Sam Burnham, Curator
With players reporting for practice and preparations being made for the opening kickoffs, it is time to start talking college football again. So I want to go ahead and dive in and talk about a few topics. We'll offer no stupid preseason polls, although we will have a new poll once we have some measurable standards to base a poll on. We probably won't be picking any conference champions or even a national champion at the point. We're gonna shoot straight with you.
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New Coaches to Watch
While I don't want to get into too many predictions, there are some things we can point out as interesting things to watch as this season progresses. With coaches, you might want to make that the next few seasons as these guys build their programs.
1) Chip Kelly - UCLA
Chip Kelly didn't pan out in the NFL. I completely understand that. I am of the belief that coaches are either pro or college coaches. Very few are able to find success in both. Ok, I'll be honest, only Jimmy Johnson does it.
Kelly was able to put an exciting brand of football on the field during his tenure at Oregon. He brought in some talented kids who carried his program to the highest levels of the sport. While he didn't win the big trophy, he was always in the hunt. All of this at a school where it rains 14 months of the year. Now he will be recruiting the same level of players to come play in Southern California, the'll play their home games in The Rose Bowl.Their road games are in The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, in Arizona, Even without Phil Knight's endless stream of cash, he'll have a great budget. It's an amazing situation for him to recruit in.
Chip Kelly has a bright future in Pasadena.
2) Dan Mullen - Florida
Dan Mullen is coming into the job at Florida with high hopes from the Gator faithful. There is an expectation that he can replicate, with exponential increases, the success he had in Starkeville. The reasons I listed above for Chip Kelly are applicable to Mullen. To be honest, I've been on a lot of college campuses and towns and I can't think of any that could be much better for recruiting than Gainesville. A beautiful campus with top notch facilities in a vibrant town is a strong draw for high school aged young men looking to make a decision for their next four or five years. I'm not sure the difference between Starkeville and Gainesville are as pronounced as those between Eugene and Pasadena but they are still there.
Dan Mullen has an incredible opportunity. We'll see what he does with it.
3) Josh Heupel - Central Florida
With Scott Frost leaving to take the head coaching job at Nebraska, the self-proclaimed "national champions" have hired Heupel to pick up where Frost left off. This is going to go one of two ways. Heupel is going to excel and the Golden Knights are going to see continued success, or he is going to fail, the team will tank and the heavy expectations now present in Orlando will crush the new coach and lead to his abrupt exit. I don't see much in between in this scenario. Heupel likely has the most unrealistic expectations to deal with due to the delusional claims of not only his fan base, but the institution itself.
Speaking of Nebraska, think of How long the Cornhuskers have been trying to replace Tom Osbourne after he retired immediately after winning the 1997 title. UCF thinks they won a national title and their coach didn't retire, he left to take a job at a school where he might very well win a real national title.
Out of these three coaches, I envy Heupel's position the least. His is the biggest challenge. Fortunately, he has a lot of talent coming back. That's his strongest asset at this time.