21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 16: What are the reasonable expectations for the new college football head coaches this season?

New Head College Football Coach Expectations For 2021

There are 17 new college football head coaches going into the 2021 season. That’s not a ton compared to some years, but there are plenty of big jobs being filled with plenty of big names moving around.

21 for 2021 College Football Topics 
21: 21 Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes
20: 5 Best Programs To Not Make CFP
19: 5 Teams That Will Rebound
18: 5 Teams That Will Take A Step Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game

What can fans hope for out of each new coach, and what can they look forward to over the next five seasons? Here’s the breakdown of all the new guys in four categories.

Total rebuild with no instant expectations
Lowered expectations … but go bowling
Go bowling, and maybe do more
You get a year, sort of. WIN NOW

Coaches in each category listed in alphabetical order

2021 New College Football Head Coaches: Total Rebuild. Do What You Can.

There’s little to no real pressure on these four coaches. All of them are walking into a tough situation with no real expectations other than to start building things up.

Terry Bowden, ULM

Top Lines of the Resumé: Led Auburn to an 11-0 season in 1993 when the program was on probation. Named Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year.
– Took Auburn to the 1997 SEC Championship Game (lost) and Akron to the 2017 MAC Championship Game (lost).

Realistic Expectations In Year One: Three wins and a spark for the offense. ULM had the worst record – 0-10 – in college football in 2020. It’s going to be a total overhaul.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Take ULM to a winning record within three seasons. 2012 was the only time the program finished better than .500 since 1980. It took three years for Bowden to get Akron to a bowl game.

Clark Lea, Vanderbilt

Top Lines of the Resumé: Notre Dame defensive coordinator for the last three seasons.
– Top assistant and linebacker coach at six places before rising up to the DC job at Notre Dame.

Realistic Expectations In Year One: Create a positive identity and win four games. There are enough winnable games on the slate to at least get to three victories and then hope for an upset. More than that, Vandy has to get nasty on D.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Two bowl games and become a more competitive out. It’s always going to be an impossible uphill climb for Vandy in the SEC, but it needs to be more than the league’s free space game.

Lance Leipold, Kansas

Top Lines of the Resumé: Six-time Division III national championship head coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
– Two MAC Championship appearances – and three bowl games – in the last three seasons at Buffalo.

Realistic Expectations In Year One: Win three games. That’s not a given considering at Coastal Carolina and at Duke are two of the non-conference games, but asking any coach for three wins isn’t looking for the world – even at Kansas.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: Get to a bowl game within three years. Kansas isn’t the toughest Power Five head coaching gig, but it’s right there. If Iowa State could become a player in the Big 12 …

Kane Wommack, South Alabama

Top Lines of the Resumé: Indiana Defensive Coordinator over the last two seasons.
– South Alabama Defensive Coordinator for two years, including the 2016 season when the program went bowling.

Realistic Expectations In Year One: Flirt with .500. It’s tough in a nasty Sun Belt with a whole slew of strong teams, but there’s enough talent and experience in place for the new coaching staff to push for six wins.

Realistic Expectations Over Next Five Years: A Sun Belt Championship appearance and at least two winning seasons. The Sun Belt West isn’t as tough as the East. It’s gettable in the right year.

Lowered expectations … but go bowling
Go bowling, and maybe do more
You get a year, sort of. WIN NOW

NEXT: Lowered Expectations, But Go Bowling