Articles By Steven Lassan

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The SEC is one of college football’s top conferences for quarterback play in 2013.

Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel clearly ranks as the No. 1 quarterback for this season, as the sophomore hopes to repeat as a Heisman Trophy winner, while leading the Aggies to a SEC West title. Alabama’s AJ McCarron ranks as the No. 2 quarterback, with Georgia’s Aaron Murray not too far behind.

South Carolina’s Connor Shaw ranks as the No. 4 starting quarterback but is expected to share time with Dylan Thompson this fall.

Two quarterbacks that could rise significantly in this ranking in 2013 will be LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Florida’s Jeff Driskel. With both passers in their second year as a starter, improvement from 2012 should be expected.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article. Also, some projection for how we think quarterbacks are going to play for 2013 factored into this ranking.

Ranking the SEC Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (SO)
Manziel’s 2012 season is one of the best years by a freshman in college football history. In 13 games, Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 1,410 yards and 21 scores. He tossed only nine picks and won the Heisman Trophy after leading Texas A&M to a 10-2 regular-season mark. Repeating his numbers from last season will be difficult, as the Aggies won’t have Kliff Kingsbury calling the plays and left tackle Luke Joeckel departed early for the NFL. Also, SEC defenses have a full offseason to study Manziel, so the road figures to be tougher for the sophomore in 2013. However, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is still in for a big season and should be a preseason first-team All-American.
 

2. AJ McCarron, Alabama (SR)
McCarron isn’t going to post huge numbers like Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, but the senior is one of college football’s top quarterbacks and has a chance to finish his career as one of the most prolific of the BCS era. McCarron is coming off his best year under center, throwing for 2,933 yards and 30 scores in 2012. For his career, McCarron has tossed only eight interceptions in 690 attempts and has two national championships as Alabama’s No. 1 quarterback. Alabama has one of the SEC’s top receiving corps and despite the loss of three key offensive line starters, McCarron could improve on his 2012 totals.
 

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia (SR)
There is only one thing left unfinished on Murray’s pristine college resume: He needs to cap a season with a win in Atlanta to cement his legacy as one of the top SEC quarterbacks of all-time. He already holds the Georgia school record for passing efficiency after finishing second in the nation a year ago with a 174.82 rating, while his 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns were UGA benchmarks as well. The 6-foot, 210-pound gunslinger needs less than 1,500 yards and just 19 passing scores, both of which are obviously well within reach, to set both SEC all-time records. The star from powerhouse Tampa (Fla.) Plant has started every one of his possible 41 career games, leading the Dawgs to a 22-6 record and two East Division titles over the last two seasons. A win in the SEC Championship game is all that Murray has left to accomplish.
 

4. Connor Shaw, South Carolina (SR)
Shaw won’t wow anyone with elite passing talent or overall accuracy, but he brings so much more to the offense than just throwing the football. The Flowery Branch (Ga.) High senior-to-be boasts a 17-3 record as a starter and brings an unquestioned level of toughness to the huddle. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder also has an uncanny ability to extend plays with his legs. However, this toughness and inclination to run the ball also has led to consistent injury trouble for the Gamecocks quarterback. He has missed five games over the last two seasons and was absent from spring football after offseason foot surgery. Backup Dylan Thompson is a more polished passer and Steve Spurrier has made it clear that both will play this fall, but Shaw’s leadership and toughness makes him the starter in Columbia. An underrated starter at that.


5. Tyler Russell, Mississippi State (SR)
In the first half of the season, Russell looked like an All-SEC quarterback. Through the first seven games, Russell threw 15 touchdowns and just one interception. However, in the next seven contests, he managed only nine scores and tossed nine interceptions. So where is Russell? Probably somewhere in the middle. The senior is clearly capable of playing better than he did at the end of last season. However, Russell is losing some of his best receivers and struggled to produce against the SEC West’s best teams. If Russell can regain his early 2012 form, he should be one of the SEC’s top-five quarterbacks this fall.

Related Content: Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Who Will Have More Wins in 2013?


6. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (JR)
Wallace was one of the SEC’s top newcomers last year, throwing for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns, along with 390 rushing yards and eight scores. The Tennessee native tossed eight touchdowns over the final two games and threw for 310 yards in a narrow loss to LSU in mid-November. After a solid debut, the Ole Miss fan base is holding its breath about Wallace for 2013. The 6-foot-4 passer had shoulder surgery after the BBVA Compass Bowl but is expected to return by the season opener. However, shoulder surgeries – as evidenced by Missouri’s James Franklin – aren’t a guaranteed return to full health immediately. If Wallace does return to 100 percent, he should easily improve on last season’s numbers.
 

