The 2013 head coach hiring class faces a tough act to follow

The 2012 FBS head coaching hiring class had a collective record of 144-190. That ledger isn't impressive on the surface, but step inside the numbers and you'll see athletic directors had a slugging percentage like Barry Bonds on at the peak of his steroids days.

- Of the 27 new head coaches, only eight decreased their schools' win totals from the year before. Twelve teams saw their win totals increase, while seven stayed the same. In all, 70.4 percent of schools saw their records maintained or improved by their first-year coaches. 

- Nearly 40 percent of new head coaches lead their teams to at least two more victories than the year before they arrived on campus.

- Two of those eight coaches did not survive the 2012 season (Ellis Johnson at Southern Miss and John L. Smith at Arkansas). Of the remaining six, Tony Levine inherited a situation where, without future Hall of Famer Case Keenum and a host of other playmakers, Houston was all but guaranteed to see its win total drop. Penn State saw its regular-season record dip from 9-3 to 8-4 with Bill O'Brien but, considering the unprecedented situation he walked into, he was a hot pick for national coach of the year honors. At Kansas, Charlie Weis saw the his team's record drop by one win but, with five losses coming by a touchdown or less, the Jayhawks were actually more competitive in 2012 than 2011.

- Five coaches led their teams to the top of their respective conference or division standings (Ohio State and North Carolina were ineligible for postseason play due to no fault of Urban Meyer or Larry Fedora). O'Brien's Penn State team also finished second to Meyer's Buckeyes in the Big Ten Leaders Division.

- Tim DeRuyter at Fresno State, Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss and Rich Rodriguez at Arizona took their teams to bowl games after missing the postseason in 2011. Kevin Sumlin inherited a 2011 bowl team, but jumped the Aggies from the Meineke Car Care Bowl to the Cotton Bowl, an 11-2 record and the school's first Top 5 finish since 1956.

- They didn't make bowl games, but Bob Davie (New Mexico), Carl Pelini (Florida Atlantic) and Justin Fuente (Memphis) each boosted their respective clubs ledgers by at least two victories. 

- Charley Molnar saw his team's record drop from 5-6 to 1-11 at Massachusetts, but his team was not included in the total versus 2011 since the Minutemen were transitioning from FCS to FBS play. 

New Head Coach 2012 Record Difference vs. 2011
Tim Beckman, Illinois 2-10 -5        
Terry Bowden, Akron 1-11 0
Matt Campbell, Toledo 9-4 0
Norm Chow, Hawaii 3-9 -3
Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh 6-7 0
Bob Davie, New Mexico 4-9 +3
Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State 9-4 +5
Larry Fedora, North Carolina 8-4 +1
Kyle Flood, Rutgers 9-4 0
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss 7-6 +5
Justin Fuente, Memphis 4-8 +2
Todd Graham, Arizona State 8-5 +2
Curtis Johnson, Tulane 2-10 0
Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss 0-12 -12
Mike Leach, Washington State 3-9 -1
Tony Levine, Houston 5-7 -8
Jim McElwain, Colorado State 4-8 +1
Garrick McGee, UAB 3-9 0
Urban Meyer, Ohio State 12-0 +6
Charley Molnar, UMass 1-11 N/A
Jim L. Mora, UCLA 9-4 +3
Bill O'Brien, Penn State 8-4 -1
Carl Pelini, FAU 3-9 +2
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona 8-5 +4
John L. Smith, Arkansas 4-8 -7
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M 11-2 +4
Charlie Weis, Kansas 1-11 -1

Good luck to FBS head coaching class of 2013, because you're going to need it to match the collective success of this group. 

VIDEO: Georgia takes to the mats

Georgia came about as close as a team can possibly come to playing for a national title last season without making it to the big game. They got pushed to the mat in last year's SEC championship game, and now they're taking to the mats to get back there for a third year in a row. The Georgia athletic department recently published this video of Joe Tereshinski and his strength staff working the Bullodgs as they prepare for the 2013 season. 

The Bulldogs open spring football on March 2 and will play their spring game on April 16.

Photos: TAMU has big, big plans for Kyle Field

Texas A&M has jumped into the SEC with both feet. Even the most ardent Aggies supporter could not have imagined an 11-2 debut for Kevin Sumlin, complete with the school's first Top 5 finish since 1956 and its first Heisman Trophy winner since 1957. Complete with the win over eventual national champion Alabama, and Texas A&M is a trendy pick to start the 2013 season with a No. 1 ranking.

