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Some Things Never Change

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When we started The Kickoff, the year was 1951. 

That college football season finished with seven unbeaten major college teams, of which five were unbeaten and untied. Ultimately, the Tennessee Volunteers were voted the best team by the Associated Press, followed by the Michigan State Spartans, with the Vols having a plurality of first-place votes (139 to 104). Back then, there was no playoff in college football, no “Division I-A” and a halfback at Princeton, Dick Kazmaier, won the Heisman. 

The Kickoff started as a printed publication distributed mainly through pro athletes and coaches with whom our company enjoyed a networking relationship. Over the years, it evolved into a sophisticated mail house operation focusing on the fulfillment side of direct mail advertising. 

Corporate sponsorships allow companies to send a version of The Kickoff that is branded with their logo to their customers (or prospects) for the advertising opportunities.

A few years ago, we took The Kickoff digital, offering a PDF version sent by email. 

A lot of things have changed since 1951. The Kickoff co-owner, Bert Caldwell, said the biggest change since he played the game was the physical size of the athletes. In the decades since, a lot of attention has been paid to making sure the game is safer. College football has also grown into a huge source of lucrative entertainment for massive media properties. 

All of our time closely following the game of college football – obsessing over it, really – has given our staff keen insights into the sport we all know and love. Our long history of covering the game informs our picks when we prognosticate on what the future holds. 

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College Football– A Look at New Head Coaches for 2020

Get your 2020 College Football head coaches scoop right here at the Kickoff.

Coaching changes always keep things interesting in college football, and 2020 will be no exception.

Lane Kiffin’s storied coaching career includes time spent on the sidelines for the Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, University of Alabama, Oakland Raiders, and Florida Atlantic. He was hired this season to be head football coach at Ole Miss, replacing Matt Luke. Expectations have always been high for the son of longtime NFL defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin. He’s frequently controversial, and has burned some bridges, but there’s no denying his talent with a 61-34 college head coaching record. In 2019, the NCAA vacated 33 Ole Miss victories, and levied a two-year ban on post-season play as punishment for recruiting, and academic violations under head coaches Houston Nutt and Hugh Freeze. It will be interesting to see if any of Kiffin’s players are undisciplined enough to cost the team a rivalry win by getting penalized for performing a post-touchdown mockery of a urinating dog. Willie Taggart, who was fired last season from his position as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles, takes Kiffin’s spot at FAU.

Speaking of the Seminoles, former Memphis Coach Mike Norvell takes over in Tallahassee. His contract is $3.75 million for 6 years. His record at Memphis was 38-15, and he’ll be expected to turn things around fast at FSU, where Taggart was fired in the middle of only his second season. Norvell has coached at Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, and Central Arkansas. Replacing him at Memphis is Ryan Silverfield.

At Arkansas, former Georgia Assistant Head Coach, Sam Pittman, replaces Chad Morris, who was ousted mid-season after a 4-18 record in Fayetteville. At Georgia, Pittman garnered a reputation as “one of the best recruiters and offensive line coaches in the SEC.” In his second season coaching the offensive line, Georgia won the SEC Championship Game, and reached the College Football Playoff National Championship. Pittman was the Razorbacks Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach from 2013-2015.

Mike Leach is out at Washington State after compiling a 139-90 record there, and will be staring across the field at Kiffin when Mississippi State meets their biggest rival. Joe Moorehead got the boot from Starkville after a 14-12 record as coach. Nick Rolovich takes the helm at Washington State while Todd Graham moves into the vacancy created by Rolovich leaving from Hawaii.

At Washington, Jimmy Lake replaces Chris Petersen, whose career head coaching record is 147-38 and led Washington to a 54-26 record. Lake has coached at both the National Football League (NFL) and college football levels, primarily overseeing defensive backs.

Former Florida and Texas Head Coach Charlie Strong is out at USF, and was replaced by Jeff Scott. Strong is working this season as a defensive analyst on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, following Kiffin’s strategy for career redemption. Scott was offensive coordinator for Clemson in 2017 when they beat Alabama to win the national championship, but USF is his first head coaching gig.

On September 21, 2019, with his 110th victory, Mark Dantonio became the winningest head coach in Michigan State football. On February 4, 2020, 63-year-old Dantonio announced he would be stepping down as head coach. Mel Tucker takes over. He was previously the head coach at the University of Colorado, which has yet to fill the coaching vacancy.

Missouri’s new coach is Eliah Drinkwitz, replacing Barry Odom, whose record was 24-25.
At Colorado State, Mike Bobo is out and Steve Addazio, who had a 44-44 record at Boston College, is in. Jeff Hafley takes over Addazio spot at BC.

At Baylor, former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was selected to succeed Matt Rhule, who accepted the job head coaching the Carolina Panthers.

At Fresno State, Jeff Tedford announced he was resigning in December for health reasons and former offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, who spent the 2019 season in Indiana, was hired as Tedford’s replacement.

A head coaching record of 8-32 led Rutgers to search for solutions other than Chris Ash, who was canned a day after a 52-0 loss to Michigan. On December 1, 2019, Rutgers and Greg Schiano agreed to an 8-year, $32 million contract that would see him return as head coach of the Scarlet Knights. He previously led the team from 2001-2011 before leaving less than a week before National Signing Day to become the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Former Notre Dame Coach Bob Davie is out at New Mexico, replaced by Danny Gonzales. Prior to 2018, Gonzales had spent his college coaching career on Rocky Long’s staff at the University of New Mexico and again at San Diego State University.

Old Dominion’s Bobby Wilder had a 77-56 record in 10 years as only the second coach all-time in the program’s history and the first since football’s rebirth at the school in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in 2009. The new play caller is Ricky Rahne, who has coached on the staffs of Holy Cross, Cornell, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, and Penn State.

San Diego State coach Rocky Long is gone after an 81-28 record since 2011, Brady Hoke returning to lead the team. Hoke was the Aztecs coach from 2009-2010.

UNLV decided to replace Tony Sanchez with Marcus Arroyo, who was offensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks.

UTSA’s Jeff Traylor replaces Frank Wilson after 4 seasons and a 19–29 overall record. Traylor previously coached positions at Texas, SMU and Arkansas before signing on to serve as the Roadrunners third head coach in program history.

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