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10 Best new college football coaches in 2022

10 Best new college football coaches in 2022

10 Best new college football coaches in 2022

Every December and January, the coaching market is so interesting and compelling that there are always plenty of interesting storylines to unpack. But the 2021-2022 coaching carousel was among the most enthralling ever. 

So who did the best of the first-year head coaches?

#10. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State

The success of Tedford's return to Fresno. The Bulldogs won their final eight games, the Mountain West final, and the LA Bowl after starting the season 1-4. Of course, Jake Haener's comeback from injury is largely responsible for that streak. For the season's final three months, the offensive became more effective and powerful. Until he left for medical reasons, Tedford had a spectacularly successful career at Fresno State. If his health holds up, he might be able to keep the Bulldogs competitive in the Mountain West for some time.

#9. Jon Sumrall, Troy

Let Jon Sumrall have it. Sumrall led the Trojans to a 12-2 record and a Sun Belt championship after three consecutive seasons with five wins. Their only losses were to Ole Miss and Appalachian State to start the season 1-2, and they won their final 11 games of the year. Sumrall and Troy, the former defensive coordinator for Kentucky, went back to their defensive fundamentals and allowed fewer than 18 points a game. As is the case with Sumrall, Troy is on the upswing.

#8. Dan Lanning, Oregon

Give Dan Lanning some credit; after losing to Georgia in their first game of the year, he almost cost the team and the season. Instead, the Ducks improved and won their next eight games by working hard. The Ducks weren't able to go to the Pac-12 championship game due to late-season losses to rivals Washington and Oregon State (and possibly a College Football Playoff spot). Lanning, who is renowned for leading such physically demanding teams at Georgia, still has a lot to learn about the Oregon defence.

#7. Jim Mora, UConn

Jim Mora excelled throughout his debut campaign at UConn. Mora took over a club that had a 1-11 record the previous year. He guided the Huskies to their first bowl appearance since 2015. Yes, UConn dominated many underdog opponents, but they did shock Fresno State to start their 5-2 run to close off the regular season. UConn developed into a strong running team, and Mora will work to increase the offence as he develops the team.

#6. Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame

At Notre Dame, there are many reasons to be happy. The Irish managed to finish the season 9-4 despite Freeman's shift in coaching philosophies, with two of those defeats coming at the hands of USC and Ohio State. They lost to Marshall and Stanford, which was surprising given their offensive ineptitude, but they easily defeated Clemson and North Carolina and defeated a hot South Carolina team in the Gator Bowl. In South Bend, there are always great expectations, so it will be intriguing to see if Freeman can advance in Year 2.

#5. Mike Elko, Duke

In his first year in Durham, Mike Elko received the ACC Coach of the Year award. Had his Duke Blue Devils fought off a North Carolina comeback in their defeat to the rival Heels, they would have been in the running for the league championship. Under Elko, the Blue Devils improved their physicality on both sides of the ball and stopped being a pushover. The Blue Devils enjoyed just their third winning season overall since 1995 and their first in the ACC since 2014. They defeated UCF in the Military Bowl to get to their first bowl game since 2018.

#4. Kalen DeBoer, Washington

This season, Kalen DeBoer's coaching position in Seattle has been among the most obscure. That was a brilliant move for the Huskies to use the transfer portal to acquire Indiana's Michael Penix Jr., who brought them so close to the Pac-12 championship game. Despite losing twice in the middle of the season, to UCLA and (curiously) Arizona State, they still managed to win 11 games. Not bad for a man who, prior to accepting this position, had only 18 FBS head coaching games under his belt at Fresno State. But keep in mind that he also had a 67-3 record and three NAIA national titles at Sioux Falls.

#3. Lincoln Riley, USC

When Lincoln Riley introduced his brand of football to USC, it was a huge success. The Trojans, who finished 4-8 in 2021, were in position to win the Pac-12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff before suffering their second season-ending loss to the Utes in a rout. We already know Riley is capable of coaching up some offenses, and USC was among the best in the country as a result of his transfer portal rebuilding. Much as at Oklahoma, his defense let him down, but there is hope that he can find talent to at least make them serviceable. USC is once again on the upswing.

#2. Brian Kelly, LSU

Despite his bad southern accent, Brian Kelly had a successful debut season in Baton Rouge. In the stacked SEC West Division, where two teams were vying for the national title, Kelly was expected to keep LSU competitive. Instead, he went out and won the division. Along the way, he led the Tigers into position to compete for a College Football Playoff slot and defeated Alabama on one of the season's most audacious play calls.


Though they still have a lot to work on after losing to Texas A&M in the regular season conclusion and getting run over by Georgia in the SEC championship game, the Citrus Bowl victory over Purdue was a welcome improvement. The first year has LSU supporters cheering for what the future may bring.

#1. Sonny Dykes, TCU

It's not terrible to lead your squad to the national title game in your first season. The four years before Dykes moved to Fort Worth weren't among TCU's greatest achievements as a team. During Gary Patterson's final four seasons at TCU, the Horned Frogs had a 23-24 record. So it says something about what Sonny Dykes and his staff did this season that the TCU Horned Frogs started 12-0, were able to lose the Big 12 title game (in overtime), and still made it into the College Football Playoff. His offenses were explosive (hanging 51 against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl), and this school might emerge as the Big 12's next dominant force. This season's best first-year teaching position.

5.0 / 6

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