ANALYSIS: Mixed Bag Of Results

While most second-year head coaches in Power 5 conferences are struggling, a few have had major success. Is there a common theme between those programs?

When NC State hired Dave Doeren back in December of 2012, other speculated names included Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes, Kent State's Darrell Hazell, San Jose State's Mike MacIntyre, and even Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury was being mentioned by some.

All four of those coaches, and several others, were eventually hired by schools in Power 5 conferences that offseason.

Here is a look at the Power 5 coaches hired prior to the 2013 season, and the previous positions they held.

Coach Program Conference Previous Job/Record
Dave Doeren NC State ACC NIU (23-4, 15-1)
Scott Shafer Syracuse ACC Syracuse DC
Steve Addazio Boston College ACC Temple (13-11, 7-8)
Kliff Kingsbury Texas Tech BIG 12 Texas A&M OC
Darrell Hazell Purdue BIG TEN Kent State (16-10, 12-4)
Gary Andersen Wisconsin BIG TEN Utah State (26-24, 16-13)
Mark Helfrich Oregon PAC 12 Oregon OC
Mike MacIntyre Colorado PAC 12 San Jose St. (16-21, 8-13)
Sonny Dykes California PAC 12 La. Tech (22-15, 14-7)
Bret Bielema Arkansas SEC Wisconsin (68-24, 37-19)
Butch Jones Tennessee SEC Cincinnati (23-14, 12-9)
Gus Malzahn Auburn SEC Arkansas State (9-3, 7-1)
Mark Stoops Kentucky SEC Florida State DC

NC State's hiring of Dave Doeren was highly thought of, at least based on the resume. A coach with a variety of experience at multiple Power 5 schools, Doeren's first NIU squad won the school's first MAC title since 1983 and tied the school record with 11 wins. They were even better in 2012, repeating as league champions, winning a school-record 12 games, and earning the MAC's first ever BCS berth, an appearance in the Orange Bowl against Florida State.

Debbie Yow had targeted Doeren as her guy for the opening at NC State, but several other programs did as well.

"I had a great job," Doeren said at the time. "I wasn't going to leave for a place that wasn't special, and I felt that way about NC State."

The "splash" hire was Arkansas landing Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, who had coached seven seasons in Madison, compiling a 68-24 overall record and a 37-19 mark in the Big Ten. Bielema's move shocked a lot of folks, as he was coming off his third straight Rose Bowl appearance with the Badgers.

Auburn's choice of Gus Malzahn, at least on the surface, made a lot of sense. Malzahn posted a 9-3 record at Arkansas State in his lone season at the school, but he had spent three seasons as offensive coordinator at Auburn before leaving for the Red Wolves.

Right there with Malzahn was Butch Jones, who was hired relatively late in the process by Tennessee after a solid tenure at Cincinnati where he won two league titles and finished with a 23-14 overall record and 12-9 mark in the Big East.

Sonny Dykes had a successful stint at Louisiana Tech, a 22-15 mark over three seasons. Also interviewed by NC State, Dykes eventually chose to take over at California.

Steve Addazio took over at Boston College after just two years at Temple, where he had replaced Miami head coach Al Golden. Addazio didn't have great success at the school, but was the choice of new BC AD Brad Bates.

"I've only been here six weeks," Bates said at the time. "I'm looking for a partner who I can be joined at the hip with and really strive for excellence in Boston College athletics, and he's a key leader in this department."

The other hires consisted of either coordinators being promoted or hired away (Scott Shafer, Mark Halfrich, Kliff Kingsbury, and Mark Stoops) and head coaches at mid-major schools cashing in on a breakout season (Darrell Hazell, Gary Andersen, and Mike MacIntyre).

2013: Establishing A Foundation

There was some good, but a lot more bad, for these head coaches in their first seasons.

