We finish up our look at new non-AQ head coaches for the 2011 season. Up next: C-USA and Mountain West.
San Diego State: Rocky Long
Rating: Like it. I know there are some San Diego State fans out there who are wondering whether Long was the best man for the job to replace Brady Hoke. This is a critical coaching move, after all, because the Aztecs are on the way up. Though his tenure at New Mexico ended on a losing note, let us remember what he accomplished at a program known more for its losing. He won a school-record 65 games there and took the Lobos to five bowls in his final seven seasons. Before he became coach, New Mexico had three winning seasons the previous 15 years. Long was a big part of the rebuilding of San Diego State, and knows what it takes to be competitive in the Mountain West.
Tulsa: Bill Blankenship.
Rating: Like it. Blankenship has plenty going for him -- he is a Tulsa alum, and he has been a part of the coaching staff that has guided Tulsa to three bowl games in the last four years. But his name was not at the top of many lists when Todd Graham first left. Some boosters also wanted former coach Steve Kragthorpe to get an interview, but Tulsa declined. Tulsa has a fight on its hands with Graham in the closing weeks of recruiting. A lot will depend on Blankenship’s assistant coaches and whether the transition can be seamless for a team returning the majority of its starters.