? First, Smart has a much better and more complete roster to work with. Richt's defensive coordinator Pruitt was the defensive backs coach at Alabama under Smart before he left for Florida State, and he spent the last two years reshaping Georgia's defensive roster to suit that style of defense. Smart and his defensive coordinator should be able to run their preferred scheme with high-level athletes right off the bat. Similarly, Richt's offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer left Chaney a roster full of pro-style athletes perfect for throwing the ball down the field.

Second, unlike Dooley, Smart's expertise as a defensive coordinator means that he should be able to lean on his defense in tight games-- as an administrator who never rose above position coach, Dooley was always at the mercy of his subordinates in big games. Even if Smart doesn't reach Saban's ceiling, his floor should go no lower than Will Muschamp at Florida.

Finally, Smart should have the advantage of reviewing Dooley's tenure at Tennessee. If he really want to succeed at Georgia, Dooley should have been one of Smart's first phone calls-- despite the ignominious end of his tenure in Knoxville, Dooley's initial recruiting and hiring plan was quite good. It's also worth noting that Dooley appeared to burn out during his tough second season at Tennessee. It's entirely possible that running Saban's program successfully includes devoting Saban-like levels of worry and personal attention to micromanagement. If that's the case, Smart either needs to invest in Butch Jones-style support staff or plan on taking Adderall by the handful.

Bottom line: Smart will be successful at Athens, but let's say he averages 9.5 wins a season, in other words, roughly the same level of success as the guy they just fired. That's not successful enough to satisfy Georgia fans in the long term unless he gets lucky and wins a national championship in 2017 or 2018.

8. Missouri

2015 Record (Conference Record) 5-7 (1-7)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 121
2015 Defensive S&P+ 15
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Gary Pinkel (118-73)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Barry Odom (0-0)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average
30
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (SEC Rank)
57 (13)
Likely Returning Starters? Decent
Composite Grade D+

Chris: Gary Pinkel’s sudden retirement probably played a major role in keeping Barry Odom around as the head coach. This is …fine, really. Missouri’s made their hay on defense, pretty much every other team in the SEC East is making their hay on defense, and if it doesn’t work out, Missouri can hire someone else in a few years. Given the circumstances they had to work with and the huge number of openings this year, Odom was about as good as they wanted. (I’d have probably called Dino Babers if I was them, but hey.) Of course, hiring Odom doesn’t make a series of 9-6 games any less likely. GRADE: C+, but D- for watchable football in the next two years.

Hunter: I would have given this hire an A- or B+ when it was announced, because Odom seemed like the ideal candidate to continue Pinkel's success by leveraging player development while improving recruiting. Except that Odom fired basically every other coach in his first week on the job, including fan favorite defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, minus a few holdovers he had hired from Memphis. It's not necessarily a bad thing for a new coach to come in and clean house-- Jimbo Fisher radically changed Bobby Bowden's staff once he finally stepped up to the big chair-- but it certainly looked to this outside observer like Missouri hired Odom with the express understanding that he would continue the Pinkel "We Do What We Do" Method. Why bother hiring a first time head coach (and a third year coordinator) at an SEC school that could do better without the assumption that he would continue in the footsteps of the winningest head coach in program history? Since Odom seems to be jettisoning everything that has to do with Gary Pinkel, he's just a risky coordinator hire without any track record of program management. Missouri could and should have done better. GRADE: D.

KidB: This hire doesn't scare me. Not nearly as much as I would be scared if I were on Missouri's campus and taking a non politically correct stance on an issue -- any issue will do. Because if I were to do that I would be frightening. You don't go head to head with Social Justice Ninjas of that caliber and live to tell the tale. No seriously, the Warriors of the Justice of the Social of the Missouri University frighten me to no end. Barry Odom? Eh. Can he coach em up? Can he find diamonds in the rough? Can he increase the team's chances of winning by at least 5% and at most 30%? Does he do what he does? Unconvinced. GRADE: D+.

Likelihood of success: Missouri has a good young roster and under Pinkel had a coaching staff that specialized in player development. Despite a down year in conference, this year's young players could be expected to improve under a the tutelage of an experienced, cohesive staff. Now that we know Odom is just a guy trying to do it on his own? Yeah, it's a roster suitable for the middle tier of the ACC or B1G competing to finish behind Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Bottom line: If you're going to hire a guy based on his ability to continue the legacy of your previous head coach, maybe make sure that your new guy is actually interested in continuing that legacy before you hire him.

9. Maryland

2015 Record (Conference Record) 3-9 (1-7)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 78
2015 Defensive S&P+ 43
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Randy Edsall (22-23)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) D.J. Durkin (0-0)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average
43
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (ACC Rank)
38 (8)
Likely Returning Starters? Poor (offense)/Good (defense)
Composite Grade D+

Chris: Durkin has more upside as a hire than Randy Edsall, but for that matter I have more upside than Randy Edsall. Snap judgment: will totally disappoint Maryland fans because he’s not Chip Kelly-- yeah, they thought this, and look, just… don’t ask questions about the Maryland fanbase and you’ll be happier in life, trust me-- but should have enough time to learn the head coaching chops. Maryland could do worse. GRADE: B-.

