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Look at all these prominent head coaches that had losing debuts at new schools

A lot of big names struggled to get wins right away.

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To start the 2018 college football season, we had 21 new head coaches take the field in their new digs. As the season got going, some of the big-name hires — like Nebraska’s Scott Frost, UCLA’s Chip Kelly, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, and Florida State’s Willie Taggart — struggled to get wins right away.

Entering mid-October, Frost’s Huskers were 0-6 — the worst start ever in Nebraska school history, and the team will probably go almost a full calendar year without a win. Taggart’s Noles didn’t have a winning record until they beat Louisville in Week 5. Kelly got his first win Week 7, and is certain to have as many losses as he had during his entire Oregon career. Sumlin’s team dropped to 3-4 on Oct. 12 after losing to Utah.

Although some teams’ struggles are more obvious than others, it’s clear that things aren’t exactly going as expected for these coaches.

But these guys aren’t the only first-year head coaches to experience a losing season. In fact, there are a number of dominant head coaches who went through the same deal, so it’s probably not time for fans to panic just yet.

First, some active and recently active head coaches from the 2000s.

Frank Beamer: In his 1987 season in Blacksburg, the Hokies finished 2-9, and in late October, the NCAA announced scholarship sanctions, based on violations by the previous coaching staff.

Mack Brown: Prior to landing the Texas gig, he went 1-10 during his first seasons at both Tulane and UNC.

John Cooper: Before coaching at Ohio State, where he finished 111-4-43 overall from 1988-2000, his first Tulsa team went 3-8 in 1977.

Kirk Ferentz led the Hawkeyes to a 1-10 season in 1999. Since then, he’s had two 10 and 11-win seasons, including 2015’s 12-2 year, capped off with a Rose Bowl berth. In 2018, he became Iowa’s winningest head coach in school history.

Dennis Franchione: Prior to coaching at Alabama, TAMU, and later Texas State, his first New Mexico team went 3-8. He led the Tide to a 10-win season in 2002, and finished 10-1 with TCU in 2000.

Texas v Texas A&M Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Brian Kelly: The head coach who’s taken Cincinnati and Notre Dame to several New Year’s bowls? His first Central Michigan team went 4-7.

Central Michigan Chippewas v Kentucky Wildcats Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bill Snyder: During Snyder’s first season in 1989, his team went 1-10, and lost to Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois that year. Granted, that was the first I-A program in the country at the time, but still.

Steve Spurrier: The Head Ball Coach’s first Duke team finished 5-6 in 1987.

Others haven’t been in the coaching game for awhile.

Bobby Bowden: During Bowden’s first 1976 season in Tallahassee, the Noles went 5-6.

Bobby Dodd: The namesake of Georgia Tech’s stadium went 4-6 during his first season as the Yellow Jackets’ coach in 1945. He went onto become GT’s winningest head coach in school history, finishing with a 165-8-64 record.

Hayden Fry Prior to Ferentz surpassing him earlier this fall, Fry was Iowa’s winningest coach with 143 wins. Before he got to Iowa City, he was the head coach at SMU and North Texas — his first Mustang team went 2-8 in 1962. Fry’s staff in 1983 including the likes of Ferentz, Snyder, Bob Stoops, and Barry Alvarez might be the best-ever. From Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants:

Hayden Fry’s 1983 staff was arguably the greatest collection of coaching talent in the history of the game, a group that would go on to win a staggering 722 games as head coaches, including 32 bowl wins, 9 BCS bowl wins, 35 top 25 finishes (and 22 in the top 10), and 15 major conference titles. And that’s not even including Fry’s successes.

Lou Holtz: Before coaching at Arkansas, Notre Dame, and South Carolina Holtz’s William & Mary team went 3-7 — he never had a winning season in three years there. His first ND team went 5-6, and his first Gamecock team went 0-11, too!

Johnny Majors: The former Tennessee head coach from 1977-1992 who finished with 116 wins in Knoxville went 3-7 with his first Iowa State team in 1968.

Jackie Sherrill: Mississippi State’s winningest head coach went 3-8 with his first Washington State team back in 1976, and 5-6 with his first Aggie team in 1982.

George Welsh: Despite finishing his career with a 189 wins, he went 4-7 with Navy in 1972, one of the few losing seasons during his time coaching. He later went on to win 134 games at Virginia.

Some weren’t FBS coaches, but big names nonetheless.

Eddie Robinson: The former legendary Grambling State head coach, who finished with a career record of 408-15-165, finished with a 1-5-1 mark at his first school, Louisiana Normal back in 1941.

Jerry Moore: Moore built an FCS dynasty with Appalachian State before it was FBS from 1989-2012, where he compiled a 215-87 record. Prior to coaching there, he was at North Texas State and Texas Tech — his first North Texas State team went 5–6, his first Texas Tech one 1-9-1.

We don’t have a crystal ball, and can’t tell exactly what’s in store for 2018’s new guys.

What this does prove, though, is that that one losing season in the first year as a new head coach doesn’t exactly define your coaching career.