College football first-year coach grades: Steve Sarkisian fails at Texas, Josh Heupel impresses at Tennessee

The 2021 college football season is almost in the books, which means it’s time to hand out grades for all of the first-year head coaches. Last offseason’s coaching carousel provided us plenty of intrigue heading into this season, including Steve Sarkisian’s move to Texas, Bryan Harsin’s decision to leave Boise State for Auburn and Josh Heupel’s jump up from UCF to Tennessee.

The Group of Five level had plenty of turnover as well, including the return of Butch Jones to the head coaching ranks at Arkansas State and Blake Anderson’s journey from Arkansas State to Utah State. 

There were 18 coaching changes overall that took place from mid-October all the way through the end of spring. Let’s break all of them down and hand out some grades. 

Several first-year coaches have bowl games ahead of them, which could send them into the offseason with momentum or stuck in neutral. For all of their sakes, a normal offseason with time to develop their rosters and further establish a culture would be incredibly helpful moving forward. 


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