Ralph D. Russo | The Associated Press
Grading the hires of new college football coaches is an offseason tradition and an exercise in educated guess work.
Still, college football writers do it every year, ticking off fans of teams that receive poor marks and opening themselves up for criticism years later when that C turns out to be an A. Or vice versa.
So let’s not do that. Instead, let’s rank the members of the 2016-17 class of newly hired coaches by which are most likely to succeed in their jobs.
Success is relative, of course. At Texas, triumph is a steady diet of conference titles and national championship contention. At Purdue, regularly going to bowl games is enough. At LSU, it’s beating Alabama.
With that, here we go:
1. Jeff Brohm, Purdue
— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) April 8, 2017
Brohm is most likely to thrive because of the combination of his track record (30-10 in three seasons at Western Kentucky) and the low bar to clear at Purdue, where the past nine seasons have produced two bowl appearances and one winning final record. The Boilermakers shouldn’t be this bad and the school is in the process of pumping millions of dollars into facilities. Brohm is a creative offensive mind who could easily be Purdue’s next Joe Tiller.
2. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
Playing in the Big Ten West doesn’t put the Gophers at a severe competition disadvantage the way that, say, Maryland is by being in the Big Ten East. At Western Michigan, Fleck had recruiting classes that were comparable to some low-rated Big Ten groups, which is remarkable for a MAC school. If the Gophers can consistently threaten Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa under Fleck, that’s a step forward, and it doesn’t seem like a stretch for him to pull that off a few times over the next five years.
3. Charlie Strong, USF
Strong did an…