7. Zach Mettenberger, LSU (SR)
Big things were expected of Mettenberger in his first season as LSU’s No. 1 quarterback, but he fell short of those expectations. In 13 starts, he threw for 2,609 yards and 12 touchdowns and tossed seven picks. Mettenberger had a solid performance against Alabama, torching the Crimson Tide for 298 yards and one score. However, he had only two other contests of more than 250 passing yards and finished the year on a down note with just 120 yards against Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Mettenberger has a new coordinator in former NFL coach Cam Cameron and another offseason should help the Georgia native get more comfortable with his supporting cast. Mettenberger has room to improve and could rise in these rankings if he and Cameron can get on the same page.
 

8. Jeff Driskel, Florida (JR)
The Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty prospect was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation coming out of high school in 2011. He saw action in just five games as a freshman when John Brantley was injured and he was clearly out over his skis. But as a sophomore, the burly 6-foot-4, 240-pounder settled in as the starter and began to control the offense. Driskel is entering his third season on campus and his second full season as the unquestioned starter and it should be his best. He brings an elite level of athleticism — his 177 yards rushing against Vanderbilt is a school record for a quarterback — and is at his best on the run, out of the pocket and improvising. So if he can learn to play more consistent and efficient football within the confines of the designed offense, he could blossom into one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks.
 

9. James Franklin, Missouri (SR)
A highly-touted dual-threat prospect from Corinth (Texas) Lake Dallas, Franklin had a breakout 2011 campaign by throwing for 2,865 yards, rushing for 981 yards and accounting for 36 touchdowns. So expectations were sky high heading into 2012 before a serious shoulder injury last spring slowed his development. He also was limited by a balky knee last season. Transitioning into the physical and extremely competitive SEC is tough enough when fully healthy, so Franklin struggled mightily in his second season as the starter. He rushed for 859 fewer yards, threw for 1,303 fewer yards and produced 26 fewer touchdowns. He has the talent and the system to be productive but needs to stay healthy if he wants to get Mizzou back to the postseason as an SEC program. Franklin will be pushed by Maty Mauk for playing time in the fall.
 

10. Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt (SR)
The senior-to-be from San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine Prep was a star at Wyoming before transferring to Vandy. He earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors in 2009 after a dynamic first season in Laramie. He produced more than 2,000 yards of total offense as a sophomore before deciding he needed a change of scenery. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound athlete — he has 786 career rushing yards — lost the battle to start to Jordan Rodgers a year ago but is the guy for the Commodores in 2013. He has the ability to extend plays with his legs and will have elite talent around him at running back and wide receiver to lean on. Carta-Samuels should be capable of leading the Dores to an unprecedented third straight bowl game. If he struggles, redshirt freshman Patton Robinette will get a chance to lead the offense.
 

11. Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky (SO)
Four different Wildcats attempted at least 30 passes a year ago, but Whitlow (161) led the team. The wide spread of playing time portrays the struggles with productivity and injuries at the quarterback position for Kentucky a year ago. Enter new head coach Mark Stoops. The battle will rage deep into the summer but the 6-foot-2, 210-pound dual-threat option appears to be the early front-runner over fellow sophomores Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles. Whitlow brings an athletic dimension to the spread offense that new playcaller Neal Brown is looking for — see his 206 yards rushing and three touchdowns in seven starts a year ago — and he showcased his skills by dominating the heavily attended spring game in Lexington. The Prattville (Ala.) High prospect has some sneaky upside if he can hold on to the starting job.
 

12. Justin Worley, Tennessee (JR)
Sitting behind the brittle Tyler Bray the last two seasons gave Worley a leg up in the 2013 race for Tennessee’s starting quarterback job. He got work in three games as a freshman, throwing for 604 yards on 87 attempts, and saw time in three more games as a sophomore. This small bit of experience gives the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern product the inside track on Nathan Peterman and incoming four-star freshman Joshua Dobbs. The pro-style passer has a solid arm and big frame but it remains to be seen exactly who new coach Butch Jones is leaning towards. This position battle might run well past the season opener unless Worley proves he has developed in an SEC starter.


13. Brandon Allen, Arkansas (SO)
With Tyler Wilson expiring his eligibility, the Razorbacks are expected to hand the keys to the offense to Allen. The sophomore made one start last season (Alabama), throwing for 60 yards on 10 completions. The Arkansas native finished 2012 with 186 passing yards and three interceptions on 21 completions. Considering all that transpired with the Razorbacks last season, Allen shouldn’t be judged too much on his numbers from 2012. The 6-foot-3 quarterback was a four-star prospect coming out of high school by Rivals.com and has the size and skill-set to be a good fit in new coordinator Jim Chaney’s offense. Allen held an edge over Brandon Mitchell in spring ball and should take the first snap for Arkansas in 2013.
 

