Only once in the Bowl Championship Series era -- now thankfully a thing of the past -- did a first-year coach lead his team to a national championship. That was Miami's Larry Coker in 2001, and he essentially piggy-backed off what Butch Davis built there. Auburn's Gus Malzahn nearly won it all last year in his first season.
Some of college football's top jobs saw coaching changes this offseason. Many of them went to guys who had coached before so it's not quite the same. Still, what are the chances one newbie wins the first College Football Playoff next January?
Steve Sarkisian, USC (25/1)
The Trojans fired Lane Kiffin during last season -- he has landed nicely as Alabama's offensive coordinator -- and surged under interim coach Ed Orgeron, but he was passed over by AD Pat Haden for Washington's Sarkisian. He was a former offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll at Southern Cal and the Trojans were 22-3 when he was the coordinator. Of course Kiffin was also a former USC offensive coordinator and that didn't go so well.
The hire didn't exactly thrill USC fans as Washington was just 8-4 last season and third in the Pac-12 North. Sarkisian led UW to a 34-29 record (24-21 in conference) in his five seasons. That doesn't sound great, but Washington was coming off a 0-12 season when Sarkisian took over. By all accounts, Sarkisian closed well in the 2014 recruiting class. The Trojans are still a pretty talented bunch. They do have to decide on a quarterback between Cody Kessler and touted redshirt freshman Max Browne. USC will play up-tempo as that's what Washington did. The schedule is tough for USC as it has to visit Stanford, Arizona and UCLA but at least it misses Oregon until a possible Pac-12 title game.
Charlie Strong, Texas (40/1)
The Longhorns tried to hook the biggest fish out there in Alabama's Nick Saban but got a pretty good second choice in Louisville's Strong. Well, not a good one if you go by UT super-booster Red McCombs. The former Vikings owner called the hire a "kick in the face" and said Strong "would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator."
Strong was 37-15 at Louisville, winning two conference titles and two Big East Coach of the Year honors. His Cardinals were considered national title contenders entering last season and might have played for it all had they not blown a 28-7 third-quarter lead in a loss to Central Florida. Strong also will have to decide on who plays under center. David Ash is back, but he missed all but three games of the 2013 season with recurring concussion-like symptoms. He will have to beat out sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and maybe freshman Jerrod Heard for the starting job. Swoopes saw some spot duty last year. It's possible that USC transfer Max Wittek heads to Austin, and he'd be eligible right away.
Texas has the benefit of not having to play in a conference title game in the Big 12. The biggest non-conference test is Sept. 13 at AT&T Stadium against UCLA. Texas gets Baylor at home, has the annual Cotton Bowl trip against Oklahoma and visits Oklahoma State. It's not a crazy-hard schedule by any means.
Chris Petersen, Washington (75/1)
Petersen was in the running for the USC job but reportedly pulled out. The Huskies were finally able to lure him from Boise State and many in the Pacific Northwest think the school upgraded over Sarkisian with Petersen, who was 92-12 in eight seasons at Boise State. Petersen fared well at Boise against current Pac-12 schools in his career, going 8-2. Both losses were to Washington, including a blowout defeat to open last season.
The Huskies are set to return 14 starters, seven on each side of the ball, but have to replace one of the best quarterbacks in school history in Keith Price and star running back Bishop Sankey. All five starters are back on the offensive line, however. Petersen already has indefinitely suspended two players, including likely Price replacement Cyler Miles, for allegedly assaulting a man while celebrating the Seahawks' Super Bowl victory over Denver near the UW campus. Miles was Price's backup last year and won't participate in spring ball.
Washington's 2014 non-conference schedule is a joke (Hawaii, Eastern Washington, Illinois and Georgia State). The Huskies get Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA in Seattle but have to visit Oregon, which has won 10 straight over Washington.