5 FBS Head Coaches Who Should Have Never Left First Jobs

If Randy Edsall had to do it all over again, he'd probably stay at UConn.

If Randy Edsall had to do it all over again, he’d probably stay at UConn.

Someone made a comment the other day that Matt Rhule could be the Joe Paterno of Temple, creating his own legacy.

Maybe, but I would settle for him being the Ken Niumatalolo of Temple.


Niumatalolo has had it right all along. Every year at about this time, suitors from numerous P5 schools ask Niumatalolo’s agent for his interest in moving on up and he always says  “thanks, but no thanks” and realizes that while the money is greener on the P5 side of the college football fence, the grass certainly is not. Niumatalolo is happy in his situation at Navy and has remained there for years and will be there for years to come chiefly because he knows what it takes to win there.

Niumatalolo knows the Navy landscape better than anyone and Rhule has spent nine years memorizing every blade of grass in the Temple landscape.

Being a fan of a G5 team means bracing yourself every year for “talk” of a P5 team poaching your head coach. Smug P5 fans just assume that they can throw enough money and have any G5 coach they want. Niumatalolo has been one of the few exceptions. I have a feeling Rhule is as well, though I’d like to see a stronger proclamation than “I don”t know what the future holds.”

They both have enough money and know from the experience of their colleagues that more money does not necessarily mean more happiness. In many cases, the opposite is true.

If either one leaves, the same thing that happened to these guys can happen to them:

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 6: Head coach Darrell Hazell of the Kent State Golden Flashes watches the referee while they discuss a penalty during their game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves on January 6, 2013 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. At halftime Arkansas State leads Kent State 14-10.(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

  1. Darrell Hazell, Kent State

The jury might be still out for Darrell Hazell, but it certainly is in final hours of deliberations. Hazell went 11-1 at Kent State before moving onto Purdue. The Boilermakers were just cooked, 48-14, by an Illinois team coming off a 39-0 loss to Penn State. Boilermaker fans were full of hope for Hazell, who followed the 22-27 Danny Hope. Since Hazell is 6-27, any hope Purdue fans had is behind them now.

  1. Randy Edsall, UConnConnecticut v North Carolina

Randy Edsall had the Huskies in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and his success in Connecticut convinced the state to build a new 40,000-seat stadium in East Hartford, 30 miles from the school. Edsall had that stadium full and won two Big East championships, even beating Notre Dame once, before heading South to what he called his “dream job” in Maryland. That turned into a nightmare and he was fired this year.

Temple v Penn State

  1. Al Golden, Temple

Al Golden came to Temple with a binder on how to build a program from the ground up, applied those principles to the moribund Owls and, after a 1-11 first year, had the Owls in their first bowl game in 30 years. He finished his career 29-26 in his last 55 games. For that kind of success, he could have had a job for life at a grateful Temple. For going 32-25 at Miami, he now finds himself out on the street.

Ball State Cardinals v Buffalo Bulls

  1. Turner Gill, Buffalo

They would have built a statue for Turner Gill had he remained at Buffalo after the 2009 season because that was the season where Gill delivered the Bulls a long-sought-after MAC title. His 2008 season was also good, winning eight games and getting Buffalo to a bowl.  Gill went off to Kansas, where he flopped, and now is trying to hit the reset button on his career at FCS Liberty.

Western Michigan v Ball State

  1. Brady Hoke, San Diego State

Some guys leave perfect jobs once, but Hoke might be one of those rare examples of guys who left perfect jobs twice. Hoke was the right guy for alma mater Ball State, posting a 12-0 regular season in 2008. He made essentially a lateral move to San Diego State, where posted a 9-4 record in 2010, getting him a Michigan job that proved to be over his head.

Tomorrow: Closing in on some Temple records


19 thoughts on “5 FBS Head Coaches Who Should Have Never Left First Jobs

  1. I am not sure Temple would have been best off if Al Golden stayed here. He certainly revived the program, but I don’t know if he was capable of taking it to the next level. We went through a lot of pain, first with Addazio, who turned out to be something of a fraud, and then with Rhule’s learning curve, learning how to be a head coach. But we are now at a level that I would not have predicted if Al had stayed.

    • It all depends on what 35-25 in the ACC translates to in the AAC/Big East/Mac. I think Golden would have had a solid run, and the Big East would have collapsed either way. Then again, I’m not a fan of looking back at what might have been. Especially when we’re debating if the Owls will take home field advantage for a championship game. Heck, I’m looking more toward that than a bowl.

