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How will new coaches at Penn State, Texas, more fare in debut seasons?

How will new coaches at Penn State, Texas, more fare in debut seasons? Photo: Keith Srakocic/AP

This offseason didn’t disappoint when it came to college football’s coaching carousel. Major programs like Texas, Penn State and USC all kicked off new eras with head-coaching hires. Now after months of hype and endless coach-speak, the time has come to finally put a product on the field.

How will these coaches fare in their inaugural stints? We predict the first-year records for each new headman in college football:

James Franklin, Penn State

What Franklin accomplished at Vanderbilt was unprecedented: The Commodores won nine games in each of the coach’s final two seasons ­– a program first – including consecutive bowl victories. Now Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, is looking to turn Penn State back into a Big Ten powerhouse. In his first year in Happy Valley, Franklin inherits one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Christian Hackenberg and six returning starters on defense. The Nittany Lions also have a fairly manageable schedule, drawing divisional foes Ohio State and Michigan State at home. Penn State will improve this fall, but not to conference contention just yet. Predicted 2014 record: 9-3

Charlie Strong, Texas

Strong’s arrival in Texas surprised a lot of followers of college football. During his successful stint at Louisville, Strong was known as a guy who shied away from the spotlight. He can’t escape it in Austin, where the coach is tasked with returning the Longhorns to prominence. Texas will have playmakers on offense like tailbacks Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray along with three of its five top receivers from last year. But quarterback remains unknown, as David Ash’s health is still a question mark. Strong likely won’t take a huge step forward in Year One against a tough schedule. Predicted 2014 record: 8-5

Chris Petersen, Washington

Finally we get to see what the longtime Boise State coach can do at a major college program. Petersen made a name for himself with his player development in eight seasons with the Broncos, but now he holds the keys to a sleeping giant in Washington. The Huskies return 14 starters this year, including the entire offensive and defensive lines and potential two-way star Shaq Thompson. For now, however, the Pac-12 North is still Oregon and Stanford’s to lose.  Predicted 2014 record: 9-4

Steve Sarkisian, USC

Sarkisian is really a new face in an old place. The former Washington coach was an assistant and co-offensive coordinator during Pete Carroll’s reign with the Trojans in the 2000s. Even though USC fired Kiffin as head coach last year, the program still managed 10 wins and remained in the Pac-12 race. Much of that roster returns intact. Quarterback Cody Kessler, receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive end Leonard Williams are just a few of last year’s key contributors who are back. Still, road games at Stanford and UCLA as well as nonconference dates with Fresno State and Notre Dame will make it tough for Sark to surpass last year’s win total. Predicted 2014 record: 9-3

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

If the Commodores were looking for the anti-James Franklin, they got him. Mason is much more reserved than Vanderbilt’s previous coach, but it remains to be seen whether the former Stanford assistant can bring the same success to Nashville. The good news is Mason inherits perhaps the most talented Vanderbilt team in recent history. The bad news is only eight starters return across that roster, and Mason is switching the ‘Dores to a 3-4 scheme on defense. Expect a learning curve in Mason’s first year in town. Predicted 2014 record: 5-7

Bobby Petrino, Louisville

He’s back! Petrino’s return to his old stomping grounds in Louisville ruffled a few feathers across college football. Now the controversial coach will have his work cut out for him in 2014. Petrino takes over just as the Cardinals jump into the ACC, where they’ll open with Miami and face Clemson, Florida State and Notre Dame all in the season’s final six weeks. Petrino must navigate that schedule with just four starters back on defense and a new quarterback to replace the talented Teddy Bridgewater. Louisville will be an upper-tier ACC team immediately, but contending in a tough Coastal Division will take time. Predicted 2014 record: 7-5

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

Wake Forest loses its quarterback, its top rusher and its top receiver entering Clawson’s first year in Winston-Salem. And that’s from an offense that was one of the country’s worst last season. But Clawson, who replaces longtime coach Jim Grobe, is fresh off a 10-win season and MAC title with Bowling Green, and the new coach is working to change the culture within the program. However, a lack of experience should make the first year of the Clawson era a challenging one, as will Wake’s Atlantic Division foes and a nonconference road game at Utah State. Predicted 2014 record: 2-10

Photo: Otto Kitsinger/AP

Bryan Harsin, Boise State

Harsin, the Broncos’ offensive coordinator from 2006-10, inherits a program that won 92 games over the past eight seasons under Chris Petersen. But the 2013 season marked Boise State’s worst record (8-4) of the Petersen era, and the program was unreliable on both sides of the ball. With 12 starters returning, Harsin hopes he can reverse Boise State’s trajectory in the Mountain West. The coach gets back senior quarterback Grant Hedrick and junior tailback Jay Ajayi, as well as six starters in the back seven on defense. The Broncos also host most of their tough conference games at home. Predicted 2014 record: 9-4

Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

Arkansas State has become a revolving door for head coaches as of late, with Anderson arriving as the Red Wolves’ fourth head coach in as many seasons. The program’s last three coaches all parlayed the job into better gigs, which means Arkansas State isn’t in poor shape for Anderson’s first year. A strong defense returns eight starters while quarterback Fredi Knighten should fit the pace of Anderson’s offense with All-Sun Belt tight end Darion Griswold as a weapon. Predicted 2014 record: 7-5

Dino Babers, Bowling Green

A disciple of offensive guru Art Briles at Baylor, Babers walks into a favorable situation at Bowling Green. The Falcons are coming off their first conference championship in 21 years and bring back the MAC’s best quarterback, Matt Johnson, and best running back, Travis Greene. That’s good news for a coach who led FCS Eastern Illinois to the division’s top scoring offense (48.2 points per game) last year. Babers has plenty of proven talent at his disposal, and Bowling Green was picked to win the conference at MAC media days. The Falcons could actually take a step forward in Babers’s first year. Predicted 2014 record: 12-2

Craig Bohl, Wyoming

Bohl’s career became stuff of legend at the FCS level, where he led North Dakota State to the last three national championships. He won 104 games in 11 season with the Bison, and now he hopes to replicate that success at Wyoming. The good news is Bohl inherits a club that returns 14 starters; the bad news is the Cowboys face a tough schedule that includes trips to Oregon and Michigan State in September. Predicted 2014 record: 6-6

Bob Diaco, UConn

The new head coach at UConn was a key component of Notre Dame’s success under Brian Kelly. During the Irish’s run to a BCS title berth in 2012, Diaco’s defense was one of the best in the country. But Diaco inherits a Huskies program that needs help on offense, where they ranked 112th nationally in total offense last year. Diaco might be walking into one of the toughest situations in the country after former coach Paul Pasqualoni won only 10 games in just more than two seasons in Storrs. The schedule is a bit more forgiving this year, but don’t expect a major turnaround in Diaco’s first campaign. Predicted 2014 record: 4-8

Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio)

Martin knows how to win: He went 74-7 as head coach at Division-II Grand Valley State and won two national titles along the way. He takes the reins of a RedHawks squad that was terrible on both sides of the ball last year and went 0-12. This is the definition of a rebuilding job. But with 14 starters returning for the new era, don’t be shocked if Martin grabs a couple of wins. Predicted 2014 record: 2-10

Jeff Monken, Army

Monken appears to fit the profile of an Army coach: He ran an option-based offense during a successful tenure at Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, who utilizes the triple-option with the Yellow Jackets, is one of Monken’s mentors. It’s tough to win with the Black Knights, but having 15 returning starters and a relatively soft schedule should help break in a new atmosphere. Predicted 2014 record: 4-8

Photo: Alex Slitz/Daily News/AP

Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky

Brohm was Bobby Petrino’s offensive coordinator with the Hilltoppers last season, and when Petrino bolted for Louisville, Western Kentucky tapped Brohm to replace him. The Hilltoppers were perhaps the most talented team in the Sun Belt on both sides of the ball last year. Brohm has returning experience to work with on offense, but the defense brings back only two starters as the program jumps into Conference USA. Another eight-win season is a lot to ask with Western Kentucky’s retooled schedule. Predicted 2014 record: 6-6

Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern

Fritz inherits a program that ran the triple-option under Jeff Monken last season. Now Fritz hopes to install a spread scheme. But the new coach must do so with only four returning starters on offense as the program transitions into FBS football. Predicted 2014 record: 4-8

Charlie Partridge, Florida Atlantic

The Owls were a talented defensive team in 2013 and look to be the same in Partridge’s first year in Boca Raton. Linebacker Andrae Kirk and defensive tackle Brandin Bryant are just two of a number of proven names that return on that side of the ball. The Owls should reach a bowl game if the offense can take a step forward. Predicted 2014 record: 6-6

Bill Clark, UAB

Clark comes to Birmingham with a defensive background, which is just what the Blazers need. UAB ranked 109th or worst in every major defensive category last season. Fixing that unit and finding a reliable quarterback should be Clark’s first two priorities.  Predicted 2014 record: 3-9

Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan

The Eagles haven’t had a winning record since 1995. In 17 years as a head coach at different levels, Creighton won 75 percent of his games. This won’t be an overnight success story – Eastern Michigan won just two games last fall – but Creighton should have this program trending upward down the road. Predicted 2014 record: 1-11

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