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Meet the first-year FBS coaches for 2021: SEC shuffle continues across Power 5, Group of 5


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The 2020-21 school soccer teaching carousel produced 15 teaching modifications.  

There have been seven new hires made in the Power 5 and eight in the Group of 5. This cycle revolved round the SEC — previous, current and maybe future. 

There are 4 new coaches in the SEC, together with Tennessee’s Josh Heupel, Auburn’s Bryan Harsin, Vanderbilt’s Clark Lea and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer. Four former SEC coaches additionally took new jobs. That group is Illinois’ Bret Bielema, Arkansas State’s Butch Jones, UL-Monroe’s Terry Bowden and UCF’s Gus Malzahn. The Malzahn rent crammed the final emptiness on this yr’s cycle, not less than for now.  

MORE: Ranking the best September non-conference games of 2021

Sporting News kinds out the teaching modifications. Meet the new coaches for 2021:  

Back in the Power 5   

Steve Sarkisian, Texas 

Sarkisian gained the Broyles Award as the nation’s prime assistant at Alabama. The offense averaged 48.5 factors per recreation, and that earned Sark his third teaching alternative with the Longhorns. Texas has loved only one 10-win season since Mack Brown retired, and the expectations will not change with Sarkisian’s arrival. Sarkisian, nonetheless, turns into the most attention-grabbing department of the Nick Saban coaching tree with this transfer.  

Bret Bielema, Illinois   

Bielema is again in the Big Ten the place he belongs. He served as an assistant coach in the NFL the previous three seasons. Bielema performed at Iowa and had a 68-24 document at Wisconsin. Now, the activity is to catch as much as these colleges with an Illinois program that has endured 9 consecutive shedding seasons. Look for Bielema to improve the offensive and defensive strains, but it surely may take just a few cycles to compete in the Big Ten West.  

First-time Power 5 coaches   

Josh Heupel, Tennessee  

Heupel is Tennessee’s fifth coach since 2008, and he’ll be a part of former UCF athletic director Danny White in Knoxville. Heupel is 28-8 the previous three seasons with the Knights, and UCF averaged 43 factors per recreation in that stretch. Heupel additionally had success as Missouri’s offensive coordinator. Expectations at Tennessee are at all times excessive, and endurance is rarely a advantage. The Vols are simply 10-24 in SEC play the previous 4 years. Heupel faces a challenge in his first Power 5 teaching job.  

Bryan Harsin, Auburn  

Harsin led Boise State to a few Mountain West Conference championships, and the 44-year-old coach is making the transfer up after compiling a 69-19 document with the Broncos. He ranges up with Auburn, and the challenges of a first-time Power 5 coach in the SEC West are daunting. Keep in thoughts that Gus Malzahn gained three Iron Bowls in eight seasons in opposition to Alabama. Harsin deserves a good likelihood, however he might want to show it on the recruiting path first.  

Clark Lea, Vanderbilt  

Lea, 38, is the excellent rent for Vanderbilt. He performed fullback for the Commodores from 2002 to 2004 earlier than launching a powerful profession as an assistant. That peaked as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator the previous three seasons. The Irish have ranked in the prime 15 in protection for the previous three seasons. Vanderbilt has made 5 bowl appearances in the previous 10 seasons. Lea faces challenges realizing that success got here with only one profitable season in the SEC, however the undeniable fact that Lea selected to come back again exhibits his dedication to the program for the lengthy haul.  


Shane Beamer, South Carolina  

Beamer is one other rent the place match is an effective begin. He is the son of former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, and he was an assistant at South Carolina from 2007 to 2010. He additionally had stints as an assistant at Georgia and Oklahoma, so he is discovered from some of the elite applications in the FBS. He will take these classes into a troublesome job. The Gamecocks are 14-20 in SEC play the previous 4 seasons. Beamer must beef up the recruiting, and that will not be straightforward in opposition to in-state rival Clemson, to get South Carolina again in the SEC East hunt.  

