Welcome back to 5v5. This week our panelists debate the best new coaching hires in both men’s and women’s college soccer.
Remember to tweet us your questions or comments at @JC_TDS. Let’s do this.
Who is the best new hire in women’s college soccer?
Jon Spencer, Orange County Blue Star head coach: Angela Kelly at Texas. The biggest part of this new hire, other than it is at a school with unlimited resources, is that the contract is for five-and-a-half years. Clearly, that’s enough time to build a program into a title contender. This is a big pick up for Texas.
Nick Fredrickson, Freelance Soccer Writer: Texas did well in getting Angela Kelly. She did some great things at Tennessee that prepared her well for the Big 12.
Charlie Nobile, United States Football Club: Are we only talking Division I? How about Hawaii Hilo’s Unity Beddingfield? She’s young, energetic, and she has a great name.
Jahmal Corner, The 91st Minute: I’ll go with Sarah Barnes at George Washington. She’s been around winning her entire career and that could be infectious.
Mike Rimus, Freelance Soccer Writer: Angela Kelly, Texas.
Who was the best new hire in men’s college soccer?
Spencer: Jeremy Gunn at Stanford. Coming off a College Cup run is impressive in itself. Jeremy Gunn will have more resources and prestige to work with and he also has a more competitive academic standard to uphold – but all aspects of this hire look good for the Stanford program.
Fredrickson: Jeremy Gunn leaving for Stanford was kind of shocker, but Charlotte recovered well with a good internal hire in Kevin Langan who was the associate head coach.
Nobile: Kenny Arena, of Florida International, was one of the more highly regarded assistant coaches in the country and now has a chance to strut his stuff as the head man.
Corner: Michigan’s Chaka Daley is an up-and-comer who could build on what Steve Burns established while injecting his own identity into the program.
Rimus: Jeremy Gunn, Stanford.
Which first-year men’s coach will have the biggest challenge this season?
Spencer: Florida International will be a big task to turn around in one season. Fortunately, Kenny Arena has a good recruiting history. If he is able to tap into the international component at FIU then he could have a successful first year. One thing to keep in mind is that he was a late hire – meaning he has his work cut out for him in 2012.
Fredrickson: Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Kris Kelderman. The Panthers have a lot of young players on the roster and didn’t exactly burn up the Horizon League last season.
Nobile: I’ll say Seton Hall’s Gerson Echeverry. Let’s face it, it’s tough to follow a legend.
Corner: This may sound weird, but I’m going with Gunn. What he did at Charlotte was magical and will only ramp up the expectations. With more resources at his disposal people are thinking ‘how can he not match his success with the 49ers?’ Well, it’s never that simple.
Rimus: Manny Schellscheidt did so much at Seton Hall over 24 years – just in terms of being identified with the program – that Gerson Echeverry will be trying to paint over a full canvas.
Which first-year women’s coach will have the biggest challenge this season?
Spencer: Colorado is in an extremely difficult Pac-12 Conference and last season they finished 4-13-2. I don’t expect a quick turnaround is possible for Danny Sanchez. If he is able to solidify the defense quickly they could prove to be a stubborn opponent come conference time, but that’ll be tough. He does have a great talent pool in Colorado and could use 2012 to begin to put together a program that will compete in the years to come.
Fredrickson: Tony Economopoulos, Mercer. He’ll be jumping up from Georgia Southwestern to Division I which is never an easy task.
Nobile: Kelly at Texas – she’ll have the biggest expectations.
Corner: How about Akron interim coach Vernon Croft? He was just hired as an assistant in February before having the job thrown in his lap. Good luck, Croft.
Rimus: There isn’t one job that sticks out as that much more difficult than another. They’ll all have the challenge of learning new players and getting them to buy in.
Last year Elmar Bolowich took Creighton to the College Cup in his first season. Which first-year coach (men’s or women’s) could have a similar run in 2012?
Spencer: I have to say Gunn stands to have the best chance in the men’s game. He has a solid class coming in and a solid returning core to work with. I think the one school standing in his way in 2012 is Pac-12 rival California.
Nobile: I’m sticking with Arena at FIU; not necessarily to reach the College Cup, but to make a strong run in Conference USA.
Corner: Michigan isn’t far removed from a College Cup showing; it’s an attractive program for young prospects and I could easily see the Wolverines making a deep run into the tournament.
Rimus: Gunn. He has a great class – and it is, after all, Stanford.