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Coaching Changes

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2006 Coaching Changes

by Matt James

Northwestern named one of its own college football stars on July 7 as the successor to Randy Walker who died of an apparent heart attack on June 29 at the age of 52. Pat Fitzgerald, a former All-American linebacker at Northwestern and Walker's linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator, becomes the youngest head coach in Division I-A at the age of 31.

How New Coaches Fared
Boise State Dan Hawkins 9-4 Chris Petersen 13-0
Buffalo Jim Hofher 1-10 Turner Gill 2-10
Colorado Gary Barnett 7-6 Dan Hawkins 2-10
Idaho Tom Cable 2-9 Dennis Erickson 4-8
Kansas State Bill Snyder 5-6 Ron Prince 7-6
Middle Tennessee Andy McCollum 4-7 Rick Stockstill 7-6
Northwestern Randy Walker 7-5 Pat Fitzgerald 4-8
Rice Ken Hatfield 1-10 Todd Graham 7-6
San Diego State Tom Craft 5-7 Chuck Long 3-9
Temple Bobby Wallace 0-11 Al Golden 1-11
Wisconsin Barry Alvarez 10-3 Bret Bielema 12-1

Fitzgerald starred on defense for Northwestern when the Wildcats won the Big 10 title in 1995, though he didn't get to play in the Rose Bowl that year after suffering a broken leg.

Walker was reportedly grooming Fitzgerald to be his successor.

Walker was the first coach at the Evanston, Illinois school to lead that team to three bowl games, including a 50-38 Sun Bowl loss to UCLA last year. He also was the first to guide the team to four seasons with at least six wins since C.M. Hollister's reign over a century ago, 1899-1902.

Dennis Erickson has gone full circle back to Idaho. Erickson was announced as the head coach of the Vandals on February 8th, replacing Tom Cable who was fired on November 23rd after a rare victory. Cable was 11-35 in four seasons at Idaho.

Erickson coached the Vandals from 1982-1985. Erickson then went on to coaching stints at Wyoming, Washington State, Miami (where he won two national titles with the Hurricanes) and Oregon State. Most recently, he spent six years in the NFL as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. His career college record is 145-56-1.

On New Year's Day, Rice filled its head coaching vacancy by hiring Tulsa assistant head coach Todd Graham. Graham's previous head coaching experience came with East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma which he led to the NAIA national title in 1993. Prior to that, he coached Allen High School (suburban Dallas) to five state playoff berths.

Graham replaces Ken Hatfield who resigned from the Owls on November 30th after a 1-10 campaign dropped his 12-year record at the Houston school to 55-78-1. The Owls had only three winning seasons under Hatfield as they went 7-4 in 1996 and 1997, and 8-4 in 2001. Rice was 4-18 over the last two seasons.

Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long was hired on December 17th as the new head coach at San Diego State. He replaces Tom Craft who was fired on December 5th.

Long has spent the past four season as Bob Stoops' offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. He played eight seasons in the NFL with St. Louis and Detroit and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Long finished just 45 points behind Bo Jackson (1,509-1,464) in the 1985 Heisman balloting.

Craft spent just four seasons at San Diego State and compiled a 19-29 record. His best season was a 6-6 mark in 2003. The Aztecs had a chance to equal that mark this year but lost to Hawaii in their final regular season game to finish 5-7.

Colorado introduced Dan Hawkins on December 16th as their new head coach. Hawkins replaces Gary Barnett. Barnett tendered his resignation on December 8th when the school offered a $3 million buyout to end an era rocked by scandals that included sex parties for recruits.

Barnett went 49-38 in seven seasons but finished his tenure on a 3-game losing streak, punctuated by a humiliating 70-3 pummeling by Texas in the Big 12 Championship game.

Hawkins was 53-10 in five seasons at Boise State with three outright WAC titles and a share of the title with Nevada this season. He will coach Boise State in the MPC Computers Bowl against Boston College on December 28th on the Broncos home field where his teams are 31-1 with 31 straight wins. Their last loss on the blue turf happened on September 8 of 2001 against Washington State, his first home game as head coach.

Chris Petersen, the offensive coordinator under Hawkins, was announced later on Friday as the successor to Hawkins. Petersen will assume those duties on January 1st.

Colorado defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz will serve as head coach for the Buffaloes when they take on Clemson in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando on December 27th. Hankwitz was 1-6 as the interim coach of Arizona in 2003 after John Mackovic was fired.

On December 15th, Buffalo announced the hiring of former Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill. He spent 13 seasons as an assistant at Nebraska under Tom Osborne and Frank Solich and jumped to the NFL this year as the Green Bay Packers' director of player development. Buffalo is a woeful 10-69 in seven division 1-A college football seasons.

Buffalo fired Jim Hofher on November 8th in the midst of a 10-game losing streak. He coached the last two games of the season, winning the first game after his dismissal but losing the finale. Hofher finished 8-49.

Rick Stockstill has recruited 16 college players who later signed with NFL teams. After spending the last two years at South Carolina, Stockstill took the head coaching job at Middle Tennessee State on December 12th. Stockstill replaces Andy McCollum who was fired on November 21st but coached Middle Tennessee State's final two games of the season. He was 34-45 in seven seasons, including 1-1 after his dismissal.

Middle Tennessee was projected by the Congrove Computer Rankings as the Sun Belt conference champions for 2005. But the Blue Raiders fell to 3-6 after a 24-3 road loss to non-conference foe N.C. State to assure themselves of their fourth consecutive losing season and McCollum was canned. MTSU's best season under McCollum was an 8-3 mark in 2001 when a loss to North Texas kept them out of the inaugural New Orleans Bowl in the Sun Belt's first season. His only other winning season was in 2000 when the Blue Raiders were 6-5 in their last year as an independent.

McCollum led the team through its transition from a 1-AA school to 1-A status in 1999.

Temple introduced Virginia defensive coordinator Al Golden as their new head coach on December 6th. Golden replaces Bobby Wallace who announced on October 10th that he was stepping down at the end of the season.

Wallace's tenure saw the Owls get kicked out of the Big East, basically for its failure to compete. The Owls were 19-71 under Wallace. His best seasons were from 2000-2002 when the Owls won 4 games each year. Temple never won more than 2 Big East games under Wallace and the Owls were 0-11 this season as an "affiliate" member of the MAC. The school will not be able to compete for the MAC title until 2007.

Another Virginia assistant, offensive coordinator Ron Prince, was hired December 4th as the new head coach at Kansas State. Prince will replace Bill Snyder who announced on November 15th that we would retire at the end of the season.

It took 54 years for 14 coaches to win a total of 137 games at Kansas State prior to Synder's arrival in 1989. With Snyder at the helm, the Wildcats won 135 games in 17 seasons and went to 11 bowl games in-a-row from 1993-2003. They had appeared in only one bowl game before Snyder turned the program around.

Barry Alvarez announced his decision well before the season began on August 9th. Alvarez will step down as head coach at Wisconsin following the 2005 season and turn the reigns over to current defensive coordinator Bret Bielema, his 36-year-old protege and former Iowa walk-on player.

The 58-year-old Alvarez will keep his post as athletics director and explained his motivation for retiring from coaching was the stress involved in handling both duties.

When Alvarez took over as head coach in 1990, Wisconsin had only experienced five winning seasons in the previous 27 years. Alvarez turned the program around and went 108-70-4 through the next 15 years. He is the only Big Ten coach to win back-to-back Rose Bowls, and only Alvarez and former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes have won three Rose Bowls. Alvarez is 7-3 in bowl games and just the 10th coach in Big 10 history to win 100 games at the same school.

He took on the job as athletics director in 2004.


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