Coach Program Conference 2013 Record
Gus Malzahn Auburn SEC 12-2 (7-1)
Mark Helfrich Oregon PAC 12 11-2 (7-2)
Gary Andersen Wisconsin BIG TEN 9-4 (6-2)
Kliff Kingsbury Texas Tech BIG 12 8-5 (5-4)
Scott Shafer Syracuse ACC 7-6 (4-4)
Steve Addazio Boston College ACC 7-6 (4-4)
Butch Jones Tennessee SEC 5-7 (2-6)
Mike MacIntyre Colorado PAC 12 4-8 (1-8)
Dave Doeren NC State ACC 3-9 (0-8)
Bret Bielema Arkansas SEC 3-9 (0-8)
Mark Stoops Kentucky SEC 2-10 (0-8)
Darrell Hazell Purdue BIG TEN 1-11 (0-8)
Sonny Dykes California PAC 12 1-11 (0-9)

Three really stick out: Gus Malzahn, Mark Helfrich, and Gary Andersen, and if there is a connection it is stability and familiarity.

Malzahn led Auburn to the national title game in his first season, a terrific coaching job. While he had left Auburn for a year, Malzahn was extremely familiar with the roster he had inherited, given his three years as offensive coordinator. That certainly eased the transition for him and the rest of his staff, especially on offense.

The same can be said for Helfrich, who replaced Chip Kelly at Oregon after serving as the school's offensive coordinator. He knew the roster and several of the assistants under Kelly remained in Eugene with Helfrich in charge, including defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and Scott Frost, the team's wideouts coach turned offensive coordinator.

There was more turnover (coaching-wise) at Wisconsin with Andersen arriving from Utah State, but the Badgers returned eight starters on offense and seven starters on defense from a team coming off a Rose Bowl appearance.

Kingsbury did a terrific job at Texas Tech, leading his alma mater to an 8-5 record. The Red Raiders started extremely hot, a 7-0 start before losing the final five regular season games. Kingsbury, who calls the plays, was aided by the fact that Texas Tech already ran his Air Raid offense, so the pieces were in place for a fairly easy transition. However, he did replace the majority of the coaching staff.

Like Helfrich, Scott Schafer was promoted at Syracuse after serving as a coordinator, and led the Orange to a 7-6 record. He had spent four seasons as defensive coordinator and was a fairly easy choice to replace Doug Marrone.

Steve Addazio also posted a 7-6 record in his first season at Boston College, and he actually inherited plenty of experienced talent, despite the Eagles struggles under previous coach Frank Spaziani. Quarterback Chase Rettig was a four-year starter. Senior tailback Andre Williams was a proven commodity (and Heisman Trophy candidate in 2012), and senior wideout Alex Amidon was coming off an All-ACC season. The lines were strong and defensively, the Eagles were fairly experienced.

As for those that struggled, it was for a variety of reasons. Deficiencies in talent, a rash of injuries, schematic changes, etc... impacted the seasons at Wisconsin, Cal, NC State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Purdue, and Colorado respectively.

2014: Progress?

Here's a look at how these head coaches are doing in their second year at their respective schools.

Coach Program Conference 2014 Record
Gus Malzahn Auburn SEC 5-1 (2-1)
Mark Helfrich Oregon PAC 12 7-1 (4-1)
Mark Stoops Kentucky SEC 5-2 (2-2)
Gary Andersen Wisconsin BIG TEN 4-2 (1-1)
Steve Addazio Boston College ACC 4-3 (1-2)
Sonny Dykes California PAC 12 4-4 (2-4)
Dave Doeren NC State ACC 4-4 (0-4)
Scott Shafer Syracuse ACC 3-4 (1-2)
Kliff Kingsbury Texas Tech BIG 12 3-4 (1-3)
Butch Jones Tennessee SEC 3-4 (0-3)
Bret Bielema Arkansas SEC 3-4 (0-4)
Darrell Hazell Purdue BIG TEN 3-5 (1-3)
Mike MacIntyre Colorado PAC 12 2-5 (0-4)
As you would expect, the top three from 2013, Helfrich, Andersen, and Malzahn are at the top again in 2014, but one of the coaches who struggled last year, Mark Stoops, has cracked the group with Kentucky checking in at 5-2 overall and 2-2 in SEC play.

