Ranking 2nd Year CFB Coaches With Varsity Blues Quotes

It seems I struck a nerve with our readers last week when I assigned every undefeated CFB team a “Yellowstone” character. I’m not one to walk away from a heater, so I’m jumping right back into the pool of College Football and pop culture while the water’s still warm.

One of my all-time favorite movies is “Varsity Blues.” And I’m guessing a lot of my OutKick brothers and sisters enjoy this classic film from 1999, the year of our Lord, as much as I do. So let’s check in with Coach Bud Kilmer, Mox, Billy Bob, Tweeter, and the rest of the West Canaan Coyotes to see how year two Power 5 coaches are doing at their respective programs.

RIP Lance Harbor.

A handful of second year college coaches are giving off “Varsity Blues” vibes. (Photo By Getty Images).

1) Josh Heupel- Tennessee

“Let’s Be Heroes”- Jonathan Moxon

Even the staunchest of Tennessee haters would have a hard time shooting holes in the job that Josh Heupel has done since taking over in Knoxville. He inherited a program in NCAA hot water that watched a lot of their highest rated recruits walk out the door after Jeremy Pruitt was fired with cause following the 2020 season. Caught in the crosshairs of the Pruitt ouster was the AD who hired him: Phillip Fulmer. Tennessee was without an AD and football coach on January 20th, 2021. On January 21st, Danny White was plucked away from UCF to be the next AD.

Six days later, White introduced the coach he hired at UCF as the next coach at Tennessee. 21 months later, Tennessee is 7-0 and ranked 3rd in the latest AP poll. In 2021, Heupel inherited an anemic offense under Jeremy Pruitt and turned it into one of the most exciting units in College Football throughout an overachieving 7-6 campaign. The Vols have scored 30+ points in a school record 10 consecutive games. And the program is in position to possibly have their first Heisman Trophy finalist (Hendon Hooker) since Peyton Manning was robbed of the award in 1997.

The turnaround is remarkable.

It feels like ’98 to many. It feels like ’99 to me. That’s when Jon Moxon took over play calling duties in the 2nd half of the Gilroy game after Bud Kilmer was ousted in a team orchestrated coup d’e`tat. Mox stirred his team with a rousing halftime speech that motivated his guys to play heroically. In year two, Josh Heupel has already turned a team with low expectations into heroes for a hungry fanbase.

2) Lance Leipold- Kansas

“We have the rest of our lives to be mediocre but we have the opportunity to play like gods for the next half of football.”- Jon Moxon

The soon to be Ivy League educated QB had more than one great quote during his halftime speech. To call Kansas Football “mediocre” is being overly generous. They’ve been the bottom of the barrel in FBS for a long time. But the hire of Leipold from Buffalo has been a welcomed breath of fresh air in Lawrence. The man has won everywhere he’s been and had Kansas at 5-0 in his second season at the helm before losing his starting QB to injury. His name is being mentioned for vacancies at Nebraska and elsewhere. Not surprisingly, Kansas has simultaneously announced the construction of new football facilities. Coincidence, right?

Not quite. This is a clear effort to keep Leipold with the Jayhawks. And if they can do that, maybe Kansas will play more like gods and avoid mediocrity (or well below) for the foreseeable future.

,Lance Leipold has some Jon Moxon to him.(Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images).

3) Shane Beamer- South Carolina

“I raised you to be a winner so damnit boy! Win!”- Sam Moxon

Frank Beamer seems like a lovely man and a great father. So I doubt he tried to impose his own hopes and dreams on his children in some tyrannical way like Sam Moxon did in Varsity Blues. But regardless of nature or nurture, Frank’s boy can coach. Shane Beamer sits at 12-8 overall and after starting this season 1-2, his Gamecocks have reeled off four straight wins. Included in those are wins at Kentucky and Texas A&M. Beamer inherited a program that fell to 6-16 in Will Muschamp’s final two seasons in Columbia. Beamer surprisingly had USC bowl eligible in his first year and the possibility for bigger and better remains in year two. Not bad for a guy Mark Stoops poked fun at for dancing while wearing stupid sunglasses.

