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Stan Becton | | December 21, 2022

Why 6 coaching changes will shake up the 2023 track and field season

Women's DMR - 2022 Indoor Track and Field Championships

Notable track and field programs found new leaders during the 2022 offseason. Six new head coaches and/or directors of track and field stand out among the rest, as they could have the biggest potential impact on the 2023 indoor and outdoor seasons. 

How 6 coaching changes could shake up the 2023 track and field season

Tennessee — New head coach: Duane Ross

Duane Ross is the new head coach at Tennessee after winning 17 conference championships and coaching nine individual NCAA champions at North Carolina A&T. Ross is a 1995 NCAA champion and a 2004 Olympian, but has yet to win a DI NCAA title as a head coach, despite close finishes. 

Ross takes over a Tennessee program that has struggled to recapture its glory of the early 2000s. The Volunteer men finished third and the women finished ninth at the 2022 SEC outdoor championships. Both the men and women finished sixth at the SEC indoor championships. The men's team hasn't won an SEC title since 2007, and the women's team hasn't won an SEC title since 2009. Only two male athletes (Christian Coleman and Wayne Pinnock) have won an individual NCAA title for Tennessee since 2010.

Ross will try to carry over his recent success to Tennessee. If he can, the best conference in collegiate track and field will have a new contender.

TRANSFERS: 30 impact transfers to watch in the 2022-23 track and field season

North Carolina A&T — New head coach: Allen Johnson

North Carolina A&T filled the void left by Ross with Allen Johnson, three-time Olympian, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist in the 110 meter hurdles and a 1992 NCAA indoor champion. Johnson signed a four-year contract after previously serving as an assistant coach on the NC State staff for the past six years. He also was a sprint and hurdles coach for Team USA at the 2022 World Championships.

Johnson has big shoes to fill at North Carolina A&T, replacing a coach who won 17 conference championships over five years. Johnson also leads the Aggies into a new chapter, with the program beginning its first year in a new conference, the CAA, in 2022-23. If Johnson can keep things rolling in Aggieland, collegiate track and field will continue to have an HBCU powerhouse program.

CONTENDERS: The top challengers for all 15 returning indoor NCAA track and field champions in 2022-23

Auburn — New head coach: Leroy Burrell

Leroy Burell left Houston, his alma mater, to become the new head coach at Auburn. Burrell won 41 conference championships during his previous 23 years at Houston. He's also a former world-record holder in the 100 meters, a gold medalist at the 1992 Olympics and a 1989 indoor NCAA Champion. 

Auburn has won zero conference titles during that same span and has not won an SEC title since 1980. The Tigers have had only two individual NCAA champions since 2010; that's 15 fewer than Auburn's first decade of the 21st century.

Since Burrell's arrival at Auburn, he's already made headlines by grabbing one of the best returning sprinters in the NCAA, Favour Ashe, out of the transfer portal. Burrell's looking to establish a winning culture that hasn't been seen in the Auburn track and field program in quite some time. Burrell's impact in his first season is definitely worth watching.

2022 BOWERMAN AWARD: Trey Cunningham wins men's Bowerman | Abby Steiner wins women's Bowerman

Houston — New head coach: Will Blackburn & Carl Lewis

Houston has had two track and field coaches in the last 46 years (1976), with both leading the Cougars to a multitude of successful years. Now, director of track and field Will Blackburn and head coach Carl Lewis take over the reins in "Speed City," a place where winning just isn't expected, it's tradition.

Few know the traditions of Houston's track program more than Lewis, one of the greatest athletes in track and field history. Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals, set multiple world records and won six NCAA championships in his career. After his career, Lewis has been a coach at Houston since 2013.

Meanwhile, Blackburn has been a coach at Houston since 2000, leading numerous athletes to titles. Before his coaching career, he won a C-USA championship in the discus. 

Houston chose to keep things in-house in its search for the next leaders of its track and field program. Blackburn and Lewis have big shoes to fill, following a storied coach. If the duo doesn't miss a beat, Houston should remain among the NCAA elite.

MUST WATCH: The top indoor track and field meets to watch in 2022-23

Oregon — New head coach: Jerry Schumacher

Oregon is one of the premier jobs in track and field, no matter the level. Oregon has one of, if not the best, venues in track and field on a global stage and its proximity to Nike and Nike founder Phil Knight makes it a hotspot for recruits. Add in recent success, and you have all the makings of a destination coaching job.

The latest coach to take the helm at Oregon is Jerry Schumacher, replacing Robert Johnson after his contract expired. Before Oregon, Schumacher coached the last 15 years at the Nike Bowerman Track Club, earning 2017 USATF Coach of the Year honors. Before that, Schumacher coached collegiately at Wisconsin from 1998-2008, winning the 2005 DI cross country title and the 2007 DI men's indoor title. Schumacher also won the 1988 NCAA cross country title during his collegiate career as an athlete.

While Schumacher's resume is outstanding, he still has to replace a coach who won 14 NCAA titles — most recently winning the 2021 men's indoor title — at Oregon. Oregon hasn't been as dominant in recent years as it was during the mid-2010s, but it remained an elite program. Now, Schumacher is tasked with reviving that dominance. If Schumacher can translate his recent professional coaching success to the collegiate ranks, Oregon could return to powerhouse status fast.

CHANGES: How USC & UCLA's move to the Big Ten impacts the college track and field landscape

Ohio State — New head coach: Rosalind Joseph

Ohio State has a new track and field head coach for the first time since 2014. Rosalind Joseph takes over for Karen Dennis, who retired this summer. During Dennis' tenure, she won 13 Big Ten championships, including a sweep of the 2022 men's and women's outdoor titles.

Now Joseph takes over after spending the previous four years at Southern Illinois. However, Joseph is familiar with the Buckeyes because she was an assistant coach in Columbus from 2008-2018, and she's an alum. Joseph was a two-time All-American and a six-time Big Ten champion during her Ohio State track and field career.

👀: Here are the DI track and field teams with most NCAA championships

Joseph returns to an Ohio State program coming off immense conference success. In addition to last year's outdoor sweep, the Buckeye women have won the last three outdoor conference meets. Joseph will try to continue the recent stretch of Buckeye dominance but expect other Big Ten teams to try and limit Ohio State's run to its previous coach.

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