The Wildcats have wins over Tennessee-Martin, Ohio, Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina, and their losses are to Florida and LSU. With games remaining against Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia, Louisville, and Tennessee on the schedule (and three on the road), it's going to be interesting to see how they finish out the season.

It's a muddled group after those four, as the next seven coaches have won three or four games respectively.

NC State's Dave Doeren is in that group, having won all four nonconference games but dropping all four league games. However, any rational Pack fan knew coming into the season that the start of league play would be tough for NC State with games against Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville, arguably the top three teams in the league in the first four matchups. If NC State was going to have much league success it was going to come after the Wolfpack's initial bye week when they face: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Wake Forest, four teams fighting for postseason eligibility.

Parting Shots

Finally, we'll look at the records of all thirteen coaches through 1.5 seasons.

Coach Program Conference 2013 Record 2014 Record Overall Record
Mark Helfrich Oregon PAC 12 1-2 (7-2) 7-1 (4-1) 18-3 (11-3)
Gus Malzahn Auburn SEC 12-2 (7-1) 5-1 (2-1) 17-3 (9-2)
Gary Andersen Wisconsin BIG TEN 9-4 (6-2) 4-2 (1-1) 13-6 (7-3)
Kliff Kingsbury Texas Tech BIG 12 8-5 (5-4) 3-4 (1-3) 11-9 (6-7)
Steve Addazio Boston College ACC 7-6 (4-4) 4-3 (1-2) 11-9 (5-6)
Scott Shafer Syracuse ACC 7-6 (4-4) 3-4 (1-2) 10-10 (5-6)
Butch Jones Tennessee SEC 5-7 (2-6) 3-4 (0-3) 8-11 (2-9)
Mark Stoops Kentucky SEC 2-10 (0-8) 5-2 (2-2) 7-12 (2-10)
Dave Doeren NC State ACC 3-9 (0-8) 4-4 (0-4) 7-13 (0-12)
Mike MacIntyre Colorado PAC 12 4-8 (1-8) 2-5 (0-4) 6-13 (1-12)
Brett Bielema Arkansas SEC 3-9 (0-8) 3-4 (0-4) 6-13 (0-12)
Sonny Dykes California PAC 12 1-11 (0-9) 4-4 (2-4) 5-15 (2-13)
Darrell Hazell Purdue BIG TEN 1-11 (0-8) 3-5 (1-3) 4-16 (1-11)

As expected, the results have been mixed, but more negatives than positives.

Only five of the head coaches have an overall winning record over .500. More coaches have one or fewer total conference wins (4) than those who have above .500 league records (3). Seven have won just two or fewer league games.

Malzahn, Helfrich, and Andersen have certainly been the class of the second-year head coaches, but that's probably not surprising, given their prior connections to the programs (Malzahn and Helfrich) and the stability of the inherited situation (Andersen).

ACC head coaches Scott Shafer and Steve Addazio are at the .500 mark, and after a hot start, Kliff Kingsbury is 4-9 over his last 13 games.

Probably the most surprising has been Bret Bielema, who is just 6-13 and 0-12 at Arkansas. The Razorbacks aren't a national power, but they have had recent success under Bobby Petrino and Houston Nutt. Given Bielema's reputation, the expectation is he will turn around the program, but it won't be easy given the rise of SEC West programs Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

Butch Jones is also in full rebuilding mode at Tennessee, where he is managing to bring in stellar recruiting classes despite his slow start at the helm.

He isn't alone, as Doeren, Stoops, Dykes, Hazell, MacIntyre are also re-stocking their rosters, implementing their schemes, and struggling while doing so.

What does it all mean? Well, probably nothing right now. It's likely too early to tell much at all, one way or another. We've seen coordinators take over and have early success before it all came crashing down, and we've also seen new head coaches struggle early before building a strong program.

But, for a large group of the second-year Power 5 head coaches, the jury is definitely still out.

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