For three straight years during the offseason, I have completed a position-by-position series titled Conference USA Preseason Position Previews.
For whatever reason during the process of compiling data and writing these articles, I have always found myself revisiting old Kanye West albums in my vinyl collection. During these Kanye listening sessions, I would occasionally be reminded of how one of his lines could relate to a college football head coach.
With Kanye songs on the brain and college football in the middle of the dreaded offseason, I figured it would be fun to turn that exercise into an article (#content).
I assigned each Conference USA football head coach a line from one of Kanye’s songs.
Note: The only good Kanye West (solo) albums this household recognizes are College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Only songs from these albums were considered for this exercise.
Charlotte Head Coach, Will Healy - We Don’t Care
“Ain’t no tuition for having no ambition, and ain’t no loans for sittin’ your ass at home”
Why this line: Will Healy had to fight tooth and nail to get to where he is today. You don’t become the second youngest FBS head coach by accident. The obstacles encountered at Austin Peay were tough. He could’ve pouted, became disgruntled and failed as their head coach. Instead he went on a grind for resources, found and developed talented, and eventually won the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award.
FAU Head Coach, Lane Kiffin - Devil in a New Dress
“The LeBron of rhyme, hard to be humble when you stuntin’ on a jumbo-tron”
Why this line: This one was pretty easy.
Watch the bottom of the screen. Lane knew FAU had this one. pic.twitter.com/FdJOu3ktM0— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 2, 2017
Lane Kiffin is highly regarded for his ability to dial up plays and known for the swagger he carries on the sideline. He’s not one to be shy about running the score up when his opponent is down, and historically speaking, he always knows where the cameras are. It wouldn’t be right if Joey Freshwater didn’t stunt every now and then.
FIU Head Coach, Butch Davis - Family Business
“Abi remember when they ain’t believe in me? Now she like see, that’s my cousin on TV”
Why this line: The tone of this song makes me think of FIU as a successful mom and pop shop. After years of trying to get back in the college football world as a head coach, and being turned down at every turn, FIU AD Pete Garcia brought in his close friend Butch Davis to build the football program up. During his tenure Davis has brought in those who have ties to his Miami Hurricanes family, and his literal family (assistant coach Drew Davis). The Panthers now have the foundation to compete for conference titles on a regular basis and it’s in large part due to Butch and his Miami/family ties. People thought Butch was finished. Instead Butch is on his way to wrapping up a pretty successful head coaching career at FIU.
Louisiana Tech Head Coach, Skip Holtz - Barry Bonds
“It’s what you all been waitin’ fo’, ain’t it? What people pay paper fo’, damn it, they can’t stand it, they want somethin’ new”
Why this line: When this song was released Kanye West and featured artist, Lil’ Wayne, were arguably the hottest artists in music. When the tracklist for Graduation was released me and my friends couldn’t wait to hear this song. The buildup wasn’t worth it. The song was fine, but you could tell something was missing. The collaboration could have been much more rewarding. Enter Skip Holtz. Holtz has had a successful coaching career (USF days notwithstanding) and he’s done a fine job at La Tech (46–33 record). He’s still missing that elusive conference title though. The bowl wins have been nice, but fans want conference championships at the end of the day. Another 8-5 season with a bowl win is getting boring for Tech fans. Holtz needs to start delivering new accomplishments before he becomes stale to the fan base.
Marshall Head Coach, Doc Holliday - Runaway
“I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most, so I think it’s time for us to have a toast.”
Why this line: Doc Holliday is known to be easily irritable and difficult to deal with from the media’s perspective. While I wouldn’t say he’s a scumbag or a jerk-off, I would say he’s not at the top of anyone’s list of coaches you’d like to know. Expanding the scope of the connection a bit, Holliday is entering his 10th season at Marshall and has only delivered one conference title. I think Marshall has put up with Holliday for far too long with just once conference title to show for it. A split might be best for Marshall to reach their full potential.
Middle Tennessee Head Coach, Rick Stockstill - Diamonds from Sierra Leone
“Damn, is he really that caught up? I ask if you talkin’ about classics, do my name get bought up?”
Why this line: This was an easy match for me. Rick Stockstill has been at MTSU for 13 years and has gone 87–78 (2-6 bowl record) with only one conference title (2006 Co-Sun Belt Champs). With more than a decade on the job, how many MTSU fans really think of Stockstill as a great coach? A school legend?
North Texas Head Coach, Seth Littrell - Touch The Sky
Lyrics: “Baby, I’m goin’ on an aeroplane, And I don’t know if I’ll be back again”
Why this line: Seth Littrell was in high demand last season as his resurrection of the North Texas football program turned into overtures from P5 schools. One of those schools was Kansas State. According to reports, Littrell flew to Manhattan, ready to accept a deal to become K-State’s new head coach, only to turn down the deal and fly back to Denton. North Texas and Seth Littrell might be playing this song again in December, as UNT is one of several teams capable of winning C-USA.