4) Bret Bielema- Illinois

Billy Bob: “I sure do love that dog.” Mox: “I think it’s a pig.” Billy Bob: “Yeah.”

Fitting quote for the former Hogs head coach. You can call it a pig or a dog or whatever animal you want, but Bielema ball is built on hard-nosed football. And that brand of ball is led by the big uglies up front. He found great success with this formula at Wisconsin and less so at Arkansas. But now that he is back home in the Big Ten, he has Illinois at 6-1 in year two of what looked to be a major rebuild. The Illini have the 4th best rushing attack in the conference and his defense is giving up the fewest yards in AMERICA. Illinois is a program short on recent success, but with Bielema they have a clear identity. And with the Big Ten West existing in its current state for at least one more season, Illinois also has an entire Division that’s ripe for the taking.

5) Steve Sarkisian- Texas

“I’m 18 years old. It’s not like I’m married to her. She invited me over. I’m just being polite, right Kyle? Kyle?” —Mox

Our hero, Jonathan Moxon, was placed in quite the predicament. Does he take the bait and fall for Darcy’s tried and true whipped cream bikini trick? Or does he take the high road? I feel like I’m being tricked into buying into every Texas coach’s whipped cream bikini since Mack Brown’s roamed the sideline in Austin (apologies for the visuals). Given how close all three of their losses have been this fall, and his recruiting prowess (Hello Arch Manning!), you can argue Steve Sarkisian should be higher on this list. But Texas isn’t back until I see more. And while I think Sark is doing a good job and has them on the track to become nationally relevant on an annual basis, I’m pulling a Mox and throwing a blanket over Darcy.

Steve Sarkisian’s in year two with the Longhorns. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images).

6) Clark Lea- Vanderbilt

“You got to be the dumbest smart kid I know.” —Bud Kilmer

No I don’t think Clark Lea is dumb. At all. I actually believe him to be highly intelligent. He also has a very clear plan for Vanderbilt Football. It’s the Vanderbilt part of the equation that has me questioning whether or not this will work out. Vandy has shown themselves repeatedly to be very bad at making athletic decisions for a school that prides themselves on their US News and World Report rankings. See: Jerry Stackhouse contract extension.

But recruiting is ticking up for the Dores. And even though they are currently mired in a 25-game SEC losing streak, they have already hit their Vegas over/under for wins this season. There’s progress but is it enough to keep everyone interested and invested? That’s Clark Lea’s main obstacle. And he needs help from his administration overcome it.

7) Jedd Fisch- Arizona

“Never show weakness, the only pain that matters is the pain you inflict.”- Coach Kilmer

Arizona Football has inflicted a lot of pain on their fans over the years. Kevin Sumlin appeared to take a retirement plan out on their administration and Jedd Fisch inherited a program that went 9-20 in three years under Sumlin. Arizona also appeared to give up on recruiting. That’s not good. Fisch was 1-11 in year one and currently sits at 3-4 with wins over San Diego State, North Dakota State, and Colorado. Sorry Wildcat fans but that’s all I got for you.

8) Bryan Harsin- Auburn

“Playing football at West Canaan may have been the opportunity of your lifetime, but I don’t want your life!” —Mox

This quote perfectly sums up the situation at Auburn for both the fans and Harsin. So I’m just going to leave it here. No need to mess with perfection.

In the event this column inspires you to rewatch Varsity Blues, like it did me, the movie is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.

Quarterback Jonathan Moxon from “Varsity Blues.”

Chad Withrow is a co-host of “OutKick 360” across the OutKick Network. You can read his column weekly right here at OutKick.com.

Written by Chad Withrow

Chad Withrow hosts OutKick 360 and has covered Nashville sports, statewide, and SEC college issues and headlines since 2004.

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