clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How does Eli Drinkwitz compare to other coaches hired in the 2020 cycle?

We’ve never seen a year quite like 2020. How do Drinkwitz’s first three years at Missouri compare to other coaches hired in 2020?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Arkansas at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s so easy to do. I do it, you do it. We all do it. We get so locked into our own team that it becomes difficult to zoom out of the frame to view the larger picture sometimes.

When it comes to Mizzou football, it’s easy to do. The news seems to be fed through a firehose year-round. Commitments, transfers, coaching cycles. It’s neverending. Except for... right now? This time of year is the calm before the storm. No commitments. No transfers. No coaching changes (well, hopefully not). The roster is mostly set and we’re in a holding pattern on any “news” until spring ball begins.

Eli Drinkwitz has officially made it through three years at Mizzou. He’s done so with moderate success but not without blemishes on his resume. It’s time to take a look at where things stand; a ‘state of the program’ address, if you will. Feels timely.

Drinkwitz was part of the 2020 coaching cycle, one that will not soon be forgotten. This was the class of coaches hired just months prior to the world shutting down due to COVID-19. Imagine taking over a program, starting your spring ball, and then having no clue what the next week holds (much less the next season). That was the situation in year one for these coaches. Building any sort of sustainable program or culture in 2020 was basically impossible.

Coaches Hired prior to 2020 Season

Team: Coach: Pre-Hire Record: Year 1 Record: Year 2 Record: Year 3 Record:
Team: Coach: Pre-Hire Record: Year 1 Record: Year 2 Record: Year 3 Record:
Mizzou Eli Drinkwitz 6-6 5-5 6-7 6-7
FSU Mike Norvell 6-7 3-6 5-7 10-3
Ole Miss Lane Kiffin 4-8 5-5 10-3 8-5
Washington State Nick Rolovich 6-7 1-3 4-3 (FIRED)
Miss St. Mike Leach 6-7 4-7 7-6 8-4
Washington Jimmy Lake 8-5 3-1 4-5 (FIRED)
Rutgers Greg Schiano 2-10 3-6 5-8 4-8
Baylor Dave Aranda 11-3 2-7 12-2 6-7
Boston College Jeff Hafley 6-7 6-5 6-6 3-9
Michigan State Mel Tucker 7-6 2-5 11-2 5-7
Arkansas Sam Pittman 2-10 3-7 9-4 7-6
Colorado Karl Dorrell 5-7 4-2 4-8 0-5 (FIRED)
UTSA Jeff Traylor 4-8 7-5 12-2 11-3
Fresno State Kalen DeBoer 4-8 3-3 9-3 (LEFT)
USF Jeff Scott 4-8 1-8 2-10 1-8 (FIRED)
New Mexico Danny Gonzales 2-10 2-5 3-9 2-10
Memphis Ryan Silverfield 12-2 8-3 6-6 7-6
UNLV Marcus Arroyo 4-8 0-6 2-10 5-7 (FIRED)
Hawaii Todd Graham 10-5 5-4 6-7 3-10
FAU Willie Taggart 11-3 5-4 5-7 5-7 (FIRED)
San Diego State Brady Hoke 10-3 4-4 12-2 7-6
App State Shawn Clark 13-1 9-3 10-4 6-6
Colorado State Steve Addazio 4-8 1-3 3-9 (FIRED)
Old Dominion Ricky Rahne 1-11 6-7 3-9

In total, 12 power five coaches were hired in 2020. Among those jobs, 10 came open due to a firing (Chris Pedersen retired at Washington, Matt Rhule left Baylor for the NFL). Among those 10 jobs opened due to a coach being fired...

  • Two coaches have already been fired (Nick Rolovich, Karl Dorrell).
  • Only two coaches won at least eight games last season (Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach).
  • Only one coach has won 8+ games each of the past two seasons (Kiffin)
  • Only two coaches at least two games over .500 combined over the past two seasons (Kiffin, Mel Tucker)
  • The records for those 10 coaches, respectively, over the past three seasons: 17-19, 18-16, 23-13, 11-13, 19-17, 12-22, 15-20, 18-14, 19-17
  • The SP+ rankings for the programs whose coaches hired in 2020 remained at the end of 2022: 12, 18, 25, 27, 36, 40 (Missouri), 68, 97, 112

Moral of the story: The results for coaches hired in 2020 have mostly fallen somewhere in the middle. Rutgers is still mostly a mess. Jeff Hafley has not fixed much of anything at Boston College. Mel Tucker and Dave Aranda both had huge success in 2021, and then regressed in a big way in 2022. Sam Pittman has been... pretty good? Things are trending in the right direction for Mike Norvell at Florida State. The only program that hired a coach in 2020 that probably has 100 percent approval rating for the coach it hired is Ole Miss with Kiffin. Nick Rolovich, Jimmy Lake and Karl Dorrell have all been fired.

And then there’s Eli Drinkwitz. Through three years, the results have been middling. He’s gone 5-5, 6-6 and 6-6 in the regular season. There haven’t been the massive highs and lows of Tucker, Norvell or Aranda. He’s not on the “he could get fired” track like three others hired in 2020. He’s meticulously trying to build this program from the ground up. It started with adding significant high school talent. Then he worked to fortify the defense through via the transfer portal and the addition of defensive coordinator Blake Baker. The next task is fixing the offense, both with improved play at the quarterback position and the hire of offensive coordinator Kirby Moore.

It remains to be seen if the results will follow for the offense the way they did for the defense. If they do, maybe 2023 is the year the Tigers break through like Florida State did a year ago. The 2020 coaching cycle has not produced many sure-fire can’t-miss hires. It also didn’t produce too many clear-cut failures. Through three seasons, no coach hired in 2020 has been more symbolic of the class’s overall results than Drinkwitz.

Maybe 2023 is the year he and Missouri break through.