Expectations For The 2nd Year Head Coaches: 21 For 2021 College Football Topics, No. 15

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21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 15: What are the reasonable expectations for the second year college football head coaches this season?

2nd Year Head College Football Coach Expectations For 2021

If you were a new head coach last season, there’s not much else that can be thrown at you after 2020.

Even the longtime veterans had to completely change up everything as they tried to navigate their way through the craziness and changes. Teams didn’t have a real offseason to get up and going, no one had the proper time to prepare, and just about everyone had to deal with the prospect of a cancelled season.

Combine the global pandemic with a revitalized era of social consciousness, and last year was anything but routine for the new head coaches. But now they all have a year to try getting their programs going.

21 for 2021 College Football Topics
21: 21 Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes
20: 5 Best Programs To Not Make CFP
19: 5 Teams That Will Rebound
18: 5 Teams That Will Take A Step Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game
16. Expectations For New Head Coaches

What can fans hope for out of each second year head coach, and what can they look forward to over the next five seasons? Here’s the breakdown of all them in four categories.

The rebuild continues
Mild expectations … but go bowling
Go bowling, and maybe do more
2020 is over … WIN NOW

Coaches in each category listed in alphabetical order

2021 2nd Year College Football Head Coach Expectations: Keep The Rebuild Going

These coaches took over impossible situations even if 2020 was normal. They get the equivalent of a redshirt year as they now try to build things back up.

Marcus Arroyo, UNLV

2020: It didn’t go well. UNLV is a much, much tougher gig than it seems, and Arroyo’s team struggled with the program’s first winless season since 1998. The Rebels went 0-6 losing all six game by double-digits.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Just start looking more dangerous. There should be a few wins coming, but UNLV will be the underdog in just about every game. Even so, there has to be a sign of life – especially defensively.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Build the program up. UNLV has been a perennial doormat with just one winning season since 2000. Arroyo will get plenty of time, but there has to be incremental improvement starting with a bowl game in 2021.
2021 UNLV Preview

Danny Gonzales, New Mexico

2020: As 2-5 seasons go, it wasn’t all that bad. New Mexico was in total redo mode, but it was competitive in losses to Hawaii and Nevada and won its final two games at Wyoming and Fresno State. Gonzales did what all first year head coaches in tough situations need to do – he showed the potential for positive things to happen going forward.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Make a push for a bowl game. It’s still going to be a work in progress, but the Lobos have a few nice parts – getting Kentucky QB Terry Wilson helps – and there should be a built-in four wins as a base.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Four bowl appearances over the next five years with one big push of a season at some point to get into Mountain West title contention.
2021 New Mexico Preview

Ricky Rahne, Old Dominion

2020: Everything was about to get going and then … nope. Old Dominion chose to opt out on the season.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: It’s really Rahne’s first season at the helm. On the plus side, he had a full season to get settled in, and he’s got a salty bunch of players ready to go. At least four wins is a reasonable goal, but ODU is a true X factor team as it gets up and going again.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Three bowl appearances and at least one push for the Conference USA East title. Overall, it’s going to be a heavy lift in the tougher of the two C-USA divisions.
2021 Old Dominion Preview

Jeff Scott, USF

2020: The Bulls went 1-8 with that lone victory coming over The Citadel from the FCS world. The offense perked up at times, but not enough to overcome a woeful defense.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: It’s still going to be an uphill climb. USF might have even more offensive punch, but the D has to go from miserable to just mediocre. It’ll be ugly at times, but getting to four wins would be a step forward.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Make the offense unstoppable. The Bulls need to quickly grow into a regular on the bowl circuit, be in the American Athletic title chase within three years, and come up with at least two wins over UCF.
2021 USF Preview

Mild expectations … but go bowling
Go bowling, and maybe do more
2020 is over … WIN NOW

NEXT: 2021 2nd Year College Football Head Coach Expectations: Mild Expectations, But Go Bowling

2021 2nd Year College Football Head Coach Expectations: Mild Expectations … But Go Bowling

These coaches took over less-than-ideal situations and were able to start to turn things around a little bit. There’s no massive pressure for right now, but they need to at least get to a bowl game or Year Three could be make-or-break.

Eliah Drinkwitz, Missouri

2020: The 5-5 season wasn’t awful, but the defense was a disaster over the final three games and the offense was spotty throughout. The blowout losses to Tennessee and Mississippi State weren’t okay.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: The schedule – considering Mizzou is in the SEC – isn’t all that bad. A bowl game should be a no-brainer and a winning season is a must. More than that, the team has to be more competitive against the big boys on the slate – this year, that’s Florida, Georgia, and Texas A&M.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Go bowling every year and beat Florida and Georgia at least twice each. An SEC East title would be nice, but at least come close once.
2021 Missouri Preview

