The Battle Ground State

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.14.2016

Charlie Strong, Lane Kiffin and Butch Davis. These are a few of the folks who will be new head coaches in college football next season in the state of Florida. Add in the three big schools in the state, Florida, Florida State and Miami, and you have a fierce recruiting battle in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a little different than most places when it comes to recruiting. According to a CBSSports.com article, one in 99 players in Florida sign to an FBS scholarship out of high school. That’s an extraordinarily high rate and one that shows that there is enough talent to go around between all of these FBS schools and then some. Year after year the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Nebraska and just about everyone else comes down south and snatches up players.

Lane Kiffin FAUNow the head coaches in state may, how are already great recruiters, just need to convince a 17 year old to stay closer to home. Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, Mark Richt at Miami and Jim McElwain at Florida are all top notch recruiters and coaches. Their skills will be put to the test as Strong, Kiffin and Davis recruit from the same talent pool.

These new guys have NFL experience, run Power 5 programs, developed players for the next level and have the rings to show for it. The question now becomes, who can recruit a one or two star player and coach him up. Gut feeling on that is Charlie Strong now at South Florida.

Charlie StrongWhile Kiffin, Davis, Fisher, Richt and McElwain all have selling points about their programs, Strong is the only African American FBS head coach in this state. Along with his strong moral character and strong ties to the state (he coached at Florida on three different occasions), I see him winning out in the long haul. It may take him a year or two but he’s the only one of the three new coaches who has some talent leftover from the previous regime to work with.

Every college football season is a good college football season but this stretch run recruiting season maybe the start of something crazy. Something so crazy that it will probably end up as series on Netflix. Fisher, McElwain, Richt, Kiffin, Davis and Strong competing for the state’s best talent, let the games begin!

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Experience Over Potential

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 11.18.2016

Yes, you have to win right now if you are a college football coach. Greatness is fleeting and so are boosters checkbooks. No one likes to give money to a loser after all and college football has turned into a perennial ‘keeping up with the jones’ world. So if winning is, as the great Vince Lombardi once said ‘the only thing’, then why don’t more college football programs go after coaches with a track record of winning?

Butch DavisButch Davis was hired on as the head coach at Florida International (FIU). He has spent the past few seasons on TV since he got run out of UNC for pretty much not having any kind of academic standards. Despite that he is a winner on the field. He has a career record of 79-43 in 10 years of being a head coach and brought Miami back from the brink as well as being the last head coach to take the Cleveland Browns to the post season (that was the 2001-2002 season). It’s a smart hire by FIU who have been a doormat ever since they ran Mario Cristobal out of town.

Speaking of Cristobal, why hasn’t anyone hired this guy yet?

Cristobal is young (46), turned FIU into a conference champion while taking them to back-to-back bowl games and is considered to be one of the best recruiters in the country. Oh, his current job is coaching the ever dominant Alabama offensive line. He did nothing wrong at FIU except start losing games. Since they fired him they have gone straight into the toilet.

Two other names that don’t seem to be getting a lot attention despite having successful collegiate head coaching experience are Al Golden and Greg Schiano.

Al GoldenGolden is coaching with the Minnesota Vikings and helping make Kyle Rudolph one of the better tight ends in the game. He made the best of a unwinnable situation at Miami, turned around Temple and stayed classy doing it.

Schiano on the other hand resurrected Rutgers into a legitimate program. Schiano has a winning record as the Rutgers head coach which should say something about his coaching abilities. He took Rutgers to their first bowl game since 1978 and was named Coach of the Year in 2006. While he has a good gig right now (AHC/DC for Ohio State) you’d have to imagine that he would want the chance to run his own show again.

The list can go on and on but it should give schools like Purdue, LSU and others some pause. Pause to not chase after the next sexy hire but instead to hire someone with a track record of winning. Hire someone looking to prove that they still do have what it takes and learned from their mistakes in the past. Hire experience, not potential.