1. Western Kentucky: Fired Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino. A team like Western Kentucky in a division like the Sun Belt made a bold move, getting Petrino after his motorcycle/adultery incident. Petrino is a monolithic recruiter, and he’s made bowl games in 7 of his 8 seasons as head coach. His offenses at Arkansas were 9th, 17th and 15th in FBS and that’s while facing SEC opponents.
2. Arkansas State: Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. Known for innovative play-calling from his days at Boise State, Harsin comes over from Texas with a great personality as well. He’s worked well with quarterbacks of humble athleticism.
3. Texas Tech: Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. The Tech job brings with it the expectation of a wide-open, up-tempo offense. Kingsbury doesn’t just fit the bill, he’ll be able to improve on what Tommy Tuberville did. His energy and love for offensive football is noticeable. It’s rare, but I truly think Petrino, Harsin and Kingsbury are three of the best hires of the entire coaching reshuffling and it may be the first time that’s happened this late in the process.
4. Louisiana Tech: Fired South Florida head coach Skip Holtz. Holtz’s Bulls were close in a lot of games last season, but he still ended up fired at South Florida. This hire may appear to be aiming low, going for a stabilizer instead of an innovator. That said, their top offensive players are going pro soon, and the Bulldogs are going to Conference USA to face familiar and unfamiliar opponents. They need a guy who can recruit for a team that accidentally missed its bowl.
5. Southern Mississippi: Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Todd definitely has an eye for offensive talent. He definitely brings a swagger and attitude with him. He has an NFL background and has played quarterback. The only thing that makes me put Holtz ahead of him is that Holtz is a proven recruiter in a highly-competitive region of the country in North Carolina (QB Dominique Davis, DE C.J. Wilson, DT Linval Joseph, RB Chris Johnson, and WR Dwayne Harris all were recruited by Holtz at East Carolina).
6. Colorado: San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre. The San Jose State Spartans were 28th in defense, but played in the suspect WAC. He’s a smart hire, especially seeing how long it took (the longer it takes, the more talented coaches go elsewhere). With new facilities in 2013, perhaps Colorado won’t dwell in the basement of the Pac-12 with Washington State, Utah and Cal for much longer.
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