Michigan v Ohio State
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The content machine never stops and needs to be fueled constantly. The most efficient fuel source is immediate reactions with little evidence to support them, so exercises like grading coaching hires or draft picks right out of the gate are pivotal parts of keeping the content machine alive.

Grading a hire as it happens is not easy, however. You're too reliant on what you thought would happen or what should've happened. The truth is that time needs to pass and results need to be shown before you can reach an accurate assessment.

Like, say ... five years? Yeah, five years should be enough. Most coaches don't last five years at a job before getting the axe. Hell, lasting three full seasons constitutes success these days. In that aspect, the hiring cycle following the 2018 college football season wasn't much different than most. There were 21 coaches hired at FBS programs. Five years later, only eight of those hires remain in those jobs. Five moved on to new jobs, while the other eight were fired. 

But have the ones still in their jobs or at new ones succeeded? And did those who were fired truly fail? Let's regrade the 2018 hires based on what we knew then and what we've learned since. 

Coaches still in place

Ryan Day, Ohio State

Record: 45-6 | Accomplishments: College Football Playoff berths (3), Big Ten titles (2)

This is trickier to grade than it should be. You can't ignore that Ohio State has gone 45-6 under Day and appeared in the College Football Playoff in three of his four seasons. The Buckeyes reached the title game in 2020 and nearly knocked off Georgia in an all-time classic last season. At the same time, Ohio State has lost two straight to Michigan with both losses preventing the Buckeyes from winning the Big Ten title. Losing to Michigan doesn't play well around Columbus. Still, 45-6, man. 45-6. Grade: A- / Original Grade: C

Chris Klieman, Kansas State

Record: 30-20 | Accomplishments: Big 12 title (1), bowl games (3)

Kliman came to Kansas State after winning four FCS national titles in five seasons at North Dakota State. While he got off to a solid start in his first three years with the Wildcats, the breakthrough came last season. Kansas State went 10-4 and beat TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game. It was the program's first Big 12 title since 2012. Klieman has Kansas State poised to be a frontrunner in the new-look Big 12. Grade: B+ / Original Grade: B

Mack Brown, North Carolina

Record: 99-68-1 | Accomplishments: New Year's Six bowl (1), division title (1), bowl games (4)

I didn't like this hire at the time because it struck me as the move a school makes to keep things respectable until basketball season starts and nothing more. So, from that standpoint, mission accomplished, I guess? The Tar Heels are coming off their best season under Brown, going 9-5 last year. Duke won nine games last year, too. Did UNC hire Brown for a second stint to be as good as Duke in football? Grade: C / Original Grade: D

Mike Locksley, Maryland

Record: 21-28 | Accomplishments: Bowl games (2)

While the overall record isn't exciting, the Terps have gone 15-11 in the last two seasons. Still, they're yet to have a winning record in the Big Ten under Locksley, going 11-27 overall. Some of that is the reality of playing in the Big Ten East. Some of it is on the staff. Locksley has brought plenty of talent to the program but hasn't had as much success turning the talent into a roster that can compete with the better programs of the conference. Perhaps that will change if (when) the Big Ten gets rid of divisions once USC and UCLA join the mix. Grade: B / Original Grade: B

Mike Houston, East Carolina

Record: 22-24 | Accomplishments: Bowl games (2)

This is a spot where context is important. Rebuilds seem to move quicker these days due to the transfer portal, so while Houston is only 22-24 in four seasons with the Pirates, East Carolina went 9-27 in the three seasons before his arrival. Houston won as many AAC games in his first two seasons (four) as Scottie Montgomery did in his three seasons with the program. Also, East Carolina's win total has improved over the last two seasons. Who knows what will happen now that UCF, Cincinnati and Houston have left the conference? Grade: B / Original Grade: A

Jim McElwain, Central Michigan

Record: 24-21 | Accomplishments: Division titles (2), bowl games (2)

If memory serves, I was one of the few people who liked this hire at the time. While it didn't work out for McElwain at Florida, his time at Colorado State gave me confidence he'd succeed at Central Michigan. Unfortunately for Mac, after going 20-13 in his first three seasons, the Chippewas took a step back to 4-8 last year. Coaching in Group of Five leagues like the MAC is more difficult than ever before because if you do a good job developing players, a Power Five team will take them from you in the portal. They're tricky waters to navigate. McElwain probably needs to rebound from a bad year, or he could find himself looking for a new job this winter. Grade: B / Original Grade: A-

Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky

Record: 32-21 | Accomplishments: Bowl games (4), division title (1)

You can argue that Tyson Helton has done everything for which Western Kentucky could have hoped. Not only has he led the Hilltoppers to a bowl game in each of his four seasons (OK, so the bowl game in 2020 wouldn't have happened in a normal season), but he's done it while fielding an exciting offense that scores a bunch of points. The next step is winning a conference title, but despite the absence of a trophy, I don't see how the 'Toppers can have any complaints. Grade: A+ / Original Grade: B-

Scot Loeffler, Bowling Green

Record: 13-29 | Accomplishments: Bowl games (1)

Scot Loeffler certainly has support within his athletic department because he's been given a length of leash rarely seen at the FBS level these days. Even if we eliminate the COVID season that saw the Falcons go 0-5, Bowling Green is only 13-24 under Loeffler and 9-15 in the MAC. The good news is the program made its first bowl appearance since 2015 last season. That bought Loeffler another season, but I can't help but believe he won't be around for another one if the Falcons don't repeat the feat in 2023. Grade: D+ / Original Grade: B

Coaches who were hired away

Hugh Freeze, Liberty

Record: 34-15 | Accomplishments: Bowl games (4), AP Top 25 poll appearance (1)

I'm sure somewhere within the halls of Liberty somebody dreamt that Hugh Freeze was in this job for the long haul and would never leave. That was never realistic, so I don't see how anybody can have hard feelings for Freeze. He did everything Liberty could've asked him to do, particularly in 2020 when the Flames went 10-1 and finished No. 17 in the final AP poll. He scored points, won games and helped get the program into a conference. Then he did what everybody expected he'd do when the chance came: he left for another crack at the SEC. Grade: A+ / Original Grade: A

Mel Tucker, Colorado

Record: 5-7 | Accomplishments: File not found

Well, this is awkward. Tucker arrived in Boulder with a lot of fanfare and excitement. The Buffs went 5-7 in 2019, and then he was gone. When Michigan State unexpectedly opened up in February 2020 following the abrupt retirement of Mark Dantonio, Tucker took the job and left Colorado in the awkward spot of having to hire a new coach ... in February ... during the onset of a global pandemic. You know, normal stuff. While you can't blame Tucker for leaving, it's hard to say this hire was anything but a failure for Colorado. Grade: F / Original Grade: B

Eli Drinkwitz, App State

Record: 13-1 | Accomplishments: Sun Belt title (1), bowl game (1)

Drinkwitz only spent one season leading the Mountaineers, but it was a memorable one. After serving as NC State offensive coordinator for three seasons, he was hired by Appalachian State ahead of the 2019 season and promptly led the team to a Sun Belt championship with a win over Louisiana in the conference title game. That game would prove to be Drinkwitz's last with the program, however. The SEC came calling as Missouri hired Drinkwitz away, bringing his tenure with Appalachian State to an abrupt end. Grade: B / Original Grade: B

Scott Satterfield, Louisville

Record: 25-24 | Accomplishments: Bowl games (3)

Satterfield left for the Cincinnati job after the 2022 season, and I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying it was a smart move on his part. Otherwise, he could have found himself in the "Coaches who were fired" portion of this story. While Satterfield's Cardinals teams weren't terrible by any stretch, this seemed like a doomed pairing from the start. Satterfield flirted with other jobs, which nearly every coach does, only he made the mistake of admitting to the flirtations. You can get away with that if you're winning a lot, but when you're barely winning over half the time, not so much. In the end, I think both parties are happy to move on. Grade: C / Original Grade: A

Manny Diaz, Temple

Record: 0-0 | Accomplishments: Shortest tenure of all time

I almost forgot this happened. For those who need a refresher, Diaz was hired by Temple on Dec. 13, 2018. My original story grading the coaching hires of the 2018/19 cycle was published three days later on Dec. 16. Two weeks later, Diaz was leaving Temple to take the job at Miami after Mark Richt surprisingly retired. While Diaz only lasted three seasons at Miami, I stand by my original grade for this hire. He was a solid get for Temple. Grade: Incomplete / Original Grade: A

