The 2023 college football season is now behind us, which means it's time to look back at the performance of first-year coaches from around the country. After a whirlwind 2022 cycle with 29 openings, the list fell to 24 in 2023 with only a handful of heavy hitters stepping up to the plate at new gigs. 

Colorado coach Deion Sanders was the headliner of the group after moving to Boulder from HBCU Jackson State. The games in which he led his Buffaloes team were among the most watched in the country throughout the entire season. Nebraska, Auburn and Wisconsin were among the bigger programs to make moves as all three hired well-known coaches with a history of success. The results were still mixed. 

The cycle also defined itself as the year of the retread. Seven coaches took jobs after previously having power-conference head-coaching experience, not counting Luke Fickell, who coached at Cincinnati, which now resides in the Big 12. Eleven coaches were hired without any college head-coaching experience. 

Last year, we gave out four "A+" grades to turnarounds that were completely unbelievable, and both Jon Sumrall and Jerry Kill only improved on their performances in 2023. There are no "A+" marks given out this cycle, but the four "A" coaches still deserve your attention. Here's how every first-year coach graded in 2023. 

Power Five
Kenny Dillingham3-9Dillingham's squad started the year 1-6 but showed plenty of fight. The Sun Devils gave Washington its toughest game of the year, and they played four of five opponents within 14 points. The wheels came off at the end of the year against a brutal schedule, but Arizona State is trending the right way. C+
Hugh Freeze6-7Auburn was quietly mediocre for most of the season but hit dumpster fire territory after three-score losses to Maryland and New Mexico State. A fourth-and-31 stop against Iron Bowl rival Alabama would have made this feel much better. Freeze has Auburn back on top in high school recruiting, so the lull could be short lived, but flipping both coordinators after one season won't help. C-
Scott Satterfield3-9Satterfield was a strange hire from the beginning, and early returns were not good. The Bearcats lost to a MAC team in the nonconference slate and only beat a collapsing Houston team in Big 12 play. Satterfield is leaning on the portal again to try and fix everything. D
Deion Sanders4-8Colorado got everything it dreamed about when it hired Sanders. The Buffaloes ranked among the most-viewed teams in college football this season after a 3-0 start, headlined by an overtime win against rival Colorado State. At the same time, however, Colorado went 1-8 in Pac-12 play for the second straight year. The second act should be fascinating. C+
Brent Key7-6Georgia Tech's previous staff failed to reach a bowl game in four consecutive seasons, but Key managed to win one in his first season. The Yellow Jackets built a physical running identity behind QB transfer Haynes King and blew their way past two more ranked opponents. B+
Jeff Brohm10-4Thanks to the College Football Playoff, too much time was spent on where Louisville ended and nowhere near enough was spent on Brohm's incredible coaching job. Despite dealing with a flawed roster, Brohm coached the Cardinals to their first 10-win season since joining the ACC. A sensational transfer class is on the way to help. A
Zach Arnett4-6One coach on this list didn't even get a full season to prove himself after a slow start in Starkville, Mississippi. Arnett was promoted following the death of the legendary Mike Leach, and the Bulldogs took a nosedive offensively as they tried to move away from the Air Raid. For better or worse, the Arnett era is over. F
Matt Rhule5-7Nebraska's Big Ten slate was the stuff of nightmares. Five of its six losses were by a total of 19 points despite starting three different quarterbacks. Flipping No. 1 quarterback recruit Dylan Raiola from Georgia helps raise his grade. B-
David Braun8-5Braun inherited an absolute mess. He was named interim coach ahead of the 2023 season after Pat Fitzgerald was fired amid allegations of hazing and ended up taking the Wildcats to their first bowl since the COVID-shortened 2020 season. There, they beat a strong Utah squad and doubled their win total from the past two seasons, giving this program more reason for optimism than it's had in a while.A
Ryan Walters4-8Walters had his work cut out for him after taking over a Purdue team ravaged by attrition, but the results were shaky. The Boilermakers started 2-7 and lost to Fresno State. Walters got things under control late in the year and won two of his last three games, giving a little glimpse of optimism. C-