Todd Graham, Hawaii

2020: 5-4 with a bowl win was a nice first run. It was a wildly inconsistent year, but it was a decent winning season in the coaching and philosophical transition.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Do it all over again. Year Two might turn out to be tougher than Year One – the Rainbow Warriors have to deal with a makeshift new home field and the schedule is a whole lot tougher without two home games in a row. Just get to a bowl game and come up with a winning season.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Win a Mountain West title. Hawaii is always going to have to fight through its various barriers, but getting to a bowl every year is a must.
2021 Hawaii Preview

Nick Rolovich, Washington State

2020: Just like it was for most of the Pac-12, Washington State had a hard time getting the shortened season going. The Cougars went 1-3, the defense was non-existent, and it was mainly a warm-up year for everything going forward.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Make a push for a bowl game. Anything less than five wins will be a disaster, and there needs to be an upset or two to come up with a winning season.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Go to a bowl game in each season and expect Rolovich to make the offense more consistent. The coach has an attitude, and it needs to translate into a Wazzu program that has to become more of a factor in the Pac-12 North.
2021 Washington State Preview

Greg Schiano, Rutgers

2020: 3-6 was a whole lot better than 3-6. After so many years of pain and suffering, Rutgers started to be more entertaining and far more competitive, losing to Michigan in overtime and with three of the losses by a touchdown or less.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Knock on the door of bowl eligibility. Schiano did a wonderful job in his first season, and he’s got a decent enough starting 22 to be competitive. With its schedule five wins is a must, and there needs to be an upset to get to six.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Realistically, Rutgers isn’t going to make any sort of a push for the Big Ten title, but if Schiano can get the program to three bowl games and generate a few big upsets over the big names, he’ll be doing his job.
2021 Rutgers Preview

The rebuild continues
Go bowling, and maybe do more
2020 is over … WIN NOW

NEXT: 2021 2nd Year College Football Head Coach Expectations: Go Bowling, and Maybe More

2021 2nd Year College Football Head Coach Expectations: Go Bowling, and Maybe More

There’s no hot seat thing happening, but there’s a big, big issue going into the next offseason if these guys don’t at least get their respective programs to a bowl game.

CFN 2021 Preseason Win Total Projections For Every Team

Steve Addazio, Colorado State

2020: Addazio took over a rough situation, and it was a rocky start both off the field and on it. It’s been a few years since the program came up with a winning season, but the 1-3 run in a weird year was still lousy.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Go bowling. Addazio took over after Colorado State went 7-17 in the previous two seasons, and it was a heavy lift to get to at least the 7-6 level of 2015, 2016 and 2017, but there’s enough on the schedule to get to six wins.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Be a regular on the bowl circuit – four bowls in five years – win at least on Mountain division title in the Mountain West, and be a consistent factor in the conference title chase.
2021 Colorado State Preview

Dave Aranda, Baylor

2020: After coming achingly close to winning the Big 12 title in 2019, the rebuilding job didn’t go well with a 2-7 2020. There weren’t any embarrassing performances until the 42-3 loss to Oklahoma State to end the season, but the close games now have to translate into wins.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Aranda tweaked and changed a few things now that he had a full year to work, and now pushing for a top five finish in the ten-team Big 12 would be nice. There are three easy wins, and it’s going to take a fight to get to six.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: The bar is higher now for the program, but expect one dud season over the next five years, demand four winning campaigns, and hope for at least one season when everything comes together in another Big 12 Championship appearance.
2021 Baylor Preview

Kalen DeBoer, Fresno State

2020: Call is a successful failure. The Bulldogs went 3-3 with all three victories over the awful teams on the slate, but the offense was a blast. The Bulldogs showed the upside to be a problem for the rest of the Mountain West.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Win the Mountain West’s West division. It’s hardly going to be easy playing in the tougher of the two divisions – and with road dates at Hawaii, San Jose State and San Diego State – but the Nevada game is at home. Whatever … win the West, Fresno State.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Win at least two division titles and go bowling all five years with one of the Mountain West’s most dangerous offenses.
2021 Fresno State Preview

Jeff Hafley, Boston College

2020: 6-5 might not seem like anything great, but it was terrific considering the pivot the team made to a high-end passing attack. There was a great fight at Clemson and good battles with North Carolina and Notre Dame as Hafley’s team showed a glimpse of the success that should be coming.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Eight wins. The program has hit a seven-win ceiling time and time again since going 8-5 in 2009, but this year’s team should have the offensive punch to come up with something big considering the relatively light schedule.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Five straight winning seasons, at least one win over Clemson, and one Atlantic title. That might seem like asking for the world considering how amazing Clemson is – and how good Florida State should be at some point – but BC might just become good enough under Hafley to come up with one massive run in one of the next five years.
2021 Boston College Preview