Jedd Fisch, Arizona  

Fisch spent the previous three seasons as an assistant with the Rams and Patriots. Fisch is aware of offense, and he was a stable offensive coordinator at UCLA and Michigan. He’s had a number of stops in each the school and NFL recreation however has by no means been in the similar place for greater than 4 years. That is the problem with Arizona, which bottomed out in the Pac-12 South the previous few seasons. Fisch’s largest quick problem is to transform an offense that averaged simply 17.4 factors per recreation final season. It is not going to be a simple rebuild.  

From Power 5 to Group of 5   

Gus Malzhan, UCF 

This is a big-name rent for UCF, and Malzahn ought to be capable of keep — and doubtless add to — the success that Scott Frost and Heupel have had in the American Athletic Conference. Malzahn was 68-35 at Auburn and led the Tigers to a BCS championship look in 2013. The Tigers averaged 39.5 factors per recreation that season, a normal that might be anticipated with UCF in the American Athletic Conference. It’s an important rent for the Knights, one which different SEC colleges might be watching intently.  

From Group of 5 to Group of 5   

Blake Anderson, Utah State    

Anderson, an Arkansas native, gained two Sun Belt championships at Arkansas State over a profitable seven-year stint. The 51-year-old final coached in the Mountain West Conference in 2001. The Aggies slipped to 1-5 this previous season, however the program had made a bowl recreation eight of the previous 10 seasons. It’s a lateral transfer of kinds for Anderson, however he ought to be capable of construct a program with related outcomes.  

Back in the FBS   

Butch Jones, Arkansas State   

Jones is the second Saban assistant who took a head-coaching job this cycle. Jones spent the previous three seasons as an analyst/assistant with Alabama, and he is again in the head-coaching ranks. Jones is 84-54 by means of stops at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee, and he ought to be capable of keep success at Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference. Jones, 53, might use this as an audition to get one other shot at a Power 5 job.  

Terry Bowden, UL-Monroe  

Bowden, who took his first FBS head-coaching job with Auburn in 1993, is again for one other run with the Warhawks, who completed 0-10 in 2020. Bowden’s final rework was at Akron, the place he led the Zips to a pair of bowl appearances in 2015 and 2017. Bowden, 64, is the oldest coach amongst the new hires.  

First-time FBS coaches   

Andy Avalos, Boise State 

Avalos’ identify turned up in teaching searches the previous few seasons, and he was a logical option to return to Boise State. He performed linebacker there from 2001 to 2004 and was an assistant coach for the Broncos from 2013 to 2018 earlier than taking the defensive coordinator job with Oregon the previous two seasons. The requirements for one of the most profitable Group of 5 applications mustn’t change with Avalos.  

Charles Huff, Marshall    

Marshall made the shock transfer to chop ties with Doc Holliday, who had led the Thundering Herd to 4 consecutive profitable seasons. Huff is the third former Saban assistant to take a head-coaching job on this cycle. He was Alabama’s affiliate head coach/operating backs coach the previous two seasons. Huff, 37, inherits a workforce that may compete for a Conference-USA championship in 2021.  

Kane Wommack, South Alabama  

Wommack, 33, made a fast stand up the teaching ladder after a three-year stint as an assistant coach at Indiana. Wommack was the defensive coordinator the previous two seasons. The Hoosiers developed right into a top-20 protection that allowed simply 20.2 factors per recreation in 2020. Wommack was the defensive coordinator at South Alabama from 2016 to 2017, so the familiarity with the program is a plus.  


Will Hall, Southern Mississippi  

Hall, 40, is an effective match for a Southern Mississippi program that slipped in latest seasons. He’s a Mississippi native with ties throughout the state, and he labored up the ranks as an offensive coordinator at a number of stops — the final with Tulane from 2019 to 2020. The Golden Eagles ranked 87th in factors per recreation final season. That ought to change with Hall.



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