Wednesday, February 21, 2024

College football third-year coach grades: Steve Sarkisian, Josh Heupel stand out for rebuilding efforts

Grading the tenures of coaches hired during the 2020-21 cycle as the ones still employed prepare for Year 4

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman

College football coaches have shorter leashes than in years past with increased pressure to deliver instant results thanks to the transfer portal and other modern methods of roster construction. But as much as things change, there is still something that rings true about having a good feel for how things are going as a coach exits Year 3 and prepares for Year 4. 

In the old days, this checkpoint would be a chance to see a roster that was built mostly by that coach with few extra benefits or punishments from the team he inherited. But three years also gives fans a chance to see an early ceiling, an early floor and determine the general trajectory and momentum moving forward. 

Some coaches, especially in the modern era, don’t even make it to the Year 3-to-Year 4 offseason we’re discussing below. 

Such is the case for someone like Bryan Harsin, who was fired before the end of his second season at Auburn. His fate is the same one that fell on the coaches at Boise State and ULM this season with dismissals prior to Year 4. There are also some unique aspects to grading the coaching tenures of individuals who have left to take other jobs, but with three full seasons of data, the work done by Jedd Fisch at Arizona, Maurice Liingquist at Buffalo and Kane Wommack at South Alabama received a grade as well. 

For everyone else from the 2020-21 cycle, this is a great time to take stock of everything that’s happened in the last three seasons with an eye on what’s to come in 2024.  

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