Articles By Steven Lassan

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Every year, there’s a new crop of rising stars in college football’s coaching ranks ready to make an appearance on the national stage. Alabama's Nick Saban, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher are names familiar across the nation with any fanbase. 

However, what about the next wave of stars that could be at BCS jobs in the next five years?

Ball State’s Pete Lembo has been on a quick ascension through the coach ranks, starting his career at Lehigh in 2001 and moving to the FBS ranks in 2011 with Ball State.

Lembo is an excellent X’s and O’s coach and has produced 12 winning seasons in 13 years as a head coach. Considering Lembo’s success at Lehigh, Elon and Ball State, it won’t be long before FBS programs are interested in the New York native. But the Cardinals are making every attempt to keep him in Muncie, as Lembo inked a new five-year agreement with the program this offseason.

In addition to Lembo, Bowling Green’s Dino Babers, UL Lafayette's Mark Hudspeth, Memphis’ Justin Fuente and Colorado State’s Jim McElwain are names to watch as coaches on the rise. 

College Football’s Top 12 Coaches on the Rise for 2014

Dino Babers, Bowling Green
Career Record: 19-7 (2 years)

Babers has a wealth of experience in the assistant ranks, making stops at a handful of FBS programs, including Purdue, San Diego State, Arizona, UNLV, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, UCLA and Baylor. Eastern Illinois hired Babers prior to the 2012 season, and he proved to be an instant hit for the Panthers. Under Babers’ watch, Eastern Illinois went 19-7 in two years and made the FCS playoffs in both seasons. The Panthers averaged a whopping 589.5 yards and 48.2 points per game in 2013 and nearly defeated MAC West champion Northern Illinois in late September. With a loaded roster returning for Babers’ debut at Bowling Green, the Falcons should be the favorite to win the MAC in 2014.

Matt Campbell, Toledo
Career Record: 17-9 (2 years)

Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches and a rising star in the profession. He won his debut in the 2011 Military Bowl, defeating Air Force 42-41. The Rockets are 16-9 over the last two years and played in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Campbell received a contract extension until 2017 midway through last season and signed the No. 2 recruiting class in the MAC in 2014. Toledo should be one of the favorites to win the MAC West in 2014.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
Career Record: 20-6 (2 years)

Fresno State is one of the premier programs in the Mountain West, and DeRuyter has continued to add to the foundation Pat Hill built from 1997-2011. In two years with the Bulldogs, DeRuyter is 20-6 and claimed the Mountain West title in 2013. The Bulldogs have to reload in 2014 without quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams. However, DeRuyter is the right coach to keep Fresno State among the top programs in the Mountain West. If DeRuyter finds a quarterback to replace Carr, the Bulldogs could repeat as champions of the Mountain West in 2014.

Justin Fuente, Memphis
Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)

Fuente only has seven victories over the last two years, but there has been considerable progress at Memphis during that span. The Tigers went 3-21 in the two seasons prior to Fuente’s arrival and won just one conference game in that period. But Memphis went 4-8 in his first year in 2012 and finished 3-9 in 2013 in its American Athletic Conference debut. The Tigers should take another step forward in 2014, and if the offense develops with a solid season from quarterback Paxton Lynch, Memphis has enough winnable games on the schedule to push for a bowl.

Related Content: Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2014

Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette
Career Record: 93-33 (10 years)

Hudspeth should have his pick of BCS jobs if he’s interested in leaving UL Lafayette after 2014. In three years with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth is 27-12 overall and 17-6 in Sun Belt play. UL Lafayette claimed a share of the Sun Belt title in 2013, and the program has three consecutive bowl victories. Hudspeth’s team is also the favorite to win the Sun Belt in 2014. Prior to his stint with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth went 66-21 in seven years with North Alabama. He also has stops in his career at Mississippi State (2009-10), Delta State and Navy. If a SEC job opens this offseason, keep an eye on Hudspeth as a potential replacement.

Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)

As a New Orleans native and an assistant with the Saints, there’s not a better fit for a coach at Tulane than Johnson. In two years, the Green Wave has made considerable progress under Johnson. Tulane finished 2-10 in 2012 but improved to 7-6 with a bowl appearance in 2013. Johnson is regarded as a good recruiter, which is a valuable asset for Tulane with the talent in the state of Louisiana. Moving to the American Athletic Conference will be an increased challenge for the Green Wave, and this program appears capable of handling that transition with Johnson at the helm.

Joey Jones, South Alabama
Career Record: 34-28 (6 years)

Looking for a rising star in the Sun Belt? Keep an eye on Jones. UL Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth is expected to be a target for potential BCS openings this year, but Jones could be valued by other top programs if South Alabama posts another winning record. Jones – an Alabama native – is 31-21 in five years with the Jaguars, which includes a 6-6 record in 2013. Jones built the program from scratch and has South Alabama in contention for the Sun Belt title in 2014.

Pete Lembo, Ball State
Career Record: 104-49 (13 years)

It’s pretty easy to sum up Lembo’s coaching career in this simple statement: Three different head coach jobs, three very successful tenures. Lembo’s first head coaching gig was in 2001 at Lehigh. He guided the Mountain Hawks to a 44-14 record and two playoff appearances in five years. Lembo went to Elon in 2006 and won 35 games in five seasons. Lembo was hired at Ball State in 2011, and the Cardinals have yet to record a losing record under his watch. Ball State is 19-7 over the last two years and has played in back-to-back bowls. The Cardinals have some significant holes to fill headed into 2014, but there’s little doubt Lembo will keep Ball State in the mix to win the MAC West. There’s no question Lembo is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks and could be poised for a jump to a BCS program in the next few years.

Jim McElwain, Colorado State
Career Record: 12-14 (2 years)

Looking for a coach that could move to a BCS job at the end of the 2014 season? McElwain is a name to remember. In two years with the Rams, McElwain has made significant strides in Fort Collins, guiding Colorado State to an 8-6 finish and a bowl victory over Washington State last season. Prior to taking over the Rams, McElwain worked as the offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008-11, made a one-year stop with Fresno State in 2007 and a short stint with the Raiders in 2006. With his experience in the NFL, along with his experience under Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, McElwain is a rising star to watch in the coaching ranks. Colorado State loses some key pieces from last year’s team, but McElwain should have the Rams back in the mix for a bowl.

Trent Miles, Georgia State
Career Record: 20-48 (6 years)

It’s impossible to judge a coach based solely on his record. Each program has its own set of expectations, which is especially true at a FBS program like Georgia State. Miles is the perfect case study for why records can be overrated for judging coaches, as he resurrected a struggling Indiana State program. The Sycamores went 1-22 from 2008-09 but finished with three consecutive winning records from 2010-12. Georgia State went 0-12 in Miles’ first season, but the Panthers made progress and were competitive in Sun Belt play by losing three games by a touchdown or less. It’s also noteworthy that 2013 was the first year Georgia State played on the FBS level and went 1-10 under Bill Curry in 2012. Give Miles a couple of years to recruit and Georgia State will move up the ladder in the Sun Belt.

Matt Wells, Utah State
Career Record: 9-5 (1 year)

Gary Andersen left behind plenty of talent in Logan, but Wells deserves a lot of credit for getting Utah State to a 9-5 mark last year. Wells joined Andersen’s staff in 2011 and worked for two years as an offensive assistant. He called the plays for Utah State’s 11-2 season in 2012 and was promoted to the top spot after Andersen left for Wisconsin. Last year, quarterback Chuckie Keeton was lost in the first half of the season with a knee injury, and the Aggies still managed to win the Mountain Division and play for the conference title. The real challenge for Wells starts in 2014, as Utah State returns only seven starters. However, all indications point to Wells being able to continue to build on Andersen’s success with the Aggies.

Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
Career Record: 46-14 (5 years)

Wilder had the tough assignment of building a program from scratch, but Old Dominion has recorded five consecutive winning seasons after not fielding a team from 1941-2008. Under Wilder, the Monarchs are known for their high-scoring offenses, which feature standout senior quarterback Taylor Heinicke in 2014. Old Dominion may struggle early in its debut in Conference USA this season. However, Wilder has plenty of room to grow the program, especially with a strong recruiting area (Norfolk) and a high-powered style on offense to sell to prospects.

Teaser:
College Football's Top 10 Coaches on the Rise for 2014
Post date: Monday, April 14, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-quarterbacks-2014
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The Big 12 has been home to some of the top quarterbacks in college football during the BCS Era. The conference isn’t at an elite level under center in 2014, but the talent is clearly on the rise.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty should be a candidate for All-America honors after throwing for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns last season. As if those numbers aren’t enough to consider Petty among the best in the country, consider he tossed only three interceptions on 403 attempts and completed 62 percent of his throws.

Kansas State’s Jake Waters takes the No. 2 spot in Athlon’s Big 12 quarterback rankings, while Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight and Texas Tech’s Davis Webb are close behind.

There’s plenty of uncertainty after the top four, as Texas’ David Ash, TCU’s Trevone Boykin, Iowa State’s Grant Rohach and Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh all have upside in 2014. However, each of the quarterbacks also has question marks, and some are still competing for a starting job.

Athlon Sports’ preseason magazines are set to hit the newsstands in late May/early June, and over the next few weeks, AthlonSports.com will dive into some of the key topics by conference and some of the rankings that will shape preseason predictions for this year.

Writeups compiled by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven).

Ranking the Big 12 Starting Quarterbacks for 2014

1. Bryce Petty, Baylor (SR)
From a statistical standpoint, Petty — not Manziel, Murray, Miller, Mariota or McCarron — could have been the best quarterback in the nation last year. The Baylor quarterback posted 4,409 total yards of offense at 8.9 yards per play, scored 46 touchdowns and threw just three interceptions (read that sentence again, please, so that it sinks in). He won 11 games, a Big 12 championship and embarrassed defenses along the way. Is it reasonable to expect a repeat performance in 2014? Probably not, especially with the losses on both sides of the ball. The Bears are replacing several key defenders, and guard Cyril Richardson, running back Lache Seastrunk and receiver Tevin Reese have departed from the offense. But Petty is the complete package at the quarterback position and is in one of the best offensive systems in the nation. Heisman Trophy conversation isn't a stretch at all for the Bears QB.

2. Jake Waters, Kansas State (SR)
After a successful two-year stint at Iowa Western Community College, Waters continued to perform at a high level in his first season as Kansas State’s starter. Waters started all 13 games for the Wildcats, throwing for 2,469 yards and 18 touchdowns. He completed 61.2 percent of his throws and tossed only nine interceptions on 260 attempts. Waters’ success wasn’t just limited to the air, as he added 312 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 118 attempts. Daniel Sams received some time under center last year, but he is expected to lineup at receiver in 2014. With Sams, Tyler Lockett, Curry Sexton and junior college recruit Andre Davis returning as pass catchers, Waters will be throwing to one of the Big 12’s top receiving groups. And with another offseason to work with co-coordinators Dana Dimel and Del Miller, Waters is primed for a solid year in Manhattan.

3. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma (SO)
A bowl game isn’t the best judge of a player or team, but Knight’s performance in the Sugar Bowl could be a sign of major progress in his development. Against Alabama – one of the nation’s top defenses – Knight threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns on 32 completions. The Texas native’s four passing touchdowns against the Crimson Tide nearly equaled his total from the regular season (five). The Sugar Bowl wasn’t the only standout performance for Knight, as he totaled 253 yards and two touchdowns in a huge road win over Kansas State. Injuries limited Knight’s snaps at times last year, as he finished with only 819 passing yards and nine touchdowns, while rushing for 445 yards and two scores. Knight is still developing, so there will be a few ups and downs in 2014. However, there’s a lot of upside, and Knight is ready to build off a strong finish to last season.

4. Davis Webb, Texas Tech (SO)
Unlike in his first season as the head coach, Kliff Kingsbury and the Red Raiders enter 2014 with zero questions about the quarterback position. Webb, a sophomore from Prosper, Texas, entered the starting lineup midway through the season as a freshman and posted four 400-yard games. Among them was a Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP performance in an upset win over Arizona State. And if his excellent play in the second half a year ago wasn't enough to prove he was fully capable of grabbing the reigns to the Tech offense, his top two competitors for playing time — Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer — have left the program. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder did miss two games last year and his wiry, beanpole frame is in desperate need of added bulk and strength, but otherwise, Texas Tech is potentially poised for yet another 5,000-yard passer.

Listen to our staff discuss every team in the Big 12 as they start to look to 2014.

Tune in to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast as our staff talks college football leading up to the 2014 season.
iTunes | Podcast Archive

5. J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State (JR)
Developing quarterbacks has been pretty routine for Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, so Walsh could be in for a big season as the starter in a potent offense. However, the Texas native isn’t completely secure as the No. 1 option in Stillwater, as true freshman Mason Rudolph and junior Daxx Garman are pushing for time. Walsh started five games in 2013 and finished with 1,333 passing yards and nine touchdowns. He also added 294 yards and three scores on the ground. Walsh spent the spring trying to become a better passer, as he finished 2013 by completing 59.5 percent of his throws and averaged 11.8 yards per completion last year. With Oklahoma State losing seven starters and a handful of backups on defense, the Cowboys will need their offense to carry this team early in 2014. Walsh has room to improve as a passer, but with Gundy and coordinator Mike Yurcich in control, Oklahoma State’s offense shouldn’t be much of a concern. 

6. David Ash, Texas (JR)
After showing marked improvement from his freshman season (1,068 yds, 4 TD, 8 INT) to his sophomore season (2,699 yds, 19 TD, 8 INT), the question of Ash's ability to make plays and win games was answered pretty clearly. However, he missed 10 games due to ongoing concussion issues a year ago and broke his foot late in spring practice. He is expected to be healthy for the start of fall camp and is clearly the best option to run Charlie Strong's new offense. But Ash is also one big hit away from being in the hospital and questions about his ability to stay healthy loom large in Austin. There is little experienced depth behind Ash on the roster and Strong desperately needs his junior quarterback to stay healthy. Should Ash prove capable of staying on the field, this Texas team has the roster and coaching staff to compete for a Big 12 title.

7. Trevone Boykin, TCU (JR)
Boykin is far from a polished passer but he may be Gary Patterson's best bet at the quarterback position. The junior from Mesquite, Texas has the most experience of any passer on the roster by a wide margin and is the best athlete of the bunch as well. That said, the Frogs staff would like to see more balance and stability from the quarterback position, and Boykin needs to improve from within the pocket as a passer. Coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie likely won't be afraid to give chances to the rest of the depth chart if Boykin — who can be used all over the offense — can't develop as a passer. Tyler Matthews and two freshmen, Grayson Muehlstein and Foster Sawyer, should all see plenty of snaps in the summer and both Meacham and Cumbie have started freshmen under center at previous jobs.

Related Content: Is TCU a sleeper team to watch in the Big 12 in 2014?
 

8. Grant Rohach, Iowa State (SO)
Rohach seized control of the starting job for Iowa State late last season, and all signs point to improvement in 2014. In the final two games of 2013, Rohach threw for 631 yards and six touchdowns, while tossing only two picks on 59 attempts. Yes, those statistics came against Kansas and West Virginia, but it represented a step forward for Iowa State’s offense. Rohach is surrounded by a solid cast of weapons at receiver and running back, and the offensive line will quietly be one of the best in the Big 12. New coordinator Mark Mangino is a good hire for Iowa State, and he should help mold Rohach into a much-improved quarterback in 2014.

9. Clint Trickett, West Virginia (SR)
Uncertainty surrounds West Virginia’s quarterback situation headed into the summer. Trickett missed spring practice due to shoulder surgery, which left Paul Millard, Skyler Howard and Logan Moore to compete for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Millard seems to be the best out of the trio from the spring, but Trickett should get the nod in the fall. After transferring from Florida State last year, Trickett finished the year with 1,605 yards and seven touchdowns in eight appearances. He was the Mountaineers’ No. 1 quarterback when they upset Oklahoma State early in the year and threw for 356 yards against Iowa State in the season finale. If Trickett’s shoulder is 100 percent and he has no ill-effects from last year’s injury, he should reclaim the starting job in the fall.

10. Jake Heaps, Kansas (SR)
Heaps gets the nod here, but Montell Cozart had a solid spring and could get the nod over Heaps for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. And for Heaps, it has been an interesting journey in his college career. He was No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation and is now battling for starting time on the worst team in the Big 12. It's not what Heaps expected when he signed with BYU out of high school but that is exactly where the senior from famed Skyline High in Seattle finds himself entering his final collegiate season. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound signal caller threw for just 1,414 yards and eight touchdowns last year (11 games) and he didn't play in the lone bright spot — an upset win over West Virginia. This is why Heaps will have to hold off Cozart and sophomore T.J. Millweard if he wants to acquire the keys to the new no-huddle offense. Charlie Weis brought in coordinator John Reagan to install the spread offense and that is music to Heaps' ears as the senior ran a similar system both in high school and at BYU. Heaps has the knowledge and experience to lock down the starting spot in Lawrence early in the process. Should that happen, it would likely yield his best season to date.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's Quarterbacks for 2014
Post date: Monday, April 14, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/bo-pelini-brings-cat-nebraskas-spring-game
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So far, it has been an interesting offseason for Nebraska. Well, interesting in a good way.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini appears to be having a lot of fun since beating Georgia in the Gator Bowl, as he had a Twitter interaction with his alter ego (@FauxPelini) earlier this offseason. If you aren’t familiar with @FauxPelini, the avatar features Pelini in a sweater holding a cat.

Fast forward to the spring game, and Pelini is still having fun with the alter ego. Pelini held a cat and held it up to the crowd prior to Nebraska’s spring game.

And no, this wasn’t @FauxPelini. This was the real Bo Pelini.

Check out the video and pictures from Nebraska’s spring game:

Teaser:
Bo Pelini Brings a Cat to Nebraska's Spring Game
Post date: Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 18:10
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
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Spring football is all about trying to build as much positive buzz as possible until the fall, and unveiling new uniforms and helmets is just one way to establish momentum for any FBS program.

Miami’s ACC rival Florida State recently unveiled a new jersey and helmet combination for 2014, and the Seminoles won’t be the only team in the conference with new uniforms, as the Hurricanes unveiled a new design before the spring game.

Here’s Miami’s updated uniform combination, which features black, green, orange and white jerseys, along with two different helmets (orange and white).

 

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Miami Unveils New Uniforms for 2014
Post date: Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 17:45
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Florida State’s jerseys haven’t changed much in recent years, but the Seminoles are getting a significant uniform overhaul for 2014. The change isn’t drastic, but the helmets, jerseys and pants were tweaked.

As with any uniform change, it’s important not to stray too much from what worked the best for the school or the most recognizable design/colors from that program.

And even though it may take a little time to adjust, it seems Nike and Florida State came up with a pretty good design and overall look for the program.

Below is a look at Florida State’s new jerseys and helmets for 2014 and be sure to check out this Nike gallery of photos for the uniforms:
 

Teaser:
Florida State Unveils New Uniforms for 2014
Post date: Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 00:01
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Missouri Tigers, SEC, News
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The career of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is over at Missouri. Green-Beckham was recently suspended due to an off-the-field incident, but on Friday, coach Gary Pinkel dismissed the former No. 1 recruit from the team.

Green-Beckham was recently under investigation after an altercation at an apartment. Police were prepared to charge Green-Beckham with first-degree burglary, but the complainants decided not to press charges.

In two years with the Tigers, Green-Beckham caught 87 passes for 1,278 yards and 17 touchdowns.

There’s no question this is a huge loss for Missouri. Green-Beckham was arguably the No. 1 receiver in the nation heading into 2014 and a likely first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Missouri was already set to lose Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington in 2014, so the Tigers will have an inexperienced group of receivers for quarterback Maty Mauk. Bud Sasser, Darius White and Jimmie Hunt will have to emerge as go-to targets to help replace Green-Beckham.

Green-Beckham’s football future is uncertain. Since he has a redshirt year available, Green-Beckham could sit out 2014 and play for a FBS team in 2015. However, he may choose to go the FCS route and play right away this year.
 

Teaser:
Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham Dismissed From Team
Post date: Friday, April 11, 2014 - 16:12
Path: /college-football/who-sleeper-team-watch-big-12-2014
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The Big 12 did not have a banner year in 2013, as only three teams from the conference finished ranked in the final Associated Press poll, and the bottom four teams in the league combined for just seven conference victories.

Heading into the 2014 season, there appears to be some positive momentum for the Big 12. Baylor and Oklahoma are playoff contenders, and Texas and Kansas State should be preseason top-25 teams.

While Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas and Kansas State appear set as the top-four teams in the league, the No. 5 spot seems to be up for grabs.

TCU slipped to 4-8 last year, and as a result of the struggles, coach Gary Patterson overhauled the offense for 2014. Iowa State has potential after finishing 2013 with back-to-back wins, while Texas Tech is an intriguing team to watch with Kliff Kingsbury at the helm, and Oklahoma State always seems to reload under Mike Gundy.

Athlon Sports’ preseason magazines are set to hit the newsstands in late May/early June, and it’s time to settle some of the biggest debates for 2014. Over the next few weeks, AthlonSports.com will dive into some of the key topics by conference and some of the debates that will shape preseason predictions for this year.

Who is a Sleeper Team to Watch in the Big 12 in 2014?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The bottom half of the Big 12 should be an interesting battle this year. Teams like Iowa State and West Virginia should improve, but whether or not it’s enough to make a bowl remains to be seen. I think Oklahoma State simply lost too much to pull a surprise finish among the top four teams, so it’s really down to TCU or Texas Tech as a sleeper pick for me. I think the Horned Frogs have a ton of upside going into 2014, as this team was just a couple of plays away from a winning record last year. New play-caller Doug Meacham made a difference at Houston in 2013 and helping TCU transition to a spread should help Gary Patterson’s team become a more effective offense in 2014. The Horned Frogs still need to find a quarterback, as well as develop more consistency at receiver and on the offensive line, but this team lost four Big 12 games by three points or less last year. With a better offense, TCU could easily turn some of those close losses into wins, especially with a defense that is still among the best in the nation. Another factor in the Horned Frogs’ sleeper potential is the schedule. TCU plays five conference home games, including swing matchups against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in Fort Worth.

Allen Kenney, (@BlatantHomerism), BlatantHomerism.com
What really qualifies as a surprise in the Big 12 anymore?

Baylor has gone from plucky upstart to defending champion.

Bill Snyder working miracles in Manhattan is nothing new.

Given how much talent is on Texas' roster, would it really be a "surprise" if the Longhorns made a run at the league crown in Charlie Strong's first year?

I think the most fitting candidate here is Texas Tech. Even with the loss of all-star tight end Jace Amaro, Kliff Kingsbury will keep the Red Raiders rolling up points. Reports from spring camp say quarterback Davis Webb has made major strides since the fall, and he'll have a bevy of productive skill players at his disposal, including receivers Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant and running back Kenny Williams. Up front, all-conference candidate Le'Raven Clark will lead an experienced offensive line that should be one of the best in the league.

Of course, offense usually isn't a problem in Lubbock. The Red Raiders will have to continue winning shootouts until Tech figures out a way to stop people. Look for the Red Raiders to come out on top of a wild one--or two--that you wouldn't expect (Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor), finishing with eight wins in the regular season and a winning record in league play.

 


Listen to our staff discuss every team in the Big 12 as they start to look to 2014.

Tune in to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast as our staff talks college football leading up to the 2014 season.
iTunes | Podcast Archive

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
My sleeper in the Big 12 is the team it always seems to be in this league, Iowa State. The Cyclones slipped to 3-9 last season, missing a bowl for the second time in five seasons under Paul Rhoads. That should turn around this season. While Iowa State won’t contend for the title, there are plenty of reasons the Cyclones will get back to the six- to seven-win range. After Iowa State lost a 31-30 heartbreaker to Texas on Oct. 3, the 2013 season went sour. Injuries took their toll on a team that was already going to struggle to compete. Iowa State, though, found its stride at the end of the season. In his final two starts — both wins — quarterback Grant Rohach completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 631 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He’ll be among 10 returning starters on offense, now playing under coordinator Mark Mangino. The former Kansas coach has his faults, but he can run an offense in the Big 12. On defense, seven starters return, and linebacker Luke Knott will return healthy. That should be enough for Iowa State to double its win total from last season.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Defining a sleeper must be based on expectations and since the expectation levels for Oklahoma State heading into 2014 seem to be lower than we've seen in Stillwater in nearly a decade, I will go with the Cowboys. Mike Gundy's squad hasn't won fewer than eight games since 2007 and has only won fewer than nine once during that span. Due to massive departures to graduation and the NFL, the Cowboys likely won't be picked in the top half of the Big 12 — fifth at best — but this program is in way better shape than a team with so few returning starters. Gundy has elevated the entire Pokes program by building depth throughout his roster. This team was one drive away from winning the Big 12 championship, and I just don't see the fall from grace like many preseason prognosticators will predict. Will OSU win the Big 12? No. But can they be a sleeper who could win nine or ten games and pull a couple of upsets? You bet.

Mark Ross
Prior to last season, TCU had won at least seven games every year since 2005. Granted, all but two of those seasons came when Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs were dominating the Mountain West Conference, but I think their 11-14 record since joining the Big 12 in 2012 is somewhat misleading. Of those 14 losses, half were by seven points or fewer. In fact, last season's 4-8 TCU team was potentially just one or two touchdowns away from maintaining the program's bowl streak, which ended at eight. As bad as the offense was (Horned Frogs were 104th in the nation in total offense), this team was still out-gained by just 6.2 yards in conference play in 2013. Eight starters return from that defense, along with defensive end Devonte Fields, the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year when he was a freshman. Patterson also brought in former Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and Texas Tech co-coordinator Sonny Cumbie to overhaul TCU's offense. A quarterback will need to be settled on and the offensive line will need to gel, but whomever ends up running the show does have playmakers to work with and it's not like it can get much worse than it was last year, right? TCU also has the luxury of hosting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with its toughest road tests shaping up to be at Baylor and Texas. If the Horned Frogs can survive a difficult stretch of six straight conference games starting Oct. 4, then I think this team has a chance to open some eyes in its third year in the Big 12.

Teaser:
Who is a Sleeper Team to Watch in the Big 12 in 2014?
Post date: Friday, April 11, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/oregon-wr-bralon-addison-tears-acl-ducks-wr-corps-has-major-concerns
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The Pac-12 title race is expected to be a tight battle between Oregon, Stanford, USC and UCLA.

The Ducks are considered by some to be the preseason favorite, but Mark Helfrich’s team suffered a setback on Thursday, as receiver Bralon Addison suffered a torn ACL in practice. A timetable for Addison’s absence was not announced, but it is believed he will miss the entire 2014 season.

Addison was expected to be Oregon’s No. 1 receiver in 2014, as he was the top returning statistical target – 61 receptions for 890 yards and seven touchdowns.

Addison’s ACL injury adds another layer of concerns for Oregon’s receiving corps, as this unit was already losing Josh Huff (62 receptions for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns), and running back De’Anthony Thomas left early for the NFL Draft.

Is Addison’s injury something that could derail the Ducks from a Pac-12 title? Possibly. However, Oregon still has the No. 1 quarterback in the conference returning in Marcus Mariota, along with one of the nation’s top running back stables.

In Addison’s absence, the Ducks need more from Keanon Lowe, Chance Allen, Darren Carrington, Dwayne Stanford and Devon Allen. Also, expect to see more opportunities for tight ends Johnny Mundt, Pharaoh Brown and Evan Baylis.

Here’s a look at the returning options for Oregon in the receiving corps (2013 stats)
 

PlayerRec.YardsTDs
Keanon Lowe182333
Johnny Mundt162813
Pharaoh Brown101232
Chance Allen5981
Evan Baylis4710
Blake Stanton2110
B.J. Kelley1130

 

Teaser:
Oregon WR Bralon Addison Tears ACL; Ducks' WR Corps Has Major Concerns
Post date: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 21:00
Path: /college-football/miamis-defense-or-virginia-techs-offense-which-bigger-concern-2014
Body:

The ACC Coastal has been one of the toughest divisions to predict over the last few years, and nothing is expected to change in 2014.

In 2012, North Carolina, Miami and Georgia Tech tied for the division crown at 5-3. Last year, Duke won the Coastal with a 6-2 mark but three teams finished just a game behind the Blue Devils.

It’s hard to find much separation among the top six teams in the Coastal this year, so it may take another 5-3 record in conference play to win the division.