Jeff Traylor, UTSA

2020: Well that was fun. After winning seven games in two years, UTSA got a strong first season out of Traylor with a 7-5 season including a trip to the First Responder Bowl. The Roadrunners lost to Louisiana, but they beat the teams they were supposed to – that’s the job in Conference USA.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Make more of a push to win the Conference USA West division. UAB is good, and Louisiana Tech isn’t bad, but it’s the easier of the two divisions and it’s getable for a team with a slew of potential all-star parts.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Win a Conference USA title. Just getting to a bowl game on a regular basis would be strong enough, but Traylor has enough talent and upside to shoot for something bigger over the next few years.
2021 UTSA Preview

Mel Tucker, Michigan State

2020: Michigan State lost at home to Rutgers to start the season. That’s not how you kick off an era. The Spartans were able to shock Northwestern, but the offense was miserable and the defense lousy in the 2-5 season.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Sneak into a bowl game. The offense has to prove it can consistently produce, the defense has to be a whole lot better, and it’s going to take a few upsets to come up with a winning season. Whatever … get to a bowl game.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Five bowl games in five years, at least two wins over Michigan, at least one win over Ohio State, at least one Big Ten East title. First, Tucker has to get the program to a consistently high level, and it’ll take at least a year to do it.
2021 Michigan State Preview

The rebuild continues
Mild expectations … but go bowling
2020 is over … WIN NOW

NEXT: 2021 2nd Year College Football Head Coach Expectations: 2020 is over … WIN NOW

2021 2nd Year College Football Head Coach Expectations: 2020 is over … WIN NOW

2020 … whatever. WIN RIGHT NOW OR ELSE. These guys won’t get fired if their teams don’t play up to expectations, but they need to come up with huge 2021s.

CFN 2021 Preseason Bowl Projections

Shawn Clark, Appalachian State

2020: It wasn’t a Sun Belt championship season, but Clark and his Mountaineers won nine games and took home the Myrtle Beach Bowl over North Texas. It was the sixth straight season the program won nine games or more.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Win the Sun Belt title. Anything less than nine wins for this program is a total failure, but winning the Sun Belt is the real achievable goal.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Win three Sun Belt titles, keep being among the Sun Belt’s biggest stars, and keep the machine going.
2021 Appalachian State Preview

Jimmy Lake, Washington

2020: The roll needs to be slowed a wee bit, but the Huskies went 3-1 – there was a decent win over Utah, wins over bad Arizona and Oregon State teams, and a loss to Stanford – but they couldn’t play for the Pac-12 title. The season set the tone, though, proving that the transition to Lake would be smooth.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Win the Pac-12 title. The league is good, but it’s not unreachable for a team with one of the league’s best defenses, no USC to face, and with Oregon having to come to Seattle.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Lake should rise up into a superstar as he takes the Dawgs to at least two Pac-12 Championship games and a flirtation with the College Football Playoff.
2021 Washington Preview

Mike Norvell, Florida State

2020: A third straight losing season and the eighth straight season of declining win total – or holding steady – wasn’t Norvell’s fault, but a bad offseason and a miserable 3-6 run is putting the pressure on to show something in Year Two.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Go bowling. It’s Florida freaking State – the goal shouldn’t simply be to not suck. Novell didn’t have any real time to work last year, but this season the program has to look like it’s a few tweaks away from being a player in the ACC again.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Again … it’s Florida freaking State. Over the next five years, the realistic expectations is to be back in the ACC title hunt and in the national championship chase within five years.
2021 Florida State Preview

Ryan Silverfield, Memphis

2020: How do you keep it all going after winning 12 games with an American Athletic championship and Cotton Bowl appearance? 8-3 in Silverfield’s first season was terrific. It wasn’t a championship season, but it was a good run with a bowl win.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Play for the American Athletic Conference championship. Cincinnati and UCF – among others – are the stars, but Memphis is among the league’s big boys. It goes into every year now with the expectation to shoot for the title.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Win at least two AAC championships and play in another. Part of the positives of elevating Silverfield to the top job was the continuity, and the next five years should show why. In a perfect world, Memphis is so good that Silverfield is somewhere else in the next five years, just like, potentially …
2021 Memphis Preview

Willie Taggart, Florida Atlantic

2020: The Lane Kiffin era was a tough act to follow, but in a rebuilding year the Owls went 5-4 and got to a bowl game. It wasn’t a championship season, but the defense was fantastic and, again, it was a winning campaign.

Realistic Expectations In Year Two: Win the Conference USA title. At the very least, the Owls need to play for the championship. That might not be easy in the tougher of the league’s two divisions, but Taggart has enough pieces in place to get it done.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: If this works like it’s supposed to, Florida Atlantic wins at least two conference championships, gets to a bowl game in all five years, and it does that with a new head coach three seasons from now as Taggart is gone for a Power Five gig.
2021 Florida Atlantic Preview

21 for 2021 College Football Topics
21: 21 Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes
20: 5 Best Programs To Not Make CFP
19: 5 Teams That Will Rebound
18: 5 Teams That Will Take A Step Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game
16. Expectations For New Head Coaches

CFN 2021 College Football Preview: All 130 Teams