The Mountain West has many young coaches on the rise. Who will become the next big name in College Football?
Article by WestCoastCFB
1. Troy Calhoun (Air Force)
Troy Calhoun was hired in December of 2006 to take over as Air Force Head Coach after Fisher DeBerry retired. Calhoun managed to sustain the success that DeBerry had established and the pinnacle of his tenure came in 2019 when Air Force went 11-2 and finished ranked 22nd in the country.The Falcons have played in 10 bowl games under Calhoun and have won 10+ games 3 times.
2. Todd Graham (Hawaii)
Todd Graham just completed his first season with the Warriors and ended the season strong going 3-1 in the final 4 games with wins over Houston, Nevada and UNLV while the lone loss game to SJSU, the 2020 Mountain West Champs. Graham's strong suit is finding bright minds to run his offense and he has produced many successful head coaches over the years. Before coming to Hawaii, Graham racked up 5 10+ win seasons at Tulsa.
3. Jay Norvell (Nevada)
Jay Norvell coached under Todd Graham at ASU as the Passing Game Coordinator before taking the reigns at Nevada in 2017 where his Air Raid offense has been a hit with the Wolf Pack. Nevada features a 1st Round prospect at QB in Carson Strong and are projected to win the West Division of the MWC in 2021 after going 7-2 last Fall.
4. Brent Brennan (SJSU)
San Jose State has had limited success throughout their history but Brent Brennan has steadily built the Spartans into a force to be reckoned with. Last season, SJSU went 7-1 and won the Mountain West to the surprise of many. With Star QB Nick Starkel back in 2021, expect the Spartans to contend for the Title once again.
5. Craig Bohl (Wyoming)
Craig Bohl is one of the most respected coaches in college football for what he accomplished at North Dakota State where he won 3 FCS National Titles. He hasn't reached those highs in Laramie but has built a consistent winner with 3 8 win seasons during his tenure.
6. Brady Hoke (SDSU)
Brady Hoke's disastrous tenure at Michigan has tarnished his reputation and his hire at SDSU felt a little bit underwhelming. San Diego State is one of the most talented programs in the Mountain West and recruit well with their stellar location but Hoke will need to do better than the 4-4 record he put up in 2020. Former HC Rocky Long won 10 or more games four times in his final 5 seasons and Hoke will be expected to get the Aztecs back to that level.
7. Blake Anderson (Utah State)
Blake Anderson comes to Logan, Utah after a successful stint as the Arkansas State Head Coach where he went 38-18 in Sun Belt conference matchups. Anderson is a bright offensive mind and will be tasked with rebuilding a program that has fallen on hard times while going 1-5 last season but had major success as recently as 2018 when they went 11-2.
8. Kalen DeBoer (Fresno State)
Kalen DeBoer is a highly respected offensive mind and landed the Fresno State gig after quickly elevating the Indiana offense in 2019. DeBoer's offense ranked 36th in the country last season and if he can improve the defense, Fresno State should be in line to have a lot of success over the next few years. Expect DeBoer to climb this list.
9. Steve Addazio (Colorado State)
Many fans were disappointed with the hire of Addazio after he ran a heavy run based offense at Boston College and couldn't get the program to win more than 7 games. CSU was largely uncompetitive in 2020 and Addazio will need to show improvement in 2021 to inspire the fanbase.
10. Andy Avalos (Boise State)
Andy Avalos has a ton of potential and was a nice hire by Boise State to land Oregon's Defensive Coordinator. Avalos had the 9th ranked defense in the country in 2019 with the Ducks but his defense did drop off to 59th last season. The Broncos are picked to win the Mountain West in 2021 and with such a large talent advantage over their peers it may be hard to see just how good Avalos is until 3-4 years down the road.
11. Danny Gonzales (New Mexico)
Danny Gonzales was one of the best young DC's in the country when he made the decision to leave his position at Arizona State to return to where he played college ball to attempt to rebuild the Lobos. Gonzales finished his first season strong, winning the last 2 games of the season against Wyoming and Fresno State. We likely have the talented head coach too low here and we fully expect to see him rise up these rankings. For the time being though, the sample size is simply too small.
12. Marcus Arroyo (UNLV)
Marcus Arroyo has brought energy and excitement to Las Vegas and is excelling in recruiting which will pay dividends in the next few seasons. Arroyo's recruiting class in 2020 was 2nd in the MWC behind Boise State and the Rebels are 3rd in 2021. For 2021, that young talent likely won't be enough to save UNLV from a tough season but expect things to trend upwards going forward.