In sharp contrast to my ability to predict games or project draft prospects, I seem to have a knack for identifying both promising and disastrous coaching hires. It began with my first set of hiring grades in 2010, continued in 2011 and, while it's too soon to judge, hopefully carried over to 2012.
Sure, there was one glaring miss I'd like to have back (an A for Kansas hiring Turner Gill). In hindsight, a couple of B's (for Vandy's James Franklin and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin) actually warranted A's, and an occasional A (for Indiana's Kevin Wilson) wound up as a B. But for the most part, the hires that looked like no-brainers at the time (Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Stanford's David Shaw, Michigan's Brady Hoke) have found immediate success, while the most dumbfounding moves (Tennessee's Derek Dooley, Colorado's Jon Embree, USC's Lane Kiffin and Kansas' Charlie Weis) have played out as envisioned.
But America's athletic directors have apparently gotten smarter, making my job harder in 2013. Fifteen BCS-conference schools hired new coaches in recent months, and I can't find much fault with any of the decisions. But I also know this column would be quite boring if I gave every move an A. So, I'm establishing a hierarchy of sorts for which hires invoke the most confidence, because history tell us not all of these guys will pan out. There's a D in here somewhere. It's just not as obvious as it was in recent years.