    • A lot of Al’s disappointment came the night he had to tell the team that, despite being 8-4, they were not going to a bowl game. I didn’t think he saw much of a future here. Circumstances have changed. I think Temple could have been around 8-4 every year under Al simply because the guy could recruit. His gameday coaching deficiencies that we all saw here caught up to him at Miami (not punting to Navy in 2008 with 17 seconds left and Navy having no timeouts and a length of a field to cover with a wishbone offense being one example).

  2. Agreed, Fast phil, Golden’s Miami team is on the downslide as we speak. I always felt he wasn’t a very good game-day coach. Even with Rhule’s “learning curve” seasons, we’re now seeing a coach who can get it done during a game. But this season isn’t over yet – it could slip away especially with all the injuries and tough games coming up. I’m the one who suggested Rhule hopefully might follow Paterno’s example of staying put and developing something big at Temple, but I also wonder if he may just be a 1-2 year wonder and then things will go array. Assuming this seasons ends up special I hope he sticks around and gives Temple and himself a chance at consistent success. As I’ve said many times, Temple has, should I say, “unique conditions” that always seem to drag it down just when things are looking good. For instance, if Rhule leaves they could take a chance on another Bobby Wallace. Ugh.

    • They won’t take another chance on Bobby Wallace, but G5 schools hiring histories after losing coaches is spotty at best. The only G5 school with three dynamite coaches in a row is Western Kentucky. At a G5 school, an astute AD is the marquee hire because college football is a sport where the P5 eat their G5 young to survive.

    • The major difference is now we have an administration committed to putting the dollars up. We have a practice facility, indoor facility, stadium discussions. 12k to 15k students in and around campus. Rhule making $1.2m. Past administrations never committed dollars and university was not growing like it is today. If Rhule leaves this will be a desirable job. The bad old days are gone.

  3. Niumatalolo makes more $$ than Rhule, if Navy can afford to pay him than Temple can afford to pay Rhule more to keep him from walking out the door…, but I really think the only college job Rhule would want outside Temple would be PSU.., his ultimate professional coaching goal is probably to be a pro head coach.., the key for Temple is to improve the facilities and football resources commensurate with the success on the field.., the coaches and players have exceeded expectations, and it is time for the university to exceed the expectations of the coaches and players.., the fan base is the third leg and that leg is growing at a remarkable rate 🙂

    if Temple finishes the year in the Top 25 then they will probably start the 2016 season in the Top 25? that has got to help land four-star recruits

    • Ken makes $2 million; Matt $1.2. TU BOT should kick that up to make it commensurate to the top salary in the AAC.

    • The naval academy has the full faith and credit of the US, they can pay what they want. Everyone is on scholarship at the naval academy.

      • the fact that everyone is on full appointments actually tends to hurt the football team. You’re hostage to the scholarship for the most part at a regular college. At a service academy, you leave the football team, you still can stay at the academy.

      • My point was they have all the money they need to throw at a coach. It’s a full federal government operation.

  4. Miami is next year’s Michigan if they get good coaches. The talent on that team is top twenty. Last year they had seven kids drafted. Al Golden’s only fault in my opinion was being a bad game day coach, which is 70-80% of the job. if a coach doesn’t win, no one cares about recruiting or grades or player behavior. Golden proved that having great recruiting classes doesn’t mean squat if you don’t coach em up as they say and win the game.

  5. Right now I would think there is a big difference from Kent State Money to AAC money and P5 money. I would think the majority of AAC coaches are making 7 figures a year and why give that up to coach at Maryland? They will NEVER win in the B10. or Miami as they will NEVER win in the ACC even S Carolina( never won before the ball coach and may not win again) Now if S Cal came calling that is a different story. Going from AAC to say Maryland is a short sighted move for a money grab. Games on TV are big10 network at bad times and will never win. It will be like basketball. Shaka turned down how many second rate ACC schools to stay at VC but when Texas came calling that was different. Second division P5 teams will have trouble getting coaches and if they do it will be CUSA, MAC, Sun belt as I would think most of those jobs are only 6 figures where as the AAC and MWest will pay more.

    • Al can afford to take year off. His contract was $2.65 mil through 2010 and buyouts generally run no less than 50 percent, so he’s probably making more than Rhule to sit on his ass for the next two years. Then I see him taking a DC job at a big-time school, maybe Florida State. I don’t think Maryland (looking for a big name) would hire him or Rutgers (pining for Greg Schiano’s return). Maybe ‘Cuse, not BC (Daz probably soured them on ex-Temple coaches).

      • Al did great work while at temple and he is to be commended but the way he kept hedging to leave temple left a bad impression for many. He never heard the old adage be nice to the people on the way up because they are the same people you are going to meet on the way down.

  6. I wonder where AG ends up? VA Tech? MD? BC? TN?

  7. If I was thinking of hiring Al he would have to promise not to hire D’Onofrio.

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