New UCLA Head Football Coach Chip Kelly speaks during a press conference on the UCLA campus at Pauley Pavilion, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Photo: Hans Gutknecht/AP
Photo: Hans Gutknecht/AP

Kelly, Mullen earn top marks in coaching hire grades

The coaching carousel has been spinning at breakneck speed during the past few days as more than a dozen schools have openings. Some of the jobs have been filled while others are well on their way to being filled. Check out our early grades of the coaching hires so far:

Chip Kelly, UCLA 

The Buzz: It seemed just about everyone wanted to take the Chip Challenge, with Kelly becoming one of the most sought-after candidates. He was linked to high-profile openings, including meeting with Florida administrators. But it was the lure of the West Coast and a return to the Pac-12 that eventually won over the 54-year-old and convinced him to choose the Bruins. It was a home-run hire for UCLA, which gets one of the most innovative offensive minds in some time. He transformed Oregon into a national power in four seasons. The Bruins get a detail-oriented coach who has been on the cutting edge of incorporating nutrition into his programs. Critics will point to the show-cause penalty levied against him by the NCAA for impermissible use of recruiting service. The penalty has expired while Kelly has worked in the NFL and as an analyst on ESPN. 

Grade:

 Dan Mullen, Florida 

The Buzz: While not as sexy of a hire as Kelly, Florida did manage to score a great coach with the addition of Mullen. Duringnine seasons at Mississippi State, Mullen has amassed a record of 69-46 with the Bulldogs, averaging about 7.7 wins per season. His connection to Florida is undeniable after spending several seasons in the mid-2000s as the Gators' offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer, helping the team to a national championship in 2008. Mullen's forte is developing quarterbacks something he's done with players like Alex Smith (Utah), Chris Leak (Florida), Tim Tebow (Florida), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) and Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State). His challenge is to resurrect a Florida offense that's been putrid since Meyer's departure in 2010. 

Grade:

 Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State 

The Buzz: It's been almost a decade since Mississippi State last introduced a new head coach. Mullen's departure left the program looking for someone to step in and continue the work Mullen was able to do with the Bulldogs. Enter Joe Moorhead. The former Fordham coach led the Rams to a 38-13 record before joining the Penn State staff as the offensive coordinator. During the past two seasons, he's transformed the Nittany Lions offense into one of the most efficient offenses in the country. He helped develop quarterback Trace McSorley into a potential NFL prospect. 

Grade:

 Matt Luke, Ole Miss 

The Buzz: Luke did an admirable job taking over an Ole Miss team that suffered the shock of losing its head coach after Hugh Freeze suddenly resigned in late July. With the program in the middle of a bitter NCAA investigation that forced the school to self-imposed scholarship reductions and a one-year bowl ban, Luke kept the Rebels focused enough to win six games this season. There are challenges ahead as the school awaits NCAA sanctions, but Luke provides some stability heading into the future. 

Grade:

 Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern 

The Buzz: Much like Ole Miss, Georgia Southern officials filled their head coaching job from within by removing the interim tag from Chad Lunsford's title. Since Tyson Summers was fired last month following an 0-6 start, Lunsford has led the Eagles to a 2-3 mark. 

Grade: C

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