Why Michigan and Florida get a pass for the Class of 2015

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With National Signing Day coming up on Wednesday, Florida finally added its first four-star recruit to the Class of 2015 Monday evening. Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas running back Jordan Scarlett gave Florida head coach Jim McElwain a nice recruiting victory over in-state rivals Florida State and Miami.

Florida State is already well ahead of the Gators so there is no sleep lost by Jimbo Fisher in Tallahassee over missing on one more four-star player when 13 are already lined up. Being a year removed from a national championship and coming off another ACC title and berth in the first College Football Playoff helps, and Florida’s downward trend under Will Muschamp made for a rough situation McElwain walked into when named the new head coach in Gainesville. It is for this reason McElwain gets a pass on whatever happens with Florida’s Class of 2015 when the faxes start coming in on Wednesday morning.

McElwain took over a sinking ship at Florida, and with only a short period of time to work with it is very difficult to turn things around enough to make up for the damage that has been done. Coaches need a full recruiting cycle to really do what they can on the recruiting trail. By the time McElwain took over at Florida, SEC rivals and ACC recruiting pitches have been spoon-fed to recruits more than enough times to make anything McElwain could have possibly done to have any real lasting impact.

Recruiting in Florida is extremely competitive, and McElwain stepped to the plate with a whiffle bat in the bottom of the ninth inning and two outs in Game Seven of the World Series.

Florida will finish near the bottom of the SEC when the final recruiting rankings are assembled, but the real work for McElwain will be done in the Class of 2016, with a full recruiting calendar at his disposal.

McElwain’s situation is not a unique one. This happens every season around college football when the coaching carousel spins. If any coach can get the same kind of free pass in 2015, it is new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh’s hiring was received favorably by just about everybody around college football, but it is far from a quick fix some might have had you thinking it was in the heat of the moment.

Like McElwain at Florida, Harbaugh inherited a rough situation in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s recruiting success had been trending downward in the final years under Brady Hoke and the Wolverines were likely expected to bring in a relatively smaller class in 2015 regardless of the coaching situation. Most of this is beyond Harbaugh’s control, and it will take a plan to restructure the recruiting plans for Michigan moving forward.

Michigan is also lagging in the Big Ten recruiting rankings, and they may not move up much in the coming days. But this should not be a sign that Michigan is done as a football program. Both Michigan and Florida should have big bounceback recruiting seasons in 2016, and this will be when we can see just what kind of impact coaches like Harbaugh and McElwain can have on their respective programs. So cut them some slack when you look at the rankings for the Class of 2015.

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”