College football programs across the country have been furiously firing and hiring head coaches during the last few weeks, and only a few major programs still have holes to fill. Predicting the success of future head coaches is not very easy to do. Coaches with solid credentials sometimes fall flat, and surprise contenders sometimes emerge from unlikely places.
Before we can focus on forecasting success, we need to evaluate where programs stand. One such measure is the program FEI ratings, a five-year weighted measure of drive success, and a good indicator of which programs are positioned for immediate improvement and which ones may take more time. We'll wait until after the bowls to run the official PFEI ratings through 2011, but a preliminary rundown identifies only a few new coaches who are inheriting programs in solid shape.
The new hires of Mike Leach of the Washington State Cougars (PFEI No. 104), Jim L. Mora of the UCLA Bruins (PFEI No. 72) and Charlie Weis of the Kansas Jayhawks (PFEI No. 87) have made for some splashy headlines, but we'll be surprised if any of these three turns the tables overnight -- partly because a couple of those programs already have an upward trajectory. Hugh Freeze of the Ole Miss Rebels (PFEI No. 61) and Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats (PFEI No. 46) are in better shape, but strong conference contenders will make for more modest expectations initially as well.
There are three new coaches who might have an immediate impact, because all three are inheriting programs in a position to make a quick recovery. Not all of the pieces are in place, but they each have something to work with.
Ohio State Buckeyes (PFEI No. 8)
New hire: Urban Meyer
Concern: QB pass efficiency
Stat to build on: Field-position advantage