Coaches who were fired or resigned

Les Miles, Kansas

Record: 3-18 | Accomplishments: A lawsuit

It's a story we've seen a million times. A new athletic director takes over and promises to wake up a moribund football program by hiring a big-name coach who is one of their closest friends. That's how Les Miles ended up at Kansas. Twenty-one games and 18 losses later, Miles and Kansas agreed to part ways -- read: Miles was fired -- due to an investigation of inappropriate conduct with female students while Miles was still at LSU. If there's a silver lining, it's that this led to the dismissal of Miles and AD Jeff Long, setting the stage for the Lance Leipold hire. Grade: F / Original Grade: C

Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech

Record: 10-28 | Accomplishments: Sideline bench press records

Man, I liked this hire at the time. I like what Collins had accomplished in a short stint at Temple and thought he had a decent shot of revitalizing the Georgia Tech program. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, it didn't work out. First, there was the process of transitioning out of the option offense Tech ran under former coach Paul Johnson. Then there was trying to recruit at the level Tech needed to compete in the ACC while dealing with some of the stricter academic requirements of the school. In the end, Collins never won more than three games in a season and was only four games into the 2022 season when he was shown the door. Grade: F / Original Grade: B+

Matt Wells, Texas Tech

Record: 13-17 | Accomplishments: Win over No. 21 Oklahoma State in 2019

Another hire I liked at the time that didn't work out. I felt Wells was the kind of program builder needed to win at a school like Texas Tech, but after a 4-8 season to start in 2019, it felt like the 2020 COVID year stunted any possible momentum. The Red Raiders went 4-6 in 2020 and made a change at offensive coordinator, replacing David Yost with Sonny Cumbie. Little did Wells realize, however,  he was hiring his replacement. Cumbie would be named interim when Wells was fired eight games into the 2021 season with a 5-3 record. Grade: D / Original Grade: B+

Gary Andersen, Utah State

Record: 7-9 | Accomplishments: Bowl game (1)

In hindsight, I'm not sure why I gave this hire a "C." At the time, I wrote it was a move that was "hard to be too excited about," but I guess I gave Andersen some benefit of the doubt based on previous success at the school. Still, Andersen had flopped at Wisconsin and flopped again at Oregon State before returning to Utah State. At the time, nothing about his career trajectory suggested it would work out, and it didn't. He was fired after an 0-3 start in 2020. Grade: F / Original Grade: C

Jake Spavital, Texas State

Record: 13-35 | Accomplishments: Won four games in a season for the first time since 2014

Some hires are flawed processes that lead to good results, and some are good processes that lead to bad results. This strikes me as the latter. I understood why Texas State went after Spavital. It's a young FBS program, so it hired a young, offensive-minded head coach hoping his familiarity with the area would help him establish a foundation for the program. At the end of the day, however, the results trump the process, and Spavital didn't get the results. The Bobcats never won more than three conference games in any of his four seasons. Grade: D / Original Grade: B+

Will Healy, Charlotte

Record: 15-24 | Accomplishments: Bowl game (1)

Charlotte is a unique job with unique requirements. You're almost a salesman as much as you are a football coach. Charlotte hoped Healy could help the program "make the leap," and early signs were positive. The 49ers went 7-6 and reached the Bahamas Bowl in his first season. They proceeded to go 8-18 under Healy over the next three seasons before he was fired during the 2022 season. Grade: D / Original Grade: B

Walt Bell, UMass

Record: 2-23 | Accomplishments: Lasted 25 games

There aren't many jobs in the country that are more difficult than at UMass. Walt Bell was fighting an uphill battle the moment he got the job, and he simply never gained any ground. An 1-11 record in his first season was followed by 0-4 during the COVID year, and the Minutemen were 1-8 before he was given his walking papers during the 2021 season. Grade: F / Original Grade: C

Tom Arth, Akron

Record: 3-24 | Accomplishments: Often confused for Coach Taylor from "Friday Night Lights"

It's one thing to take a difficult job. It's another to take it right after a coach who had been one of the most successful coaches that program has had in a long time. Over seven seasons, Terry Bowden went 35-52 at Akron and led the Zips to two bowl games. That's twice as many as every other coach in program history combined. But the school wanted to go in a different direction and opted for Arth. Arth is an Ohio native who had plenty of success at John Carroll, a D-III school in the Ohio Athletic Conference. That success did not translate to the MAC, though. Arth's three wins at Akron included two wins over Bowling Green teams that finished 4-13 and Bryant. Grade: F / Original Grade: C