It still sounds bizarre that Appalachian State has a new head football coach.
After 24 seasons of the ultra-successful Jerry Moore leading the Mountaineers' fortunes, his former player and assistant coach Scott Satterfield has taken the reins of the program.
The 1996 ASU graduate is at the most high-profile FCS school among the 18 new head coaches in the FCS. Of that group, he's the only one leading a program coming off an appearance in the FCS playoffs in either of the last two seasons.
ASU won't be headed to the playoffs this season, however, while it spends its final season in the Southern Conference. Like fellow national power Georgia Southern, the Mountaineers are ineligible for the conference title and a playoff bid in the season before they join the Sun Belt Conference on the FBS level.
Satterfield's job is to keep his players motivated and dangle the idea that the Mountaineers are playing for the unofficial SoCon championship. They have won at least a share of seven of the last eight titles.
"These guys, it's engrained in them to win," Satterfield said. "If we lined up to play right now, they would compete. You're talking about guys who are 22 and 23 and this is what they've been doing their whole life. They're not going to be able to turn it off because of an announcement. They're playing for us and we're playing to win the Southern Conference championship next year. Their goals are to win it all and that's how they're going to compete."
Appalachian State, a three-time national champion under Moore, finished with an 8-4 record last season. Only three other FCS programs with new head coaches are coming off a winning season, although Jacksonville State wasn't particularly happy with its 6-5 mark and replaced Jack Crowe with Bill Clark, most recently the defensive coordinator at former FCS program South Alabama.
Trent Miles rebuilt the downtrodden Indiana State program, and after a 7-4 season that was the Sycamores' third straight winning record, he left Terre Haute to build Georgia State on the FBS level (http://tinyurl.com/lspscug). The Sycamores' new head coach is Mike Sanford, the UNLV coach from 2005-09.
San Diego (8-3) earned a share of the Pioneer Football League title and watched coach Ron Caragher leave for San Jose State. Defensive coordinator Dale Lindsey is now a head coach for the first time, taking over at USD just three weeks before he turned 70 (http://tinyurl.com/ajx74pz).
San Diego is a member of the FCS league with the most head coaching changes - four. The PFL also has new mentors at Campbell (former NFL safety Mike Minter), Davidson (Paul Nichols) and Morehead State (Rob Tenyer). The four are in addition to two start-up programs coming aboard in Mercer (Bobby Lamb), which will join the Southern Conference after one season in the PFL, and Stetson (Roger Hughes).
Four conferences have a pair of changes. In addition to Jacksonville State, the Ohio Valley Conference has a new mentor in at Austin Peay, Kirby Cannon. Also, like the change at Indiana State, Bob Nielson has taken charge at Western Illinois in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
The Big South Conference has new coaches at Charleston Southern (Jamey Chadwell) and Gardner-Webb (Carroll McCray), while Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference programs Florida A&M (Earl Holmes, replacing HBCU legend Joe Taylor) and Savannah State (Earnest Wilson III, hired two weeks ago) have new coaches.
The other changes are at Cornell (Ivy League, David Archer), Delaware (CAA Football, Dave Brock), Northwestern State (Southland Conference, Jay Thomas), Southern (Southwestern Athletic Conference, Dawson Odums, who had the interim tag removed after he replaced Stump Mitchell during the 2012 season) and UC Davis (Big Sky Conference, Ron Gould).
The list of 18 changes does not include Jody Sears, who was in charge of Weber State on an interim basis last season and was named the full-time coach four days after a 2-9 campaign.
Among the FCS conferences, only the Northeast Conference and Patriot League do not have any new head coaches.