We're deep into the heart of the 2023 college football offseason. Although most sports fans are focusing on March Madness this time of year, we can't resist looking at which gridiron programs made the best coaching hires.
While this piece will focus mainly on the bigger-name coordinator hires of the offseason, we'll touch on some of the best head coaching hires as well. We included coaches with some of the most impressive resumes and best fits with their respective schools, so not every coaching hire will be listed here.
We'll start with hires made in December 2022—with the exception of Wisconsin's Luke Fickell, who missed the cutoff by a few days—since that's the start of the offseason for a lot of teams, especially those that failed to make a bowl game.
UNC offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey: To replace Phil Longo, Mack Brown hired former Troy head coach Lindsey. Although he went 15-19 over three seasons, he spent 2022 as UCF's offensive coordinator. The Knights finished 31st nationally in scoring during a 9-5 campaign.
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Pete Golding: Golding joins Lane Kiffin's staff after spending the last four seasons as Alabama's defensive coordinator with Nick Saban. Every unit Golding oversaw finished inside the top 20 in scoring defense.
Maryland co-offensive coordinator Kevin Sumlin: Sumlin's head coaching stints at Texas A&M and Arizona weren't successful. But after he spent 2022 as the USFL's Houston Gamblers' head coach, he's back as an associate head coach and college coordinator. It's his first time in the latter role since 2007—he was Bob Stoops' co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 2006 and '07, when the Sooners finished 19th and fifth in points per game, respectively.
Miami offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson: Following a 5-7 season in 2022, head coach Mario Cristobal hired Dawson to replace Josh Gattis, who lasted just one year in the role. Dawson spent the last three seasons as Houston's offensive coordinator, the last two of which the Cougars finished inside the top 25 in scoring.
NC State Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae
All signs are pointing toward an offensive evolution for NC State. A big reason for that is the reunion of offensive coordinator Robert Anae and Virginia transfer quarterback Brennan Armstrong. The latter is expected to replace longtime Wolfpack signal-caller Devin Leary, who transferred to Kentucky this offseason.
Although head coach Dave Doeren told reporters there will be an open competition at quarterback, Armstrong appears to have a big edge. He spent the last five seasons with the Cavaliers and broke out in 2021 under Anae's play-calling. He threw for a school-record 4,449 yards to go with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
For the first time in his UVA career, Armstrong played without Anae, who coached at Syracuse last year. The QB had the worst season of his career, finishing with just 2,210 yards, seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions as UVA sputtered to a 3-7 record.
Armstrong hasn't been named the starter just yet. But regardless, Anae thinks NC State has one of the most talented QB rooms in the country. Armstrong is expected to compete against redshirt sophomore Ben Finley and redshirt freshman MJ Morris for the starting job.
Anae said last month:
"Brennan [Armstrong] in the quarterback room, if everybody stays healthy, this should be one of the top position groups in the conference. In terms of production, in terms of experience. So yeah, I think the group now, that room has a chance to really make a statement in the conference, and very excited that Brennan's going to be a part of that, and as well as the other guys we got."
If Armstrong can win the competition, it could be one of NC State's most productive passing seasons yet.