The 2017 college football season is almost here, so now is as good a time as any to examine which FBS coaches are on the rise entering the season.
Neal Brown, Troy
Brown (14-11 overall) enters his third season at Troy coming off the winningest campaign in school history — the Trojans finished 10-3 and beat Ohio in the Dollar General Bowl last year. Brown is a disciple of the Air Raid offense, earning his stripes under offensive gurus like Mike Leach and Hal Mumme. Look for the 36-year-old Brown to get his chance in the near future, presumably at a program that needs a shot in the arm offensively.
Scott Frost, UCF
It may be too early to judge Frost’s tenure at UCF, as he’s only entering his second year as head coach (6-7 overall). But what a debut season it was — Frost took over a winless program and got the Knights to a bowl game in one season. The highest-rated recruiting class in school history was the icing on the cake in February. Frost was previously an offensive coordinator at Oregon, where he helped mold Marcus Mariota into an NFL-caliber starter and Heisman winner.
Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
Creighton (10-27 overall) didn’t get much love nationally, but the man can seriously coach. He was hired at EMU in 2014 and walked into a trainwreck, but he earned his stripes at lower levels of football, including the FCS. Last year, the rebuilding project paid off, with the Eagles earning their first bowl berth since 1987 and first winning record since 1995. At EMU and his previous stops, Creighton has been acclaimed for his ability to overcome limitations such as lack of adequate facilities and low levels of fan support. It’s safe to say that he’s a rising star for a reason, and he’s still relatively young by head coaching standards (48).
Mike Bobo, Colorado State
So far, so good for Bobo (14-12 overall), who took over a loaded roster from Jim McElwain in 2015 and has since guided the Rams to back-to-back bowl games. Bobo was Mark Richt’s long-time offensive coordinator at Georgia and has successfully used those southeastern recruiting connections to his advantage at CSU. The Rams will be opening a brand-new $220 million on-campus stadium in 2017, giving Bobo a much-larger stage to show off his exciting brand of football. Watch out for him.
Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Everyone loves stories about the Little Program That Could, right? Well, Bohl has made a career out of it, first at FCS juggernaut North Dakota State, where he won three national titles and unearthed a hidden gem in future NFL QB Carson Wentz. Now, Bohl is quietly building a contender in the equally isolated terrain of Laramie, Wyoming — he won Mountain West Coach of the Year honors last season after leading the Cowboys to a spot in the conference championship game. His recruiting prowess and coaching lineage are not to be underestimated — plus, he played for Tom Osborne at Nebraska back in the 70s.