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Top 5 Non Power Five Coaching Moves – 2017

August 10, 2017 | Posted By Freddy Wills

South Florida – Charlie Strong 

I saw a title out there from SBnation stating that “If Charlie Strong had this USF roster at Texas, he’d still be there.”  

Come on I mean really?  USF plays in the American Athletic Conference not the Big 12.  Even though I am not high on the Big 12 there is still a big jump in consistent competition between the two conference.  Since 2013 when the conference started the AAC is 4-10 vs. the Big 12 getting outscored by an average of 17 points.

Charlie Strong did a great job when he was playing in a conference where he was not overwhelmed.  I think Strong was a bit out of his league in Texas.  Strong has 16 starters back (9 on defense), and will have one of the best offenses in the country led by his senior QB Quinton Flowers, a dark horse for the Heisman.  This team broke all kinds of school records last year on their way to averaging 43.8 ppg.  I expect the same this year and I had them listed in my surprise teams as the schedule sets up really nicely for a possible 12-0 season!

If Strong can get something out of the defense like he is capable of doing as a defensive coach watch out for this team.

Betting Take from a College football against the spread – It’s difficult to see this team as an underdog all year as they get Temple, Houston, and Tulsa all at home.   I could see them looking ahead to Temple or Houston so those home games against Illinois and Cincinnati are the games I would circle.  Long term though USF is set up nicely for the future with Strong, an excellent recruiter in the state of Florida.

Image result for luke fickell cincinnati

Cincinnati – Luke Fickel – long time co-defensive coordinator now head coach.  He was an interim head coach in 2011 with Ohio State and has been DC for 12 years bridging the gap between two pretty good coaches – Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer.  Fickel, obviously has been coaching in the state of Ohio for over a decade and is known as a masterful recruiter.  He already brought in 15 3 star recurits and 1 4 star recruit and his first year class ranks #42 nationally and #1 in the AAC.  I’d say this is a pretty good fit.

I think this is a very good fit and nobody is expecting much from Cincinnati this year as they only return 11 starters, but I think they can do quite well and even make it to a bowl when you factor in they avoid Tulsa, Memphis, and Houston.  I don’t necessarily like the offensive coordinator that Fickel brought in and it makes it a little confusing, because he brings in Mike Denbrock who comes from a slow style attack and he’s promising up-tempo.

Betting Take:  I’m expecting plenty of opportunities to back this team, and I expect a major rebound with this offense now that they have gone back to one QB with Junior Hayden Moore.  It may not compete for the AAC Championship, but with one of the more under rated defenses I’m expecting spots to back them in late September after they might lose 3 straight road games.  Either way this team based on recruiting is looking like it is on its way up.  I have to bring up the Urban Meyer coaching tree Steve Addazio, Gary Andersen, D.J. Durkin, Tom Herman, Doc Holliday, Dan Mullen, Greg Schiano, Kevin Wilson, and Kyle Whittingham. This team is definitely part of my College Bowl Predictions

Temple – Geoff Collins – taking over for Matt Rhule is no easy task, but as the former defensive coordinator at Florida I am sure he will fit right in with a defense first mindset.  However, he gets just 10 starters back and 4 on defense so the challenge starts right making sure this team does not turn into the old Temple team.

After back to back 10 win seasons, I don’t expect much from this team, but then again neither does anyone else so you usually can expect some betting value.  However, I have just 2 players on defense in the top 3 in the conference at their position with safety Sean Chandler making first team, and Delvon Randall at CB making third team.  The secondary will be awesome and this team ranked 17th last year and they bring in Geoff Collins who always had a great secondary at Florida.  

Betting Take:  I think Temple will stay in most games, because of that secondary.  They typically are deep int he front seven, and if you have a good secondary that should keep the game in check.  They need guys to step in though for hte pass rush as they lost 4 guys including Hassan Reddick.    Collins has a hard work ethic that should fit well in Philly.  Collins has had to work his way up.

Western Kentucky – Mike Sanford, Jr., the former Boise State QB is one of the youngest coaches in the nation.  His coaching history is quite impressive as an offensive coordinator and QB coach from Stanford, Boise, Notre Dame and now the head coach at Western Kentucky.

Sanford will be joined by his father Mike Sr. (RB/special teams), who has been coaching for years.

The Hilltoppers have been the class of C-USA the last few years, and there is no reason to believe they will skip a beat with Sanford taking over despite only 10 returning starters.  However, they return Senior QB Mike White to lead the offense who had 37/7 TD/INT ratio while completing over 67% of his passes.  The offensive line has to replace 3 all conference performers, but White gets rid of the ball so quickly that it probably won’t matter.

Betting perspective:  There will be times to back this team this year and I believe we will find a lot out in their road game at Illinois where they are supposed to be favored against a Big Ten opponent.  I would look to fade them, because they don’t have as much depth on defense, and their offensive line may not be able to create as much balance as in years past, but overall I don’t see this program that should be favored in nearly every game this year take a step backward.  If you follow me you know I like dogs and Western Kentucky probably won’t be a dog until their road game against Vanderbilt in November.

Image result for lane kiffinFAU – Lane Kiffin.  Many don’t like how he left Alabama, but Nick Saban pretty much tried to fire him the week before the national championship or basically said, “we don’t need you.”  Kiffin has truly taken a weird route the last few years and it’s almost been backwards.  You are supposed to take a job like this and move to a power five program and then to the NFL, but Kiffin who has been the head coach at Tennessee, USC, Oakland Raiders, and an offensive coordinator for a National Championship team in Alabama seems to be going backwards.

Kiffin did a great job at Alabama and I think he got a bad deal there.  He clearly improved the Tide’s offense the last 3 season and led the #18 ypp offense with a true freshman QB a year ago.  The big question is and it will be the very thing we are betting on.  Did Kiffin learn anything from Saban, or does he resent what he may have learned.  Saban’s coaching tree (Saban from Belichick), consists of Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp, Adam Gase (Dolphins NFL), Mark Dantonio, JIm McElwain, Jeremy Pruitt, Kirby Smart, and others.

Kiffin brings with him Kendal Briles (Art Briles, son) and offensive coordinator the last two years at Baylor.  His brother Chris Kiffin will be the defensive coordinator which is not as exciting, but Kiffin has been coaching the DL the last few years at Ole Miss, perhaps he can be anything like his father coaching defenses?  There are some other exciting young coaches in the mix here as well such as Clint Tricket (WV QB), and QB coach at Eastern Miss.  You may have seen him on the Netflix original – Last Chance.

Betting Take – After a 3-9 season there is nowhere, but up to go for this team that returns 17 starters, and only lost 8 lettermen.  They open up on a Friday against Navy and of course are a 14 point under dog.  That’s a game I’m going to look hard at.  This offense returns 9 guys and could be special led by QB De’andre Johsnon, who transferred over from Eastern Miss with Trickett and is a great leader and will play behind a very good offensive line, in fact I have 2 guys on the first team in G Reggie Bain, and C Antonyo Woods.  The former FSU recruit could turn this team into a CUSA contender with the experience they have now and the last 2 years they had 7 net close losses.  Only trending up from here.


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