Miami and Virginia Tech are considered among the favorites to win the Coastal in 2014, but both teams have big question marks. The Hurricanes have struggled on defense over the last two seasons, and the Hokies’ offense is a concern after averaging only 22.8 points per game in ACC games in 2013.

Considering how tight the top six teams are expected to be within the division, slight improvement by Virginia Tech’s offense or Miami’s defense could be enough to vault either team into the top spot.

Athlon Sports’ preseason magazines are set to hit the newsstands in late May/early June, and it’s time to settle some of the biggest debates for 2014. Over the next few weeks, AthlonSports.com will dive into some of the key topics by conference and some of the debates that will shape preseason predictions for this year.

Miami's Defense or Virginia Tech's Offense: Which is a Bigger Concern in 2014?


Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This is a close call, but I have to say the Miami defense. Over the last two years, the Hurricanes are the only unit in the ACC to allow over six yards per play in conference games. And despite having three straight top-15 recruiting classes, Miami has showed very little improvement on defense. With upperclassmen like end Anthony Chickillo, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Tracy Howard, this unit has to take a step forward in 2014. The depth has certainly improved for Miami’s defense over the last two years, but the pass rush (just 12 sacks in ACC games last year) and stopping the run are still a concern. The offenses in the Coastal aren’t particularly prolific, but the Hurricanes still have to face Georgia Tech, an improving Pittsburgh offense, North Carolina, Duke and Florida State and Louisville in crossover play. Virginia Tech’s offense may not show much improvement in the stat column, but the Hokies have a very favorable schedule, and the skill players around new quarterback Mark Leal are improving. Also, with a Virginia Tech defense expected to be among the best in the nation, the Hokies won’t need to make a significant jump in production to win the Coastal. It’s tough to put either team in the top 25 for 2014 with the question marks surrounding both squads, but I have more concerns about Miami’s defense heading into the fall.

Mark Ross
For me, it's Virginia Tech's offense, as the improvement or lack thereof from this side of the ball will likely determine how the Hokies' 2014 campaign shakes out. Consider this: Virginia Tech's offense finished 99th or worse among FBS teams last year in total, scoring and rushing offense yet the Hokies still won eight games. What's more, all three of their conference losses were by seven or fewer points, including a three-point home loss to Duke that ended up determining the Coastal Division champion. Now while it's hard to see the defense repeat its top-11 national showing in all four major categories this season, especially with so much talent and experience having departed, there's no reason to expect a dramatic drop-off either, not as long as coordinator Bud Foster is in charge.

No the bugaboo for Frank Beamer's team the last couple of years has been the offense, but maybe this is the year coordinator Scott Loeffler finds his rhythm with his personnel and things come together. Quarterback is a big question mark, but the addition of Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer gives Loeffler another option to consider, as Brewer will provide Mark Leal with competition for the starting job when fall camp opens. Virginia Tech doesn't lack for playmakers per se, but the running backs and wide receivers are still relatively unproven and have yet to produce on a consistent basis. That said, the schedule shapes up nicely with Boston College and Wake Forest the crossover games from the Atlantic Division and Georgia Tech and Miami coming to Lane Stadium. As long as the defense doesn't take too much of a step backwards, Virginia Tech should at least contend for yet another division title. And if the offense can show even moderate improvement, then it's possible that the Hokies could get back to double-digit wins, something this program did consistently not too long ago.

John Cassillo, (@JohnCassillo), NunesMagician.com
To me, this is pretty clear: Virginia Tech's offense is the bigger concern, and I don't even think it's close. The Hokies' offense has been phenomenally bad these past couple years, especially last year when they pretty much hit rock bottom (100th in points per game and 102nd in yards per game). Problem is, though, they might end up sinking deeper. Offensive line's a consistent issue and now without Logan Thomas -- flawed as he was, he was the team's only real offensive weapon -- they'll need to figure out how to protect an inexperienced passer, too. At the running back position, there will be additional stress placed on sophomore Trey Edmunds too, as he'll largely be relied upon to guide Tech's offense in the early going. All seems like a recipe for disaster.

Miami's defense certainly has some work to do, but at least they have the pieces to do it. Their collection of young defensive backs showed an ability to ball-hawk last year and should continue to develop. The 'Canes also showed themselves capable of getting after opposing QBs, increasing their sacks numbers by 16 compared to 2012. They'll lose a couple of those contributors, but you have to like the potential of what they bring back -- especially when comparing it to what Virginia Tech loses (and still fails to possess) on offense.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Virginia Tech’s offense has to be the bigger concern. This unit used to be fairly consistent with a run game that was fairly automatic. When Hokies had an above average quarterback, they were a top-10 or top-five team. That’s changed in recent years. Virginia Tech’s offense has been in decline. The Hokies’ yards per play performance has dropped every season starting in 2010. Same with yards per carry. That includes one season with David Wilson as the primary tailback and two with NFL prospect Logan Thomas at quarterback. Miami at least improved defensively last season and has enough returning personnel to be optimistic that trend can continue. Miami returns seven starters on defense, including Anthony Chickillo, Denzel Perryman and Tracy Howard. That’s a high-level player at each level of the defense. I’m not sure if Virginia Tech has that equivalent on offense. 


Ryan Tice (@RyanTice), TheWolfpacker.com
Miami’s defense is the bigger concern, simply because quarterback Ryan Williams just went down with a torn ACL and that side of the ball will have to carry a heavier load. The presence of linebacker Denzel Perryman definitely helps. 

Last year, the Canes’ defense ranked 89th nationally with an average of 426 yards allowed per game, and they were the main culprit in the squad’s three-game losing streak. FSU scored 41 points, followed by Virginia Tech going off for 42 and then Duke got in on the fun with 48.

Another concern is that Louisville, who the Canes open up against on Sept. 1, had their way against Miami’s defense in the Russell Athletic Bowl — although the Cardinals must obviously replace quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Both sides of this argument should be major cause for concern heading into the first year of College Football Playoff – especially for two coaches entering critical years at their respective schools and with expectations of a division title looming. But the answer has to be Tech's offense. Yes, Miami has allowed big chunks of yards in each of the last two seasons but there was progress, however small, a year ago. And with very talented names stepping into starring roles as juniors and seniors — Denzel Perryman, Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Anthony Chickillo — there are at least some excellent pieces for Al Golden to work with in Coral Gables. Frank Beamer and Scott Loeffler have little in the way of proven big-play talent on the offensive roster returning with the exception of possibly Trey Edmunds. And while Logan Thomas likely ruined more than a few Saturday evenings in Blacksburg, he also set offensive records for the Hokies and there is virtually zero experience returning at the QB position. Texas Tech's Michael Brewer is the wildcard and could save the day, but he has his hands full when he arrives this summer. Until then, I will say Miami's defense has more upside and potential.

Matt McClusky, (@MatthewMcClusky), NunesMagician.com
The real concern for both teams, along with every other team in the ACC for that matter, has to be the fact that Florida State is still playing football. But, other than the Seminoles waiting as a roadblock down the line, I would say Miami's defense is probably a bigger "concern" than Virginia Tech's offense.

I write that because, well, Miami's defense couldn't get much worse than it was in 2013. The Hurricanes finished ranked No. 13 in total defense in the ACC last season -- that's out of 14 total teams. '13 was such a bad year on that side of the ball that UM recorded a meager 12 sacks in eight conference games, not exactly a stat to brag about for such a vaunted program. The secondary wasn't much better than the guys up front either, being routinely burned for big plays. Things were so un-Miami like, that opponents hung 40 or more points on the Hurricanes during a three-week stretch in November, a list of teams that included Virginia Tech.

Sure, the Hokies obviously have issues to be worked out on offense this coming season, but it's Miami with Coastal Division championship aspirations (along with, I'm sure, delusional hopes of a national championship). And for the 'Canes to follow through on any preseason goals or hype, they'll have to put things together defensively quickly because the season opens at Louisville with a trip to Nebraska and a home date with Florida State. The likes of Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyriq McCord need to step up, something most observers expect to see happen, or defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will be looking for work before Thanksgiving and Miami will once again play little brother to those boys upstate.

Teaser:
Miami's Defense or Virginia Tech's Offense: Which is a Bigger Concern in 2014?
Post date: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/new-uniforms-coming-mississippi-state-2014
Body:

Mississippi State has updated its uniform and helmet combination a couple of times under coach Dan Mullen, and it appears the Bulldogs will make a few tweaks for 2014.

According to this photo tweeted by @LoganLowery, Mississippi State’s new uniforms will resemble one of their uniforms from the 1990s. The jerseys feature stripes on the shoulders, along with “Hail State” above the number.

This isn’t a huge change for Mississippi State, and the jerseys will just be worn against Southern Miss on Aug. 30.

Here's a look at the new jerseys for the Bulldogs in 2014:



 

 

Teaser:
New Uniforms Coming for Mississippi State in 2014
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 18:12
Path: /college-football/penn-state-or-michigan-who-finishes-higher-big-ten-east-division-2014
Body:

Michigan and Penn State are two of the premier programs in the Big Ten, but neither the Wolverines or Nittany Lions have won more than eight games in a season over the last two years.

The lack of success by Michigan and Penn State on a national level is just one reason why the Big Ten has slipped in terms of conference hierarchy among BCS leagues.

And as the 2014 season approaches, both teams have question marks to answer this offseason. Penn State is still dealing with scholarship sanctions, so depth could be an issue. The Nittany Lions also have concerns on the offensive line and in the secondary. Michigan has regressed since an 11-2 record in Brady Hoke’s first season (2011) and finished a disappointing 7-6 last year.

The Wolverines aren’t short on talent, but the offense struggled last season and question marks exist at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and on the offensive line.

With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten is set to undergo a few alterations for 2014. The Leaders and Legends Divisions are no more, as the Big Ten will split into the East and West alignment. In the East, Penn State and Michigan will be picked behind Ohio State and Michigan State, but the third-place team in this division could finish 9-3 or 10-2 in 2014.

Athlon Sports’ preseason magazines are set to hit the newsstands in late May/early June, and it’s time to settle some of the biggest debates for 2014. Over the next few weeks, AthlonSports.com will dive into some of the key topics by conference and some of the debates that will shape preseason predictions for this year.

Penn State or Michigan: Who Finishes Higher in the Big Ten East in 2014?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I’m very intrigued by both of these programs going into 2014. Brady Hoke appeared to be the right fit at Michigan after an 11-2 debut in 2011, but the Wolverines are just 15-11 over the last two years. While Michigan lost six games last season, five defeats were by four points or less. With Doug Nussmeier calling the plays, plus a return to full strength by quarterback Devin Gardner, the Wolverines should show improvement in the win column. However, I give a slight edge to Penn State in this debate. New coach James Franklin guided Vanderbilt to back-to-back nine-win seasons and should win big with the Nittany Lions. Penn State also has an advantage at quarterback with rising star Christian Hackenberg, along with depth at running back and plenty of intriguing options at receiver to replace Allen Robinson. Also, new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop should help the Nittany Lions’ defense improve after allowing 32 points a game in Big Ten play last season. The biggest concern for the Nittany Lions could be depth due to scholarship sanctions, along with motivation if the bowl ban isn’t rescinded. One factor in Penn State’s favor is the schedule. The Nittany Lions play at Michigan but host Ohio State and Michigan State. The Wolverines have to play at Northwestern in crossover play and travel to Michigan State and Ohio State in 2014. I think Penn State finishes ahead of Michigan in the East Division, but don't be surprised if both are top-25 teams this year.

Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CrystalBallRun.com and CollegeFootballTalk.com
Penn State has an excellent chance to finish the 2014 season ahead of the Wolverines in the Big Ten’s East Division (B1G East?). No team could have as favorable a schedule as the Nittany Lions as far as Big Ten play is concerned. Penn State gets Ohio State and Michigan State at home. The Nittany Lions are not ready to challenge either for the division just yet, but Penn State will not lose 63-14 again and getting the Spartans at home in the regular season finale could be pivotal. Penn State also gets a poor Illinois team that could have it packed in for the year on the road and they make a return trip to Indiana with revenge on the mind after last season’s match-up spun out of control.

Michigan has to play on the road at Ohio State and Michigan State in 2014 and they lack the defense to slow down the Buckeyes and the consistent offense to overcome the Spartans. Penn State has a better chance of at least splitting those games than Michigan seems to. The pivotal game separating these two programs will be the prime time match-up in the Big House. Michigan gets the home field advantage against a Penn State team that could still be putting some pieces together, but Penn State has the all important bye week heading in to the road game. We’ll see what Franklin can have cooked up for that game with a week to prepare.

Overall, Penn State is trending in the right direction while Michigan is looking to reverse their downward trend. Right now, Penn State has the edge.
 


Listen to our staff discuss every team in the Big Ten as they start to look to 2014.

Tune in to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast as our staff talks college football leading up to the 2014 season.
iTunes | Podcast Archive
 


Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Coaching, quarterback play and scheduling are three of the most important aspects to predicting where a team will finish in any given season. And in the case of the Wolverines versus the Nittany Lions, all three of those factors fall heavily on one side of the discussion. Christian Hackenberg is one of the top QB prospects in the nation, while Devin Gardner needs to show marked improvement after inconsistency and 17 turnovers a year ago. James Franklin is a bulldog who will recruit and coach unlike anything the Big Ten has seen in years, while Brady Hoke is hearing whispers of uncertainty. And the Nittany Lions play a very manageable schedule that is missing what could be the top four teams from the West (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota). Michigan will be a solid team in the seven- or eight-win range but Penn State could end up with nine or even 10 wins. I'll take the Lions with Franklin, Hackenberg and the easier schedule.

Mark Ross
I may be in the minority here, but I think Michigan will finish ahead of Penn State in the Big Ten's new-look East Division. Yes, I think the Nittany Lions made the best hire of the offseason in luring James Franklin away from Vanderbilt, but I also feel that the learning curve for Franklin and his coaching staff will be different in the Big Ten than it was when he was introduced to the SEC in 2011. I won't deny that Franklin has more talent to work with at Penn State than when he started at Vanderbilt, especially when it comes to quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but he also has to replace some key personnel, notably top wide receiver Allen Robinson and two All-Big Ten offensive linemen. Michigan has its own issues, especially on offense, but I think new coordinator Doug Nussmeier will be able to figure out what approach works best for his personnel and find a way to get the most out of quarterback Devin Gardner and the weapons around him. I also think the Wolverines will be better on defense, as they return eight starters from a unit that ranked fifth in total defense in the conference last season. With the new divisions and the addition of Maryland and Rutgers this will be a season of transition to differing degrees for both programs, but Brady Hoke is more familiar with life in the Big Ten than Franklin. So as far as 2014 goes, my pick is for Michigan to finish ahead of Penn State in the standings, but there's no question things are trending in the right direction in Happy Valley.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Michigan should prove it was better than last year’s 7-6 season. The Wolverines have the tools to do that and, if everything breaks right, they can contend in the Big Ten East. Michigan was one of those teams last year that was between to a New Year’s Day bowl appearance (four losses by less than a touchdown) or a complete disaster (wins by less than a touchdown over Akron and UConn). Oddly enough, Michigan had a worse turnover margin (minus-2) in wins than losses (plus-7), mainly due to playing down to Akron and UConn. Altogether, it was just a bizarre season in Ann Arbor. The 2014 season has to be more stable than 2013. The foundation should be the defense, and the offense has potential to be more consistent. Quarterback Devin Gardner limited his turnovers late in the year, and he showed enough flashes to reinforce why he was a budding star before the season. The key is the line and run game. Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is a big, experienced piece of the puzzle that’s gone, but Michigan recruited quantity and quality across the offensive line. Throw in five-star running back Derrick Green from last year’s class, and Michigan should be expected to field a run game that’s not so dependent on Gardner. That should be enough for Michigan to finish ahead of Penn State.

Teaser:
Penn State or Michigan: Who Finishes Higher in the Big Ten East Division in 2014?
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-128-college-football-coaches-2014
Body:

Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

 

While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.

 

Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

 

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

 

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?

 

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.


Ranking the Coaches by Conference: ACC Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC Rosters

Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2014

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 79-15 (7 years)
Career Record: 170-57-1 (18 years)
Alabama’s Program Rank: (No. 2 in the SEC, No. 3 nationally)

Ranking coaches in any conference or nationally is a tough assignment, but there’s little doubt about which one ranks as the best in college football. Saban is at the top of his game and is easily the No. 1 coach in the nation. In seven years at Alabama, Saban is 79-15 and has claimed three national championships. The Crimson Tide has finished in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in each of the last six years and only one of Saban’s seasons resulted in less than 10 victories. And as many around the SEC already know, Saban’s success isn’t limited to just Alabama. He recorded a 48-16 mark in five years at LSU, a 34-24-1 record in five seasons at Michigan State and a 9-2 mark in one year at Toledo. Saban is one of the nation’s top defensive minds, an excellent recruiter and also one of the best - if not the No. 1 coach - in college football at developing talent. As long as Saban is on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will be factor every season in the national championship picture.
 


Listen to our staff discuss the criteria and break down the debate in this year’s coach rankings in the the Cover 2 podcast.

Tune in to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast as our staff talks college football leading up to the 2014 season.
iTunes | Podcast Archive
 


2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 24-2 (2 years)
Career Record: 128-22 (12 years)
Ohio State’s Program Rank: (No. 1 in Big Ten, No. 5 nationally)

Meyer has been a head coach at four different jobs and has won at a high level at each program. A hallmark of Meyer’s tenures has been a quick turnaround or immediate improvement in the first season. Bowling Green went 2-9 in the year prior to Meyer’s arrival, and the Falcons recorded a 17-6 mark under his watch. At Utah, Meyer inherited a team that won five games in 2002. However, the Utes went 22-2 under Meyer and finished No. 4 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2004. Meyer was hired at Florida prior to the 2005 season and guided the Gators to a 65-15 record. Florida won two BCS titles under Meyer and finished No. 3 nationally in 2009. After stepping away in 2011, Meyer returned to the sidelines at Ohio State in 2012 and won the first 24 games in his tenure. The Buckeyes closed 2013 on a two-game losing streak but have won all 16 regular season Big Ten games under Meyer’s watch. With elite recruiting, combined with a top-five program like Ohio State, it’s only a matter of time before the Buckeyes win the national title under Meyer.

 

3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 77-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 219-79-2 (24 years)
South Carolina’s Program Rank: (No. 8 in the SEC, No. 19 nationally)

Spurrier needed a few years to build the talent level at South Carolina, but heading into his 10th season in Columbia, the Gamecocks are a consistent East Division title contender. Through his first five years at South Carolina, Spurrier posted a 35-28 record with zero appearances in the final Associated Press poll. But since 2010, the Gamecocks are 42-11 and finished No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll last year. Spurrier was successful at Florida from 1990-2001 using the pass-first Fun ‘n’ Gun offense. However, the veteran coach has adapted at South Carolina and has been winning with a strong defense and a balanced offense. With successful stops at Florida and South Carolina in the SEC, along with a 20-13-1 three-year stint at Duke, Spurrier is without question one of the top coaches in college football. And even though Spurrier will be 69 years old when the season starts, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

 

4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Record at Oklahoma: 160-39 (15 years)
Career Record: 160-39 (15 years)
Oklahoma’s Program Rank: No. 2 in the Big 12, No. 6 nationally

Stoops quickly proved he was an elite coach with a national championship in his second season, and the Ohio native continues to keep Oklahoma among the nation’s best every year. After a 7-5 debut in 1999, Stoops guided the Sooners to a 13-0 record with an upset win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title. Success has been plentiful for Oklahoma since 2000 as well, as Stoops has recorded 11 seasons of at least 10 victories, and the Sooners have claimed at least a share of the conference title eight times. Maintaining success at a high level is challenging, but Stoops hasn’t missed a beat. Sure, Oklahoma had an 8-5 season in 2009 and finished No. 15 nationally in 2012. However, it’s hard to beat Stoops’ consistency, as well as his ability to beat the Sooners’ rivals. Stoops is 9-6 against Texas and 12-3 against Oklahoma State. As long as Stoops is at Oklahoma, expect the Sooners to be a consistent top 10-15 program nationally.

 

5. Art Briles, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 44-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 78-60 (10 years)
Baylor’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the Big 12, No. 34 nationally

Briles has quickly emerged as one of the top coaches in college football, transforming a struggling program into ha contender on the national level. Baylor failed to record a winning record from 1996-2007, and Briles went 4-8 in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09. But since 2009, the Bears have been a factor among the top half of the Big 12, finishing 7-6 in 2010, which included their first bowl appearance since 1994. From 2011-13, Baylor is 29-10 and claimed their first outright conference title since 1980 last year. Briles’ success isn’t just limited to Baylor, as he went 34-28 in five seasons at Houston. With a new stadium, improved recruiting and a contract extension until 2023, the Bears appear poised to take another step forward under Briles’ watch. Much like Bill Snyder did at Kansas State, Briles has transformed Baylor from a struggling program into a conference title contender.

 

6. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Record at Kansas State: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Career Record: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Kansas State’s Program Rank: No. 8 in the Big 12, No. 61 nationally

Prior to Snyder’s arrival, there was no track record of consistent success at Kansas State. But since Snyder was hired in 1989, the fortunes have changed for the Wildcats. Snyder won only six games during his first two years, but Kansas State had only one losing season from 1992-2003. Snyder guided the Wildcats to 11 consecutive bowl games from 1993-2003 and had six finishes in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in that span. After a 9-13 mark from 2004-05, Snyder decided to step aside. But his retirement was short, as Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009 and promptly guided the Wildcats to a 6-6 mark. Over the last five years, Kansas State is 42-27 and claimed the Big 12 title in 2012. Winning in Manhattan is no easy task, and Snyder continues to get the most out of a roster that is consistently rated near the bottom of the conference according to recruiting rankings. As long as Snyder is on the sidelines, don’t count out Kansas State in the Big 12 title picture each year.

 

7. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Record at Florida State: 45-10 (4 years)
Career Record: 45-10 (4 years)
Florida State’s Program Rank: No. 1 in the ACC, No. 11 nationally

In four years in Tallahassee, Fisher has returned Florida State to national prominence. The Seminoles slipped at the end of the Bobby Bowden era, but Fisher has three seasons of at least 10 wins and has claimed back-to-back ACC titles. Florida State is 26-2 over the last two years and won the national championship last year, defeating Auburn in the final title game of the BCS era. Another factor working in Fisher’s ranking is his record against Florida State’s rivals. Fisher is 4-0 against Miami and 3-1 against Florida. Fisher’s success isn’t just limited to the on-field results, as he’s an excellent recruiter and talent evaluator and has a good eye for finding assistant coaches. With Fisher at the helm, there’s no more debate: Florida State is back and will be a factor in college football’s national championship picture for the foreseeable future.

 

 

8. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 64-29 (7 years)
Career Record: 82-46 (10 years)
Michigan State’s Program Rank: (No. 6 in Big Ten, No. 26 nationally)

Under Dantonio’s watch, Michigan State has emerged as one of the top programs in the Big Ten. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in three out of the last four years and went 25-7 in Big Ten play during that span. Dantonio guided Michigan State to a 13-1 finish last season, including a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. The Spartans also finished No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll, which was the highest finish in program history since 1966. Prior to taking over at Michigan State, Dantonio went 18-17 in three years at Cincinnati. Dantonio recruited only one top-25 recruiting class from 2010-13, yet the Spartans rank No. 2 in the Big Ten during that span in conference victories. And with a hefty contract extension, Dantonio is poised to continue his success at Michigan State for the foreseeable future.

9. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Career Record: 208-72-2 (23 years)
Notre Dame's Program Rank: No. 7 nationally

Kelly is a proven winner at four different programs and has one national championship appearance on his resume after guiding Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season in 2012. In 23 years as a head coach, Kelly is 208-72-2 and has only one losing record during that span (2004, Central Michigan). At Grand Valley State, Kelly went 118-35-2 and won two Division II titles. In three seasons at Central Michigan, the Chippewas were 19-16 under Kelly’s direction. And at Cincinnati, Kelly guided the Bearcats to back-to-back BCS bowl appearances and three consecutive double-digit win seasons. With Everett Golson back at quarterback, Notre Dame could reach at least 10 victories for the second time in Kelly’s tenure.

 

10. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 12-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 21-5 (3 years)
Auburn’s Program Rank: (No. 6 in the SEC, No. 15 nationally)

Malzahn has only been a head coach for two years on the FBS level, but he is already ranks near the top of coaches in the SEC. The Texas native was a successful high school coach before making the jump to coordinate Arkansas’ offense in 2006. Malzahn left the Razorbacks to be the offensive coordinator at Tulsa from 2007-08, before returning to the SEC as Gene Chizik’s play-caller from 2009-11. Malzahn was one of the key pieces in Auburn’s national championship season in 2010 and landed his first chance to be a head coach in 2012 at Arkansas State. The Red Wolves went 9-3 in his only year, as Malzahn was hired by Auburn to replace Chizik at the end of the 2012 season. The Tigers went 3-9 in 2012, but Malzahn provided a quick fix, leading Auburn to a 12-2 final record with an appearance in the national championship. Prior to last season, Malzahn was already regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. And after guiding the Tigers to a No. 2 finish in the final Associated Press poll, Malzahn deserves to be ranked among the top 10-15 coaches nationally.

 

11. James Franklin, Penn State
Record at Penn State: First Season
Career Record: 24-15 (3 years)
Penn State’s Program Rank: (No. 3 in Big Ten, No. 14 nationally)

Franklin comes to Penn State after a successful three-year stint at Vanderbilt. The Pennsylvania native is one of the top coaching hires for 2014 and should win big with the Nittany Lions. Franklin won 24 games with the Commodores, which tied the best three-year stretch in program history. Vanderbilt also recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons, finished in the Associated Press poll twice and claimed two bowl victories under Franklin. Prior to taking over with the Commodores, Franklin worked as the offensive coordinator at Kansas State and Maryland and served as an assistant with the Packers in 2005. After winning at one of the toughest programs in the BCS, Franklin is now at a job where he can consistently compete for titles. Franklin is also regarded as an excellent recruiter. With the resources available at Penn State, Franklin will have the Nittany Lions in contention for Big Ten titles and a spot in college football’s playoff in the near future.

 

12. David Shaw, Stanford
Record at Stanford: 34-7 (3 years)
Career Record: 34-7 (3 years)
Stanford’s Program Rank: No. 5 in the Pac-12, No. 33 nationally

Life without Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines and Andrew Luck at quarterback was supposed to be tough at Stanford. But that hasn’t been the case for the Cardinal, as Shaw as kept Stanford among the best in the nation. The Cardinal is 34-7 over the last three years and has lost only four conference games during that span. Shaw has guided the program to three consecutive BCS bowls and two top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Stanford signed a small recruiting class in 2013, which finished No. 51 nationally by 247Sports Composite. However, in 2012 and 2014, Shaw inked classes that ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Stanford has claimed at least a share of the North Division title in each of the last three years, but that run could be tested in 2014 with the departure of a talented senior class and defensive coordinator Derek Mason. Despite the personnel losses, expect Shaw to have Stanford back in the Pac-12 title hunt once again.

 

13. Chris Petersen, Washington
Record at Washington: First Year
Career Record: 92-12 (8 years)
Washington’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the Pac-12, No. 23 nationally

Petersen is a tough coach to rank among his Pac-12 peers. Winning big outside of a BCS conference is a good sign, but the week-to-week grind in the Pac-12 or any of the other BCS leagues is another matter. In eight years at Boise State, Petersen elevated the program to new heights. The Broncos went 92-12 and recorded four top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Also, Boise State claimed two BCS bowl victories and claimed at least a share of five conference titles. Another notch in Petersen’s resume was the Broncos’ track record against BCS teams. Boise State defeated Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia in non-conference or bowl games during Petersen’s tenure. The California native is a good fit at Washington and inherits a solid core of talent to work with in 2014. If there’s any concern about Petersen, it has to be the track record of former Boise State coaches leaving to take BCS jobs. Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins struggled at their next stop after leaving Boise State. Despite the lack of success by Hawkins and Koetter, all signs point to Petersen being a home-run hire for Washington.