Hunter: Maryland and their ridiculous uniforms are bankrolled by athletic apparel company Under Armour, which apparently didn't get the memo that OFFENSE SELLS. How did the Terps pass on Dino Babers? Why did the administration think a defense-first head coach would succeed in a league dominated by Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh? Why does Maryland continue to be the most disappointing state? GRADE: F.

KidB: Maryland D What are their expectations at Maryland? It's an absolute dead end job. They are simply never ever ever going to be good at football, and so I don't quite get what their endgame here is with firing coaches. I feel like Randy Edsall was fine. He wasn't winning, but at least he wasn't morbidly obese, which is something. Now they hired somebody named DJ. I hear he's better than Tanner from Full House but not quite on par with Jazzy Jeff from the rap duo that used to include Will Smith. I think the idea here was that you hire somebody associated with a coach who is really good and hope that a good coaching osmosis effect had taken place and infused in the guy you're hiring all the qualities of his former boss. But the idea here fails all the time and hopefully will fail again in Athens Georgia, as already noted. GRADE: D.

Likelihood of success: The Magic 8-Ball says expect a berth in the Russell Athletics Bowl in your near future.

Bottom line: Terrible hire. Everyone in the athletics department should be ashamed of themselves.

10. Illinois

2015 Record (Conference Record) 5-7 (2-6)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 92
2015 Defensive S&P+ 17
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Tim Beckman (12-25)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Bill Cubit (56-54)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average 54
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (B1G Rank)
58 (11)
Likely Returning Starters? Decent (offense)/Poor (defense)
Composite Grade D+

Chris: Bar none, the best "Yeah, we’re going to punt instead of trying to find a head coach in this market" hire of the year. The two-year extension is icing on the cake. Can’t tell you how this will go, since that would imply I’ve watched Illinois football in years. GRADE: B+ for hilarity, D+ for longevity.

Hunter: No one wants to live in whatever hellish decaying urban landscape Illinois is located in, but settling for a guy whose claim to fame is inventing the unit of measure for Old Testament temples? Terrible. GRADE: F.

KidB: Rehire Ron Zook. Or at least hire Ron Prince. Whobit? GRADE: C (by default).

Likelihood of success: Might have trouble winning the MAC, but could excel in negotiations for frankincense and myrrh.

Bottom line: No one cares about this school, not even the alumni, but that's no reason to settle for an undistinguished interim head coach instead of conducting a real, legitimate coaching search.

11. South Carolina

2015 Record (Conference Record) 3-9 (1-7)
2015 Offensive S&P+ 66
2015 Defensive S&P+ 95
Previous Head Coach (Record at School) Steve Spurrier (86-49)
New Head Coach (Overall Record) Will Muschamp (28-21)
5 Year Recruiting Class Average
20
2016 Recruiting Class Rank (SEC Rank)
49 (12)
Likely Returning Starters?
Good
Composite Grade D-

Chris: South Carolina has historically been a bad program. Steve Spurrier was the most successful head coach the Gamecocks have had. In normal circumstances, USC looks like a conference doormat. In order words: welcome back, South Carolina! Enjoy your two and a half years of Muschamp Mania. He’s promised to actually learn about offense this time! He’s starting with hiring the same OC he had the year he got canned from Florida. This is going to be great. GRADE: D-.

Hunter: South Carolina just let go the best coach in school history, needs an almost total roster overhaul, has a small in-state recruiting base (which it shares with a resurgent Clemson), and was defeated by its three most important recruiting rivals (Clemson, Georgia, and Tennessee), all of whom are playing in major bowl games. Which of those things makes it seem like a good idea to hire a foul-mouthed defensive coach who spectacularly flamed out in his only previous head coaching gig? Defense may win championships, but let's see how Muschamp does with the worst talent he's had since he was the defensive coordinator at Valdosta State in 2000.

Oh, and South Carolina administrators: what were you thinking? "Oh, let's hire that recognizable name, he must be the best coaching candidate available. That always works." Hiring someone to run a multi-million dollar enterprise isn't like finding someone to host the Grammys. "Let's get Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson. Those guys are universally loved! Okay, problem solved." GRADE: D.

KidB: Hahahahahahaha. Bahahahahahahghghghgahahahaha. Defense wins muschampionships. Bahahahahahahahahahaha. Gotta catch my breath. Gotta catch my breath. Bahahahahahahahahaaha. GRADE: F.

Likelihood of success: Let's suppose that Muschamp continues his previous recruiting success. Okay, this is South Carolina, so lower your expectations a bit... to say, around 18-22. There, now you're right at Steve Spurrier's average recruiting class with the Gamecocks. Except that instead of a Heisman trophy winning offensive innovator who invented the Fun-n-Gun, your guy is THE Kurt Roper, which is like saying THE University of Phoenix.

Bottom line: Enjoy topping out with a seven win season followed by a trip to scenic Shreveport, Louisiana and/or watching your red-faced head coach get carted away after giving himself an aneurysm on the sidelines during a 6-3 win over Charleston Southern.