Hot Seats, Newbies, and Crème de la crème: AAC

For each conference, TRU Sports will take a look at which coaches are in the hot seat, newly hired head coaches, and those coaches who are the best of the best. We will start with the AAC.

Heading into the 2017 season, the AAC has seen the most head coach turnover. Five to be exact. If you like percentages, that is 41.6% of football participating AAC members. Of that five, 3 coaches left for Power 5 teams, 1 coach was fired, and 1 coach resigned.

Hot Seats

The good news? No one is in the hot seat…yet. The not-so-bad, but weird news? Other than Ken Niumatalolo – who has been Navy’s head coach for going on 11 seasons – the next longest-serving AAC coaches are Philip Montgomery (Tulsa) and Chad Morris (SMU): both heading into their 3rd season with their respective teams.


Would it be dorky for us to convert hiring grades into GPAs? Possibly. But it seems fitting since this is college football.

We realize that each school handles GPAs, letter grades, and credits differently. Our GPAs are based on a standard GPA calculator.

Luke Fickell – Cincinnati

Image Source: Nick Brown / UC Athletic Communications

Hire GPA: 2.83/4

  • Fox Sports: B-
  • USA Today: B
  • CBS Sports: C+
  • Athlon Sports: B-
  • Bleacher Report: B
  • TRU Sports: B+

Fickell to Cincinnati was a smart, logical move. The previous Ohio State defensive coordinator played at Ohio State, served one season as Akron’s defensive line coach, and spent 2002-2016 in various roles for Ohio State. In 2011, he served as the Buckeyes interim head coach after Jim Tressell resigned; Fickell led the team to a 6-7 record. His ties to the state of Ohio run deep.

Obviously, we gave Fickell the highest grade out of the five other graders. We believe that regardless of the 2017 outcome, Cincinnati chose the best candidate for their program. The other graders counted off for his 2011 interim year. Sure, the Buckeyes saw their first losing mark (including bowl game loss) since 1988, but he did the best he could with the unfortunate circumstances…and still landed in a bowl.

The Bearcats’ defense should be stout.

Randy Edsall – Connecticut

Image Source: Brad Horrigan / The Hartford Courant

Hire GPA: 2.58/4

  • Fox Sports: B
  • USA Today: N/A
  • CBS Sports: N/A
  • Athlon Sports: B
  • Bleacher Report: C
  • TRU Sports: C+

Charlie Strong – South Florida

Image Source: Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Hire GPA: 3.85/4

  • Fox Sports: A
  • USA Today: A
  • CBS Sports: A-
  • Athlon Sports: A-
  • Bleacher Report: A-
  • Tru Sports: A

Geoff Collins – Temple

Image Source: Clem Murray /

Hire GPA: 3.10/4

  • Fox Sports: B+
  • USA Today: B+
  • CBS Sports: B-
  • Athlon Sports: B-
  • Bleacher Report: B+
  • TRU Sports: B+

Major Applewhite – Houston

Image Source: Billy Smith II / Chronicle


Hire GPA: 2.87/4

  • Fox Sports: B
  • USA Today: C+
  • CBS Sports: B+
  • Athlon Sports: C+
  • Bleacher Report: B+
  • TRU Sports: B

Crème de la crème

1. Ken Niumatalolo – Navy

Image Source: Darron Cummings / Associated Press

2. Philip Montgomery – Tulsa

Image Source: Alonzo Adams / AP Photo

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