 

14. Mark Richt, Georgia
Record at Georgia: 126-45 (13 years)
Career Record: 126-45 (13 years)
Georgia’s Program Rank: (No. 3 in the SEC, No. 8 nationally)

Richt has experienced his share of ups and downs in Athens, but he has been one of the nation’s most consistent coaches since his hire in 2001. Over the last 13 years, Georgia has averaged 9.7 wins a season under Richt. Additionally, the Bulldogs have recorded three top-five finishes in the final Associated Press poll and claimed at least a share of the East Division title six times. The only thing missing on Richt’s resume is a national championship. The Bulldogs have not played in a BCS bowl since the 2007 season, but the new playoff format should help this team, especially with more spots in elite bowls open to the SEC. Also, the addition of former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is an upgrade over previous defensive play-caller Todd Grantham, which should bolster Richt's chances of winning a SEC title in the next few years.

 

15. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 31-44 (6 years)
Career Record: 75-73 (12 years)
Duke’s Program Rank: No. 14 in the ACC, No. 72 nationally

Cutcliffe’s career mark with the Blue Devils is only 31-44, but as we mentioned in the introduction, not all coaches can be judged solely on wins and losses. Duke is one of the toughest coaching jobs in a BCS conference. From 2000-07, the Blue Devils won only 10 games and had six seasons of at least 10 losses. Cutcliffe needed some time to establish a foundation, but Duke has turned a corner under his watch. The Blue Devils went 15-33 in Cutcliffe’s first four years. However, Duke is 16-11 over the last seasons and claimed the Coastal Division title in 2013. And in terms of recruiting, the Blue Devils have the No. 13 roster in the ACC, which only adds credit to the job Cutcliffe has done in Durham. Prior to his stint at Duke, Cutcliffe went 44-29 at Ole Miss, including a 10-3 record in 2003. Sustaining success with the Blue Devils won’t be easy. However, Cutcliffe is a sharp offensive mind and the program has made steady progress under his watch. Expect Duke to consistently be in the mix for bowl games under Cutcliffe in future seasons.

 

16. Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 41-9 (4 years, 2003-06)
Career Record: 83-30 (9 years)
Louisville’s Program Rank: No. 6 in the ACC, No. 29 nationally

Petrino is a polarizing figure in college football. There’s no doubt he’s made mistakes, but he’s also an outstanding coach – and likely one of the best in the nation. After stops at Arkansas, Western Kentucky and in the NFL with the Falcons, Petrino has returned to Louisville. From 2003-06, the Cardinals went 41-9 under Petrino’s direction and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll in 2006. Petrino transformed Arkansas from a 5-7 program in 2008 to an 11-2 team in 2011. However, his tenure ended with the Razorbacks after he lied to athletic director Jeff Long following a motorcycle crash in 2012. After sitting on the sidelines for a year, Petrino was hired by Western Kentucky to replace Willie Taggart, and the Hilltoppers finished 8-4 in Petrino’s only season. Again, there’s no question Petrino comes with baggage. But the Montana native is a proven winner – 83 wins in nine years – and one of the top offensive minds in college football.

 

17. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 95-24 (9 years)
Career Record: 123-45 (13 years)
LSU’s Program Rank: (No. 4 in the SEC, No. 9 nationally)

The Mad Hatter is a bit of a gambler when it comes to making on-the-field decisions, and is always a good sound byte for the media, but let’s not overlook the Ohio native’s on-field success in recent years. In nine years at LSU, Miles is 95-24 and has won at least 10 games in each of the last four years. The Tigers had a slight dip in wins from 2008-09, finishing just 17-9 during that span. However, Miles returned LSU back to SEC and national prominence, and the Tigers finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. Miles’ success isn’t just limited to LSU, as he recorded a 28-21 mark in four years at Oklahoma State from 2001-04. There’s no doubt regarding Miles’ ability to recruit (four top-10 classes over the last five years), and he has one of the SEC’s top staffs with proven coordinators in John Chavis and Cam Cameron, along with regarded assistants in Jeff Grimes, Frank Wilson and Brick Haley. 

 

18. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Record at Northwestern: 55-46 (8 years)
Career Record: 55-46 (8 years)
Northwestern’s Program Rank: (No. 13 in Big Ten, No. 59 nationally)

Fitzgerald’s career record doesn’t compare to Urban Meyer or Mark Dantonio, but let’s keep in mind he’s also coaching at one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs. One way to look at Fitzgerald’s ranking is this: If he was at a program at the top of college football’s food chain with more resources, we think he would win at a higher level. In eight years at Northwestern, Fitzgerald has been outstanding. The Wildcats are 55-46 under his watch and played in five consecutive bowl games from 2008-12. Northwestern also won the 2013 Gator Bowl, which was the program’s first postseason win since 1949. The 1-7 mark in Big Ten play last season was Northwestern’s worst conference record under Fitzgerald, but the Wildcats were hit hard by injuries. Under Fitzgerald, Northwestern will always be a factor in the bowl picture and should be a tough out for the rest of the Big Ten.

 

19. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 18-9 (2 years)
Career Record: 67-38 (8 years)
Arizona State’s Program Rank: No. 6 in the Pac-12, No. 38 nationally

Graham gets a bad rap from his job-hopping in recent years, but there’s no question he’s one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. At Rice, Graham inherited a team that went 1-10 in the season prior to his arrival, and the Owls improved by six games in his first season and finished 7-6 overall. Graham was hired at Tulsa after one season at Rice and went 36-17 in four seasons. The Golden Hurricane had three years of at least 10 wins and a No. 24 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2010. Graham took over at Pittsburgh in 2011 and went 6-6, but his stay in the Steel City lasted only one year. Arizona State picked Graham to replace Dennis Erickson, and the program has been on the upswing over the last two years. The Sun Devils are 18-9 under Graham’s watch and claimed the Pac-12 South title last season. Arizona State has started facility renovations to Sun Devil Stadium and inked extensions with Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. With Graham at the helm, combined with a commitment to keeping good assistants and improved facilities, Arizona State is poised to become a consistent challenger for the South Division title.

 

20. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Record at Oklahoma State: 77-38 (9 years)
Career Record: 77-38 (9 years)
Oklahoma State’s Program Rank: No. 3 in the Big 12, No. 22 nationally

Gundy has raised the bar during his tenure in Stillwater, winning 77 games over the last nine years and one Big 12 Championship in 2011. The Cowboys’ 2011 Big 12 title was the program’s first outright conference championship since 1948, and Gundy’s 77 wins rank first among coaches in Oklahoma State history. Since recording back-to-back seven-win seasons from 2006-07, the Cowboys have not won fewer than eight games. With a good chunk of talent leaving the roster heading into 2014, Oklahoma State appears to be set for a rebuilding year. However, Gundy has proved there’s plenty of staying power in Stillwater, and even if 2014 is a rebuilding effort, the Cowboys won’t be down for long.

 

21. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 9-4 (1 year)
Career Record: 39-35 (5 years)
Wisconsin’s Program Rank: (No. 5 in Big Ten, No. 24 nationally)

Andersen isn’t as experienced in the Big Ten as Ferentz, Kill, Hoke or Pelini, but he has a strong resume in just six years as a head coach. Andersen’s first head coaching job came at Southern Utah in 2003. The Thunderbirds went 4-7 Andersen's debut, which represented a three-game improvement from 2002. After one season at Southern Utah, Andersen worked at Utah from 2004-08 as an assistant, including the final three years as the defensive coordinator. In 2009, he was hired as Utah State’s head coach. Andersen went 8-16 in the first two years but recorded an 18-8 mark over the final two seasons. Utah State’s 11-win campaign in 2012 was the most victories in school history. Andersen went 9-4 in his Wisconsin debut and all four losses were by 10 points or less.

 

22. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 102-63 (13 years)
Career Record: 175-100-3 (23 years)
Missouri’s Program Rank: (No. 11 in the SEC, No. 31 nationally)

Much like Mark Richt at Georgia, Pinkel has been a consistent winner during his career at Missouri. The Tigers slipped to 5-7 in their SEC debut in 2012, but injuries – especially to quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey – were the driving factors behind the disappointing season. However, one year later, Missouri won the East Division and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll. Under Pinkel, the Tigers have winning records in eight out of the last nine years, with four double-digit win totals since 2007. Prior to Missouri, Pinkel was a successful coach at Toledo, recording a 73-37-3 record in 10 years with the Rockets. It was easy for some in the SEC to write off Pinkel after the 5-7 record in 2012. But heading into 2014, Missouri looks like a contender for the East Division title once again, and Pinkel has the program on stable ground entering its third year in the SEC.

 

23. Gary Patterson, TCU
Record at TCU: 120-44 (12 years)
Career Record: 120-44 (12 years)
TCU’s Program Rank: No. 7 in the Big 12, No. 42 nationally

Moving to the Big 12 has been a challenge for Patterson and TCU, as the Horned Frogs are just 11-14 overall and 6-12 in Big 12 play over the last two seasons. But prior to joining the Big 12, TCU was a consistent top-25 team. The Horned Frogs recorded three top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2008-10, and this program has only two losing records in Patterson’s 12 years. It’s one thing to win in the Mountain West, but it’s a huge challenge to elevate a program into Big 12 title contention on a consistent basis. The coaching staff needs time to upgrade the overall program depth and talent to compete with Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State, but that shouldn’t be an issue when you look at TCU’s track record of success under Patterson. Also, the Kansas native is one of the top defensive minds in the conference – as evidenced by allowing just 4.8 yards per play last season. The Horned Frogs have stumbled a bit in their new conference, which isn’t really a surprise when you consider the struggles of West Virginia and Utah during their conference transition period. However, the future in Fort Worth still appears to be very bright for Patterson.

 

24. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 20-6 (2 years)
Career Record: 55-23 (6 years)
Texas A&M’s Program Rank: (No. 5 in the SEC, No. 13 nationally)

Armed with the SEC logo, facility renovations and Sumlin’s coaching, Texas A&M is poised to be a factor on the national scene for the foreseeable future. The Aggies went 11-2 and finished No. 5 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2012 but slipped to 9-4 and just .500 (4-4) in SEC play last year. Prior to his stint at Texas A&M, Sumlin went 35-17 in four years at Houston. Building a program into a consistent national title contender will take time. And sometimes it's necessary to take a step back before moving forward. Through two years in College Station, Sumlin guided Texas A&M through a difficult conference transition, produced a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel) and has recruited back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes. Without Manziel and standout receiver Mike Evans, the Aggies may take a step back in 2014. However, with all of the young talent on the roster, the future looks bright in Aggieland.

 

25. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 224-109-2 (27 years)
Career Record: 266-132-4 (33 years)
Virginia Tech’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the ACC, No. 27 nationally

Beamer is the dean of college football coaches with 33 consecutive years of head coach experience. The North Carolina native worked as an assistant at Citadel and Murray State from 1973-80 and was promoted to the top spot with the Racers in 1981. In six seasons as Murray State’s head coach, Beamer went 42-23-2 and finished his tenure with four consecutive winning records. Beamer started his tenure at Virginia Tech with losing records in four out of the first six years. However, the Hokies have been one of the nation’s most consistent teams since 1993. Virginia Tech has played in 21 straight bowl games and has won at least 10 games in eight out of the last 10 years. While the program has been remarkably consistent, the Hokies are 15-11 in the last two seasons. Even though that record marks a slight drop from the early 2000s, there’s no reason to hit the panic button in Blacksburg going into 2014.

 

26. Charlie Strong, Texas
Record at Texas: First Year
Career Record: 37-16 (4 years)
Texas’ Program Rank: No. 1 in the Big 12, No. 1 nationally

Strong was somewhat of a surprising hire at Texas, but all signs point to this paying huge dividends for the Longhorns. In four years as Louisville’s head coach, Strong went 37-15 and earned four bowl appearances. The Cardinals won 23 games over the final two seasons and claimed back-to-back top-15 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2012-13. Prior to taking over at Louisville, Strong accumulated a wealth of experience as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina. There’s no secret Strong is a sharp defensive mind, a good recruiter, and someone who focuses on fundamentals and physical play. Considering Texas has struggled to develop its elite talent over the last few years, Strong and his coaching staff should fix that problem. Additionally, the consistent problems on the offensive line seem to be addressed with the addition of Joe Wickline. Coaching at Texas will require a few changes for Strong, especially when it comes to the booster glad-handing and Longhorn Network. But there's little reason to believe Strong won't win big at Texas. 

 

27. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Record at Oregon State: 88-73 (13 years)
Career Record: 88-73 (13 years)
Oregon State’s Program Rank: No. 10 in the Pac-12, No. 54 nationally

Riley is in his second stint at Oregon State, and the Beavers have been one of the Pac-12’s most consistent programs under his watch. From 1971-98, Oregon State failed to earn a winning record. But since 2003, the Beavers have eight winning seasons out of the last 11 years. Riley has guided Oregon State to six years of at least eight wins during that span. The Beavers also have 15 bowl appearances in school history – eight of them are under Riley’s watch. So while Oregon State is still looking for a Pac-12 title under Riley, he has clearly elevated a program that struggled mightily prior to his arrival. And if you needed any additional data on Riley’s impact, take a look at recruiting rankings. The Beavers own the No. 10 roster in the Pac-12, yet rank sixth in the conference in conference wins over the last four years.

 

28. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 9-16 (2 years)
Career Record: 93-59 (12 years)
Washington State’s Program Rank: No. 12 in the Pac-12, No. 63 nationally

Washington State is the toughest job in the Pac-12. But the Cougars have the right coach to keep this program competitive on a consistent basis. Leach was forced out at Texas Tech after 10 successful years in Lubbock. The Red Raiders never missed a bowl game under Leach and finished five times in the final Associated Press poll. Leach is only 9-16 in two years at Washington State. However, the Cougars improved their win total by three games from 2012 to 2013. Additionally, Washington State went to a bowl game for the first time since 2003 last year. Leach is one of the top offensive minds in college football and will help Washington State move a little closer to contending with the Pac-12 North’s top teams over the next few years.

 

29. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 45-18 (5 years)
Ole Miss’ Program Rank: (No. 10 in the SEC, No. 30 nationally)

Freeze still has plenty to prove within the SEC, but there’s also a lot of potential. The Mississippi native has brought instant success to each of his three college coaching jobs, starting at Lambuth in 2008. The Eagles won seven games in the two seasons prior to Freeze’s arrival, but he went 8-4 in 2008 and 12-1 in 2009. Freeze served as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2010 and was promoted to head coach in 2011. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt title in Freeze’s only season, finishing 10-2 with a trip to the GoDaddy Bowl. In two years at Ole Miss, Freeze is 15-11 and 6-10 in SEC play. Those totals aren’t particularly overwhelming, but the Rebels finished 6-18 in the two years prior to his arrival. With two top-15 recruiting classes, the talent level is on the rise in Oxford. Freeze needs time to match the depth at Alabama, Auburn and LSU, but the gap is slowly starting to close.

 

30. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 16-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 136-94-2 (20 years)
Arizona’s Program Rank: No. 7 in the Pac-12, No. 39 nationally

A three-year stint at Michigan is really the only blemish on Rodriguez’s 20 years on the sidelines. The West Virginia native started his coaching career at Salem in 1988 and had his second opportunity as a head coach at Glenville State in 1990. In seven years with the Pioneers, he went 43-28-2 and was hired at Tulane to coordinate the offense after the 1996 season. After two years with the Green Wave, Rodriguez was hired as Clemson’s offensive coordinator (1999-00) and then took over the top spot at West Virginia in 2001. The Mountaineers were 60-26 under Rodriguez and were one win away from playing for the national title in 2007. Rodriguez left his home state for the opportunity to coach at Michigan, but his three years with the Wolverines resulted in a disappointing 15-22 record. And after sitting out a year, Rodriguez jumped back into the coaching game at Arizona. So far, so good in Tucson. The Wildcats have recorded back-to-back 8-5 seasons and two bowl victories under his watch.

 

31. Jim Mora, UCLA
Record at UCLA: 19-8 (2 years)
Career Record: 19-8 (2 years)
UCLA’s Program Rank: No. 3 in the Pac-12, No. 18 nationally

Mora has only been at UCLA for two seasons, but the former NFL head coach is making a difference. The Bruins are 19-8 under Mora, including a 12-6 mark during the regular season in Pac-12 play. UCLA finished No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which was the program’s first appearance in the last ranking since a No. 16 mark in 2005. Recruiting under Mora is also stable, as the Bruins have signed three consecutive top-20 classes. UCLA also made a big commitment to Mora by signing him to a six-year extension at the end of the 2013 season. With Brett Hundley returning for his junior year, the Bruins will have a chance to take the next step under Mora in 2014. 

 

32. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Record at Mississippi State: 36-28 (5 years)
Career Record: 36-28 (5 years)
Mississippi State’s Program Rank: (No. 13 in the SEC, No. 48 nationally)

Winning at Mississippi State is no easy task. Just how difficult? Counting Mullen, the last seven coaches in Starkville had a losing record in SEC play. Jackie Sherrill guided the Bulldogs to an appearance in the SEC Championship, but his final record in SEC contests was just 43-59-1. Considering how difficult it is to win at a high level at Mississippi State, it’s unrealistic for Mullen to compete for SEC titles every year. In five years with the Bulldogs, Mullen is 36-28 and has guided the program to four consecutive bowl appearances. Additionally, Mullen is 4-1 against rival Ole Miss. Closing the gap on the rest of the West Division will be challenging, but Mullen clearly has the program going on the right direction. Considering the challenge of winning at Mississippi State, a strong case could be made Mullen needs to rank higher on this list of SEC coaches. 

 

33. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 22-15 (3 years)
Career Record: 49-49 (8 years)
Miami’s Program Rank: No. 3 in the ACC, No. 21 nationally

Golden is a tough coach to rank among his ACC peers. On the positive side: Miami has increased its win total in each of the last two seasons after winning six games in Golden’s debut. The Hurricanes are also seeing an uptick in recruiting, bringing in the No. 12 (2014), No. 14 (2013) and No. 10 (2012) classes after signing the No. 33 group in 2011. But here’s the bad news: This is Miami – the No. 3 coaching job in the ACC. The Hurricanes are still looking for their first appearance in the conference championship, and Golden has yet to produce a ranked team in the final Associated Press poll. With the No. 2 roster in the ACC, Miami needs to win at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Coral Gables, Golden took Temple from a 1-11 record in 2006 to a program with back-to-back winning seasons in 2009-10. Some of the Owls’ success under Golden was due to the transition to the MAC, but Golden helped to mold Temple from one of the worst programs back to respectability. 2014 should be a telling year for Golden and his overall leadership at Miami, as the Hurricanes have the talent to win the Coastal. However, enough questions remain that Miami could finish third in the division. 

 

34. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Record at Clemson: 51-23 (6 years)
Career Record: 51-23 (6 years)
Clemson’s Program Rank: No. 2 in the ACC, No. 20 nationally

Swinney has helped Clemson shake the underachieving label recently, recording a school-record 32 victories over the last three years. The Tigers are 14-2 in the last two seasons of ACC play and have two BCS bowl appearances in three years. Clemson finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which is the best final ranking for the program since Danny Ford guided the Tigers to a No. 8 ranking in 1982. Swinney is at his best in the program CEO role. Coordinators Chad Morris and Brent Venables are two of the nation’s highest-paid assistants, and Morris’ arrival in 2011 sparked instant improvement on offense. Prior to hiring Morris, Swinney was just 19-15. One trouble spot for Swinney is his record against rival South Carolina and Florida State. The Gamecocks have won five in a row over Clemson, while the Tigers are 2-4 under Swinney against the Seminoles. In order for Swinney to take the next step as a head coach, he has to consistently beat Florida State and South Carolina.

 

35. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 108-79 (15 years)
Career Record: 120-100 (18 years)
Iowa’s Program Rank: (No. 7 in Big Ten, No. 32 nationally)

Ferentz may not be the flashiest coach, but he is easily one of the top-six coaches in the Big Ten. Iowa is a solid job, but it also has its drawbacks. There’s not a ton of in-state talent to build a team, but the Hawkeyes are 15-17 in conference play over the last four years, which is almost equal to Michigan during that span (18-14). Ferentz went 4-19 in his first two years at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes recorded six consecutive bowl appearances from 2001-06, including an Orange Bowl trip after the 2002 season. After missing out on a bowl in 2007, Iowa earned four straight postseason trips from 2008-11, and Ferentz got the program back on track after a 4-8 mark in 2012. With a favorable schedule and 12 starters back, Ferentz should have Iowa in contention for the West Division title in 2014.

 

36. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 17-21 (3 years)
Career Record: 144-94 (20 years)
Minnesota’s Program Rank: (No. 11 in Big Ten, No. 56 nationally)

Kill was a successful coach prior to taking over at Minnesota and has guided the Golden Gophers to back-to-back bowl games for the first time sine 2008-09. In five years at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98), Kill went 38-14 and followed that stint with a two-year stop at Emporia State (11-11). From 2001-07, Kill recorded a 55-32 mark at Southern Illinois, which included five consecutive appearances in the FCS playoffs. And in three years at Northern Illinois, Kill went 23-16 with three bowl trips. After a 3-9 mark at Minnesota in 2011, Kill is 14-12 and clearly has the program on the right track. Also, last year’s 4-4 Big Ten mark is the first record of .500 or better in Big Ten play by Minnesota since 2005.

 

37. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: 5-7 (1 year)
Career Record: 55-34 (7 years)
Tennessee’s Program Rank: (No. 7 in the SEC, No. 16 nationally)

In his first year at Tennessee, Jones had a similar overall record to his predecessor (Derek Dooley), but the Volunteers appeared to take a step forward in 2013. Tennessee lost to Georgia by three points in overtime and fell to Vanderbilt 14-10 in late November. The signs of progress were small, but Jones is recruiting at a high level and has a track record of success. From 2007-09 at Central Michigan, Jones went 27-13 and won two MAC titles. At Cincinnati, Jones recorded a 23-14 mark and finished with a 10-4 mark in the Big East over the final two years. Jones is unproven in the SEC, but all signs point to progress on Rocky Top heading into 2014.

 

38. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 26-13 (3 years)
Career Record: 73-63 (11 years)
Michigan’s Program Rank: (No. 2 in Big Ten, No. 10 nationally)

A few years ago, Hoke would have ranked higher on this list. However, Hoke’s stock has been on the decline after finishing 8-5 in 2012 and 7-6 in 2013. Prior to taking over at Michigan, Hoke recorded a 34-38 record in six seasons at Ball State, which included a 12-1 mark in 2008. He went 13-12 in two years at San Diego State and helped the program break an 11-year bowl drought with an appearance in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. Hoke went 11-2 in his Michigan debut in 2011 and led the Wolverines to a victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. However, despite back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes, the Wolverines are just 15-11 from 2012-13. Considering the expectations at Michigan, Hoke needs to show the program is headed in the right direction in 2014 to avoid the hot seat.

39. 
Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette
Career Record: 93-33 (10 years)

Hudspeth is a rising star in the coaching ranks and should have his pick of BCS jobs if he’s interested in leaving UL Lafayette after 2014. In three years with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth is 27-12 overall and 17-6 in Sun Belt play. UL Lafayette claimed a share of the Sun Belt title in 2013, and the program has three consecutive bowl victories. Prior to his stint with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth went 66-21 in seven years with North Alabama. He also has stops in his career at Mississippi State (2009-10), Delta State and Navy. If a SEC job opens this offseason, keep an eye on Hudspeth as a potential replacement.

 

40. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Career Record: 139-81 (18 years)

It’s a close call for the top spot among the coaches in the American Athletic Conference. Tuberville and O’Leary are both worthy of the No. 1 spot, but a slight edge goes to Tuberville. The Arkansas native is a proven winner at four stops in his coaching career, starting with a 25-20 stint at Ole Miss. From 1998-2008, Tuberville went 85-40 at Auburn and recorded a 20-17 mark in three years at Texas Tech. Cincinnati went 9-4 in Tuberville’s debut and could be the favorite to win the conference in 2014.

41. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Career Record: 82-34 (9 years)

Whether BYU has been an Independent or in the Mountain West, success hasn’t been a problem for Mendenhall. The Cougars won at least six games in each season under Mendenhall in the Mountain West, including back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2006-07. BYU joined the Independent ranks prior to the 2011 season, and Mendenhall has led the Cougars to at least eight victories in each of the last three years. Mendenhall isn’t flashy, but he’s a proven winner and has guided the program through a transition to the Independent ranks. And look at the schedule for 2014. Could BYU make a run at an unbeaten record?

42. George O’Leary, UCF
Career Record: 124-89 (17 years)

O’Leary quietly continues to build an impressive resume at UCF. The Knights won the American Athletic title in 2013 and finished No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll after beating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. UCF has back-to-back double-digit win seasons and has three bowl appearances in four years. Sure, the Knights have three losing records under O’Leary, but this program is never down for long and is among the best in the American Athletic Conference. O’Leary also went 52-33 during eight seasons at Georgia Tech. 

43. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Record at Nebraska: 58-24 (6 years)
Career Record: 58-24 (6 years)
Nebraska’s Program Rank: (No. 4 in Big Ten, No. 17 nationally)

Pelini is still looking for his first conference title or an appearance in a BCS bowl, but he has won at least nine games in each of his six seasons at Nebraska. While nine or ten victories a year works at most programs, is that an acceptable benchmark in Lincoln? Winning at Nebraska in 2014 is probably more challenging than it was in 1995, but according to recruiting rankings, the Cornhuskers have the No. 3 roster in the Big Ten. Although Pelini’s win total has been consistent and has five consecutive finishes in the final Associated Press poll, the expectations are huge at Nebraska. Would a 7-5 or 8-4 record in 2014 force athletic director Shawn Eichorst to rethink the direction of the program?

44. Steve Sarkisian, USC
Record at USC: First Year
Career Record: 34-29 (5 years)
USC’s Program Rank: No. 1 in the Pac-12, No. 4 nationally

Taking over at USC is essentially a homecoming for Sarkisian. The California native was a successful quarterback at BYU and had a short stint in the CFL. Sarkisian’s first college coaching job was at El Camino in 2000, and he landed at USC in 2001-03 and again from 2005-08 under Pete Carroll. In 2009, Sarkisian was hired at Washington, where he inherited a team that finished 0-12 in the season prior to his arrival. Sarkisian brought immediate improvement to Seattle, guiding the Huskies to a 5-7 mark in 2009 and a 34-29 mark in his tenure. Washington played in four consecutive bowl games under Sarkisian, but never finished higher than third in the Pac-12 North. Elevating the Huskies back to Pac-12 respectability was a good sign. However, Sarkisian needs to win at a higher level at USC. With a solid coaching staff and the No. 11 signing class from 2014, it seems Sarkisian is on the right path. And it certainly won’t hurt Sarkisian’s prospects when the sanctions end and USC has a full allotment of scholarships.

45. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 4-8 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-29 (4 years)
Colorado’s Program Rank: No. 9 in the Pac-12, No. 53 nationally

The arrow is clearly pointing up on MacIntyre’s tenure at Colorado. The Buffaloes were only 4-8 overall and won just one contest in Pac-12 play, but the program took a step forward last year after struggling under Jon Embree. Prior to taking over in Boulder, MacIntyre spent three years at San Jose State, transforming the Spartans from a 1-11 team in 2010 to a 10-2 squad in 2012. According to the recruiting ranks, Colorado’s roster ranks No. 12 in the Pac-12, and standout receiver Paul Richardson must be replaced in 2014. MacIntyre needs time to successfully rebuild Colorado, but with a few breaks this season, the Buffaloes could make a bowl. After all, that isn't impossible considering MacIntyre’s second team at San Jose State made a four-game jump in the win column.

46. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 47-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 154-71 (17 years)
Georgia Tech’s Program Rank: No. 9 in the ACC, No. 46 nationally

Johnson has been a successful coach at three different jobs, starting with Georgia Southern in the FCS ranks in 1997. The Eagles went 62-10 under Johnson, which included back-to-back FCS Championships. At Navy, Johnson went 2-10 in his first year (2002) but finished his tenure with a 45-29 record and a No. 24 final ranking in the 2004 Associated Press poll. Johnson was hired at Georgia Tech in 2008 and is 47-32 in six years. Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have not finished under .500 in conference play under Johnson’s watch and won the ACC title in 2009. Despite his success, there seems to be unrest at Georgia Tech. But here's something to keep in perspective: Georgia Tech ranks as the No. 9 job in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have 19 wins in conference play over the last four years – only Virginia Tech has more during that span in the Coastal Division. Johnson is also regarded as one of the ACC’s top X’s and O’s coaches. Sure, the option might not be the most exciting offense to run at a BCS program, and the recruiting at Georgia Tech isn’t getting any better. However, Johnson has finished first or second (outright or shared) in the Coastal in five out of the last six years.