Old Dominion Head Coach, Bobby Wilder - Gorgeous
Lyrics: “I can feel it slowly drifting away from me. No more chances if you blow this, you bogus”
Why this line: This line is actually said by Kid Cudi but I’m using it anyway. Two years ago ODU won 10 games and Wilder was the toast of the town. Now, Wilder is on the hot seat as the program has slowly drifted towards the bottom of the conference. Wilder was almost fired last year but the good vibes of the upset win over Virginia Tech, coupled with the new stadium he helped build, led to his return for the 2019 season. He’s unlikely to get another year if he produces his third straight losing season.
Rice Head Coach, Mike Bloomgren - School Spirit
Lyrics: “Everything I want, I gotta wait a year, wait a year”
Why this line: Rice is the only school in C-USA where one can say they are a true outlier due to how serious Rice takes their academics, so I figured to match them with a deep cut off of Ye’s first album. Bloomgren is still laying the foundation down for Rice to field a competitive team in C-USA so this season is likely to be another long one. But in 2020 Bloomgren could be in store for a big season as a majority of his roster will return against a much easier schedule.
Southern Miss Head Coach, Jay Hopson - Heartless
Lyrics: “I decided we wasn’t gon’ speak so why we up 3 a.m. on the phone?”
Why this line: Jay Hopson seriously considered hiring disgraced coach Art Briles as his offensive coordinator. Hopson was so thirsty about Briles calling plays for his team that he interviewed Briles without even telling USM administrators first. Hopson hide the Briles interview and it backfired on him. He should’ve been fired. Instead USM and Hopson received negative press from the media. Before the ordeal, the name Jay Hopson didn’t evoke any sort of emotion from the college football world. Now, Hopson will be remembered as the guy who believed Briles should have received a second chance.
UAB Head Coach, Bill Clark - Last Call
Lyrics: “I ain’t play the hand I was dealt, I changed my cards. I prayed to the skies and I changed my stars”
Why this line: The last song on College Dropout, here is where we find Kanye most transparent about his underdog story: The rise from an unknown producer in Chicago to one of the biggest artists in the world. Bill Clark inherited a struggling UAB football program and dealt with a board of trustees who secretly wanted to see him fail. Rather than sit by idly, Clark and a ton of supporters in the UAB/Birmingham community fought against the decision to shut down the program. After re-gaining the football program, Bill Clark won UAB’s first Conference USA Championship just two years later. The fortunes of the UAB program is eons ahead of where it was just a few years ago. Can’t you see Bill Clark impersonating Kanye at the end of this song and explaining his struggle and how nobody was going to stop UAB from becoming a household name?
UTEP Head Coach, Dana Dimel - Street Lights
Lyrics: Let me know. Do I still got time to grow? Things ain’t always set in stone. That be known let me know. Let me...
Why this line: Here Kanye ponders what does life really mean. Why do we exist? Is the constant repetitiveness of life’s mundane tasks really worth it? If you’re a fan of UTEP football, all of these questions would be valid. But just because UTEP has always struggled, doesn’t mean that will always be their lot in life. But what about Dana Dimel? Dimel was horrible as the head coach of Houston, going 8-26 in three years. Despite failing at a Texas school with more history and resources, UTEP gave Dimel another shot, almost 20 years removed from his Houston tenure. With this chance, Dimel has another opportunity to change his legacy as a head coach.
UTSA Head Coach Frank Wilson - Drive Slow
Lyrics: “I used to love to play my demo tape when the system yanked. Felt like I was almost signed when the sh— got cranked”
Why this line: A cautionary tale of taking things slow before thinking you’ve arrived. After guiding UTSA to their first ever bowl game in 2016, Wilson was a head coach on the rise destined to be in the SEC. In 2017, Frank Wilson interviewed for the vacant Ole Miss gig and reports were circulating that he could be headed to The Grove. Wilson didn’t get the job and here we are two years later, with Wilson on the hot seat.
WKU Head Coach, Tyson Helton - Homecoming
Lyrics: “But if you really cared for her, then you wouldn’t’ve never hit the airport to follow your dreams”
Why this line: In 2014 Tyson Helton was hired as the offensive coordinator under Jeff Brohm. WKU broke all sorts of schools records. In 2015 Helton delivered once again, as WKU finished in the top 10 nationally in total yards per game, passing yards per game and scoring. Helton then left for USC and the point-a-minute-Tops began to dissolve into a mess. With Helton returning as the head coach, the theme has been returning WKU to their recent past glory.