Troy Taylor3-9Stanford was a chaos grenade in Taylor's first season, and that's enough. A loss to Taylor's former squad, Sacramento State, doesn't feel good, but the Cardinal gave Arizona and Washington real tests. Wide receiver Elic Ayomanor is a franchise player. C+
Luke Fickell7-6
Expectations were high in Fickell's first season, but the Badgers failed to meet them. Consecutive losses to Indiana and Northwestern marked a low point, while the offense was a mixed bag after moving to a spread offense. Fickell has work to do. C
Group of Five
Biff Poggi3-9Poggi talked big game over the offseason after the 49ers were picked last in the preseason AAC poll. He delivered. Charlotte won games over East Carolina and Tulsa while showing tremendous fight in other games. The job is still difficult, but Poggi seems to know what he's up against. C+
Tim Beck8-5The Chanticleers took an expected step back after Jamey Chadwell left for Liberty, but Beck managed to keep things mostly on track. Losing by 42 points to James Madison was a poor way to end the year, but a five-game conference winning streak also deserves mention. Replacing Grayson McCall will be Beck's biggest test. C
Tom Herman4-8Herman lost his expected starting quarterback early in the season and went 1-4 in one-score games, but a 4-8 record is what it is. The recruiting class is middle of the pack. Herman still has his work cut out for him. C-
Kenni Burns1-11Kent State went through significant attrition after Sean Lewis left for the Colorado offensive coordinator job, but Burns coached perhaps the worst team in college football this season. The lone win came against an FCS foe, and only one loss came by fewer than 10 points. D-
Jamey Chadwell13-1Liberty lost a coach to the SEC and seems to have upgraded. The Flames blew through Conference USA in their first season as a member with a perfect 13-0 record and earning a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Liberty jumped 40 spots year over year in the SP+ ratings to 33rd. The future is bright. A
Brian Newberry4-8Things have trended the wrong direction at Navy, but Newberry's first year showed a few moments of promise. The Midshipmen played Memphis within four points and beat North Texas. But, more importantly, Navy lost both legs of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, an unacceptable result. C-
Eric Morris5-7North Texas went to six bowls in seven years under the previous staff but missed the postseason in Morris' first year. The Mean Green went on a four-game losing streak to quality opponents and dropped a stinker to FIU after starting the wrong quarterback to open the year. Morris is again hitting the portal hard to fill holes. C-
Alex Golesh7-6South Florida got back to business during Golesh's first season, winning almost as many games as the last four years combined. The Bulls gave Alabama a scare and handled the winnable games on the AAC schedule. Quarterback Byrum Brown is a name to watch in Golesh's offense. A-
G.J. Kinne8-5Most teams replace fired coaches with their opposites. Instead, the Bobcats doubled down on young, offensive coaches and reached their first bowl game since transitioning up to the FBS. The Bobcats doubled their win total and won a bowl for the first time, a feat so impressive it sent university president Kelly Damphousse jumping into the San Marcos River. A
Kevin Wilson4-8Tulsa showed modest improvements in Wilson's first season, posting four one-score losses and winning a pair of AAC games. Still, not much was excellent about this team. Positive recruiting trends bring some hope. C
Trent Dilfer4-8UAB is one of the best Group of Five teams in the country over the past five years, but Dilfer delivered the first losing season since 2013. Seven losses came by at least two touchdowns. The one positive data point was a three-touchdown win over South Florida, but UAB should be better than having one win over a bowl team. D-
Barry Odom9-5UNLV was trending in the right direction, but Odom dragged the Rebels over the finish line. The program was the best in the Mountain West for most of the season before a late skid, but the team still reached nine wins for the first time since 1984. Keep an eye on his offensive coordinator hire, Brennan Marion, who is a rising star in the industry. A
Lance Taylor4-8Western Michigan took a slight step back in Taylor's first season, failing to compete against most of its schedule and getting blanked against Northern Illinois. The Broncos get some extra credit for winning the battle of Michigan, topping rivals Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan along the way. C