47. Steve Addazio, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-17 (3 years)
Boston College’s Program Rank: No. 12 in the ACC, No. 60 nationally

Addazio brought instant improvement in his first season at Boston College. The Eagles went 6-18 from 2011-12 under Frank Spaziani, but Addazio guided Boston College to a 7-6 record in 2013. Addazio had plenty of talent in the upperclassmen ranks to help his transition, and his work on the recruiting trail should ensure the Eagles continue to be a factor in the bowl picture. Before taking over at Boston College, Addazio went 13-11 in two years with Temple. The Owls went 9-4 in the MAC in 2011 but slipped to 4-7 in the tougher Big East Conference. As a Connecticut native, Addazio is familiar with the recruiting scene in the Northeast and what it takes to win at Boston College. The Eagles lose several key players from last year’s seven-win team, so some regression in the win total should be expected. However, Addazio has this program trending in the right direction for 2015 and beyond.

48. 
Pete Lembo, Ball State
Career Record: 104-49 (13 years)

It’s pretty easy to sum up Lembo’s coaching career in this simple statement: Three different head coach jobs, three very successful tenures. Lembo’s first head coaching gig was in 2001 at Lehigh. He guided the Mountain Hawks to a 44-14 record and two playoff appearances in five years. Lembo went to Elon in 2006 and won 35 games in five seasons. Lembo was hired at Ball State in 2011, and the Cardinals have yet to record a losing record under his watch. Ball State is 19-7 over the last two years and has played in back-to-back bowls. There’s no question Lembo is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks and could be poised for a jump to a BCS program in the next few years.

49. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Record at Iowa State: 27-36 (5 years)
Career Record: 27-36 (5 years)
Iowa State’s Program Rank: No. 9 in the Big 12, No. 64 nationally

Rhoads is a good example why records are often deceiving when ranking coaches. On the surface, 27 wins isn’t impressive. However, Iowa State is one of the toughest jobs among BCS programs and ranks No. 9 in the Big 12. Winning big is tough in Ames, and Rhoads has three bowl appearances in five years. Additionally, the Cyclones have only one season of fewer than five wins. Just how difficult is it to win at Iowa State? The program has only two seasons of more than eight wins and only four of the Cyclones’ bowl appearances came before 2000. So while Rhoads may not have the best winning total, he’s keeping Iowa State competitive and in the mix for bowl games. And at a job like Iowa State, some would consider that overachieving.

50. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 13-24 (3 years)
Career Record: 87-94 (15 years)
Maryland’s Program Rank: (No. 8 in Big Ten, No. 40 nationally)

Maryland has made steady progress in each of Edsall’s first three seasons and are in good position to make a bowl in 2014. Edsall was hired at Maryland in 2011 after 12 seasons at Connecticut. Under Edsall’s direction, the Huskies went 74-70 and claimed the Big East title in 2010. Edsall never recorded more than nine wins in a season at Connecticut, but he overachieved considering the program hierarchy in the Big East at the time. The Terrapins finished 2-10 in Edsall’s debut but improved their win total to four in 2012 and then seven in 2013. Maryland needs time to transition to the Big Ten, but Edsall is making gains in the right direction.

51. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Record at Utah: 76-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 76-39 (9 years)
Utah’s Program Rank: No. 11 in the Pac-12, No. 55 nationally

It’s pretty easy to see how deep the Pac-12 is with good coaches when Whittingham ranks No. 10. The former BYU linebacker is 76-39 in nine years in Salt Lake City, which includes a 13-0 record with a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in the 2008 season. In their final three years in the Mountain West (2008-10), Utah went 33-6 and lost only three conference games. However, as expected, the transition to the Pac-12 has been a challenge. The Utes went 8-5 in their Pac-12 debut but have posted back-to-back 5-7 records. Additionally, Utah is just 5-13 in conference play from 2012-13. Considering Whittingham’s wins in the Pac-12 have declined in back-to-back years, 2014 will be an important season to show the Utes are back on track. The addition of Dave Christensen as Utah’s offensive coordinator, combined with a little luck on health at quarterback could be enough for the Utes to get back to a bowl.

52. Will Muschamp, Florida
Record at Florida: 22-16 (3 years)
Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)
Florida’s Program Rank: (No. 1 in the SEC, No. 2 nationally)

What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, Muschamp could have ranked in the top half of the coach rankings in the SEC. After 2013, he deserves to be ranked in the bottom four. In his debut with the Gators in 2011, Muschamp went 7-6 and defeated Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. Florida went 11-2 in Muschamp’s second year and finished No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. The Gators may have caught a few lucky breaks in 2012, especially with a turnover margin that was a +15 and an offense that averaged only 334 yards per game. Even if Florida was a tad lucky in 2012, it’s hard to understand why this team went 4-8 in 2013. Yes, there were injuries and the offense had its share of struggles. However, the Gators recruit at a high level and own one of college football’s best rosters. Simply, going 4-8 at Florida should not happen. But Muschamp has another chance to guide the program back in the right direction, and staff changes to the offense should help. Muschamp is still a bit of a mystery heading into his fourth season, and it’s clear he needs a winning season to avoid hot seat talk in November.

53. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 71-33 (8 years)
Arkansas’ Program Rank: (No. 9 in the SEC, No. 25 nationally)

Bielema’s debut at Arkansas did not go well. The Razorbacks finished 3-9 and winless in SEC play. However, there were signs of improvement late in the year. Arkansas seemed to play better over the final three games of the season, taking Mississippi State to overtime and losing to LSU by just four points in Baton Rouge. While the final record was ugly, the late-season improvement is a good sign for 2014. Also, Bielema deserves some time to build the program, as he inherited a team that went 4-8 in 2012 and played that year with an interim coach. Bielema was a successful coach at Wisconsin, winning 68 games in seven years and leading the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. It’s easy to panic after one bad year of a coaching tenure. However, Bielema has a solid track record and should help Arkansas take a step forward in 2014.

54. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 15-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 49-29 (6 years)
North Carolina’s Program Rank: No. 5 in the ACC, No. 28 nationally

Fedora could be a spot or two higher on this list, but there’s not much separating the middle of the pack when it comes to ACC coaches. The Texas native has North Carolina on the right track, and the Tar Heels should be in contention for the Coastal Division title in 2014. Fedora’s record at North Carolina is 15-10, with a 9-7 mark in ACC play. The Tar Heels were ineligible to play for the Coastal Division title in 2012 or play in a bowl, but Fedora guided North Carolina to a 5-3 conference record – the first for the program since a 5-3 mark in 2004. Prior to his stint at North Carolina, Fedora coached at Southern Miss and recorded a 34-19 mark with a No. 20 rank in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. If the Tar Heels take a step forward as expected in 2014, Fedora will rank higher on this list next season.

55. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 13-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 13-13 (2 years)
Pittsburgh’s Program Rank: No. 7 in the ACC, No. 37 nationally

Coaching uncertainty surrounded Pittsburgh from 2010-12. The Panthers went through three head coaches – Dave Wannstedt, Mike Haywood and Todd Graham – in two seasons. However, Pittsburgh got it right went they hired Chryst. Yes, his record is only 13-13, but this program is on the right track. Chryst went 6-7 in his debut but guided the Panthers to a 7-6 mark in his second year and Pittsburgh’s ACC debut. Prior to taking the top spot with the Panthers, Chryst was a successful offensive coordinator at Oregon State and Wisconsin and spent some time in the NFL with the Chargers. The talent level in the Steel City is promising. Quarterback Chad Voytik, running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd are three potential standout sophomores, and the offensive line seems to be on the right track after struggling over the last few years. Chryst needs more time to build the roster, but all signs suggest Pittsburgh is trending in the right direction going into 2014.

56. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Record at Texas Tech: 8-5 (1 year)
Career Record: 8-5 (1 year)
Texas Tech’s Program Rank: No. 6 in Big 12, No. 41 nationally

Kingsbury is a perfect fit at Texas Tech, and the future looks bright for this program with the former Red Raider quarterback at the helm. In his first season as Texas Tech’s coach, Kingsbury led the Red Raiders to an 8-5 record, including a bowl victory over Arizona State. Prior to taking over in Lubbock, Kingsbury worked as an assistant at Texas A&M and Houston under Kevin Sumlin. Despite his lack of experience as a head coach, there’s little doubt Kingsbury has Texas Tech on the right track. And considering Kingsbury’s background on offense, he will have no trouble attracting top quarterbacks and receivers to Lubbock. While the 34-year-old coach ranks No. 8 among his Big 12 peers, the guess here is he climbs this list over the next few seasons.

57. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Record at Indiana: 10-26 (3 years)
Career Record: 10-26 (3 years)
Indiana’s Program Rank: (No. 14 in Big Ten, No. 69 nationally)

Wilson was a highly regarded assistant prior to his hire at Indiana, and he has made a difference in three years with the Hoosiers. After a 1-11 mark in 2011, Wilson won four games in 2012 and five last season. Indiana was just a couple of plays away from a bowl, as it lost to Minnesota by three points and Navy by six last year. There’s no question Wilson is one of the Big Ten’s top offensive coaches, but the Hoosiers have struggled mightily on defense. Indiana has ranked last in the Big Ten for three consecutive years in yards allowed, and Wilson hired former Wake Forest coordinator Brian Knorr to call the plays in 2014. If Knorr can fix the defense, Indiana has plenty of firepower on offense to reach six wins. However, the Hoosiers drew a tough schedule in realignment, as they will play Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State every season.

58. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Record at Oregon: 11-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 11-2 (1 year)
Oregon’s Program Rank: No. 2 in the Pac-12, No. 12 nationally

Helfrich had a tough assignment replacing offensive mastermind Chip Kelly in 2013. The Ducks were picked by many as a threat to win the national title, but a late-season injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota hindered the offense in November. Oregon finished 11-2 in Helfrich’s debut and No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. Despite not getting to the national championship, 2014 was a solid debut for Helfrich in his first season on the sidelines in Eugene. Helfrich needs a little time to put his stamp on the program, and with Mariota returning in 2014, Oregon should in the hunt to win college football’s playoff.

59. 
Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Career Record: 104-32 (11 years)

It’s not often a coach jumps from the FCS to FBS ranks and takes the top spot in a conference. However, that’s the case with Bohl, as he ranks as Athlon’s top coach in the Mountain West. In 11 years at North Dakota State, Bohl guided the Bison to 104 victories, including three consecutive FCS Championships.

60. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 23-26 (4 years)
California’s Program Rank: No. 8 in the Pac-12, No. 43 nationally

It seems unfair to rank Dykes at the bottom of the Pac-12, but there’s not a bad coach in the conference. Dykes’ debut at California did not go well, as the Golden Bears finished 1-11 and winless in conference play for the first time since 2001. While the final record was not pretty, California had a handful of injuries to key players on defense, and Jared Goff was a true freshman getting his first snaps at quarterback. Dykes took steps this offseason to ensure last year’s 1-11 won’t be repeated. The defensive staff got a major overhaul and a solid recruiting class will help with the overall depth. Prior to his one season at California, Dykes went 22-15 at Louisiana Tech, including a 17-8 mark over the final two years.  

61. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Record at Kentucky: 2-10 (1 year)
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)
Kentucky’s Program Rank: (No. 12 in the SEC, No. 47 nationally)

Considering Stoops inherited a Kentucky team that had just four SEC wins in the three years prior to his arrival, it’s tough to judge him based on 2013. The Wildcats went 2-10 and winless in conference play in Stoops’ first season, but there were signs of progress. Kentucky lost two conference games by seven points or less, and Stoops signed another signing class filled with talent. The Wildcats ranked No. 34 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings in 2013, but Stoops inked the No. 22 class in 2014. Prior to taking over at Kentucky, Stoops was a successful defensive coordinator at Florida State, and he also had prior stops at Arizona, Miami, Houston and Wyoming. It’s going to take Stoops some time to get the program on track. However, recruiting is going well, and the Wildcats showed signs of improvement last season. If Kentucky takes another step forward in 2014, it’s a good sign for Stoops’ long-term outlook in Lexington.

62. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt: First Season
Career Record: First Season
Vanderbilt’s Program Rank: (No. 14 in the SEC, No. 49 nationally)

Mason takes over for James Franklin after a successful stint as Stanford’s defensive coordinator. The Arizona native has been on a steady climb through the ranks as an assistant, spending time at Weber State, Idaho State, Bucknell, Utah, New Mexico State and Ohio. In 2007, Mason joined the Vikings staff and spent three years as a defensive backs assistant in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh hired Mason at Stanford in 2010, and he was promoted to the co-defensive coordinator role in 2011, before taking over the sole play-calling abilities in 2012. Under Mason, the Cardinal finished first in the Pac-12 in total defense in 2012 and second in 2013. Additionally, Stanford’s defenses allowed less than five yards per play from 2012-13. As evidenced by his work under Harbaugh and David Shaw, Mason is a rising star in the coaching ranks and one of the top defensive minds in the nation. However, without any experience as a head coach, it’s hard to place Mason higher in the SEC coach ranks.

63. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: First Year
Career Record: 90-80 (14 years)
Wake Forest’s Program Rank: No. 13 in the ACC, No. 71 nationally

After successful tenures at three previous stops, Clawson finally gets his chance to run a BCS program. From 1999-2003, he recorded a 29-29 mark at Fordham. The Rams went 0-11 in his debut and made steady improvement over the next five years, including a 10-3 record with an appearance in the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson was hired at Richmond in 2004 and guided the Spiders to a 29-20 record with two playoff appearances. After a one-year stint as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2008, Clawson was hired at Bowling Green and led the Falcons to a bowl game in his debut. Under Clawson’s watch, Bowling Green won 32 games, claimed the MAC title in 2013, and made three bowl trips. Considering his history of improving programs that were struggling prior to his arrival, Clawson is the right pick to take over at Wake Forest.

64. 
Dan McCarney, North Texas
Career Record: 74-104 (15 years)

McCarney is one of the top coaches from outside the five BCS leagues. The Iowa native went 56-85 at a difficult job (Iowa State) from 1995-2006. The Cyclones went to five bowl games under McCarney and claimed a share of the Big 12 North title in 2004. The Mean Green made steady progress in McCarney’s three seasons and finished 9-4 with a Heart of Dallas Bowl victory in 2013.

65. Terry Bowden, Akron
Career Record: 146-80-2 (20 years)

After a successful stint as Auburn’s coach from 1993-98, it was puzzling to see Bowden not resurface on the FBS level until 2012 when he was hired by Akron. Although he was away from the FBS ranks for 13 seasons, Bowden certainly hasn’t forgotten how to coach. At North Alabama, Bowden recorded a 29-9 record in three years and is 6-18 in two seasons with the Zips. Akron’s win total improved by four games in Bowden’s second year, and the Zips should be in bowl contention in 2014. Could Bowden land at a BCS job in the near future?

66. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
Career Record: 20-6 (2 years)

Fresno State is one of the premier programs in the Mountain West, and DeRuyter has continued to add to the foundation Pat Hill built from 1997-2011. In two years with the Bulldogs, DeRuyter is 20-6 and claimed the Mountain West title in 2013. The Bulldogs have to reload in 2014 without quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams. However, DeRuyter is the right coach to keep Fresno State among the top programs in the Mountain West.

67. Larry Coker, UTSA
Career Record: 79-30 (9 years)

Coker went 60-15 in six years with Miami, including a national championship in 2001 season. However, that might not be his most-impressive accomplishment. Coker built the UTSA program from scratch, going 4-6 in 2011 and 8-4 in its FBS debut in 2012. The Roadrunners just missed the C-USA West Division title last season with a 7-5 overall record. While Miami dropped off at the end of Coker’s tenure, he’s clearly found a home in San Antonio, and UTSA is poised to be a major factor in Conference USA.

68. Frank Solich, Ohio
Career Record: 124-69 (15 years)

Solich is the longest-tenured coach in the MAC. He has held the top spot at Ohio since 2005 and has earned five consecutive bowl appearances. The Bobcats played for the MAC title in 2006 and 2009 and won 10 games in 2011. Solich may not be flashy, but he certainly knows how to coach. And prior to taking over at Ohio, Solich went 58-19 at Nebraska with three top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll.

69. June Jones, SMU
Career Record: 112-82 (15 years)

Progress at SMU has been slower than some may have expected from Jones, but the Mustangs have improved since the Oregon native took over in 2008. Jones transformed Hawaii’s program into a consistent winner in the WAC from 1999-2007, recording a 76-41 record with a Sugar Bowl appearance after the 2007 season. Jones went 1-11 in his debut at SMU, but the Mustangs had four winning seasons from 2009-12. And that’s no small feat considering SMU’s last stretch of four winning years occurred from 1983-86.

70. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
Career Record: 30-22 (4 years)

East Carolina heads into the American Athletic Conference with plenty of momentum, as McNeill has the Pirates on the right track after an 11-14 start to his tenure. McNeill is 18-8 over the last two seasons and is a former defensive back with the Pirates, so there’s no question he knows what it takes to win in Greenville. And prior to taking over at East Carolina, McNeill went 1-0 as Texas Tech’s interim coach for the 2009 Alamo Bowl.

71. Willie Taggart, South Florida
Career Record: 18-30 (4 years)

Taggart was one of last season’s top hires and a 2-10 record in his debut shouldn’t diminish the potential of USF in the next few years. At Western Kentucky, Taggart went 16-20 with back-to-back winning seasons after a 2-10 debut. With two solid recruiting classes under his belt, Taggart has the Bulls poised to make big improvement this year.

72. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Record at West Virginia: 21-17 (3 years)
Career Record: 21-17 (3 years)
West Virginia’s Program Rank: No. 5 in Big 12, No. 35 nationally

Holgorsen was regarded as one of the nation’s top offensive minds prior to his promotion to the top spot in Morgantown. The Iowa native worked as an assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, coordinated Houston’s offense from 2008-09 under Kevin Sumlin and spent 2010 as the play-caller at Oklahoma State. Holgorsen’s first season at West Virginia (2011) resulted in a 10-3 record and a Big East title. Transitioning to the Big 12 was a challenge for the program, but the Mountaineers started 5-0 in their first season in the new conference. However, West Virginia finished 2-6 over the final eight games in 2012. Transition was a big part of the 2013 season, as the Mountaineers had to replace quarterback Geno Smith and standout receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Although the 4-8 mark was a disappointment, Holgorsen’s team showed some progress at the end of 2013 by losing two out of their last three games in overtime. Moving to the Big 12 is a challenge for West Virginia, and the Mountaineers need time to recruit at a higher level to compete with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. With just six Big 12 wins over the last two years, 2014 will be an important year for Holgorsen to show this program is heading in the right direction.

73. 
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Career Record:
49-30 (6 years)

Niumatalolo has picked up where Paul Johnson left off in Annapolis, guiding Navy to 49 wins over the last six years, including a 10-4 mark in 2008. The Midshipmen average 8.2 wins a season under Niumatalolo and has recorded only one losing record in his tenure. Navy will transition to the American Athletic Conference in 2015, and there’s no doubt Niumatalolo is the right coach to guide this program into a new league.

74. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Career Record: 90-83 (14 years)

After a successful stint as New Mexico’s coach from 1998-2008, Long decided to step aside and returned to the coordinator ranks for two years at San Diego State. However, once Brady Hoke left for Michigan, Long was promoted to the head coach role, and the Aztecs have three seasons of at least eight wins since 2011. Long certainly isn’t flashy, but San Diego State has emerged as a consistent winner under his direction.

75. Jim McElwain, Colorado State
Career Record: 12-14 (2 years)

Looking for a coach that could move to a BCS job at the end of the 2014 season? McElwain is a name to remember. In two years with the Rams, McElwain has made significant strides in Fort Collins, guiding Colorado State to an 8-6 finish and a bowl victory over Washington State last season. The Rams lose some key pieces from last year’s team, but McElwain should have Colorado State back in the mix for a bowl.

76. Matt Wells, Utah State
Career Record: 9-5 (1 year)

Gary Andersen left behind plenty of talent in Logan, but Wells deserves a lot of credit for getting Utah State to a 9-5 mark last year. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton was lost in the first half of the season with a knee injury, and the Aggies still managed to win the Mountain Division and play for the conference title. The real challenge for Wells starts in 2014, as Utah State returns only seven starters.

77. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 17-21 (3 years)
Purdue’s Program Rank: (No. 12 in Big Ten, No. 57 nationally)

Hazell’s debut at Purdue was a disappointment. The Boilermakers finished 1-11 and were largely uncompetitive in Big Ten games. However, Hazell’s long-term outlook is positive after a successful two-year stint at Kent State from 2011-12. The Golden Flashes won 16 games in Hazell’s two years, which was the most by a Kent State coach since Don James won 16 from 1973-74. And in a good sign for the Boilermakers in 2014, Hazell’s second team at Kent State improved by six victories. There’s not much that separates the bottom three coaches in the Big Ten, but Hazell’s success at a tough job (Kent State) is enough to give him somewhat of a pass on what transpired in 2013.

78. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 26-13 (3 years)
NC State’s Program Rank: No. 8 in the ACC, No. 44 nationally

Doeren’s first season was disappointing, but there’s no reason to panic at NC State. The Wolfpack had only eight returning starters last year, and the offense had its share of quarterback injuries. With Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett eligible at quarterback, combined with another year for the players to adapt to the coaching staff, NC State could be the most improved team in the ACC. Prior to taking over at NC State, Doeren went 23-4 at Northern Illinois and led the Huskies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl during the 2012 season. Sure, Doeren has plenty to prove in the ACC. And going winless in conference play in your debut isn’t exactly a strong introduction to the rest of the ACC. However, he has a track record of success as a head coach and was a regarded assistant during his tenure at Wisconsin and Kansas.

79. 
Dino Babers, Bowling Green
Career Record: 19-7 (2 years)

Babers has a wealth of experience in the assistant ranks, making stops at a handful of FBS programs, including Purdue, San Diego State, Arizona, UNLV, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, UCLA and Baylor. Eastern Illinois hired Babers prior to the 2012 season, and he proved to be an instant hit for the Panthers. Under Babers’ watch, Eastern Illinois went 19-7 in two years and made the FCS playoffs in both seasons. And with a loaded roster returning for Babers’ debut at Bowling Green, the Falcons could be the favorite to win the MAC in 2014.

80. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 7-6 (1 year)
Syracuse’s Program Rank: No. 11 in the ACC, No. 58 nationally

Shafer picked up where Doug Marrone left off, guiding Syracuse to a 7-6 record with a victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl. After a 3-4 start, Shafer rallied the Orange for a solid second half of the season and won four out of the final six games. Syracuse’s only losses over the final six games were to national champion Florida State and a one-point defeat to Pittsburgh. Prior to his promotion to head coach at Syracuse, Shafer served as the defensive coordinator under Marrone and also has stops in his career as an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois and Northern Illinois. The Orange had some key faces to replace going into 2013, so Shafer deserves a lot of credit for guiding this program back to a bowl in its first season of ACC play. Now the task for Shafer is to sustain success, which seems like a reasonable goal considering he signed the No. 50 recruiting class in 2014 – an improvement on the No. 73 class from 2013. Shafer could be higher on this list, but Doeren’s success at Northern Illinois gave him a slight edge for the No. 12 spot.

81. 
David Bailiff, Rice
Career Record: 61-63 (10 years)

Winning at a high level on a consistent basis isn’t easy at Rice, but Bailiff has been a solid coach for the Owls. After a 21-15 mark at Texas State from 2004-06, Bailiff was picked to replace Todd Graham and has a 40-48 record in seven seasons. Rice has two 10-win seasons under Bailiff, including a 10-4 mark and a Conference USA title last year.

82. Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern
Career Record: 137-62 (17 years)

Fritz joins the FBS ranks after successful stints at Central Missouri and Sam Houston State. After a 97-47 record at Central Missouri, Fritz recorded a 40-14 mark with the Bearkats, including two appearances in the FCS Championship. Georgia Southern has a strong tradition of success, which Fritz should have no trouble building on as the program transitions to the Sun Belt Conference.

83. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Career Record: 51-49 (8 years)

Stockstill has experienced his share of ups and downs during his tenure at MTSU, but the Ohio native has guided the program to four bowl appearances and four winning seasons. The Blue Raiders are coming off back-to-back winning records for the first time since 2000-01.

84. Matt Campbell, Toledo
Career Record: 17-9 (2 years)

Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches and a rising star in the profession. He won his debut in the 2011 Military Bowl, defeating Air Force 42-41. And the Rockets are 16-9 over the last two years and played in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Toledo should be one of the favorites to win the MAC West in 2014.

85. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Career Record: 27-24 (4 years)

After a 17-20 start to his career at Marshall, Holliday seems to have the program heading in the right direction. The Thundering Herd went 10-4 last season and is regarded as a heavy favorite to win Conference USA in 2014. Prior to taking over at Marshall, Holliday was a noted assistant for his work on the recruiting trail.

86. Tony Levine, Houston
Career Record: 14-12 (2 full years)

Levine had big shoes to fill after Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M prior to the TicketCity Bowl in 2011. Houston won Levine’s debut but slipped to 5-7 in 2012. However, the Cougars rebounded in 2013 (8-5) and have a new stadium opening for 2014. If Levine can build on the progress Houston made last year, the Cougars will be a sleeper to watch in the American Athletic Conference title picture.

87. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)

As a New Orleans native and an assistant with the Saints, there’s not a better fit for a coach at Tulane than Johnson. In two years, the Green Wave has made considerable progress under Johnson. Tulane finished 2-10 in 2012 but improved to 7-6 with a bowl appearance in 2013. Moving to the American Athletic Conference will be an increased challenge for the Green Wave, and this program appears capable of handling that transition with Johnson at the helm.

88. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)

Fuente only has seven victories over the last two years, but there has been considerable progress at Memphis during that span. The Tigers went 3-21 in the two years prior to Fuente’s arrival and won just one conference game in that period. But Memphis went 4-8 in his debut in 2012 and finished 3-9 in 2013 in its American Athletic Conference debut. The Tigers should take another step forward in 2014.

89. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Career Record:
175-104-1 (23 years)

Blakeney has consistently proved he is one of the top coaches in the Sun Belt. Not only did Blakeney guide the program through the FCS to FBS transition, he has five bowl appearances since the Trojans moved to the Sun Belt. Troy has slipped some in recent years, failing to record a winning record since 2010. However, don’t expect this program to stay down for long under Blakeney.

90. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Career Record: 49-41 (7 years)

Calhoun’s stock has slipped just a bit in recent years. After starting his career at Air Force with four seasons of at least eight wins, Calhoun has not won more than seven games in a season and has back-to-back losing records. But despite the recent downturn in record, Calhoun’s track record suggests the program will rebound. However, it may not be in 2014, especially as the Falcons look to rebuild a struggling defense and settle on a quarterback.

91. Bryan Harsin, Boise State
Career Record: 7-5 (1 year)

Harsin returns to Boise State after a three-year stint away from the Broncos. The former Boise State quarterback spent time at Texas under Mack Brown for two seasons and led Arkansas State to a 7-5 record in his only year as the head coach in Jonesboro. Harsin is a great fit at Boise State and should have the Broncos in the mix for a Mountain West title in 2014.

92. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
Career Record: 203-121-2 (28 years)

Texas State is the seventh head coaching position in Franchione’s career, and he boasts a solid 203-121-2 record in 28 years. Franchione has helped guide the Bobcats through a program transition to the FBS ranks and has two 6-6 records over the last three years. There’s no question Franchione knows how to build a program, as evidenced by his wins at New Mexico and TCU. And with a little more time at Texas State, the Bobcats should be near the top of the Sun Belt.

93. Todd Berry, ULM
Career Record: 52-85 (12 years)

Berry’s overall record is only 52-85, but 35 of those losses came at Army – a program that has struggled to have success in recent years. Outside of Berry’s tenure with the Black Knights, he’s been a solid coach at two stops. Illinois State went 24-24 with two playoff appearances under Berry, while ULM is 23-26 in four years. The Warhawks have recorded back-to-back non-losing seasons for the first time since 1992-93.