Texas A&M also needs to renovate Kyle Field. This has been known for a while and many ideas have been floated, including abandoning the stadium entirely for a year while a grandstand was leveled and rebuilt, while the Aggies would make a temporary home in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or some combination of the three.

Combine the two above paragraphs and you get what is displayed below, renderings of the ultimate renovation to Kyle Field.

"The dazzling renderings have not been finalized or approved, but I’ve been assured these are accurate in terms of A&M’s overall plans," writes Texas A&M beat writer Brent Zwerneman

The top photo was provided by the 12th Man Foundation, the athletic department's fundraising arm. Whether or not the rest make it into reality, the school has committed to a half-billion investment beginning immediately after this season.

Kyle Field1


VIDEO: 'We respond when it's time to work'

I don't know why it took until late February for the Stanford athletic department to release a behind-the-scenes "director's cut" look at their trip to the Rose Bowl, but I'm not going to complain about it. These kinds of videos are like a sunny day in a Russian winter at this time of year.

The 10-minute video chronicles the Cardinal's entire trip to southern California, but we're going to skip to eight minutes in, when David Shaw gives his post-game address after Stanford's win. First, a quick recap of the game: Stanford jumped out to a 14-0 lead through one quarter, but Wisconsin pulled to within 17-14 at the half. The Stanford defense forced six punts and an interception in the second half, and the Cardinal held on for a 20-14 win.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of you guys," Shaw said to a jubilant locker room. "The unity that we displayed day in, day out, game in, game out, is so special. You young guys have to realize how hard it was to get here."

Stanford's outgoing seniors signed to play for a program that hadn't had a winning season since 2001. Stanford's incoming freshmen signed to play for a program that has gone 35-5 and finished in the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl in the last three seasons. It's an entirely different challenge for Shaw and his staff, one he began battling immediately. 

"We don't start talking about next year," Shaw continued. "People are going to be heaping all kinds of praise on us. That's not us. We don't respond to that. We respond when it's time to work. When we get back into school, we're going to put our noses back down to the grindstone because this is a great feeling, isn't it?"

Dennis Erickson: 'Brian Johnson is a superstar in our business'

There are plenty of co-coordinators on staffs throughout college football, but you would be hard pressed to find two co-coordinators with more divergent backgrounds than Utah's Dennis Erickson and Brian Johnson. 

Erickson is a 65-year-old in his sixth decade coaching football. His career began as a graduate assistant at Montana State in 1969, and from there he has gone on to become the head coach for nine different teams, seven in college football and two in the NFL. He won two national championships at Miami and was named the national coach of the year while taking Oregon State to the Fiesta Bowl. On the college level, Erickson sports a 179-96-1 record and has taken a dozen teams to bowl games.

Johnson turned 26 last week. After quarterbacking Utah to an undefeated season in 2008, he was hired to coach quarterbacks at his alma mater in 2010. Two years later, he became a 25-year-old offensive coordinator. 

Any assistant who has won two national titles as a head coach and was named national coach of the year at a different school is going to dwarf the accomplishments of any assistant throughout the game, but it's the pairing of the most accomplished coordinator in college football with the youngest coordinator in college football that makes this arrangement so fascinating. 

Sum up their differences this way: Erickson was in his 18th year of coaching and had just taken his third different head coaching job when Johnson was born. 

Speaking for the first time since his hiring was announced a week and a half ago, Erickson had this to say about his co-coordinator:

"Brian Johnson is a superstar in our business. He really is," Erickson said. "I've spent three of four days with him, and he is (a superstar). I watched him play a lot, and you're not a player and do the things he does as a competitor and not be able to transfer it over to coaching. We'll spend a lot of time together. Hopefully I'll learn from (me) because I know I'll learn from him. It's a two-way street. I think as a young coach, never think you don't have something to learn; as an old coach, you've always got something to learn."

Head coach Kyle Whittingham has more in mind for his co-offensive coordinators than the next great buddy cop sitcom. They'll be tasked with turning around an offense that ranked eighth or lower in the Pac-12 in each of the five major offensive statistics, including 12th in passing offense and 11th in total offense. The 5-7 Utes were held to 15 points or fewer four times in Pac-12 play, but managed to win three of their final five games, topping 42 points in each victory. 

"We're trying to get back into running the option most of the time, running some read option stuff, spreading them out, doing those types of things," Erickson said. "You look at the top 10 offenses in college football right now, all of them run 75-to-80 plays. We all (as a staff) want to do the same things, and that's going to be one of them."

There are many co-coordinator tandems in college football, but none as unique as this one. While their résumés could not be more different, Erickson thinks their philosophies are the same. 

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