After a bit of a smoke screen that saw names like Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and Connecticut's Randy Edsall floated around as potential targets, Florida announced Saturday night that it hired now-former Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as its 23rd head coach.
As with draft picks and recruiting classes, we pass judgment on new coaching hires from the moment the announcement is made (and often before), and the Internet certainly has collected a variety of opinions to date. (Smart hire! Panic move!) This is unfortunate, as there is almost nothing in the world less certain than hiring a new football coach. This past August at Football Outsiders, we attempted to quantify what types of coaches generally succeed at a higher level in different types of jobs, but the results are still maddeningly mixed and unpredictable. We were able to ascertain that coaches with BCS conference head-coaching experience tend to succeed most consistently, but it is still a crapshoot.
Twelve times since the 2002 season, BCS conference teams have given the reins to coaches whose primary qualification was a recent, successful run as a college defensive coordinator. Five of those coaches were fired within five years, one left for a better job and six are still on the job, having either treaded water, improved their programs incrementally, or proved to be excellent hires. The three biggest names right now are probably Bret Bielema, head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers; Bo Pelini, head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers; and Gene Chizik, head coach of the BCS Championship Game-bound Auburn Tigers.