Who is the Best Football Coach in the American Athletic Conference?

Only one AAC coach has more than two years’ tenure

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo is entering his 10th season as head coach, making him the longest tenured skipper in the American Athletic Conference.

Tulsa Coach Phillip Montgomery and Coach Chad Morris are next in terms of how long they have been at their respective schools. And they are both beginning their third season.

The AAC has five new head coaches at Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, South Florida and Temple. Coaches at East Carolina, Memphis, Tulane and Central Florida are about to begin only their second season.That doesn’t mean the newest coaches are inexperienced. Coach Charlie Strong of South Florida has been head coach at Texas and Louisville and Coach Luke Fickell was a long-time coordinator at Ohio State.

Here is a rundown of the experience of AAC head coaches.

10th Year

Ken Niumatalolo

Niumatalolo has been head coach at Navy for nine years and with the school for a total of 19 years. His overall record is 77-42 (64 percent) and he is the winningest coach in Navy history. Navy had a record 11 wins in 2015 when they shared the league title with Houston in the first year for Navy in the AAC.

Niumatalolo played quarterback for Hawaii. He was an assistant at Nevada Las Vegas for three years.

Third Year

Phillip Montgomery, Tulsa

In his first season at TU, Montgomery took the Golden Hurricane from 2 wins to six wins and the Independence Bowl. That season, TU was 11th in the nation in passing and 13th in total offense. Last year, Tulsa improved to 10-3 (6-2 in the AAC) and played Central Michigan in a bowl game.

Montgomery was a highly successful offensive coordinator for Baylor before coming to TU. Before Baylor, Montgomery was an assistant at Houston. He played quarterback at Tarleton State.

Chad Morris, SMU

Morris was named head coach on December 1, 2014 after five seasons as a collegiate offensive coordinator. In 2010, Morris was the associate head coach/offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at The University of Tulsa. From TU, he went to Clemson as offensive coordinator from 2011-14.

He had an extensive tour as head coach in several high schools in Texas, including Eustace, Elysian Fields, Bay City, Stephenville and Lake Travis. His degree is from Texas A&M.

SMU was 5-7 last season and 2-10 in 2015.

Second Year

Scott Frost, Central Florida

Frost was hired as UCF head coach on December 1, 2015. After the Knights went 0-12 in 2015, Frost went 6-6 in the regular 2016 season and took them to the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando. In 2016, Frost was named a national semifinalist for the George Munger Coach of the Year Award from the Maxwell Football Club.

Frost played at Stanford under Coach Bill Walsh. He had coaching stops at Nebraska, Kansas State, and Northern Iowa and was offensive coordinator at Oregon before being hired as head coach at UCF.

Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina

Montgomery was the Duke associate head coach for two years before coming to ECU. He was on the Duke staff as an assistant for seven years. He was an assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL under Head Coach Mike Tomlin for three years.

Montgomery played collegiately for Duke and played professionally for the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.

Mike Norvell, Memphis

In 2016, Novell had the most wins by a first-year coach (eight) in program history and was the first rookie coach to lead the Tigers to bowl eligibility in his first year. The highlight was a 48-44 upset of No. 18 Houston.

Norvell played at Central Arkansas. He was an assistant coach at UCA and later joined Todd Graham’s staff at The University of Tulsa. Norvell followed Graham to Pittsburgh and Arizona State. He was offensive coordinator at ASU.

Willie Fritz, Tulane

Fritz is just three wins away from reaching 200 wins as a college head coach. Of those 197 wins, 61 were at the Division 1 level and 158 at other levels. He led Tulane to a 4-8 record last season.

Fritz played at Pittsburg State in Kansas and he started his coaching career there as an assistant. He came to Tulane from Georgia Southern where he had a two-year record of 17-7. He also was head coach at Sam Houston State and was head coach at Central Missouri. Fritz was an assistant at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Kansas and Willis High School in Texas.

First Season

Geoff Collins, Temple

Collins was hired on December 14, 2016. He played linebacker for Western Carolina. Collins was defensive coordinator for Florida (2015), Mississippi State (2011-14) and Florida International (2010).

Collins was recruiting coordinator for Central Florida and was an assistant coach at Alabama, Georgia Tech, Albright College, Fordham and Western Carolina University. He also was an assistant coach at Franklin High School in North Carolina.

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati

Fickell played noseguard for Ohio State (1992-96). He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State and then was hired as an assistant at Akron. He returned to the Buckeyes and was head coach of Ohio State in 2011 temporarily – after that year he was defensive coordinator from 2012-16. His record in 2011 was 6-7, with a fourth place finish in the Big Ten an appearance in the Gator Bowl.

Randy Edsall, Connecticut

Edsall was the Connecticut head for 12 seasons from 1999-2010 and he was hired back in for this season. Edsall was the head coach at Maryland from 2011-2015. He has the most wins in program history (74) and has coached in the most games.

Edsall also had assistant coaching jobs at Georgia Tech, Syracuse and with the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League. Last season, he was director of research for the Detroit Lions.

Major Applewhite, Houston

Major Applewhite was named head coach at Houston on December 9, 2016, after Tom Herman accepted the head coaching job for the Texas Longhorns. Applewhite was a collegiate quarterback for the Longhorns.

Applewhite has been an assistant coach at Syracuse, Rice, Alabama, Texas and most recently, offensive coordinator at Houston.

Charlie Strong, South Florida

In three years at Texas, Strong didn’t win as many games (16-21) as Longhorn fans wanted and he was fired and then hired by South Florida on December 11, 2016.

Before taking the Texas job, Strong was a two-time Big East Coach of the Year at Louisville. Strong was defensive coordinator at The University of Florida and was part of two national championship runs. Fifteen of his 34 seasons as a college coach have been in the State of Florida. Strong also coached at South Carolina, Notre Dame, Mississippi, Southern Illinois and Texas A&M.