South Carolina football: Dave Bartoo discusses head coaching options

Consultant Dave Bartoo breaks down search process, potential hires.

College football coaching search consultant Dave Bartoo made an appearance on the Luke Mauro Midday Show to discuss the process that goes into making a new hire at a major program, while also touching on a few candidates in the South Carolina head coaching race.

Bartoo is the founder of Matrix Analytics, a company that uses data to advise athletic directors and head coaches on the risk and reward of potential hires when navigating through a coaching change. He’s been in the business for more than a decade, helping with the search process at several major college football programs around the country, including a few in the SEC.

On Wednesday, Bartoo talked to the local radio host, Mauro, to break down just what athletic directors should look for in the decision making process, while taking the time to discuss four of South Carolina’s top options in its current search.

Here’s what he had to say about each.

 

SHANE BEAMER

We’ll start with Beamer, the presumed leader in the clubhouse. Beamer comes with risk, as he’s never been a head coach or coordinator at the collegiate level, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be successful.

The success of the hire, Bartoo says, is “100% dependent on the staff he’s bringing in.” He states that there is uncertainty with Beamer, as he’s got no past track record to pull from, but says that there shouldn’t necessarily be pause in making the hire, so long that the potential head coach can confidently identify his targets at the coordinator positions.

Bartoo compares this to the situation at Arkansas just a year ago, where the Razorbacks took a chance on Sam Pittman, a lifelong assistant that had no previous head coaching experience. Pittman made homerun hires at both the offensive and defensive coordinator positions, and is reaping the immediate benefits.

The key for Gamecock administration is being able to envision what a staff under Beamer would look like, having him lay out his top three options at both OC and DC in the interview process. If Ray Tanner and Co. like what they see, then the hire may not be as risky as some think.

 

BILLY NAPIER

Napier, Bartoo says, “checks all the boxes.” The Louisiana head coach seems to be the safest bet of the bunch, as he’s proven that he can both win and recruit at a high level. Bartoo draws on data from the last two seasons, where the Ragin’ Cajuns have ranked in the top 25 nationally in both offensive and defensive scoring efficiency.

Louisiana has also experienced its best recruiting since Napier’s taking the job, finishing first in the Sun Belt Conference each of the last two years. They’ve won 26 games since the start of the 2018 season, and are currently ranked inside the top 20.

Another point in the case to hire Napier is his ability to both hire and replace assistants when poached from his program. Napier hired Rob Sale as offensive coordinator upon his arrival to Louisiana, which has obviously worked out great. His unit currently ranks second in the Sun Belt in scoring.

He also hired defensive coordinator Ron Roberts in 2018. Roberts has now moved on to the role of defensive coordinator at Baylor, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have seen no drop off under his replacement, Patrick Toney, whom Napier promoted earlier this year.

Napier’s ability to “coach, hire, replace, and recruit” could offer the Gamecocks the complete package.

 

HUGH FREEZE

Freeze, though the only candidate with SEC head coaching experience, received a bit of a 50/50 grade. Bartoo touched on his ability to produce high powered offense, turn programs around quickly, and provide potential upsets early on in his tenure.

He also, however, mentioned inconsistency and lack of production on the defensive side of the ball as major negatives.

From an excitement standpoint, it would be great for fans, but the ride would be more like that of a roller coaster, with high peaks and low valleys. Freeze’s Ole Miss teams upset the likes of Alabama and LSU, but also fell to teams like Memphis and Arkansas.

For these reasons, Freeze drew a comparison to current Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach, who saw his quarterback post an SEC record for passing in a week one upset of the defending national champions, but then go on to score 14 points or less in its next four contests.

Bartoo summed up Freeze’s potential best with the following quote.

If you want a coach that will win as an underdog in the SEC, it’s Hugh Freeze. If you want a coach that will lose as a favorite in the SEC, it’s Hugh Freeze.

We’re not sure if this is what South Carolina administration is looking for in its next leader.

 

JAMEY CHADWELL

Chadwell was the most unknown of the bunch, and Bartoo doubted whether the current Coastal Carolina coach is ready for the grind of the SEC.

Bartoo touched on Chadwell’s success with the Chanticleers, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, but also noted the weakness of his competition and his unproven recruiting abilities.

All in all, Bartoo states that we’ve seen that he can win big, but we’re still unsure of what a down year would look like. The sample size, for now, looks a little too small to take a risk on Chadwell.