94. Joey Jones, South Alabama
Career Record: 34-28 (6 years)

Looking for a rising star in the coaching rankings? Keep an eye on Jones. The Alabama native is 31-21 in five years with the Jaguars, which includes a 6-6 record in 2013. Jones built the program from scratch and has South Alabama in contention for the Sun Belt title in 2014.

95. Trent Miles, Georgia State
Career Record: 20-48 (6 years)

As we have mentioned a couple of times in this article, it’s impossible to judge a coach based solely on his record. Miles is the perfect case study for records, as he resurrected a struggling Indiana State program. The Sycamores went 1-22 from 2008-09 but finished with three consecutive winning records from 2010-12. Georgia State went 0-12 in Miles’ first season, but the Panthers made progress and were competitive in Sun Belt play by losing three games by a touchdown or less. Give Miles a couple of years to recruit and Georgia State will move up the ladder in the Sun Belt.

96. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Career Record: 12-3 (1 year)

So far, so good for Carey. Northern Illinois – arguably the top job in the MAC – has won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. Carey picked up where former coach Dave Doeren left off, guiding the Huskies to a 12-2 record with a No. 24 finish in the final Associated Press poll. Although Carey was solid last year, he needs to prove Northern Illinois’ success in 2013 wasn’t solely due to inheriting a solid roster – especially quarterback Jordan Lynch.

97. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Career Record: 93-55 (11 years)

After a 6-32 start to his UNLV tenure, Hauck was squarely on the hot seat entering 2013. But the Rebels were one of the Mountain West’s biggest surprises last year, finishing 7-6 with an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Heading into 2014, Hauck is armed with a contract extension, and UNLV’s program is on stable footing after a few rebuilding seasons.

98. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Record at Illinois: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 27-34 (5 years)
Illinois’ Program Rank: (No. 10 in Big Ten, No. 52 nationally)

Beckman has struggled in two years at Illinois, which comes as a surprise after a successful three-year stint at Toledo. In three seasons with the Rockets, Beckman went 21-16 and lost just two conference games over the last two years. The Fighting Illini went 2-10 in Beckman’s debut and improved to only 4-8 last season. Hiring Bill Cubit paid dividends for Illinois’ offense in 2013, but the defense has been dreadful, allowing at least 5.8 yards per play in back-to-back years. Another reason for concern is recruiting. Illinois ranked 70th nationally in the 247Sports Composite in 2013, which ranked 13th in the Big Ten.

99. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Record at Rutgers: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 15-11 (2 years)
Rutgers’ Program Rank: (No. 9 in Big Ten, No. 50 nationally)

Flood was promoted to head coach after Greg Schiano left for Tampa Bay in 2012. Although he has guided Rutgers to back-to-back bowl games, Flood is still largely unproven. The Scarlet Knights won nine games in 2012, yet lost their final three contests and a chance to win the Big East title. In 2013, Rutgers slipped to 6-7 in a weaker conference (American Athletic) and finished with losses in four out of its last five games. Flood overhauled his coaching staff this offseason, which included the hire of former coach Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen as the team’s offensive coordinator. The week-to-week grind in the Big Ten will be a challenge for Rutgers, but adding Friedgen and changing defensive coordinators should help Flood in 2014.

100. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 18-31 (4 years)
Career Record: 42-36 (6 years)
Virginia’s Program Rank: No. 10 in the ACC, No. 51 nationally

London enters 2014 squarely on the hot seat and in need of a major turnaround to remain Virginia’s head coach in 2015. Considering the Cavaliers have the No. 6 roster according to the recruiting rankings, it’s hard to grasp why Virginia has just two ACC wins over the last two years. Tough non-conference scheduling and inconsistent quarterback play have played a large role in the Cavaliers’ recent struggles, but this program should be winning at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Charlottesville, London went 24-5 in two seasons at Richmond, including a FCS title from the 2008 season. And he went 4-8 in his first year at Virginia but went 8-5 with an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2011. But even with momentum on the recruiting trail and staff changes, London has yet to build on his successful 2011 record.

101. 
Jeff Monken, Army
Career Record: 38-16 (4 years)

Much like former Army coach Rich Ellerson, Monken appears to be a perfect fit at West Point. The Illinois native runs the option and was hired at Army after a successful four-year stint at Georgia Southern. Although Monken’s resume appears to be a good fit for the Black Knights, this is a tough job. Winning six games on a consistent basis would be a good start for Monken’s tenure.

102. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 39-47 (7 years)
Kansas’ Program Rank: No. 10 in Big 12, No. 68 nationally

Weis was a surprising hire for Kansas after Turner Gill was fired following two seasons in Lawrence. Prior to taking over at Kansas, Weis was just 35-27 in five years at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish started 19-6 under Weis but finished 16-21 over the last three seasons. And Weis has struggled to have success in two years with the Jayhawks, recording a 4-20 record over two seasons. Kansas has finished at the bottom of the Big 12 in back-to-back years, but there was slight progress in 2013 when the Jayhawks snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak with a win over West Virginia. Weis didn’t inherit much talent to work with and has taken steps to improve the overall roster depth over the last two seasons. However, Kansas needs to take a step forward in 2014, which means a couple of wins in Big 12 play.

103. 
Bob Davie, New Mexico
Career Record: 42-43 (7 years)

Davie is slowly rebuilding at New Mexico, as the Lobos are 7-18 in two years under his direction. The former ESPN commentator also has experience as a head coach from a five-year stint at Notre Dame, recording a 35-25 record with the Fighting Irish. It’s hard to gauge Davie’s progress since he didn’t inherit a full cupboard. However, we should have a better idea of how far this program has come after 2014.

104. Mark Whipple, UMass
Career Record: 121-59 (16 years)

UMass is set to depart the MAC after the 2015 season, so the program is facing an uncertain future at the FBS level. But after two sluggish years under Charley Molnar, bringing Whipple back to the sidelines makes a lot of sense for the Minutemen. Whipple went 49-26 in six years at UMass from 1998-2004, which included a FCS national championship in 1998. The Minutemen need to build overall roster depth to compete for winning seasons, but Whipple is a good hire at a critical time for the program.

105. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Career Record: 18-33 (4 years)

Buffalo isn’t an easy job, and Quinn has slowly transformed the Bulls into a bowl team. Quinn’s first year resulted in a 2-10 mark (2010), but Buffalo’s win total increased in each of the next three seasons. But after going 8-5 last year, can Quinn continue the momentum without standout linebacker Khalil Mack and running back Branden Oliver?

106. Matt Rhule, Temple
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)

Rhule was a good pick by Temple to replace Steve Addazio, as the Pennsylvania native worked as an assistant with the Owls from 2006-11. Temple’s first season under Rhule was a challenge (2-10), but the program had only 10 returning starters and played better as the season progressed. If the Owls pickup where they left off, Rhule could have Temple pushing for a bowl in 2014.

107. Bob Diaco, Connecticut
Career Record: First Year

Diaco takes over at Connecticut after four years as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator. The Fighting Irish were solid on defense under Diaco, including a No. 2 finish nationally in points allowed in 2012. Diaco does not have head coaching experience, but he has a strong resume as an assistant and should be a good fit in Storrs.

108. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Career Record: 22-17 (3 years)

Blankenship started his Tulsa career with a 19-8 record and a Conference USA title in 2012. However, he inherited a good team from Todd Graham, and after several personnel departures, the Golden Hurricane went 3-9 in 2013. Can Blankenship rebuild Tulsa in 2014?

109. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
Career Record: 46-14 (5 years)

Wilder had the tough assignment of building a program from scratch, but Old Dominion has recorded five consecutive winning seasons after not fielding a team from 1941-2008. Under Wilder, the Monarchs are known for their high-scoring offenses, which feature standout senior quarterback Taylor Heinicke in 2014.

110. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Career Record:
19-30 (4 years)

After successful tenures from Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, the Chippewas were hoping to hit another home run with Enos. So far, the results have been mixed. Central Michigan has one winning season (2012) and went .500 last year. However, the Chippewas are just 19-30 overall under Enos and 13-19 in MAC games. 2014 will be an important year for Enos to show Central Michigan is headed in the right direction.

111. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio)
Career Record: 74-7 (6 years)

Miami, Ohio was once one of the top programs in the MAC, but the RedHawks have slipped to the bottom in recent years. Martin looks like the right coach to right the ship in Oxford, as he went 74-7 in seven years at Grand Valley State. Martin also has experience in the FBS level as an assistant with Notre Dame from 2010-13.

112. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Career Record: 50-28 (7 years)

Caragher inherited plenty of talent at San Jose State, but the Spartans took a step back in the win column, regressing from 11 wins under Mike MacIntyre in 2012 to six in 2013. And Caragher’s task of getting San Jose State back to a bowl in 2014 will be tough without quarterback David Fales. Prior to taking over with the Spartans, Caragher went 44-22 in six years at San Diego.

113. Bill Clark, UAB
Career Record: 11-4 (1 year)

Garrick McGee’s departure after two years at UAB was a surprise, but the Blazers made the right hire by picking Clark from Jacksonville State. Clark is an Alabama native and has a wealth of experience as an assistant within the state’s high school ranks. He worked at South Alabama for five years as the team’s defensive coordinator and spent one season as Jacksonville State’s head coach, guiding the Gamecocks to an 11-4 record.

114. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Career Record: 92-79 (15 years)

Holtz has experienced plenty of success in his coaching career, starting with Connecticut from 1994-98, where the Huskies went 34-23. At East Carolina from 2005-09, Holtz recorded a 38-27 mark, which included back-to-back East Division titles. However, Holtz has struggled since an 8-5 record in his debut at South Florida. The Bulls went 8-16 over his final two years, and Louisiana Tech recorded a 4-8 mark in Holtz’s debut last season.

115. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)

Monken inherited a Southern Miss team that went 0-12 the year prior to his arrival, but the Golden Eagles made slight progress, winning their season finale to finish 1-11. The Illinois native has plenty to prove at Southern Miss. However, there’s also a lot to like about Monken. With successful stops in the NFL and as an assistant at Oklahoma State and LSU, Monken looks like the right coach to get the Golden Eagles back on track.

116. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)

Much like Eastern Michigan, Kent State is another program that has struggled to establish success in recent years. The Golden Flashes have not recorded back-to-back winning records since 1976-77. Haynes’ had a disappointing debut, as Kent State regressed by six wins from 2012. But the Kent State alum had the Golden Flashes playing better at the end of 2013 and finished with back-to-back victories.

117. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
Career Record: 139-46 (17 years)

Eastern Michigan is arguably the toughest job in college football. Creighton will have his hands full in Ypsilanti, but he has a strong resume and seems to be the right pick to improve the Eagles’ struggling program. Creighton is 139-46 in his career, including stops at Ottawa, Wabash and Drake. Succeeding at those programs should give Eastern Michigan confidence Creighton can win at a job that has only one bowl appearance in school history.

118. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State
Career Record: First Year

Anderson is Arkansas State’s fifth coach in five seasons, and he is cut in a similar mold from successful hires like Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze and Bryan Harsin. The Texas native has a background on offense, serving as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina from 2012-13 and at Southern Miss from 2010-11. Anderson also had stints as an offensive coordinator at MTSU and UL Lafayette. This will be Anderson’s first chance to be a head coach in the FBS ranks, but this appears to be another solid hire for Arkansas State.

119. Brian Polian, Nevada
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)

Polian is known for his work on the recruiting trail, but he was hired at Nevada without any experience as a coordinator on the FBS level. The Wolf Pack went 4-8 in Polian’s debut, which was complicated due to injuries. With better luck in the injury department, Nevada could challenge for a bowl.

120. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)

Satterfield is a good fit to lead Appalachian State into the FBS ranks, as he’s a former quarterback for the Mountaineers and spent from 1998-2008 as an assistant under Jerry Moore. Appalachian State went 4-8 in Satterfield’s first season and have enough returning talent to be competitive in its first season of FBS play.

121. Charlie Partridge, FAU
Career Record: First Year

Partridge inherits a FAU team that closed 2013 by winning its final four games, so there’s plenty of positive momentum surrounding the program. The Florida native has never been a coordinator on the FBS level, but he’s known as an excellent recruiter. With his connections in Florida, expect FAU to reel in plenty of talent under Partridge, which should help this program contend for Conference USA titles.

122. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky
Career Record: First Year

Brohm was promoted to the top spot with the Hilltoppers after Bobby Petrino returned to Louisville. Brohm doesn’t have any head coaching experience on the FBS level, but in addition to his one-year stint as an assistant with Western Kentucky last year, he has stops at Illinois, FAU, Louisville and UAB. The Hilltoppers have made good hires with their last two selections (Petrino and Willie Taggart), and Brohm appears to be capable of keeping this program in contention for conference titles and bowl games.

123. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)

Fleck is only 33 years old, so there was a learning curve expected during his tenure at Western Michigan. The Broncos went 1-11 in his debut, but Fleck has upgraded the program’s recruiting. Can Fleck turn that talent into wins in 2014?

124. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
Career Record: 31-63 (8 years)

Martin was promoted to head coach after DeWayne Walker left for the NFL in late January and inherited a program was in rebuild mode with a tough Independent schedule. The Aggies went 2-10 in 2013, but Martin is no stranger to winning at struggling programs after recording 29 victories at Kent State from 2004-10.

125. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)

Much like New Mexico State’s Doug Martin last year, Petrino inherited an impossible situation with Idaho playing an Independent schedule. The Vandals went 1-11 last year but should be more competitive in the Sun Belt. Petrino is a Montana native and coached at Idaho as an assistant from 1992-94.

126. Sean Kugler, UTEP
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)

Kugler struggled in his UTEP debut, but he also didn’t have much luck in the injury department, as starting quarterback Jameill Showers played in only seven games due to injury. As a former UTEP lineman, Kugler knows what it takes to win in El Paso. However, with no experience as a coordinator or head coach on the FBS level, it may take him a year or two to adjust to his new role.

127. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Career Record: 4-20 (2 years)

Chow is highly regarded for his time as an assistant at various stops, including time at UCLA, USC, NC State and BYU. But his tenure as a head coach with the Warriors is off to a slow start. Chow is just 4-20 overall, and Hawaii went winless in conference play last season. Transitioning from the wide-open offense run under previous coach Greg McMackin to the pro-style attack Chow prefers will take some time. However, Chow needs to produce more wins.

128. Ron Turner, FIU
Career Record: 43-72 (10 years)

Turner was a curious hire at FIU, and his first season resulted in a 1-11 mark. The California native also has stops as a head coach at San Jose State and Illinois, where he recorded three winning seasons, including a 10-2 record with the Fighting Illini in 2001. 2014 will be an important year for Turner to show progress after a disappointing debut. 

Teaser:
Ranking All 128 College Football Head Coaches for 2014
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Missouri Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/missouri-wr-dorial-green-beckham-suspended-indefinitely
Body:

Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham is expected to be one of the top receivers in the nation in 2014. However, Green-Beckham’s status with the team is up in the air, as the junior receiver has been suspended indefinitely.

Coach Gary Pinkel released a statement announcing Green-Beckham’s suspension:

“It's unfortunate, but it's the right thing to do for our football program, for the athletic department, and also for Dorial," Pinkel said. “We have high standards related to the expectations that come along with being a Missouri Tiger and Dorial has not met those recently. Representing Mizzou and our fans is a privilege, and we'll work with him during this process.”

“It's been disappointing to have this, and other issues which have taken place lately. It's frustrating, because we work very hard to instill responsibility and discipline in our young men so that our program represents Mizzou the right way. These actions aren't representative of those expectations, and we are addressing these issues head on.”

Green-Beckham was one of the top recruits in the 2012 signing class and caught 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman. As a sophomore, Green-Beckham became one of the top receivers in the SEC, grabbing 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Green-Beckham is a key piece of Missouri’s offense for 2014, as the Tigers were already set to lose Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington.
 

Teaser:
Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham Suspended Indefinitely
Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 22:29
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/lsu-updates-helmet-logo-2014
Body:

LSU hasn’t made many tweaks to its jersey or helmet in recent years, but it appears the Tigers are making a slight alteration for 2014.

According to this tweet from LSU’s Michael Bonnette, LSU has updated the Tiger logo on its helmet.

Here’s a look at the new logo:


And here’s a side-by-side comparison of the old and new logo:
 

Teaser:
LSU Updates Helmet Logo for 2014
Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-college-football-coaches-2014
Body:

Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.

Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.

Ranking the Big 12's College Football Coaches for 2014

1. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Record at Oklahoma: 160-39 (15 years)
Career Record: 160-39 (15 years)
Oklahoma’s Program Rank: No. 2 in the Big 12, No. 6 nationally

Stoops quickly proved he was an elite coach with a national championship in his second season, and the Ohio native continues to keep Oklahoma among the nation’s best every year. After a 7-5 debut in 1999, Stoops guided the Sooners to a 13-0 record with an upset win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title. Success has been plentiful for Oklahoma since 2000 as well, as Stoops has recorded 11 seasons of at least 10 victories, and the Sooners have claimed at least a share of the conference title eight times. Maintaining success at a high level is challenging, but Stoops hasn’t missed a beat. Sure, Oklahoma had an 8-5 season in 2009 and finished No. 15 nationally in 2012. However, it’s hard to beat Stoops’ consistency, as well as his ability to beat the Sooners’ rivals. Stoops is 9-6 against Texas and 12-3 against Oklahoma State. As long as Stoops is at Oklahoma, expect the Sooners to be a consistent top 10-15 program nationally.

2. Art Briles, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 44-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 78-60 (10 years)
Baylor’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the Big 12, No. 34 nationally

Briles has quickly emerged as one of the top coaches in college football, transforming a struggling program into a contender on the national level. Baylor failed to record a winning record from 1996-2007, and Briles went 4-8 in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09. But since 2009, the Bears have been a factor among the top half of the Big 12, finishing 7-6 in 2010, which included their first bowl appearance since 1994. From 2011-13, Baylor is 29-10 and claimed their first outright conference title since 1980 last year. Briles’ success isn’t just limited to Baylor, as he went 34-28 in five seasons at Houston. With a new stadium, improved recruiting and a contract extension until 2023, the Bears appear poised to take another step forward under Briles’ watch. Much like Bill Snyder did at Kansas State, Briles has transformed Baylor from a struggling program into a conference title contender.

3. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Record at Kansas State: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Career Record: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Kansas State’s Program Rank: No. 8 in the Big 12, No. 61 nationally

Prior to Snyder’s arrival, there was no track record of consistent success at Kansas State. But since Snyder was hired in 1989, the fortunes have changed for the Wildcats. Snyder won only six games during his first two years, but Kansas State had only one losing season from 1992-2003. Snyder guided the Wildcats to 11 consecutive bowl games from 1993-2003 and had six finishes in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in that span. After a 9-13 mark from 2004-05, Snyder decided to step aside. But his retirement was short, as Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009 and promptly guided the Wildcats to a 6-6 mark. Over the last five years, Kansas State is 42-27 and claimed the Big 12 title in 2012. Winning in Manhattan is no easy task, and Snyder continues to get the most out of a roster that is consistently rated near the bottom of the conference according to recruiting rankings. As long as Snyder is on the sidelines, don’t count out Kansas State in the Big 12 title picture each year.

4. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Record at Oklahoma State: 77-38 (9 years)
Career Record: 77-38 (9 years)
Oklahoma State’s Program Rank: No. 3 in the Big 12, No. 22 nationally

Gundy has raised the bar during his tenure in Stillwater, winning 77 games over the last nine years and one Big 12 Championship in 2011. The Cowboys’ 2011 Big 12 title was the program’s first outright conference championship since 1948, and Gundy’s 77 wins rank first among coaches in Oklahoma State history. Since recording back-to-back seven-win seasons from 2006-07, the Cowboys have not won fewer than eight games. With a good chunk of talent leaving the roster heading into 2014, Oklahoma State appears to be set for a rebuilding year. However, Gundy has proved there’s plenty of staying power in Stillwater, and even if 2014 is a rebuilding effort, the Cowboys won’t be down for long.

5. Gary Patterson, TCU
Record at TCU: 120-44 (12 years)
Career Record: 120-44 (12 years)
TCU’s Program Rank: No. 7 in the Big 12, No. 42 nationally

Moving to the Big 12 has been a challenge for Patterson and TCU, as the Horned Frogs are just 11-14 overall and 6-12 in Big 12 play over the last two seasons. But prior to joining the Big 12, TCU was a consistent top-25 team. The Horned Frogs recorded three top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2008-10, and this program has only two losing records in Patterson’s 12 years. It’s one thing to win in the Mountain West, but it’s a huge challenge to elevate a program into Big 12 title contention on a consistent basis. The coaching staff needs time to upgrade the overall program depth and talent to compete with Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State, but that shouldn’t be an issue when you look at TCU’s track record of success under Patterson. Also, the Kansas native is one of the top defensive minds in the conference – as evidenced by allowing just 4.8 yards per play last season. The Horned Frogs have stumbled a bit in their new conference, which isn’t really a surprise when you consider the struggles of West Virginia and Utah during their conference transition period. However, the future in Fort Worth still appears to be very bright for Patterson.

6. Charlie Strong, Texas
Record at Texas: First Year
Career Record: 37-16 (4 years)
Texas’ Program Rank: No. 1 in the Big 12, No. 1 nationally

Strong was somewhat of a surprising hire at Texas, but all signs point to this paying huge dividends for the Longhorns. In four years as Louisville’s head coach, Strong went 37-15 and earned four bowl appearances. The Cardinals won 23 games over the final two seasons and claimed back-to-back top-15 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2012-13. Prior to taking over at Louisville, Strong accumulated a wealth of experience as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina. There’s no secret Strong is a sharp defensive mind, a good recruiter, and someone who focuses on fundamentals and physical play. Considering Texas has struggled to develop its elite talent over the last few years, Strong and his coaching staff should fix that problem. Additionally, the consistent problems on the offensive line seem to be addressed with the addition of Joe Wickline. Coaching at Texas will require a few changes for Strong, especially when it comes to the booster glad-handing and Longhorn Network. But there's little reason to believe Strong won't win big at Texas. 

7. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Record at Iowa State: 27-36 (5 years)
Career Record: 27-36 (5 years)
Iowa State’s Program Rank: No. 9 in the Big 12, No. 64 nationally

Rhoads is a good example why records are often deceiving when ranking coaches. On the surface, 27 wins isn’t impressive. However, Iowa State is one of the toughest jobs among BCS programs and ranks No. 9 in the Big 12. Winning big is tough in Ames, and Rhoads has three bowl appearances in five years. Additionally, the Cyclones have only one season of fewer than five wins. Just how difficult is it to win at Iowa State? The program has only two seasons of more than eight wins and only four of the Cyclones’ bowl appearances came before 2000. So while Rhoads may not have the best winning total, he’s keeping Iowa State competitive and in the mix for bowl games. And at a job like Iowa State, some would consider that overachieving.

8. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Record at Texas Tech: 8-5 (1 year)
Career Record: 8-5 (1 year)
Texas Tech’s Program Rank: No. 6 in Big 12, No. 41 nationally

Kingsbury is a perfect fit at Texas Tech, and the future looks bright for this program with the former Red Raider quarterback at the helm. In his first season as Texas Tech’s coach, Kingsbury led the Red Raiders to an 8-5 record, including a bowl victory over Arizona State. Prior to taking over in Lubbock, Kingsbury worked as an assistant at Texas A&M and Houston under Kevin Sumlin. Despite his lack of experience as a head coach, there’s little doubt Kingsbury has Texas Tech on the right track. And considering Kingsbury’s background on offense, he will have no trouble attracting top quarterbacks and receivers to Lubbock. While the 34-year-old coach ranks No. 8 among his Big 12 peers, the guess here is he climbs this list over the next few seasons.

9. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Record at West Virginia: 21-17 (3 years)
Career Record: 21-17 (3 years)
West Virginia’s Program Rank: No. 5 in Big 12, No. 35 nationally

Holgorsen was regarded as one of the nation’s top offensive minds prior to his promotion to the top spot in Morgantown. The Iowa native worked as an assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, coordinated Houston’s offense from 2008-09 under Kevin Sumlin and spent 2010 as the play-caller at Oklahoma State. Holgorsen’s first season at West Virginia (2011) resulted in a 10-3 record and a Big East title. Transitioning to the Big 12 was a challenge for the program, but the Mountaineers started 5-0 in their first season in the new conference. However, West Virginia finished 2-6 over the final eight games in 2012. Transition was a big part of the 2013 season, as the Mountaineers had to replace quarterback Geno Smith and standout receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Although the 4-8 mark was a disappointment, Holgorsen’s team showed some progress at the end of 2013 by losing two out of their last three games in overtime. Moving to the Big 12 is a challenge for West Virginia, and the Mountaineers need time to recruit at a higher level to compete with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. With just six Big 12 wins over the last two years, 2014 will be an important year for Holgorsen to show this program is heading in the right direction.

10. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 39-47 (7 years)
Kansas’ Program Rank: No. 10 in Big 12, No. 68 nationally

Weis was a surprising hire for Kansas after Turner Gill was fired following two seasons in Lawrence. Prior to taking over at Kansas, Weis was just 35-27 in five years at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish started 19-6 under Weis but finished 16-21 over the last three seasons. And Weis has struggled to have success in two years with the Jayhawks, recording a 4-20 record over two seasons. Kansas has finished at the bottom of the Big 12 in back-to-back years, but there was slight progress in 2013 when the Jayhawks snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak with a win over West Virginia. Weis didn’t inherit much talent to work with and has taken steps to improve the overall roster depth over the last two seasons. However, Kansas needs to take a step forward in 2014, which means a couple of wins in Big 12 play.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's College Football Coaches for 2014
Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-or-mississippi-state-which-team-finishes-higher-sec-west-2014
Body:

The SEC West is the toughest division in college football. Alabama has won two out of the last three championships, Auburn played for the title last year, and the Crimson Tide met LSU for the title after the 2011 season.

In addition to Alabama, Auburn and LSU, Texas A&M joined the SEC West, adding another obstacle improvement by Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

But heading into 2014, there’s plenty of optimism at both programs. The Rebels are recruiting at a high level, and the depth has significantly improved over the last two years under Hugh Freeze. The Bulldogs have played in four straight bowl games under Dan Mullen and have closed the gap on the rest of the West.

Auburn, Alabama and LSU appear to be the top three teams in the West Division once again. However, don’t forget about Ole Miss and Mississippi State, as both teams are capable of playing spoiler and could move a little higher in the pecking order this year.

Athlon Sports’ preseason magazines are set to hit the newsstands in late May/early June, and it’s time to settle some of the biggest debates for 2014. Over the next few weeks, AthlonSports.com will dive into some of the key topics by conference and some of the debates that will shape preseason predictions for this year.

Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Who Finishes Higher in the SEC West?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
With LSU losing a handful of players to the NFL Draft, and quarterback Johnny Manziel and receiver Mike Evans leaving Texas A&M, the door is open for Ole Miss and Mississippi State to climb the ladder in the West Division. Alabama and Auburn are likely to be picked by many as the top-two teams in the division, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think Ole Miss or Mississippi State could finish third next year. While I think both teams will show improvement in the win column, I think a slight edge should go to the Rebels. Ole Miss should benefit having a healthy Bo Wallace at quarterback and Vince Sanders at receiver, and the defense is poised to improve with nine starters back including talented sophomores Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Conner. The Rebels also have a slight schedule advantage. Mississippi State visits Oxford, and Ole Miss hosts Auburn and Tennessee. With better injury luck, an improving defense and more depth in Hugh Freeze’s third year, the Rebels should be poised for a bump in the win column.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
There are a lot of reasons why The Magnolia State is bubbling over with pigskin excitement as we enter the Playoff Era. Both programs should be improved from a year ago with a deep host of talented players returning to campus. Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs are going to be excellent on defense and should get more consistent quarterback play with Dak Prescott prepared for his first full season under center. Hugh Freeze and the Rebels bring back one of the best freshman and sophomore classes in school history as well as third-year starter Bo Wallace at QB. Both schedules are daunting but offer optimism as well so who finishes higher in the standings likely depends on who wins the season-ending Egg Bowl in 2014. Just like the last few seasons, this game has defined the season for both squads, and with the game returning to Oxford (Ole Miss also boasts more roster upside), the Rebels have to be considered the favorite to finish ahead of the Bulldogs this fall.

Kevin Causey (@CFBZ), CrystalBallRun.com
Despite finishing just 7-6 last season, the Bulldogs have a lot of momentum heading into the 2014 season, and I'm seeing a lot written about them being a sort of darkhorse in the SEC West. On the other hand, most of the press clips about Ole Miss this spring have been due to some high profile off-the-field mishaps.

