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How Scott Frost’s AAC Predecessors Fared After Their Power Five Jumps

Nebraska football fans are counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the final gun sounds declaring the AAC Championship Game over. There are certainly a number of layers to the Frost-to-Nebraska story, including the jump to a Power 5 conference by a Group of 5 coach. This is far from an anomaly, even within the AAC.

Let’s look at how some of the biggest names who made the transition fared. For the purpose of this argument, I decided to allow coaches that were present from 2005 forward since The American is a young conference founded in 2013. The former Big East and Conference USA also helped contribute to the conference as we know it today.

Only coaches who made the jump by choice are included. That eliminates Bob Diaco.



Mark Dantonio:

  • 18-17 at Cincinnati (11-11 in C-USA/Big East; 1-0 in bowls) over two years.

Moved on to Michigan State:

  • 99-45 (60-30 in Big Ten; 5-4 in bowls) over 11 years.
  • Three Big Ten championships
  • Three-time Big Ten Legends/East division winner
  • Two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year
  • Six top-25 finishes in AP and Coaches’ polls; four top-15 finishes; three top-ten finishes; two top-five finishes.

Notes: Posted records of 11-2, 11-3, 13-1 and 12-2 in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015, respectively). Rebounded from 3-9 season in 2016 with 9-3 regular season in 2017. 8–3 all-time against rival Michigan.

Brian Kelly:

  • 34-6 at Cincinnati (17-4 in Big East; 2-1 in bowls) over four years,
  • Three top-25 finishes in AP and Coaches’ polls; one top-five finish
  • 2009 team went undefeated.
  • Three-time Big East Coach of the Year
  • Two-time Big East champion.

Moved on to Notre Dame: 68–34 (3-0 in bowls) over eight years; three top-25 finishes, one top-15 finish, one top-five finish.

  • Led 2012 team to BCS National Championship Game where the Irish lost to Alabama 42-14.
  • 2012 AP Coach of the Year
  • 2012 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
  • 2012 Walter Camp Coach of the Year.

Notes: Rebounded from 4-8 record in 2016 to 9-3 regular season record in 2017.

Butch Jones:

23–14 at Cincinnati (12-9 in Big East; 1-0 in bowls) over three years.

  • Two-time Big East conference champion
  • Two top-25 finishes in AP poll, one top-25 finish in Coaches’ poll.

Moved on to Tennessee: 34–27 (14–24 in SEC; 3-0 in bowls) over five years.

  • Two top-25 finishes in AP and Coaches’ polls
  • Fired prior to November 18 game versus LSU in 2017


Randy Edsall: 74–70 at Connecticut (24-32 in Atlantic 10/Big East*; 3-2 in bowls) over 12 years.

  • Two-time Big East champion
  • 2010 Big East Coach of the Year
  • *Connecticut joined the Big East in 2004

Moved on to Maryland: 22–34 (10-24 in ACC/Big Ten; 0-2 in bowls) over five years.

  • Never won more than seven games in a season
  • Fired following 49-28 loss to No. 1 Ohio State on Oct. 10, 2015
  • Maryland was 2-4 at the time with wins over Richmond (FCS) and South Florida.

Notes: Now in his second stint at Connecticut (3-9 record in 2017)


Art Briles: 34–28 at Houston (24-16 in C-USA; 0-3 in bowls) over five years.

  • 2006 C-USA champion
  • Two-time division winner

Moved on to Baylor: 65–37 (39–30 in Big 12; 3-3 in bowls) over eight years.

  • Two-time Big 12 champion
  • Four top-15 finishes in AP and Coaches’ polls, one top-ten finish.

Notes: Went 32-7 in final three years as head coach. Coached 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.

Dismissed after finding regarding “significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of athlete misconduct” and faulted Briles’ team for not vetting transfers. A lawsuit alleging 52 rapes by football players in four years under Briles’ watch was filed in January 2017.

Kevin Sumlin: 35-17 at Houston (24-8 in C-USA; 1-1 in bowls) over four years.

  • Two-time C-USA West division winner

Moved on to Texas A&M: 51–26 (25–23 in SEC); 3-2 in bowls) over five years.

  • 2012 SEC Coach of the Year
  • Coached 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel
  • Fired on November 26, 2017

Tom Herman: 22-4 at Houston (12-4 in AAC; 1-0 in bowls) over two years.

  • 2015 AAC Champion
  • 2015 Co-Coach of the Year

Notes: Never lost a home game (14-0), to an AP top-25 team (6-0) or a Power Five team (5-0).

Moved on to Texas: 6-6 (5-4 in Big 12) in one year.


Justin Fuente: 26–23 at Memphis (17-15 in AAC; 1-0 in bowls) over four years.

  • 2014 AAC Champion
  • Finalist for the 2014 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award
  • One top-25 finish in AP and Coaches’ polls

Notes: Went 7-17 in his first two years, 19-6 in his final two. Led Tigers to their first 10-win season since 1938 in 2014.

Moved on to Virginia Tech: 19-7 (11-5 in ACC; 1-0 in bowls) over two years.

  • 2016 ACC Coastal division winner
  • 2016 AP ACC Coach of the Year
  • 2016 ACC Coach of the Year

Notes: Coached Hokies comeback in the 2016 Belk Bowl versus Arkansas down 24-0 at halftime. Virginia Tech would win 35-24 marking the first time in school history the Hokies won three consecutive bowl games.

South Florida

Willie Taggart: 24–25 at South Florida (18-14 in AAC; 0-1 in bowls) over four years.

  • Shared 2016 AAC East division win
  • One top-20 finish in AP and Coaches’ poll.
  • 2016’s 10-2 record was the first double-digit win total in school history.

Moved on to Oregon: 7-5 (4-5 in Pac-12) in one year.


Al Golden: 27–34 at Temple (20-12 in MAC*; 0-1 in bowls) over four years.

  • 2009 MAC East division winner
  • 2009 MAC Coach of the YearNotes: 2009 marked the Owls first winning season since 1990 (9-4 record).
  • *Temple was an independent in Golden’s first year

Moved on to Miami (FL): 32–25 (17-18 in ACC; 0-2 in bowls**) over five years.

Notes: 2011’s 6-6 campaign was the third time since 1979 the Hurricanes put up a non-winning record. A seven-point home underdog to No. 6 Clemson in 2015, Miami lost 58-0 in what was the program’s worst loss in 90 years. Golden was fired the day after on October 25.

  • **Miami (FL) was Ineligible for ACC title, bowl game and Coaches’ Poll in Golden’s first two years

Steve Addazio: 13-11 at Temple (7-8 in MAC/Big East; 1-0 in bowls) over two years.

Moved on to Boston College: 31–32 (15-25 in ACC; 1-2 in bowls) over five years.


Steve Kragthorpe: 29–22 at Tulsa (20–12 in conference; 2-1 in bowls) over four years.

  • 2005 C-USA Champion

Moved on to Louisville:

  • 15-21 (5-16 in conference) over three years.
  • Fired on Nov. 28, 2009 following a 34-14 loss to Rutgers at home

Notes: Began the 2007 season ranked No. 10 in the country before going 6-6 including a loss to 37-point underdog Syracuse. In 2008, the Cardinals would go on a five-game skid to finish the season including the worst loss since 1987 (Rutgers defeated Louisville 63-14). That season’s 5-7 record marked the program’s first losing season since 1997.


Some interesting trends there. Might Frost have a career matching or exceeding Dantonio or will he find extreme difficulty like Sumlin? The good news is he’s got a war chest at Nebraska and all of the resources needed to be a success story.

Comment below or keep up with the author by following Brandon on Twitter at @eightlaces

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