Which head coaches are going to new places and who should be the best of the lot? They might not be in a transfer portal, but like the top prospects, a few key coaches moved around.
Transfer Portal 2023 Rankings: Head Coaches
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Okay, okay, there isn’t a transfer portal for college football head coaches, but the ones at new gigs were out there in the mix – just like the players who switched schools – and they found new landing spots that will make them very, very big this season.
No, really. Why are there coaches lumped into a thing about the college football transfer portal? If you go through the lists of where all of the top prospects are going, the new head coaches in new places had a whole lot to do with the moves.
How do the head coaches who changed jobs rank? Who’ll make the biggest impact and who were the best gets of the bunch? There were six college football head coaches who left for other college football gigs, and we’ll throw in a former NFL head man, too.
7 Scott Satterfield
New School: Cincinnati
Former School: Louisville
This worked for all sides. Louisville – at least parts of the fan base – was ready to move on, the school got the guy it wanted before hiring Satterfield, and the former guy landed in a sweet new gig. The pressure will be on, though. Satterfield didn’t exactly light it up at Louisville, and now he has to keep the success going at Cincinnati as it goes into the Big 12.
6 Jamey Chadwell
New School: Liberty
Former School: Coastal Carolina
This sort of makes sense. Think of it this way. Billy Napier turned Louisiana into a national thing and a Sun Belt powerhouse, and he parlayed that into the Florida job. Chadwell turned Coastal Carolina into a national thing and a Sun Belt powerhouse, and – not to program shame – his next step up is Liberty? It’s a great get for the Flames – Chadwell was in the rumor mill for a slew of bigger-name openings – but this might just be a pit stop.
5 Jeff Brohm
New School: Louisville
Former School: Purdue
Timing. Louisville made a big push for Brohm – a native son and former Cardinal quarterback – the last time around. Brohm stayed put at Purdue, took a program in need of a total reboot – really, look at how bad things got before he arrived – and got it to the Big Ten Championship last year. It was time to make the move. With the shifting away from divisions, he got Purdue about as far as he could.
4 Hugh Freeze
New School: Auburn
Former School: Liberty
Well there you go, SEC. You got one of your own back. It might have been a rough exit out of the conference, but Freeze did huge things at Liberty to show just how good a head coach he really is. Forgetting all the past issues, here’s the problem – it’s not like he won anything at Ole Miss. Even so, the guy knows how to coach a football team and he’s going to crank up the Auburn offense in a hurry thanks to a lot of help from the transfer portal.
3 Matt Rhule
New School: Nebraska
Former School: Baylor (but, really, the Carolina Panthers)
He makes the list, just because. He might not have switched head coaching gigs – he was fired by the Carolina Panthers and was readily available – but he was one of the splashiest of the new coaching gets. He was phenomenal at Temple, great at Baylor, and the NFL is the NFL – that’s about luck as much as anything else. It’s a big name head man in a big-time gig – the spotlight will be on right away.
2 Deion Sanders
New School: Colorado
Former School: Jackson State
Flip a coin on whether or not Coach Prime should be No. 1 on this list, and no argument if you think he should be.
For a program that – at least on the field – might have been the worst among the Power Five conferences last season, Sanders provided and instant jolt of … everything. Star power, national interest, and talent, talent, talent. He made it extremely clear from the start that he was going to bring in guys who could play at a high level, and the transfer portal certainly reflected that.
No, don’t expect Colorado to be this year’s USC, and yes, this is going to take a little while. But if you’re a fan of the Buffaloes, how much fun has this been so far? The only reason he’s not No. 1 is because …
1 Luke Fickell
New School: Wisconsin
Former School: Cincinnati
Since the start of the College Football Playoff era, Wisconsin has been – at least by wins – among the best Power Five programs to not make the mini-tournament.
The program has been great for the last few decades, but it hit a hard ceiling under former head man Paul Chryst. In comes Fickell, and while the proof will be in the results, the tweaks are there to suggest that something big is about to happen.
Basically, picture Wisconsin, but with a competent passing game. If it seems like Fickell brought in a dozen new quarterbacks through the transfer portal, you’re not far off. That, and he was able to keep around most of the great parts already in place.