Last year both of these two teams finished just 3-5 in the SEC West with Mississippi State winning the head to head battle. The problem with Mississippi State under Dan Mullen is that they haven't been able to win the big one. During Mullen's tenure at Mississippi State, his squad has gone 1-16 against the combination of Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M (and that one win came against the 2012 Auburn team that couldn't fight it's way out of a paper bag). The Bulldogs have defined what they are under Mullen and that's a mediocre team that doesn't win the big game.

Looking at the schedules, the swing game for these two teams will be the November 29th Egg Bowl at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. With Mississippi State's win in 2013, Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss will make this game even bigger than it usually is and I'll take my chances with the home team. Ole Miss will finish 4-4 in the conference and Mississippi State will finish 3-5.

Mark Ross
If there was ever a chance for the state of Mississippi to make some noise in the SEC, this could be the year. Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State finished last season by winning their respective bowls and both enter the 2014 campaign with a good deal of talent and experience, as well as renewed optimism that even better things could be in store. Alabama and defending conference champion Auburn aren't expected to just roll over, but with LSU and Texas A&M each going through some pretty significant roster turnover, the opportunity is there for the Rebels and Bulldogs to both be a factor in the division race. For one, both teams have the luxury of returning a quarterback who saw plenty of reps last season, something the Crimson Tide, Tigers and Aggies can't claim. Each defense made strides by the end of last season as well and return a fair amount of key personnel. That said, whichever team wins the annual Magnolia State battle in late November figures to have a better chance of finishing higher in the division standings. While I expect a strong showing from Dan Mullen's Bulldogs, I think this is the season that Hugh Freeze has been building towards since he took over at Ole Miss in December 2011. His hard work on the recruiting trail will finally bear considerable fruit, as I believe Ole Miss is slightly more talented as a team than Mississippi State and I think quarterback Bo Wallace will end up challenging for All-SEC honors with a strong senior season. And who knows, with Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, and Mississippi State all slated to visit Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this fall, this truly could end up being a special season down in Oxford.

Teaser:
Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Which Team Finishes Higher in the SEC West in 2014?
Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-qb-ryan-williams-suffers-torn-acl-spring-practice
Body:

Miami quarterback Ryan Williams suffered a torn ACL in a recent scrimmage and is out indefinitely. Williams was slated to open the year as the starting quarterback, but it’s uncertain if he will be able to return in time for the season opener. The senior will have surgery to repair the ACL injury.

Assuming Williams is unable to return in time for the opener, Miami will likely turn to redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen. 

Miami will also have touted freshman Brad Kaaya join the team this summer, but it’s unlikely he unseats Olsen or even Williams (if he’s back in time for the opener).

Williams’ injury is a huge blow for a Miami team that opens at Louisville in 2014.

Even though an injury to Williams is a setback, the Hurricanes still have a solid offensive line, a standout running back in Duke Johnson, and a rising star at receiver in Stacy Coley.

Teaser:
Miami QB Ryan Williams Suffers Torn ACL in Spring Practice
Post date: Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 20:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-college-football-coaches-2014
Body:

Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.

Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.

Ranking the Pac-12's College Football Coaches for 2014

1. David Shaw, Stanford
Record at Stanford: 34-7 (3 years)
Career Record: 34-7 (3 years)
Stanford’s Program Rank: No. 5 in the Pac-12, No. 33 nationally

Life without Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines and Andrew Luck at quarterback was supposed to be tough at Stanford. But that hasn’t been the case for the Cardinal, as Shaw as kept Stanford among the best in the nation. The Cardinal is 34-7 over the last three years and has lost only four conference games during that span. Shaw has guided the program to three consecutive BCS bowls and two top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Stanford signed a small recruiting class in 2013, which finished No. 51 nationally by 247Sports Composite. However, in 2012 and 2014, Shaw inked classes that ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Stanford has claimed at least a share of the North Division title in each of the last three years, but that run could be tested in 2014 with the departure of a talented senior class and defensive coordinator Derek Mason. Despite the personnel losses, expect Shaw to have Stanford back in the Pac-12 title hunt once again.

2. Chris Petersen, Washington
Record at Washington: First Year
Career Record: 92-12 (8 years)
Washington’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the Pac-12, No. 23 nationally

Petersen is a tough coach to rank among his Pac-12 peers. Winning big outside of a BCS conference is a good sign, but the week-to-week grind in the Pac-12 or any of the other BCS leagues is another matter. In eight years at Boise State, Petersen elevated the program to new heights. The Broncos went 92-12 and recorded four top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Also, Boise State claimed two BCS bowl victories and claimed at least a share of five conference titles. Another notch in Petersen’s resume was the Broncos’ track record against BCS teams. Boise State defeated Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia in non-conference or bowl games during Petersen’s tenure. The California native is a good fit at Washington and inherits a solid core of talent to work with in 2014. If there’s any concern about Petersen, it has to be the track record of former Boise State coaches leaving to take BCS jobs. Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins struggled at their next stop after leaving Boise State. Despite the lack of success by Hawkins and Koetter, all signs point to Petersen being a home-run hire for Washington.

3. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 18-9 (2 years)
Career Record: 67-38 (8 years)
Arizona State’s Program Rank: No. 6 in the Pac-12, No. 38 nationally

Graham gets a bad rap from his job-hopping in recent years, but there’s no question he’s one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. At Rice, Graham inherited a team that went 1-10 in the season prior to his arrival, and the Owls improved by six games in his first season and finished 7-6 overall. Graham was hired at Tulsa after one season at Rice and went 36-17 in four seasons. The Golden Hurricane had three years of at least 10 wins and a No. 24 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2010. Graham took over at Pittsburgh in 2011 and went 6-6, but his stay in the Steel City lasted only one year. Arizona State picked Graham to replace Dennis Erickson, and the program has been on the upswing over the last two years. The Sun Devils are 18-9 under Graham’s watch and claimed the Pac-12 South title last season. Arizona State has started facility renovations to Sun Devil Stadium and inked extensions with Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. With Graham at the helm, combined with a commitment to keeping good assistants and improved facilities, Arizona State is poised to become a consistent challenger for the South Division title.

4. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Record at Oregon State: 88-73 (13 years)
Career Record: 88-73 (13 years)
Oregon State’s Program Rank: No. 10 in the Pac-12, No. 54 nationally

Riley is in his second stint at Oregon State, and the Beavers have been one of the Pac-12’s most consistent programs under his watch. From 1971-98, Oregon State failed to earn a winning record. But since 2003, the Beavers have eight winning seasons out of the last 11 years. Riley has guided Oregon State to six years of at least eight wins during that span. The Beavers also have 15 bowl appearances in school history – eight of them are under Riley’s watch. So while Oregon State is still looking for a Pac-12 title under Riley, he has clearly elevated a program that struggled mightily prior to his arrival. And if you needed any additional data on Riley’s impact, take a look at recruiting rankings. The Beavers own the No. 10 roster in the Pac-12, yet rank sixth in the conference in conference wins over the last four years.

5. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 9-16 (2 years)
Career Record: 93-59 (12 years)
Washington State’s Program Rank: No. 12 in the Pac-12, No. 63 nationally

Washington State is the toughest job in the Pac-12. But the Cougars have the right coach to keep this program competitive on a consistent basis. Leach was forced out at Texas Tech after 10 successful years in Lubbock. The Red Raiders never missed a bowl game under Leach and finished five times in the final Associated Press poll. Leach is only 9-16 in two years at Washington State. However, the Cougars improved their win total by three games from 2012 to 2013. Additionally, Washington State went to a bowl game for the first time since 2003 last year. Leach is one of the top offensive minds in college football and will help Washington State move a little closer to contending with the Pac-12 North’s top teams over the next few years.

6. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 16-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 136-94-2 (20 years)
Arizona’s Program Rank: No. 7 in the Pac-12, No. 39 nationally

A three-year stint at Michigan is really the only blemish on Rodriguez’s 20 years on the sidelines. The West Virginia native started his coaching career at Salem in 1988 and had his second opportunity as a head coach at Glenville State in 1990. In seven years with the Pioneers, he went 43-28-2 and was hired at Tulane to coordinate the offense after the 1996 season. After two years with the Green Wave, Rodriguez was hired as Clemson’s offensive coordinator (1999-00) and then took over the top spot at West Virginia in 2001. The Mountaineers were 60-26 under Rodriguez and were one win away from playing for the national title in 2007. Rodriguez left his home state for the opportunity to coach at Michigan, but his three years with the Wolverines resulted in a disappointing 15-22 record. And after sitting out a year, Rodriguez jumped back into the coaching game at Arizona. So far, so good in Tucson. The Wildcats have recorded back-to-back 8-5 seasons and two bowl victories under his watch.

7. Jim Mora, UCLA
Record at UCLA: 19-8 (2 years)
Career Record: 19-8 (2 years)
UCLA’s Program Rank: No. 3 in the Pac-12, No. 18 nationally

Mora has only been at UCLA for two seasons, but the former NFL head coach is making a difference. The Bruins are 19-8 under Mora, including a 12-6 mark during the regular season in Pac-12 play. UCLA finished No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which was the program’s first appearance in the last ranking since a No. 16 mark in 2005. Recruiting under Mora is also stable, as the Bruins have signed three consecutive top-20 classes. UCLA also made a big commitment to Mora by signing him to a six-year extension at the end of the 2013 season. With Brett Hundley returning for his junior year, the Bruins will have a chance to take the next step under Mora in 2014. 

8. Steve Sarkisian, USC
Record at USC: First Year
Career Record: 34-29 (5 years)
USC’s Program Rank: No. 1 in the Pac-12, No. 4 nationally

Taking over at USC is essentially a homecoming for Sarkisian. The California native was a successful quarterback at BYU and had a short stint in the CFL. Sarkisian’s first college coaching job was at El Camino in 2000, and he landed at USC in 2001-03 and again from 2005-08 under Pete Carroll. In 2009, Sarkisian was hired at Washington, where he inherited a team that finished 0-12 in the season prior to his arrival. Sarkisian brought immediate improvement to Seattle, guiding the Huskies to a 5-7 mark in 2009 and a 34-29 mark in his tenure. Washington played in four consecutive bowl games under Sarkisian, but never finished higher than third in the Pac-12 North. Elevating the Huskies back to Pac-12 respectability was a good sign. However, Sarkisian needs to win at a higher level at USC. With a solid coaching staff and the No. 11 signing class from 2014, it seems Sarkisian is on the right path. And it certainly won’t hurt Sarkisian’s prospects when the sanctions end and USC has a full allotment of scholarships.

9. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 4-8 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-29 (4 years)
Colorado’s Program Rank: No. 9 in the Pac-12, No. 53 nationally

The arrow is clearly pointing up on MacIntyre’s tenure at Colorado. The Buffaloes were only 4-8 overall and won just one contest in Pac-12 play, but the program took a step forward last year after struggling under Jon Embree. Prior to taking over in Boulder, MacIntyre spent three years at San Jose State, transforming the Spartans from a 1-11 team in 2010 to a 10-2 squad in 2012. According to the recruiting ranks, Colorado’s roster ranks No. 12 in the Pac-12, and standout receiver Paul Richardson must be replaced in 2014. MacIntyre needs time to successfully rebuild Colorado, but with a few breaks this season, the Buffaloes could make a bowl. After all, that isn't impossible considering MacIntyre’s second team at San Jose State made a four-game jump in the win column.

10. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Record at Utah: 76-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 76-39 (9 years)
Utah’s Program Rank: No. 11 in the Pac-12, No. 55 nationally

It’s pretty easy to see how deep the Pac-12 is with good coaches when Whittingham ranks No. 10. The former BYU linebacker is 76-39 in nine years in Salt Lake City, which includes a 13-0 record with a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in the 2008 season. In their final three years in the Mountain West (2008-10), Utah went 33-6 and lost only three conference games. However, as expected, the transition to the Pac-12 has been a challenge. The Utes went 8-5 in their Pac-12 debut but have posted back-to-back 5-7 records. Additionally, Utah is just 5-13 in conference play from 2012-13. Considering Whittingham’s wins in the Pac-12 have declined in back-to-back years, 2014 will be an important season to show the Utes are back on track. The addition of Dave Christensen as Utah’s offensive coordinator, combined with a little luck on health at quarterback could be enough for the Utes to get back to a bowl.

11. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Record at Oregon: 11-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 11-2 (1 year)
Oregon’s Program Rank: No. 2 in the Pac-12, No. 12 nationally

Helfrich had a tough assignment replacing offensive mastermind Chip Kelly in 2013. The Ducks were picked by many as a threat to win the national title, but a late-season injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota hindered the offense in November. Oregon finished 11-2 in Helfrich’s debut and No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. Despite not getting to the national championship, 2014 was a solid debut for Helfrich in his first season on the sidelines in Eugene. Helfrich needs a little time to put his stamp on the program, and with Mariota returning in 2014, Oregon should in the hunt to win college football’s playoff.

12. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 23-26 (4 years)
California’s Program Rank: No. 8 in the Pac-12, No. 43 nationally

It seems unfair to rank Dykes at the bottom of the Pac-12, but there’s not a bad coach in the conference. Dykes’ debut at California did not go well, as the Golden Bears finished 1-11 and winless in conference play for the first time since 2001. While the final record was not pretty, California had a handful of injuries to key players on defense, and Jared Goff was a true freshman getting his first snaps at quarterback. Dykes took steps this offseason to ensure last year’s 1-11 won’t be repeated. The defensive staff got a major overhaul and a solid recruiting class will help with the overall depth. Prior to his one season at California, Dykes went 22-15 at Louisiana Tech, including a 17-8 mark over the final two years.  

Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12's College Football Coaches for 2014
Post date: Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-college-football-coaches-2014
Body:

Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.

Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.

Ranking the ACC's College Football Coaches for 2014

1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Record at Florida State: 45-10 (4 years)
Career Record: 45-10 (4 years)
Florida State’s Program Rank: No. 1 in the ACC, No. 11 nationally

In four years in Tallahassee, Fisher has returned Florida State to national prominence. The Seminoles slipped at the end of the Bobby Bowden era, but Fisher has three seasons of at least 10 wins and has claimed back-to-back ACC titles. Florida State is 26-2 over the last two years and won the national championship last year, defeating Auburn in the final title game of the BCS era. Another factor working in Fisher’s ranking is his record against Florida State’s rivals. Fisher is 4-0 against Miami and 3-1 against Florida. Fisher’s success isn’t just limited to the on-field results, as he’s an excellent recruiter and talent evaluator and has a good eye for finding assistant coaches. With Fisher at the helm, there’s no more debate: Florida State is back and will be a factor in college football’s national championship picture for the foreseeable future.

2. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 31-44 (6 years)
Career Record: 75-73 (12 years)
Duke’s Program Rank: No. 14 in the ACC, No. 72 nationally

Cutcliffe’s career mark with the Blue Devils is only 31-44, but as we mentioned in the introduction, not all coaches can be judged solely on wins and losses. Duke is one of the toughest coaching jobs in a BCS conference. From 2000-07, the Blue Devils won only 10 games and had six seasons of at least 10 losses. Cutcliffe needed some time to establish a foundation, but Duke has turned a corner under his watch. The Blue Devils went 15-33 in Cutcliffe’s first four years. However, Duke is 16-11 over the last seasons and claimed the Coastal Division title in 2013. And in terms of recruiting, the Blue Devils have the No. 13 roster in the ACC, which only adds credit to the job Cutcliffe has done in Durham. Prior to his stint at Duke, Cutcliffe went 44-29 at Ole Miss, including a 10-3 record in 2003. Sustaining success with the Blue Devils won’t be easy. However, Cutcliffe is a sharp offensive mind and the program has made steady progress under his watch. Expect Duke to consistently be in the mix for bowl games under Cutcliffe in future seasons.

3. Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 41-9 (4 years, 2003-06)
Career Record: 83-30 (9 years)
Louisville’s Program Rank: No. 6 in the ACC, No. 29 nationally

Petrino is a polarizing figure in college football. There’s no doubt he’s made mistakes, but he’s also an outstanding coach – and likely one of the best in the nation. After stops at Arkansas, Western Kentucky and in the NFL with the Falcons, Petrino has returned to Louisville. From 2003-06, the Cardinals went 41-9 under Petrino’s direction and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll in 2006. Petrino transformed Arkansas from a 5-7 program in 2008 to an 11-2 team in 2011. However, his tenure ended with the Razorbacks after he lied to athletic director Jeff Long following a motorcycle crash in 2012. After sitting on the sidelines for a year, Petrino was hired by Western Kentucky to replace Willie Taggart, and the Hilltoppers finished 8-4 in Petrino’s only season. Again, there’s no question Petrino comes with baggage. But the Montana native is a proven winner – 83 wins in nine years – and one of the top offensive minds in college football.

4. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 224-109-2 (27 years)
Career Record: 266-132-4 (33 years)
Virginia Tech’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the ACC, No. 27 nationally

Beamer is the dean of college football coaches with 33 consecutive years of head coach experience. The North Carolina native worked as an assistant at Citadel and Murray State from 1973-80 and was promoted to the top spot with the Racers in 1981. In six seasons as Murray State’s head coach, Beamer went 42-23-2 and finished his tenure with four consecutive winning records. Beamer started his tenure at Virginia Tech with losing records in four out of the first six years. However, the Hokies have been one of the nation’s most consistent teams since 1993. Virginia Tech has played in 21 straight bowl games and has won at least 10 games in eight out of the last 10 years. While the program has been remarkably consistent, the Hokies are 15-11 in the last two seasons. Even though that record marks a slight drop from the early 2000s, there’s no reason to hit the panic button in Blacksburg going into 2014.

5. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 22-15 (3 years)
Career Record: 49-49 (8 years)
Miami’s Program Rank: No. 3 in the ACC, No. 21 nationally

Golden is a tough coach to rank among his ACC peers. On the positive side: Miami has increased its win total in each of the last two seasons after winning six games in Golden’s debut. The Hurricanes are also seeing an uptick in recruiting, bringing in the No. 12 (2014), No. 14 (2013) and No. 10 (2012) classes after signing the No. 33 group in 2011. But here’s the bad news: This is Miami – the No. 3 coaching job in the ACC. The Hurricanes are still looking for their first appearance in the conference championship, and Golden has yet to produce a ranked team in the final Associated Press poll. With the No. 2 roster in the ACC, Miami needs to win at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Coral Gables, Golden took Temple from a 1-11 record in 2006 to a program with back-to-back winning seasons in 2009-10. Some of the Owls’ success under Golden was due to the transition to the MAC, but Golden helped to mold Temple from one of the worst programs back to respectability. 2014 should be a telling year for Golden and his overall leadership at Miami, as the Hurricanes have the talent to win the Coastal. However, enough questions remain that Miami could finish third in the division. 

6. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Record at Clemson: 51-23 (6 years)
Career Record: 51-23 (6 years)
Clemson’s Program Rank: No. 2 in the ACC, No. 20 nationally

Swinney has helped Clemson shake the underachieving label recently, recording a school-record 32 victories over the last three years. The Tigers are 14-2 in the last two seasons of ACC play and have two BCS bowl appearances in three years. Clemson finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which is the best final ranking for the program since Danny Ford guided the Tigers to a No. 8 ranking in 1982. Swinney is at his best in the program CEO role. Coordinators Chad Morris and Brent Venables are two of the nation’s highest-paid assistants, and Morris’ arrival in 2011 sparked instant improvement on offense. Prior to hiring Morris, Swinney was just 19-15. One trouble spot for Swinney is his record against rival South Carolina and Florida State. The Gamecocks have won five in a row over Clemson, while the Tigers are 2-4 under Swinney against the Seminoles. In order for Swinney to take the next step as a head coach, he has to consistently beat Florida State and South Carolina.

7. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 47-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 154-71 (17 years)
Georgia Tech’s Program Rank: No. 9 in the ACC, No. 46 nationally

Johnson has been a successful coach at three different jobs, starting with Georgia Southern in the FCS ranks in 1997. The Eagles went 62-10 under Johnson, which included back-to-back FCS Championships. At Navy, Johnson went 2-10 in his first year (2002) but finished his tenure with a 45-29 record and a No. 24 final ranking in the 2004 Associated Press poll. Johnson was hired at Georgia Tech in 2008 and is 47-32 in six years. Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have not finished under .500 in conference play under Johnson’s watch and won the ACC title in 2009. Despite his success, there seems to be unrest at Georgia Tech. But here's something to keep in perspective: Georgia Tech ranks as the No. 9 job in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have 19 wins in conference play over the last four years – only Virginia Tech has more during that span in the Coastal Division. Johnson is also regarded as one of the ACC’s top X’s and O’s coaches. Sure, the option might not be the most exciting offense to run at a BCS program, and the recruiting at Georgia Tech isn’t getting any better. However, Johnson has finished first or second (outright or shared) in the Coastal in five out of the last six years.

8. Steve Addazio, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-17 (3 years)
Boston College’s Program Rank: No. 12 in the ACC, No. 60 nationally

Addazio brought instant improvement in his first season at Boston College. The Eagles went 6-18 from 2011-12 under Frank Spaziani, but Addazio guided Boston College to a 7-6 record in 2013. Addazio had plenty of talent in the upperclassmen ranks to help his transition, and his work on the recruiting trail should ensure the Eagles continue to be a factor in the bowl picture. Before taking over at Boston College, Addazio went 13-11 in two years with Temple. The Owls went 9-4 in the MAC in 2011 but slipped to 4-7 in the tougher Big East Conference. As a Connecticut native, Addazio is familiar with the recruiting scene in the Northeast and what it takes to win at Boston College. The Eagles lose several key players from last year’s seven-win team, so some regression in the win total should be expected. However, Addazio has this program trending in the right direction for 2015 and beyond.

9. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 15-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 49-29 (6 years)
North Carolina’s Program Rank: No. 5 in the ACC, No. 28 nationally

Fedora could be a spot or two higher on this list, but there’s not much separating the middle of the pack when it comes to ACC coaches. The Texas native has North Carolina on the right track, and the Tar Heels should be in contention for the Coastal Division title in 2014. Fedora’s record at North Carolina is 15-10, with a 9-7 mark in ACC play. The Tar Heels were ineligible to play for the Coastal Division title in 2012 or play in a bowl, but Fedora guided North Carolina to a 5-3 conference record – the first for the program since a 5-3 mark in 2004. Prior to his stint at North Carolina, Fedora coached at Southern Miss and recorded a 34-19 mark with a No. 20 rank in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. If the Tar Heels take a step forward as expected in 2014, Fedora will rank higher on this list next season.

10. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 13-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 13-13 (2 years)
Pittsburgh’s Program Rank: No. 7 in the ACC, No. 37 nationally

Coaching uncertainty surrounded Pittsburgh from 2010-12. The Panthers went through three head coaches – Dave Wannstedt, Mike Haywood and Todd Graham – in two seasons. However, Pittsburgh got it right went they hired Chryst. Yes, his record is only 13-13, but this program is on the right track. Chryst went 6-7 in his debut but guided the Panthers to a 7-6 mark in his second year and Pittsburgh’s ACC debut. Prior to taking the top spot with the Panthers, Chryst was a successful offensive coordinator at Oregon State and Wisconsin and spent some time in the NFL with the Chargers. The talent level in the Steel City is promising. Quarterback Chad Voytik, running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd are three potential standout sophomores, and the offensive line seems to be on the right track after struggling over the last few years. Chryst needs more time to build the roster, but all signs suggest Pittsburgh is trending in the right direction going into 2014.

11. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: First Year
Career Record: 90-80 (14 years)
Wake Forest’s Program Rank: No. 13 in the ACC, No. 71 nationally

After successful tenures at three previous stops, Clawson finally gets his chance to run a BCS program. From 1999-2003, he recorded a 29-29 mark at Fordham. The Rams went 0-11 in his debut and made steady improvement over the next five years, including a 10-3 record with an appearance in the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson was hired at Richmond in 2004 and guided the Spiders to a 29-20 record with two playoff appearances. After a one-year stint as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2008, Clawson was hired at Bowling Green and led the Falcons to a bowl game in his debut. Under Clawson’s watch, Bowling Green won 32 games, claimed the MAC title in 2013, and made three bowl trips. Considering his history of improving programs that were struggling prior to his arrival, Clawson is the right pick to take over at Wake Forest.

12. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 26-13 (3 years)
NC State’s Program Rank: No. 8 in the ACC, No. 44 nationally

Doeren’s first season was disappointing, but there’s no reason to panic at NC State. The Wolfpack had only eight returning starters last year, and the offense had its share of quarterback injuries. With Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett eligible at quarterback, combined with another year for the players to adapt to the coaching staff, NC State could be the most improved team in the ACC. Prior to taking over at NC State, Doeren went 23-4 at Northern Illinois and led the Huskies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl during the 2012 season. Sure, Doeren has plenty to prove in the ACC. And going winless in conference play in your debut isn’t exactly a strong introduction to the rest of the ACC. However, he has a track record of success as a head coach and was a regarded assistant during his tenure at Wisconsin and Kansas.

13. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 7-6 (1 year)
Syracuse’s Program Rank: No. 11 in the ACC, No. 58 nationally

Shafer picked up where Doug Marrone left off, guiding Syracuse to a 7-6 record with a victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl. After a 3-4 start, Shafer rallied the Orange for a solid second half of the season and won four out of the final six games. Syracuse’s only losses over the final six games were to national champion Florida State and a one-point defeat to Pittsburgh. Prior to his promotion to head coach at Syracuse, Shafer served as the defensive coordinator under Marrone and also has stops in his career as an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois and Northern Illinois. The Orange had some key faces to replace going into 2013, so Shafer deserves a lot of credit for guiding this program back to a bowl in its first season of ACC play. Now the task for Shafer is to sustain success, which seems like a reasonable goal considering he signed the No. 50 recruiting class in 2014 – an improvement on the No. 73 class from 2013. Shafer could be higher on this list, but Doeren’s success at Northern Illinois gave him a slight edge for the No. 12 spot.

14. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 18-31 (4 years)
Career Record: 42-36 (6 years)
Virginia’s Program Rank: No. 10 in the ACC, No. 51 nationally

London enters 2014 squarely on the hot seat and in need of a major turnaround to remain Virginia’s head coach in 2015. Considering the Cavaliers have the No. 6 roster according to the recruiting rankings, it’s hard to grasp why Virginia has just two ACC wins over the last two years. Tough non-conference scheduling and inconsistent quarterback play have played a large role in the Cavaliers’ recent struggles, but this program should be winning at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Charlottesville, London went 24-5 in two seasons at Richmond, including a FCS title from the 2008 season. And he went 4-8 in his first year at Virginia but went 8-5 with an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2011. But even with momentum on the recruiting trail and staff changes, London has yet to build on his successful 2011 record.

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC's College Football Coaches for 2014
Post date: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Akron Zips, College Football, MAC, News
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New helmets and jerseys are a big part of every college football season, and Akron appears to have unveiled a new gold (and rather shiny) helmet for 2014. The Zips have made considerable progress in Terry Bowden’s first two years and improved to 5-7 last year.

The new gold helmets resemble Baylor or Notre Dame’s recent shiny designs, with one having a blue facemask, while the other has a gold front.

Overall, this is a pretty sharp look for Akron. And who knows, maybe it’s just what the Zips need to make a bowl in 2014.

 

Teaser:
Akron Unveils New Gold Helmets for 2014
Post date: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 09:00
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Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.

Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.

Ranking the SEC’s College Football Coaches for 2014

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 79-15 (7 years)
Career Record: 170-57-1 (18 years)
Alabama’s Program Rank: (No. 2 in the SEC, No. 3 nationally)

Ranking coaches in any conference or nationally is a tough assignment, but there’s little doubt about which one ranks as the best in college football. Saban is at the top of his game and is easily the No. 1 coach in the nation. In seven years at Alabama, Saban is 79-15 and has claimed three national championships. The Crimson Tide has finished in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in each of the last six years and only one of Saban’s seasons resulted in less than 10 victories. And as many around the SEC already know, Saban’s success isn’t limited to just Alabama. He recorded a 48-16 mark in five years at LSU, a 34-24-1 record in five seasons at Michigan State and a 9-2 mark in one year at Toledo. Saban is one of the nation’s top defensive minds, an excellent recruiter and also one of the best - if not the No. 1 coach - in college football at developing talent. As long as Saban is on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will be factor every season in the national championship picture.

