Brian Kelly tops list of new coaches under pressure

The start of the college football season is only a few weeks away. The celebrations begin on August 27th for a handful of teams. The LSU Tigers will have to wait until September 5 when they take on the Florida State Seminoles in the Big Easy.

The start of the 2022 campaign also heralds a new era for Tigers football as Brian Kelly takes over the programme. The former Notre Dame coach became the program’s fourth head coach since 2000. The previous three all won national championships. Can Kelly finally get his hands on the elusive trophy? Only time can tell.

This past offseason was a wild one in terms of the coaching carousel. With this in mind, we included the new head coaches in the Power Five, who are under the greatest pressure to perform in their first year.

14 Mike Elko, Duke

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When it comes to Duke Football, there is little to no pressure. While the school wants to see better results, the Blue Devils haven’t had a successful season since 2018. This was the second successful season since 1994. Unexpectedly, new head coach Mike Elko should have plenty of time to set up his program on the spot.

13 Jake Dickert, Washington State

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Last season, Jake Dickert took over midseason after the Cougars relieved head coach Nick Rolovich of his duties due to the state’s COVID vaccination mandate. Dickert finished the year with a 3-3 record but led Wazzu to the Sun Bowl. He has been retained as head coach and has already shown what he can do for the program.

12 Kalen DeBoer, Washington

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Much like their Washington state rivals, the Washington Huskies made a coaching change in unusual circumstances. Jimmy Lake was impeached after an altercation with an athlete. In steps by Kalen DeBoer of Fresno State. DeBoer is tasked with rekindling the lead the Huskies had under Chris Petersen.

11 Brent Pry, Virginia Tech

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The Justin Fuente era at Blacksburg was an era that left many of the Hokie faithful disappointed. After two years, Virginia Tech finished 19-8 only to win just 25 games over the next four seasons. Brent Pry is now tasked with restoring VT to its former glory under legendary coach Frank Beamer. Pry will have some pressure to perform, but not among the top coaches in the country.

10 Joey McGuire, Texas Tech

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Texas Tech was once among the most enduring programs in the country. Much of this was thanks to Spike Dykes and Mike Leach. Since Leach’s release in 2009, the program has been mediocre. They’ve won just five seasons since 2010, and now first-time head coach Joey McGuire has to turn things around. He was successful early on in the recruitment paths, but can he do the same on the pitch?

9 Tony Elliott, Virginia

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It’s been a strange offseason for the Cavaliers after head coach Bronco Mendenhall abruptly resigned from his post. Virginia countered by taking Dabo Swinney’s longtime assistant, Tony Elliott, north to Charlottesville. After consecutive .500 seasons, Virginia hopes to continue the rise that began under Mendenhall in 2016.

8 Brent Venables, Oklahoma

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In a sense, the prodigal son returns home. After leaving Norman to become Clemson’s defensive coordinator, Brent Venables returns to Oklahoma after 10 years with the Tigers. Before his stint as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, Venables served with the Sooners for 13 years under Bob Stoops. When Lincoln Riley hastily left for Southern California, it was Venables’ first opportunity to direct his own program. Can he help OU get back on track with the Big 12?

7 Sonny Dykes, Texas Christian

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Replacing a legend is never easy and Sonny Dykes has that task ahead of him. After Gary Patterson led this program from 2000 to 2021, Dykes must take TCU back to where they once were. There’s also an added pressure to perform, like he did at SMU. Leaving one rival in town for another adds another level of pressure to win. You’re ready to win, but will it be enough to compete with Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor?

6 Mario Cristobal, Miami

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Mario Cristobal returns to South Beach this season. His presence has already breathed life into the Hurricanes program. The Canes have been looking for a leader who can bring Miami their next national championship. With their work on recruitment paths, the team appears to be closer than they have been for a while. However, Cristobal needs to show they can win consistently and not just hover around the .500 mark.

5Dan Lanning, Oregon

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With Cristobal now in Miami, the Oregon Ducks had to quickly organize a search for their next head coach. The administration elected to bring Dan Lanning to Eugene during the Georgia national championship run. Lanning must now continue the winning tradition and do even better than Cristobal. A difficult task for a first-time head coach. Lanning learned from the best in Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. He’ll get his first shot early as the Ducks take on Smart and the Bulldogs to open the season.

4 Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame

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For a brief time, it was thought Freeman would join Kelly in Baton Rouge, but ultimately gets his chance to headline a program. He and Tommy Rees should both go to LSU now they will continue their hunt for a national championship. Despite Kelly’s departure from the program, the Fighting Irish were still in the hunt for the college football playoffs. Can Freeman continue his double-digit winning streak in 2022? He’ll be tested in the opener when he faces his alma mater, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

3 Billy Napier, Fla

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Billy Napier has been a hot head coaching candidate for a number of seasons now. The Tennessee Vols and Auburn Tigers were among the prospects before the Florida Gators finally lured him out of the bayou. Now in the swamp, Napier must reverse the Gators program. After a failed experiment led by Dan Mullen, Florida must step up to dethrone its bitter rivals. Mullen started hot and fell off quickly, can Napier avoid the same fate?

2 Lincoln Riley, Southern California

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There is perhaps no more hated man in the Sooner State than Lincoln Riley, not even those who wear burnt orange have inherited the level of vitriol that the former Leach assistant had. However, the pressure for Riley to win doesn’t come from his time with Norman. The pressure to win here has to do with the fact that USC football was a shell of its former self. Not to mention they’ll be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024. The Trojans need a monster year and Riley, Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison are ready to give it to them.

1 Brian Kelly, LSU

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It was a moment we hadn’t seen in a long time. Notre Dame became a stepping stone to another job for Brian Kelly. After over a decade at South Bend and five 10-plus straight win seasons, he went to the bayou. Kelly had come close to the national championship but fell short on several occasions. He needed to level the playing field and Kelly gets that opportunity with a talent-rich recruiting landscape without the academic demands of his former school. The last three LSU Tigers head coaches have each won a natty, so the pressure is on Brian Kelly as he tries to finally get his hands on the trophy.

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