2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 77-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 219-79-2 (24 years)
South Carolina’s Program Rank: (No. 8 in the SEC, No. 19 nationally)

Spurrier needed a few years to build the talent level at South Carolina, but heading into his 10th season in Columbia, the Gamecocks are a consistent East Division title contender. Through his first five years at South Carolina, Spurrier posted a 35-28 record with zero appearances in the final Associated Press poll. But since 2010, the Gamecocks are 42-11 and finished No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll last year. Spurrier was successful at Florida from 1990-2001 using the pass-first Fun ‘n’ Gun offense. However, the veteran coach has adapted at South Carolina and has been winning with a strong defense and a balanced offense. With successful stops at Florida and South Carolina in the SEC, along with a 20-13-1 three-year stint at Duke, Spurrier is without question one of the top coaches in college football. And even though Spurrier will be 69 years old when the season starts, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

3. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 12-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 21-5 (3 years)
Auburn’s Program Rank: (No. 6 in the SEC, No. 15 nationally)

Malzahn has only been a head coach for two years on the FBS level, but he is already ranks near the top of coaches in the SEC. The Texas native was a successful high school coach before making the jump to coordinate Arkansas’ offense in 2006. Malzahn left the Razorbacks to be the offensive coordinator at Tulsa from 2007-08, before returning to the SEC as Gene Chizik’s play-caller from 2009-11. Malzahn was one of the key pieces in Auburn’s national championship season in 2010 and landed his first chance to be a head coach in 2012 at Arkansas State. The Red Wolves went 9-3 in his only year, as Malzahn was hired by Auburn to replace Chizik at the end of the 2012 season. The Tigers went 3-9 in 2012, but Malzahn provided a quick fix, leading Auburn to a 12-2 final record with an appearance in the national championship. Prior to last season, Malzahn was already regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. And after guiding the Tigers to a No. 2 finish in the final Associated Press poll, Malzahn deserves to be ranked among the top 10-15 coaches nationally.

4. Mark Richt, Georgia
Record at Georgia: 126-45 (13 years)
Career Record: 126-45 (13 years)
Georgia’s Program Rank: (No. 3 in the SEC, No. 8 nationally)

Richt has experienced his share of ups and downs in Athens, but he has been one of the nation’s most consistent coaches since his hire in 2001. Over the last 13 years, Georgia has averaged 9.7 wins a season under Richt. Additionally, the Bulldogs have recorded three top-five finishes in the final Associated Press poll and claimed at least a share of the East Division title six times. The only thing missing on Richt’s resume is a national championship. The Bulldogs have not played in a BCS bowl since the 2007 season, but the new playoff format should help this team, especially with more spots in elite bowls open to the SEC. Also, the addition of former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is an upgrade over previous defensive play-caller Todd Grantham, which should bolster Richt's chances of winning a SEC title in the next few years.

5. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 95-24 (9 years)
Career Record: 123-45 (13 years)
LSU’s Program Rank: (No. 4 in the SEC, No. 9 nationally)

The Mad Hatter is a bit of a gambler when it comes to making on-the-field decisions, and is always a good sound byte for the media, but let’s not overlook the Ohio native’s on-field success in recent years. In nine years at LSU, Miles is 95-24 and has won at least 10 games in each of the last four years. The Tigers had a slight dip in wins from 2008-09, finishing just 17-9 during that span. However, Miles returned LSU back to SEC and national prominence, and the Tigers finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. Miles’ success isn’t just limited to LSU, as he recorded a 28-21 mark in four years at Oklahoma State from 2001-04. There’s no doubt regarding Miles’ ability to recruit (four top-10 classes over the last five years), and he has one of the SEC’s top staffs with proven coordinators in John Chavis and Cam Cameron, along with regarded assistants in Jeff Grimes, Frank Wilson and Brick Haley. 

6. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 102-63 (13 years)
Career Record: 175-100-3 (23 years)
Missouri’s Program Rank: (No. 11 in the SEC, No. 31 nationally)

Much like Mark Richt at Georgia, Pinkel has been a consistent winner during his career at Missouri. The Tigers slipped to 5-7 in their SEC debut in 2012, but injuries – especially to quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey – were the driving factors behind the disappointing season. However, one year later, Missouri won the East Division and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll. Under Pinkel, the Tigers have winning records in eight out of the last nine years, with four double-digit win totals since 2007. Prior to Missouri, Pinkel was a successful coach at Toledo, recording a 73-37-3 record in 10 years with the Rockets. It was easy for some in the SEC to write off Pinkel after the 5-7 record in 2012. But heading into 2014, Missouri looks like a contender for the East Division title once again, and Pinkel has the program on stable ground entering its third year in the SEC.

7. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 20-6 (2 years)
Career Record: 55-23 (6 years)
Texas A&M’s Program Rank: (No. 5 in the SEC, No. 13 nationally)

Armed with the SEC logo, facility renovations and Sumlin’s coaching, Texas A&M is poised to be a factor on the national scene for the foreseeable future. The Aggies went 11-2 and finished No. 5 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2012 but slipped to 9-4 and just .500 (4-4) in SEC play last year. Prior to his stint at Texas A&M, Sumlin went 35-17 in four years at Houston. Building a program into a consistent national title contender will take time. And sometimes it's necessary to take a step back before moving forward. Through two years in College Station, Sumlin guided Texas A&M through a difficult conference transition, produced a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel) and has recruited back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes. Without Manziel and standout receiver Mike Evans, the Aggies may take a step back in 2014. However, with all of the young talent on the roster, the future looks bright in Aggieland.

8. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 45-18 (5 years)
Ole Miss’ Program Rank: (No. 10 in the SEC, No. 30 nationally)

Freeze still has plenty to prove within the SEC, but there’s also a lot of potential. The Mississippi native has brought instant success to each of his three college coaching jobs, starting at Lambuth in 2008. The Eagles won seven games in the two seasons prior to Freeze’s arrival, but he went 8-4 in 2008 and 12-1 in 2009. Freeze served as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2010 and was promoted to head coach in 2011. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt title in Freeze’s only season, finishing 10-2 with a trip to the GoDaddy Bowl. In two years at Ole Miss, Freeze is 15-11 and 6-10 in SEC play. Those totals aren’t particularly overwhelming, but the Rebels finished 6-18 in the two years prior to his arrival. With two top-15 recruiting classes, the talent level is on the rise in Oxford. Freeze needs time to match the depth at Alabama, Auburn and LSU, but the gap is slowly starting to close.

9. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Record at Mississippi State: 36-28 (5 years)
Career Record: 36-28 (5 years)
Mississippi State’s Program Rank: (No. 13 in the SEC, No. 48 nationally)

Winning at Mississippi State is no easy task. Just how difficult? Counting Mullen, the last seven coaches in Starkville had a losing record in SEC play. Jackie Sherrill guided the Bulldogs to an appearance in the SEC Championship, but his final record in SEC contests was just 43-59-1. Considering how difficult it is to win at a high level at Mississippi State, it’s unrealistic for Mullen to compete for SEC titles every year. In five years with the Bulldogs, Mullen is 36-28 and has guided the program to four consecutive bowl appearances. Additionally, Mullen is 4-1 against rival Ole Miss. Closing the gap on the rest of the West Division will be challenging, but Mullen clearly has the program going on the right direction. Considering the challenge of winning at Mississippi State, a strong case could be made Mullen needs to rank higher on this list of SEC coaches. 

10. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: 5-7 (1 year)
Career Record: 55-34 (7 years)
Tennessee’s Program Rank: (No. 7 in the SEC, No. 16 nationally)

In his first year at Tennessee, Jones had a similar overall record to his predecessor (Derek Dooley), but the Volunteers appeared to take a step forward in 2013. Tennessee lost to Georgia by three points in overtime and fell to Vanderbilt 14-10 in late November. The signs of progress were small, but Jones is recruiting at a high level and has a track record of success. From 2007-09 at Central Michigan, Jones went 27-13 and won two MAC titles. At Cincinnati, Jones recorded a 23-14 mark and finished with a 10-4 mark in the Big East over the final two years. Jones is unproven in the SEC, but all signs point to progress on Rocky Top heading into 2014.

11. Will Muschamp, Florida
Record at Florida: 22-16 (3 years)
Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)
Florida’s Program Rank: (No. 1 in the SEC, No. 2 nationally)

What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, Muschamp could have ranked in the top half of the coach rankings in the SEC. After 2013, he deserves to be ranked in the bottom four. In his debut with the Gators in 2011, Muschamp went 7-6 and defeated Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. Florida went 11-2 in Muschamp’s second year and finished No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. The Gators may have caught a few lucky breaks in 2012, especially with a turnover margin that was a +15 and an offense that averaged only 334 yards per game. Even if Florida was a tad lucky in 2012, it’s hard to understand why this team went 4-8 in 2013. Yes, there were injuries and the offense had its share of struggles. However, the Gators recruit at a high level and own one of college football’s best rosters. Simply, going 4-8 at Florida should not happen. But Muschamp has another chance to guide the program back in the right direction, and staff changes to the offense should help. Muschamp is still a bit of a mystery heading into his fourth season, and it’s clear he needs a winning season to avoid hot seat talk in November.

12. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 71-33 (8 years)
Arkansas’ Program Rank: (No. 9 in the SEC, No. 25 nationally)

Bielema’s debut at Arkansas did not go well. The Razorbacks finished 3-9 and winless in SEC play. However, there were signs of improvement late in the year. Arkansas seemed to play better over the final three games of the season, taking Mississippi State to overtime and losing to LSU by just four points in Baton Rouge. While the final record was ugly, the late-season improvement is a good sign for 2014. Also, Bielema deserves some time to build the program, as he inherited a team that went 4-8 in 2012 and played that year with an interim coach. Bielema was a successful coach at Wisconsin, winning 68 games in seven years and leading the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. It’s easy to panic after one bad year of a coaching tenure. However, Bielema has a solid track record and should help Arkansas take a step forward in 2014.

13. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Record at Kentucky: 2-10 (1 year)
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)
Kentucky’s Program Rank: (No. 12 in the SEC, No. 47 nationally)

Considering Stoops inherited a Kentucky team that had just four SEC wins in the three years prior to his arrival, it’s tough to judge him based on 2013. The Wildcats went 2-10 and winless in conference play in Stoops’ first season, but there were signs of progress. Kentucky lost two conference games by seven points or less, and Stoops signed another signing class filled with talent. The Wildcats ranked No. 34 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings in 2013, but Stoops inked the No. 22 class in 2014. Prior to taking over at Kentucky, Stoops was a successful defensive coordinator at Florida State, and he also had prior stops at Arizona, Miami, Houston and Wyoming. It’s going to take Stoops some time to get the program on track. However, recruiting is going well, and the Wildcats showed signs of improvement last season. If Kentucky takes another step forward in 2014, it’s a good sign for Stoops’ long-term outlook in Lexington.

14. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt: First Season
Career Record: First Season
Vanderbilt’s Program Rank: (No. 14 in the SEC, No. 49 nationally)

Mason takes over for James Franklin after a successful stint as Stanford’s defensive coordinator. The Arizona native has been on a steady climb through the ranks as an assistant, spending time at Weber State, Idaho State, Bucknell, Utah, New Mexico State and Ohio. In 2007, Mason joined the Vikings staff and spent three years as a defensive backs assistant in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh hired Mason at Stanford in 2010, and he was promoted to the co-defensive coordinator role in 2011, before taking over the sole play-calling abilities in 2012. Under Mason, the Cardinal finished first in the Pac-12 in total defense in 2012 and second in 2013. Additionally, Stanford’s defenses allowed less than five yards per play from 2012-13. As evidenced by his work under Harbaugh and David Shaw, Mason is a rising star in the coaching ranks and one of the top defensive minds in the nation. However, without any experience as a head coach, it’s hard to place Mason higher in the SEC coach ranks.

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC's College Football Coaches for 2014
Post date: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-college-football-coaches-2014
Body:

Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.

Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.

Ranking the Big Ten’s College Football Coaches for 2014

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 24-2 (2 years)
Career Record: 128-22 (12 years)
Ohio State’s Program Rank: (No. 1 in Big Ten, No. 5 nationally)

Meyer has been a head coach at four different jobs and has won at a high level at each program. A hallmark of Meyer’s tenures has been a quick turnaround or immediate improvement in the first season. Bowling Green went 2-9 in the year prior to Meyer’s arrival, and the Falcons recorded a 17-6 mark under his watch. At Utah, Meyer inherited a team that won five games in 2002. However, the Utes went 22-2 under Meyer and finished No. 4 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2004. Meyer was hired at Florida prior to the 2005 season and guided the Gators to a 65-15 record. Florida won two BCS titles under Meyer and finished No. 3 nationally in 2009. After stepping away in 2011, Meyer returned to the sidelines at Ohio State in 2012 and won the first 24 games in his tenure. The Buckeyes closed 2013 on a two-game losing streak but have won all 16 regular season Big Ten games under Meyer’s watch. With elite recruiting, combined with a top-five program like Ohio State, it’s only a matter of time before the Buckeyes win the national title under Meyer.

2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 64-29 (7 years)
Career Record: 82-46 (10 years)
Michigan State’s Program Rank: (No. 6 in Big Ten, No. 26 nationally)

Under Dantonio’s watch, Michigan State has emerged as one of the top programs in the Big Ten. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in three out of the last four years and went 25-7 in Big Ten play during that span. Dantonio guided Michigan State to a 13-1 finish last season, including a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. The Spartans also finished No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll, which was the highest finish in program history since 1966. Prior to taking over at Michigan State, Dantonio went 18-17 in three years at Cincinnati. Dantonio recruited only one top-25 recruiting class from 2010-13, yet the Spartans rank No. 2 in the Big Ten during that span in conference victories. And with a hefty contract extension, Dantonio is poised to continue his success at Michigan State for the foreseeable future.

3. James Franklin, Penn State
Record at Penn State: First Season
Career Record: 24-15 (3 years)
Penn State’s Program Rank: (No. 3 in Big Ten, No. 14 nationally)

Franklin comes to Penn State after a successful three-year stint at Vanderbilt. The Pennsylvania native is one of the top coaching hires for 2014 and should win big with the Nittany Lions. Franklin won 24 games with the Commodores, which tied the best three-year stretch in program history. Vanderbilt also recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons, finished in the Associated Press poll twice and claimed two bowl victories under Franklin. Prior to taking over with the Commodores, Franklin worked as the offensive coordinator at Kansas State and Maryland and served as an assistant with the Packers in 2005. After winning at one of the toughest programs in the BCS, Franklin is now at a job where he can consistently compete for titles. Franklin is also regarded as an excellent recruiter. With the resources available at Penn State, Franklin will have the Nittany Lions in contention for Big Ten titles and a spot in college football’s playoff in the near future.

4. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Record at Northwestern: 55-46 (8 years)
Career Record: 55-46 (8 years)
Northwestern’s Program Rank: (No. 13 in Big Ten, No. 59 nationally)

Fitzgerald’s career record doesn’t compare to Urban Meyer or Mark Dantonio, but let’s keep in mind he’s also coaching at one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs. One way to look at Fitzgerald’s ranking is this: If he was at a program at the top of college football’s food chain with more resources, we think he would win at a higher level. In eight years at Northwestern, Fitzgerald has been outstanding. The Wildcats are 55-46 under his watch and played in five consecutive bowl games from 2008-12. Northwestern also won the 2013 Gator Bowl, which was the program’s first postseason win since 1949. The 1-7 mark in Big Ten play last season was Northwestern’s worst conference record under Fitzgerald, but the Wildcats were hit hard by injuries. Under Fitzgerald, Northwestern will always be a factor in the bowl picture and should be a tough out for the rest of the Big Ten.

5. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 9-4 (1 year)
Career Record: 39-35 (5 years)
Wisconsin’s Program Rank: (No. 5 in Big Ten, No. 24 nationally)

Andersen isn’t as experienced in the Big Ten as Ferentz, Kill, Hoke or Pelini, but he has a strong resume in just six years as a head coach. Andersen’s first head coaching job came at Southern Utah in 2003. The Thunderbirds went 4-7 Andersen's debut, which represented a three-game improvement from 2002. After one season at Southern Utah, Andersen worked at Utah from 2004-08 as an assistant, including the final three years as the defensive coordinator. In 2009, he was hired as Utah State’s head coach. Andersen went 8-16 in the first two years but recorded an 18-8 mark over the final two seasons. Utah State’s 11-win campaign in 2012 was the most victories in school history. Andersen went 9-4 in his Wisconsin debut and all four losses were by 10 points or less.

6. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 108-79 (15 years)
Career Record: 120-100 (18 years)
Iowa’s Program Rank: (No. 7 in Big Ten, No. 32 nationally)

Ferentz may not be the flashiest coach, but he is easily one of the top-six coaches in the Big Ten. Iowa is a solid job, but it also has its drawbacks. There’s not a ton of in-state talent to build a team, but the Hawkeyes are 15-17 in conference play over the last four years, which is almost equal to Michigan during that span (18-14). Ferentz went 4-19 in his first two years at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes recorded six consecutive bowl appearances from 2001-06, including an Orange Bowl trip after the 2002 season. After missing out on a bowl in 2007, Iowa earned four straight postseason trips from 2008-11, and Ferentz got the program back on track after a 4-8 mark in 2012. With a favorable schedule and 12 starters back, Ferentz should have Iowa in contention for the West Division title in 2014.

7. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 17-21 (3 years)
Career Record: 144-94 (20 years)
Minnesota’s Program Rank: (No. 11 in Big Ten, No. 56 nationally)

Kill was a successful coach prior to taking over at Minnesota and has guided the Golden Gophers to back-to-back bowl games for the first time sine 2008-09. In five years at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98), Kill went 38-14 and followed that stint with a two-year stop at Emporia State (11-11). From 2001-07, Kill recorded a 55-32 mark at Southern Illinois, which included five consecutive appearances in the FCS playoffs. And in three years at Northern Illinois, Kill went 23-16 with three bowl trips. After a 3-9 mark at Minnesota in 2011, Kill is 14-12 and clearly has the program on the right track. Also, last year’s 4-4 Big Ten mark is the first record of .500 or better in Big Ten play by Minnesota since 2005.

8. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 26-13 (3 years)
Career Record: 73-63 (11 years)
Michigan’s Program Rank: (No. 2 in Big Ten, No. 10 nationally)

A few years ago, Hoke would have ranked higher on this list. However, Hoke’s stock has been on the decline after finishing 8-5 in 2012 and 7-6 in 2013. Prior to taking over at Michigan, Hoke recorded a 34-38 record in six seasons at Ball State, which included a 12-1 mark in 2008. He went 13-12 in two years at San Diego State and helped the program break an 11-year bowl drought with an appearance in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. Hoke went 11-2 in his Michigan debut in 2011 and led the Wolverines to a victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. However, despite back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes, the Wolverines are just 15-11 from 2012-13. Considering the expectations at Michigan, Hoke needs to show the program is headed in the right direction in 2014 to avoid the hot seat.

9. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Record at Nebraska: 58-24 (6 years)
Career Record: 58-24 (6 years)
Nebraska’s Program Rank: (No. 4 in Big Ten, No. 17 nationally)

Pelini is still looking for his first conference title or an appearance in a BCS bowl, but he has won at least nine games in each of his six seasons at Nebraska. While nine or ten victories a year works at most programs, is that an acceptable benchmark in Lincoln? Winning at Nebraska in 2014 is probably more challenging than it was in 1995, but according to recruiting rankings, the Cornhuskers have the No. 3 roster in the Big Ten. Although Pelini’s win total has been consistent and has five consecutive finishes in the final Associated Press poll, the expectations are huge at Nebraska. Would a 7-5 or 8-4 record in 2014 force athletic director Shawn Eichorst to rethink the direction of the program?

10. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 13-24 (3 years)
Career Record: 87-94 (15 years)
Maryland’s Program Rank: (No. 8 in Big Ten, No. 40 nationally)

Maryland has made steady progress in each of Edsall’s first three seasons and are in good position to make a bowl in 2014. Edsall was hired at Maryland in 2011 after 12 seasons at Connecticut. Under Edsall’s direction, the Huskies went 74-70 and claimed the Big East title in 2010. Edsall never recorded more than nine wins in a season at Connecticut, but he overachieved considering the program hierarchy in the Big East at the time. The Terrapins finished 2-10 in Edsall’s debut but improved their win total to four in 2012 and then seven in 2013. Maryland needs time to transition to the Big Ten, but Edsall is making gains in the right direction.

11. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Record at Indiana: 10-26 (3 years)
Career Record: 10-26 (3 years)
Indiana’s Program Rank: (No. 14 in Big Ten, No. 69 nationally)

Wilson was a highly regarded assistant prior to his hire at Indiana, and he has made a difference in three years with the Hoosiers. After a 1-11 mark in 2011, Wilson won four games in 2012 and five last season. Indiana was just a couple of plays away from a bowl, as it lost to Minnesota by three points and Navy by six last year. There’s no question Wilson is one of the Big Ten’s top offensive coaches, but the Hoosiers have struggled mightily on defense. Indiana has ranked last in the Big Ten for three consecutive years in yards allowed, and Wilson hired former Wake Forest coordinator Brian Knorr to call the plays in 2014. If Knorr can fix the defense, Indiana has plenty of firepower on offense to reach six wins. However, the Hoosiers drew a tough schedule in realignment, as they will play Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State every season.

12. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 17-21 (3 years)
Purdue’s Program Rank: (No. 12 in Big Ten, No. 57 nationally)

Hazell’s debut at Purdue was a disappointment. The Boilermakers finished 1-11 and were largely uncompetitive in Big Ten games. However, Hazell’s long-term outlook is positive after a successful two-year stint at Kent State from 2011-12. The Golden Flashes won 16 games in Hazell’s two years, which was the most by a Kent State coach since Don James won 16 from 1973-74. And in a good sign for the Boilermakers in 2014, Hazell’s second team at Kent State improved by six victories. There’s not much that separates the bottom three coaches in the Big Ten, but Hazell’s success at a tough job (Kent State) is enough to give him somewhat of a pass on what transpired in 2013.

13. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Record at Illinois: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 27-34 (5 years)
Illinois’ Program Rank: (No. 10 in Big Ten, No. 52 nationally)

Beckman has struggled in two years at Illinois, which comes as a surprise after a successful three-year stint at Toledo. In three seasons with the Rockets, Beckman went 21-16 and lost just two conference games over the last two years. The Fighting Illini went 2-10 in Beckman’s debut and improved to only 4-8 last season. Hiring Bill Cubit paid dividends for Illinois’ offense in 2013, but the defense has been dreadful, allowing at least 5.8 yards per play in back-to-back years. Another reason for concern is recruiting. Illinois ranked 70th nationally in the 247Sports Composite in 2013, which ranked 13th in the Big Ten.

14. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Record at Rutgers: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 15-11 (2 years)
Rutgers’ Program Rank: (No. 9 in Big Ten, No. 50 nationally)

Flood was promoted to head coach after Greg Schiano left for Tampa Bay in 2012. Although he has guided Rutgers to back-to-back bowl games, Flood is still largely unproven. The Scarlet Knights won nine games in 2012, yet lost their final three contests and a chance to win the Big East title. In 2013, Rutgers slipped to 6-7 in a weaker conference (American Athletic) and finished with losses in four out of its last five games. Flood overhauled his coaching staff this offseason, which included the hire of former coach Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen as the team’s offensive coordinator. The week-to-week grind in the Big Ten will be a challenge for Rutgers, but adding Friedgen and changing defensive coordinators should help Flood in 2014.

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Spring practice is underway for nearly all 128 college football teams, and the countdown to the 2014 season has officially started. There’s still a long way to go before August and the start of next year, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which players are ready for a big jump in production.

Earlier this spring, Athlon Sports examined which quarterbacks and running backs are on the rise heading into the offseason. Now, the focus shifts to receivers.

Predicting which receivers will have a breakout season is nearly impossible. With each team having a handful of options in the passing game, catches are often spread out and can also vary from game-to-game. And defensive coverage also plays a large role in how receivers will perform each week.

While this position is tough to peg in the preseason, there are plenty of possible breakout candidates. USC’s Nelson Agholor had a solid year in 2013, but he could be poised for an All-American season with Marqise Lee off to the NFL. Baylor’s Corey Coleman is another name to watch with the departure of Tevin Reese. Rutgers needs more consistency from its quarterbacks, but Leonte Carroo is a big-play threat and a receiver on the rise.

In addition to Miami's Stacy Coley, Agholor, Coleman and Carroo, here are a few other wide receivers that could be breakout stars in 2014.

15 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2014

Nelson Agholor, USC
Agholor earned a mention in this space last year, and he certainly impressed by catching 56 passes for 918 yards and six scores. While last season was a good year for Agholor, 2014 could be even better. With Marqise Lee gone, it’s Agholor’s turn to move into the No. 1 role in USC’s passing attack. Of course, the return of George Farmer and Steven Mitchell from injuries will factor into Agholor’s touches, but new coach Steve Sarkisian should get the Florida native involved early and often in 2014. In addition to his receiving totals, Agholor averaged 19.1 yards per kickoff return with two touchdowns. With Cody Kessler settled into the starting role, USC’s passing attack could be improved in 2014.

Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
There’s a big question mark at quarterback for Rutgers, but if new coordinator Ralph Friedgen can find some stability under center, the Scarlet Knights have a promising group of receivers. And with Brandon Coleman turning pro, Carroo has opportunity to become a No. 1 receiver. He ranked as the No. 29 receiver in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100 and played in 13 games as a true freshman. In 2013, Carroo was featured more prominently in the passing game, catching 28 passes for 478 yards and nine scores. Carroo’s 17.1 yards per catch average ranked No. 3 among receivers in the American Athletic Conference last year.

Sammie Coates, Auburn
Auburn led the nation in rushing last season, but with left tackle Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason leaving for the NFL, the Tigers could use quarterback Nick Marshall’s right arm more in 2014. Marshall made a successful transition from junior college quarterback to a starter in the SEC and should be even better with another offseason under his belt. Coates was Marshall’s favorite target last year, catching 42 passes for 902 yards and seven scores. He also averaged a whopping 21.5 yards per catch and had three consecutive 100-yard games in the middle of the season. The average might dip with more receptions, but Coates is poised for a huge season. 

Corey Coleman, Baylor
Antwan Goodley is clearly Baylor’s No. 1 target, but with the departure of speedster Tevin Reese, there’s an opportunity for Coleman or talented sophomore Robbie Rhodes to become an even bigger part of the passing attack in Waco. Coleman was the No. 35 ranked receiver by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class, and in his first taste of action last year, he caught 35 passes for 527 yards and two touchdowns. Baylor isn’t short on receivers, so Coleman may not make a huge jump in receptions this year. But considering his 15.1 yards per catch average, quarterback Bryce Petty could be frequently targeting the sophomore in 2014.

Stacy Coley, Miami
Coley became an instant contributor in the Miami passing attack as a true freshman in 2013. In 12 games, Coley caught 33 passes for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. Coley also averaged 17.9 yards per reception, which ranked No. 4 among ACC receivers with at least 30 catches in 2013. With Allen Hurns expiring his eligibility, the Pompano Beach native should be an even bigger factor in Miami’s passing game and should be a lock for All-ACC honors in 2014.

Quinshad Davis, North Carolina
North Carolina’s offense finished 2013 on a tear, averaging 40.6 points over the final seven games. Even though left tackle James Hurst and center Russell Bodine will be missed, the Tar Heels should have one of the ACC’s top offenses once again. Quarterback Marquise Williams will compete with Mitch Trubisky for the starting job, but Williams’ experience from 2013 should earn him the No. 1 spot. But regardless of which quarterback starts, there’s a plethora of talent available at the skill positions. After catching 61 passes as a freshman in 2012, Davis’ numbers slipped to 48 receptions in 2013. However, he was more productive in the big-play department, averaging 15.2 yards per catch and reaching paydirt 10 times.

Geno Lewis, Penn State
Replacing Allen Robinson is no easy assignment for new coach James Franklin. Robinson accounted for 97 of Penn State’s 241 receptions last year and led the team with an average of 14.8 yards per catch. The Nittany Lions have a solid collection of young talent at receiver, but there’s no clear No. 1 option. Could Lewis be the new go-to target for quarterback Christian Hackenberg? After redshirting in 2012, Lewis was an immediate factor in the receiving corps last year. He played in all 12 contests and caught 18 passes for 234 yards and three scores. Expect the Pennsylvania native to be featured even more in the passing game in 2014.

Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State
With quarterback Dak Prescott settled into the starting role, Mississippi State’s offense is set to take off in 2014. The Bulldogs have to replace standout guard Gabe Jackson, but there’s a cast of talented players at running back and at receiver. Lewis headlines the receiving corps after a standout 2013 campaign. In 13 games, he grabbed 64 receptions for 923 yards and five touchdowns. Lewis was also playing at a high level to close the year, catching at least six passes in each of his last three games, including a 220-yard performance against Rice in the Liberty Bowl. Prescott seems to have a good connection with Lewis, which should allow the senior to catch over 70 passes this season.

Jaydon Mickens, Washington
Washington’s passing game is unsettled right now, as quarterback Cyler Miles is suspended indefinitely due to an off-the-field incident. The Huskies aren’t short on talent at quarterback, however. Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams are solid options to replace Miles if he doesn’t return. Assuming the quarterback situation doesn’t become a concern for first-year coach Chris Petersen, Mickens and teammate Damore’ea Stringfellow (also suspended) will be two players to watch at receiver. Mickens caught 65 passes for 688 yards and five touchdowns last season but failed to top 36 yards over his last four games. Petersen and receivers coach Brent Pease developed plenty of talent at receiver during their years at Boise State, and Mickens – the No. 185 recruit in the 247Sports Composite in 2012 – could be poised to have his best all-around season in Seattle.

Marquez North, Tennessee
Tennessee’s offensive line is starting over with the departure of all five starters from last year, but Butch Jones has accumulated some intriguing talent at receiver. North made an instant impact as a true freshman in 2013, catching 38 passes for 496 yards and one score. The North Carolina native was a key cog in Tennessee’s upset win over South Carolina by catching three passes for 102 yards (including a nifty one-handed grab), while 16 of his receptions came against Alabama, Missouri and Auburn – arguably the top three teams in the SEC in 2013. North needs more help from his quarterbacks this season, and it’s uncertain if the Volunteers will turn to Joshua Dobbs again or if redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson takes the No. 1 spot. But regardless of which quarterback starts under center, North is poised to take a step forward in his development in 2014.

Shaq Roland, South Carolina
Roland was a huge in-state catch on the recruiting trail for Steve Spurrier, and after catching only five passes as a true freshman in 2012, he appears ready to emerge as the No. 1 receiver for the Gamecocks in 2014. In 10 appearances in 2013, Roland caught 25 passes for 455 yards and five scores. Roland also closed last season on a high note, recording six receptions for 112 yards against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. New quarterback Dylan Thompson has plenty of experience, but there may be a short transition period from Connor Shaw. However, Roland is poised to easily surpass last year’s totals and could sneak into All-SEC consideration if Thompson quickly settles into the job.

Jhajuan Seales, Oklahoma State
With only eight returning starters, 2014 is shaping up to be a transition year for Oklahoma State. While the Cowboys are unlikely to repeat as the Big 12 champions, Mike Gundy’s team should still find a way to be prolific on offense. Quarterback J.W. Walsh has experience, and he will be pushed by incoming freshman Mason Rudolph. Gundy has accumulated some promising talent at the skill positions, led by Seales at receiver and Desmond Roland at running back. Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore have departed at receiver, so Seales is likely to become the team’s top target in the passing game. As a redshirt freshman last year, Seales caught 39 passes for 571 yards and three touchdowns. With another offseason to work under Gundy and coordinator Mike Yurcich, Seales is set for a breakout campaign.

Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M
Seals-Jones was slated to be a key cog in Texas A&M’s receiving corps last season, but an injury sidelined him for the year after the first two games. The Texas native caught three passes for 84 yards and one score in the limited playing time. Seals-Jones ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100. The Aggies have a lot of talent in the receiving corps, and a quarterback must be found to replace Johnny Manziel. However, assuming he’s back to full strength, Seals-Jones could be the team’s No. 1 receiver by the end of 2014.

Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
With Jalen Saunders departing, Shepard is slated to become the new go-to target for sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight. The Oklahoma City native ranked as the No. 100 recruit in the nation by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class, and he has lived up to the hype through his first two years. Shepard played in 13 games in 2012 and caught 45 passes. As a sophomore in 2013, he started 12 games and grabbed 51 receptions for 603 yards and seven scores. Shepard was playing at a high level at the end of 2013, catching seven passes in back-to-back games against Oklahoma State and Alabama. Assuming Knight picks up where he left off in the Sugar Bowl, Shepard should be among the Big 12’s leading receivers in 2014.

Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
The Rebels’ top-10 recruiting class from 2013 should start to pay big dividends in 2014. Treadwell was one of the top prizes from Hugh Freeze’s haul in 2013, and the freshman receiver caught 72 passes for 608 yards and five touchdowns. Treadwell’s 72 catches led the team, but his 8.4 yards per catch left a little to be desired. However, he is expected to slide to one of the outside receiver spots this spring, which should increase his ability to make big plays downfield. Also, opposing SEC defenses won’t be able to devote too much attention in Treadwell’s direction, as a healthy Vince Sanders will help quarterback Bo Wallace stretch the field in 2014.

Other Receivers to Watch in 2014

Markeith Ambles, Houston
Ambles is a name familiar to many in the recruiting world, as he was a five-star prospect by Rivals in the 2010 signing class. After one year at USC, he transferred to Arizona Western and caught 44 passes for 757 yards in 2012. Ambles spent most of last season catching up, as he didn’t have a full set of fall practices to learn the offense. In 10 games, Ambles caught 17 passes for 252 yards and one touchdown, with six of those receptions coming in the bowl.

Victor Bolden/Malik Gilmore, Oregon State
Brandin Cooks was one of the top receivers in the nation last year, and Oregon State will have a tough time replacing his 128 receptions in 2013. Bolden and Gilmore combined for 13 receptions as freshmen last season and will be a bigger piece of the Beavers’ passing game this year.

Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State
Bundrage was Iowa State’s leading receiver in 2014, catching 48 passes for 676 yards and nine scores. The Cyclones should be better on offense this year, as former Kansas coach Mark Mangino was hired to call the plays, and Grant Rohach has stabilized the quarterback spot. If Bundrage continues to develop, he could emerge as one of the top receivers in the Big 12.

Devon Cajuste, Stanford
Ty Montgomery is Stanford’s No. 1 receiver, but Cajuste is a name to watch this season. In 13 games last year, he was the Cardinal’s big-play threat, catching 28 passes for 642 yards and five scores. His 22.9 yards per reception average led the nation.

Reginald Davis, Texas Tech
Eric Ward and Jace Amaro leave big shoes to fill in the receiving corps for Kliff Kingsbury. However, the Red Raiders have the next wave of standout options ready to emerge in 2014. Jakeem Grant is back after catching 65 passes last year, and Davis is a name to watch this season. As a freshman in 2013, Davis caught 15 passes for 200 yards and three scores.

Malachi Dupre, LSU
The Tigers were hit hard by departures in the receiving corps. Travin Dural is the team’s top returning option (7 catches for 145 yards), but all eyes this fall will be on Dupre. The New Orleans native ranked as the No. 17 recruit in the 247Sports Composite and could be an immediate contributor to the Tigers’ passing attack this year.

William Dukes, FAU
FAU’s offense made steady progress late last season, averaging 6.9 yards per play over the final three contests. Helping to continue that development in 2014 will be the return of quarterback Jaquez Johnson, while Dukes is slated to pick up some of the catches left behind by departing senior Daniel McKinney (49 catches for 610 yards in 2013).

Brisly Estime, Syracuse
The Orange quietly won seven games in Scott Shafer’s first season, and with quarterback Terrel Hunt expected to take a step forward in his development, the offense should be improved in 2014. As a true freshman in 2013, Estime caught 28 passes for 257 yards and one score. However, 20 of those came in his last four appearances. The average (9.2 yards per catch) needs to improve, but Estime should be a bigger contributor to the attack.

Devin Fuller/Devin Lucien/Jordan Payton, UCLA
Shaquelle Evans has expired his eligibility, but the Bruins are still in good shape at receiver with Fuller, Lucien and Payton returning. However, there’s one big question facing this group. Which one of this trio will emerge as a true No. 1 target for quarterback Brett Hundley?

William Fuller, Notre Dame
With TJ Jones gone, and DaVaris Daniels suspended, Fuller and Corey Robinson will have a chance to stake their claim for playing time. Fuller was the No. 276 recruit in the nation by 247Sports in the 2013 signing class and caught six passes for 160 yards and one touchdown last year.

Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Higgins was a good find for coach Jim McElwain on the recruiting trail. In his freshman season with the Rams last year, Higgins grabbed 68 catches for 837 yards and six scores. With four starters gone from the line, as well as the departure of running back Kapri Bibbs, the Rams will lean on the passing attack more in 2014. Expect an even better stat line for Higgins as a sophomore.

Kam Jones, UTSA
Jones led UTSA by averaging 98.1 all-purpose yards per game and caught 34 passes for 345 yards last year. He should be the Roadrunners’ top target in the passing game once again in 2014.

Ermon Lane, Florida State
Rashad Greene should be one of the nation’s top receivers, but the Seminoles are looking to replace Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, so there is playing time available for the incoming freshmen. Jimbo Fisher reeled in some of the nation's top receivers, including Lane (No. 24 prospect in 247Sports Composite) and Travis Rudolph (No. 43). Look for both players to see snaps in 2014.

Jordan Leslie, BYU
Leslie was an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection after catching 44 passes for 612 yards and seven scores at UTEP last season. As a graduate transfer, Leslie is eligible to play immediately and will help BYU’s offense replace standout receiver Cody Hoffman.

Chris Moore, Cincinnati
The Bearcats should be one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference in 2014. New quarterback Gunner Kiel is unproven but certainly not short on talent. Shaq Washington led the team with 78 catches last year, but Moore led all Cincinnati receivers with nine touchdown receptions. With Anthony McClung expiring his eligibility, Moore should move up in the pecking order in the receiving corps.

Ronnie Moore, Bowling Green
Bowling Green made one of the top head coach hires of the offseason by picking Dino Babers away from Eastern Illinois. Babers runs a pass-first offense, which should thrive with the return of quarterback Matt Johnson. The Falcons lose their top two targets from last year, but Moore returns after catching 28 passes for 547 yards and seven touchdowns in his freshman campaign. Assuming Moore's game continues to move forward this offseason, he should be a dynamic weapon in Bowling Green’s offense.

Breshad Perriman, UCF
The Knights have an impressive collection of receivers, but a new quarterback must be found with the departure of Blake Bortles. J.J. Worton and Rannell Hall were ahead of Perriman in receptions, but the Georgia native wasn’t far behind, catching 39 passes for 811 yards and four touchdowns. Perriman’s 20.8 average on receptions ranked fifth nationally in 2013.

Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Bernard Reedy was one of the MAC’s top receivers over the last few years, and he leaves after catching 62 passes for 840 yards and eight scores in 2013. The Rockets are in good hands at receiver, however, as Russell is poised to emerge as the No. 1 target after catching 59 passes and six touchdowns last year.

Bud Sasser, Missouri
The Tigers are set at one spot with Dorial Green-Beckman, but Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington depart after combining for 108 catches last year. Sasser caught 26 passes for 361 yards last season and should help fill the void left by Washington and Lucas.

Tajae Sharpe, UMass
Sharpe was one of the few bright spots for UMass in 2013. He caught 61 passes for 680 yards and four scores in 11 contests. With an upgrade at quarterback in Marshall transfer Blake Frohnapfel, Sharpe could emerge as one of the top receivers in the MAC.

Joshua Stanford, Virginia Tech
Stanford provided big-play ability for Virginia Tech’s offense last season, catching 40 passes for 640 yards and one touchdown (16 ypc). The Hokies need to find a replacement for quarterback Logan Thomas, but Stanford is an emerging star in the ACC.

Kevin White/Daikiel Shorts, West Virginia
West Virginia’s quarterback situation is unsettled, but the Mountaineers have a promising group of receivers. Daikiel Shorts caught 45 passes as a true freshman, and White was a big-play threat (14.5 ypc) in his first year on campus.

Mike Williams, Clemson
Clemson’s receiving corps has talent, but there is plenty of uncertainty about which players will end up in starting roles. Germone Hopper will miss the rest of spring practice due to academics, and Charone Peake – returning from a torn ACL – was limited early in spring workouts. Williams caught 20 passes for 316 yards as a true freshman and should be an even bigger piece of Clemson’s passing attack in 2014. However, can he hold off a talented group of incoming freshmen for playing time this offseason?

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College Football's Top 15 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2014
Post date: Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 07:15
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The start of spring practice for all 128 college football teams is a chance to start fresh and forget the bad results that came along with 2013.

For a handful of coaches, spring practice is also the first opportunity to turn around a program and save their job for 2015.

Florida’s Will Muschamp sports a 22-16 record after three years with the Gators, but last season’s 4-8 record isn’t sitting well in Gainesville. Fixing the offense was the top priority for Muschamp this spring, and former Duke assistant Kurt Roper is tasked with finding the right answers. Considering Florida recruits at an elite level, there’s too much talent on the roster to be finishing 4-8. Another losing season would certainly spell the end of Muschamp's tenure with the Gators. 

Virginia’s Mike London and Illinois’ Tim Beckman rank behind Muschamp as the other top coaches on the hot seat. London has one winning record in four years at Virginia, while Beckman has one Big Ten victory in two seasons.

The 2014 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which jobs might come open in December. Here’s a look at the top 10 coaches on the hot seat for 2014, as well as some reasoning on why or why not they should be feeling the heat this year.

College Football’s Coach on the Hot Seat Rankings: Spring Practice Edition

1. Will Muschamp
Record at Florida: 22-16 (3 years)
Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: At a program like Florida, losing seasons simply shouldn’t happen. The Gators have averaged a 5.6 finish nationally over the last five recruiting classes, yet have only 30 wins during that span. Florida’s SEC record is also a disappointing 17-15 from 2010-14. Muschamp may have inherited some roster problems from Urban Meyer, but he has four classes of his players heading into the 2014 season. Although Muschamp guided Florida to 11 wins in 2012, his other two seasons resulted in just 11 total victories. Also, the offense has been an ongoing concern. The Gators averaged an underwhelming 4.7 yards per play in SEC games last year.

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Although Florida underachieved last year, this program is just one year removed from a Sugar Bowl appearance. Muschamp seemed to have things trending in the right direction, but injuries and a woeful offense were just too much to overcome. With the addition of Kurt Roper and Mike Summers to the offensive staff, the Gators should show improvement in 2014. As mentioned above, recruiting certainly isn’t an issue for Muschamp. And with a full offseason for all of the injuries to heal, Florida could be the most improved team in the SEC in 2014.

2. Mike London
Record at Virginia: 18-31 (4 years)
Career Record: 42-36 (6 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: London was a promising hire for Virginia after recording 24 wins in two seasons at Richmond. He also guided the Spiders to a FCS Championship in 2008. However, he has yet to fulfill that promise with the Cavaliers. London has just 18 wins on his resume in Charlottesville and eight of those victories came in 2011. After a 2-10 record last year, London needs to show significant progress to return in 2015.

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Recruiting. If any number suggests Virginia could turn things around in 2014, the recruiting rankings are the one to look at. The Cavaliers have four straight classes ranked inside of the top 35, which places this roster as the No. 6 group in the ACC. Also, success at Virginia hasn’t been easy to come by since George Welsh left in 2000. The Cavaliers have only six winning seasons in the last 13 years. Perhaps this job is tougher than some believe?

3. Tim Beckman
Record at Illinois: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 27-34 (5 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: After a solid 21-16 stint at Toledo, Beckman has just one Big Ten victory in two seasons at Illinois. And that one conference win was over a Purdue team that was 1-11 and among the worst BCS teams in the nation last season. Prior to Beckman's arrival, the Fighting Illini won seven games in back-to-back years. Although progress was notable on offense last year, Illinois’ defense regressed from 2012 and allowed a whopping 506.3 yards per game in Big Ten action. Illinois isn’t one of the Big Ten’s elite jobs, but this program should be going to bowl games on a consistent basis.

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: The Fighting Illini made a two-game improvement in the win column last year, and there’s hope the offense can pickup where it left off with Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt at quarterback. And with eight starters back on defense, it's reasonable to expect improvement on that side of the ball. 

4. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 39-47 (7 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: Weis was a surprising hire by Kansas. In five years at Notre Dame, he guided the Fighting Irish to a disappointing 35-27 record and went 16-21 in his final three years in South Bend. Weis’ tenure at Kansas hasn’t fared much better. The Jayhawks are 4-20 overall and six losses last year were by at least 20 points. Although Weis seems to have upgraded the overall talent level, it’s not showing on the field.

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Kansas snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak last year and improved its win total by two games in Weis’ second year. Yes, it’s small, but at least there was some progress. Also, Kansas isn’t the easiest place to coach. The Jayhawks have only five bowl appearances since 1995, and prior to Weis’ arrival, only one of the last 11 coaches finished their tenure with a winning record.

5. Norm Chow
Record at Hawaii: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 4-20 (2 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: Hawaii is coming off its first back-to-back losing seasons since 1997-98. Even though this is not an easy job, the Warriors have played in seven bowl games since 2000. With the recent success in mind, winning four games in two years is underachieving at a place like Hawaii.  

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: As mentioned above, despite the success of June Jones, this is not an easy job. Chow is also making a significant switch in schemes, changing Hawaii from a wide-open passing offense to more of a pro-style approach. Clearly, a big change in schemes does take time to recruit to. If there’s any coach who understands what it takes to win at Hawaii, Chow would be the perfect pick. He’s a Hawaii native and began his coaching career in the state’s high school ranks. The Warriors won only game last season but lost five games by seven points or less.

6. Ron Turner, FIU
Record at FIU: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)

Why he should be on the hot seat: Turner was an unpopular pick to replace Mario Cristobal at FIU. And after one season, there’s not much to suggest he can lead the Panthers into Conference USA title contention. FIU went 1-11 last year, which was its worst record since 2007. The Panthers were largely uncompetitive in 2013, losing to FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman and scoring only 10 touchdowns in eight Conference USA games.

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Turner deserves a little time to rebuild FIU’s roster. Only five starters returned last year, and the experience gained by the young players in 2013 could pay off in 2014.

7. Dana Holgorsen
Record at West Virginia: 21-17 (3 years)
Career Record: 21-17 (3 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: Since a 10-3 debut in 2011, Holgorsen is just 11-14 in his last two years. West Virginia’s Big 12 record regressed from 2012 to 2013, and the Mountaineers missed out on a bowl for the first time since 2001. Also, West Virginia had an inexcusable loss to a bad Kansas team last year. Although Holgorsen is regarded for his background on offense, West Virginia’s defense has allowed at least six yards per play over the last two years. Can he find the right answers in 2014?

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Transitioning from the Big East to the Big 12 was supposed to be easy. However, as some of the other programs that changed conferences (TCU and Utah) have showed, it’s not as easy as it seems. West Virginia needs a little time to get acclimated to its new surroundings, and Holgorsen must improve the talent level to compete consistently with Texas, Oklahoma and now Baylor. Last year’s 4-8 record was a disappointment, but the Mountaineers lost two games in overtime and had to replace three of the top offensive performers in school history. Also, a rash of injuries prevented the defense from taking a step forward.

8. Kyle Flood
Record at Rutgers: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 15-11 (2 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: Rutgers is moving from the American Athletic Conference to the Big Ten in 2014. The Scarlet Knights are in a division that features Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, so there’s little margin for error each season. Although Flood has 15 victories through his first two years, Rutgers went just 6-7 in the American Athletic Conference in 2013. In a tougher conference, Flood has to prove he is capable of elevating the program. Recruiting has regressed under Flood, as the Scarlet Knights have ranked outside of the top 40 in back-to-back years.

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Flood took steps in the right direction this offseason, hiring former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen to coordinate the offense, while making other staff changes after a 6-7 record. As with any program changing conferences, the move to the Big Ten will take some time to adjust. Would changing head coaches really improve a team that is predicted by most to finish sixth or seventh in the East in 2014?

9. Bo Pelini
Record at Nebraska: 58-24 (6 full years)
Career Record: 58-24 (6 full years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: At programs like Nebraska, coaches are expected to win big. Pelini has won at least nine games in each of his six seasons, but he does not have a BCS bowl appearance and has yet to win a conference title. Is Nebraska a tougher job than it was in the 1990s? Perhaps. Pelini also had an up-and-down year off-the-field in 2013. Comments made about the fanbase from 2011 surfaced, and he was reprimanded for his comments about officials after losing to Iowa last season.

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Although Pelini has yet to win a conference title, winning 58 games in six years is a solid tenure. And Nebraska has finished in the final Associated Press poll for five consecutive years. Although the move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten wasn’t a drastic switch, an adjustment period was expected. With three full seasons under their belt, the Cornhuskers should be acclimated to their new surroundings, allowing Pelini a chance to take this program to the next level.

10. Brady Hoke
Record at Michigan: 26-13 (3 years)
Career Record: 73-63 (11 years)

Why he should be on the hot seat: After winning 11 games in 2011, Hoke’s win total has regressed in each of the last two years. Michigan was barely over .500 in 2013, and the offense finished 10th in the Big Ten in total yards per game. According to the recruiting rankings, the Wolverines have the No. 2 roster in the Big Ten. So why is this team just 9-7 in conference play over the last two years?

Why he shouldn’t be on the hot seat: Remember 2011? Michigan went 11-2 and claimed a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. That isn’t the only highlight on Hoke’s resume, as he guided Ball State to a 12-1 mark in 2008 and San Diego State to a 9-4 record in 2010. It’s not easy to win at programs like Ball State and San Diego State, so Hoke was clearly doing something right. There’s no question last year’s 7-6 mark was a huge disappointment. However, the Wolverines lost four regular season games by four points or less. With a stockpile of young talent, Michigan could turn those close losses into wins in 2014.

Getting Warm?

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Johnson set the bar high by winning 19 games through his first two seasons (2008-09). But over the last four years, the Yellow Jackets are 28-25 overall. Johnson is considered a sharp X’s and O’s coach and has never finished under .500 in ACC play. Georgia Tech ranks as the No. 9 job in the ACC, yet only two teams (Florida State and Virginia Tech) have played for the ACC Championship more times since 2005. Despite the success, there is plenty of unrest about the program among the fanbase. 2014 will be an important year for Johnson’s long-term future at Georgia Tech.

Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Blankenship picked up where Todd Graham left off and guided Tulsa to 19 wins in his first two years. However, the Golden Hurricane dramatically regressed last season, winning three games and was outgained by 70.5 yards per game in Conference USA play. Blankenship lost several key performers going into last season, so some regression from the 11-win campaign in 2012 was expected. But with Tulsa moving to the American Athletic Conference, the competition is only going to increase. Blankenship needs to prove the Golden Hurricane is headed back in the right direction in 2014.

Dan Enos, Central Michigan
After back-to-back 3-9 records to start his tenure, Enos is 13-12 over the last two years. However, soft late-season schedules helped to pad the win total, and Central Michigan has largely been uncompetitive against Ball State, Northern Illinois and Toledo – arguably the top three teams in the MAC West heading into 2014.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Whittingham isn’t in any danger of being fired, and it’s hard to place him on any hot seat list as the Utes are making a difficult transition from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. Quarterback injuries have impacted the offense in each of the last three years, which has hindered this program’s ability to compete in the Pac-12. However, after winning four conference games in 2011, the Utes are just 5-13 over the last two years. Again, it’s too early to place Whittingham on the hot seat. However, the gap between Arizona State, Arizona, USC and UCLA seems to be growing over Utah. Showing progress in 2014 will be important for Whittingham’s long-term outlook in Salt Lake City.

Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Indiana is one of the toughest jobs in the Big Ten. Wilson has made considerable progress over the last three years, and the Hoosiers just missed out on a bowl in 2013. Although Indiana has one of the conference’s top offenses, the defense has ranked last in yards allowed (conference-only games) for three consecutive years. Fixing the defense has to be a priority for Wilson, especially in a tough division that features Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State.

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College Football's Coaches on the Hot Seat: 2014 Spring Practice Edition
Post date: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 07:15
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Injuries and a struggling defense derailed Georgia’s East Division title hopes last season. But with a full offseason to recover from last year’s ailments, combined with the addition of Jeremy Pruitt as the team’s defensive coordinator, two of the biggest question marks facing the Bulldogs have been answered.

However, Georgia opened spring practice with one glaring question mark on offense. Is Hutson Mason ready to replace Aaron Murray? Mason started the final two games last season and has waited for his chance to start. This is Mason’s first spring to work as the starter, so all eyes in Athens will be on his performance.

Georgia has claimed at least a share of the East Division in two of the last three years. If the defense takes a step forward as expected, and Mason settles into the starting role, the Bulldogs could be the team to beat in a top-heavy East.

Georgia Bulldogs 2014 Spring Preview

2013 Record: 8-5 (5-3 SEC)

Spring Practice Opens: March 18

Spring Game: April 12

Returning Starters

Offense: 5

Defense: 10

Three Things to Watch in Georgia’s 2014 Spring Practice

2014 Schedule 
DateOpponent
Aug. 30
Sept. 13at 
Sept. 20
Sept. 27
Oct. 4
Oct. 11at 
Oct. 18at 
Nov. 1 (Jax)
Nov. 8 at 
Nov. 15
Nov. 22Charleston Southern
Nov. 29

1. Hutson Mason’s development: Prior to 2013, Mason threw just 47 passes in a Georgia uniform. But once Aaron Murray was lost for the year against Kentucky, he was pressed into his first extended action. Mason performed well in his limited audition, throwing for 299 yards and two touchdowns in a win over rival Georgia Tech, and he completed 21 of 39 passes for 320 yards in an awful weather day in the Gator Bowl. As with any first-year starter, Mason has room to grow and will have his share of ups and downs. And Mason’s development took a hit this spring, as top receiver Malcolm Mitchell is out due to a leg injury. Georgia is also breaking in three starters on the line, but center David Andrews should ease Mason’s transition into the full-time role. This spring is Mason’s first chance to have a full offseason of workouts with the No. 1 offense, which should pay huge dividends for his performance in 2014.

2. New faces on the line: Three starters are gone from a line that allowed only 22 sacks last year. As mentioned above, the key cog in the line will be center David Andrews, who should be a candidate for All-SEC honors. Having Andrews back is a huge plus for a team breaking in a new quarterback, but the Bulldogs still need to round out their starting five. Kolton Houston and John Theus are expected to win the starting jobs at tackle, while Mark Beard, Watts Dantzler and Brandon Kublanow appear to be the frontrunners to battle for time at the guard spots. Line coach Will Friend has plenty of options and talent at his disposal and finding the right mix is crucial with two talented defenses to open the season (Clemson and South Carolina).

3. Pruitt’s stamp on the defense: Georgia’s hire of Jeremy Pruitt is one of the top coordinator additions of the offseason. Prior to his highly successful one year at Florida State, Pruitt was an assistant at Alabama, so he’s no stranger to life in the SEC. Despite having one of the league’s most-talented rosters, the Bulldogs have not finished higher than fourth in the SEC in total defense since 2008. Considering previous coordinator Todd Grantham ran a 3-4 approach, Pruitt’s multiple looks on defense should make for an easy transition. Talent certainly isn’t an issue for Georgia, as 10 starters are back, and the linebacking corps could be the best in the SEC. The Bulldogs created only 15 takeaways last year, so creating more turnovers will be a priority for Pruitt this spring.

2014 Early Projected Win Range: 9-11

Picking a favorite in the East will be an interesting discussion among preseason prognosticators. A case can be made for Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri, and Florida shouldn’t be forgotten about thanks to a favorable home schedule. Even though the Bulldogs are replacing a prolific quarterback in Aaron Murray, there’s enough returning to make a run at the SEC title. Running back Todd Gurley should be an All-American in 2014, and assuming Malcolm Mitchell returns to full strength, the receiving corps will be one of the best in the SEC. With Pruitt calling the plays, Georgia’s defense will take a step forward in 2014. Road trips to South Carolina and Missouri, but there’s enough talent on this roster for Mark Richt’s team to win the East Division.

Teaser:
Georgia Bulldogs 2014 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 07:15

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