14. Kiehl Frazier, Auburn (JR)
Auburn’s offense was simply a disaster last season. The Tigers averaged 18.7 points a game and ranked 112th nationally in passing offense. A big reason for the sluggish offense was the departure of Gus Malzahn to Arkansas State at the end of 2011, which prompted Gene Chizik to hire Scot Loeffler as the team’s new coordinator. Loeffler implemented a pro-style attack, which didn’t mesh with Auburn’s personnel. Frazier and backup Jonathan Wallace are the biggest beneficiaries of Malzahn’s return to The Plains, as both quarterbacks are a better fit for the spread. Frazier finished 2012 with 753 passing yards and two touchdowns, along with eight interceptions. The junior has the most experience of any quarterback on the roster, which should give him the edge to start in the season opener.

 

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the SEC's Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12-quarterbacks-2013
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Even though coach Chip Kelly left for the NFL, Oregon’s offense is in good hands with quarterback Marcus Mariota. After earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors last year, Mariota should be the Pac-12’s No. 1 quarterback in 2013 and could be in the mix for All-American honors.

The Pac-12 has plenty of talent returning in addition to Mariota, as UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly and Washington’s Keith Price rank as the top four options.

There’s also plenty of intrigue with the rest of the conference, as Utah’s Travis Wilson and California’s Zach Kline could be in for a breakout season.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article. Also, some projection for how we think quarterbacks are going to play for 2013 factored into this ranking.

Ranking the Pac-12 Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon (SO)
The redshirt sophomore-to-be with a calm demeanor has quickly become a fan and coach favorite in Eugene. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound signal caller is poised in the pocket and rarely gets flustered while operating one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. In his first season under center as a freshman, the Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis product accounted for 37 total touchdowns and 3,429 yards of offense (2,677 passing, 752 rushing) and nearly led the Ducks to a perfect record. Mariota paced the Pac-12 in passing efficiency and led the nation in road passer rating, proving his ability to stay cool under pressure. He is efficient, productive, leads by example and is only a sophomore. Watch out West Coast.
 

2. Brett Hundley, UCLA (SO)
Hundley had a record-setting debut for UCLA last season and was a key piece to the Bruins’ Pac-12 South title. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he started all 14 games and set UCLA single-season records for passing yards (3,740), total offense (4,095 yards), and completions (318). Hundley tossed only 11 picks, with four coming in UCLA’s 43-17 loss to California. One of his best performances came against Nebraska, recording 358 yards and four passing scores in a 36-30 win for the Bruins. Despite the departure of running back Johnathan Franklin and tight end Joseph Fauria, UCLA’s offense shouldn't miss much of a beat in 2013. Hundley should be a lock for All-Pac-12 honors and will keep UCLA in the mix for the Pac-12 South title once again.
 

3. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State (JR)
Kelly was one of the Pac-12’s biggest surprises last season, as he went from third on the depth chart after spring practice to starter by the first game. The Idaho native quickly showed why he was the team’s No. 1 quarterback, throwing for 249 yards and one touchdown in the Sept. 8 matchup against Illinois, and he opened Pac-12 play with back-to-back three-touchdown games. Kelly finished the season with 3,039 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, along with 516 yards and one score on the ground. He also ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency. Kelly tossed only nine picks and went without an interception in each of the final three games. With an offseason to work as the No. 1 starter, look for Kelly to improve and challenge for All-Pac-12 honors.
 

4. Keith Price, Washington (SR)
Price’s 2012 season has to be considered a disappointment, considering how he played in '11. The Compton (Calif.) St. John Bosco quarterback set all types of school records two years ago, including single-season records for touchdown passes (33), completion percentage (66.9) and passing efficiency (161.09). It was arguably the best single-season by a Huskies passer in school history. So his major regression in every statistical category last fall has the 6-foot-1, 200-pound gunslinger entering a pivotal senior season. Certainly, widespread offensive line injuries were a major cause of Price’s struggles a year ago, but Steve Sarkisian needs his offensive leader to be more effective in 2013 if U of W expects to compete in the North. All signs point to Price returning to 2011 form in his final season at Washington.
 

5. Kevin Hogan, Stanford (SO)
It took eight games but David Shaw found his replacement for Andrew Luck when he inserted the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder into the lineup a few plays into the Colorado game. Hogan proceeded to lead the Cardinal to a 6-0 record to end the season — including the school’s first Rose Bowl win since 1972 — with efficient and dynamic play under center. He passed for 1,096 yards on 71.7-percent passing with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions while providing a spark on the ground with 263 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. The McLean (Va.) Gonzaga product is a sneaky good athlete and quickly proved to be a savvy leader on The Farm. Should some pass-catchers develop around him, Hogan could be in for a huge season in 2013.
 

6. Sean Mannion, Oregon State (JR)
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound quarterback posted one of the best freshman seasons in Pac-12 history two seasons ago (3,328 yards). Mannion was off to a hot start in 2012 before suffering a knee injury four games into his sophomore season. The Pleasanton (Calif.) Foothill recruit was rushed back into action just three weeks later — coach Mike Riley has admitted as much — and it led to four interceptions and the team’s first loss of the year against Washington. Mannion was benched to heal properly and eventually returned to the field in the regular season’s final three games. The Beavers passer averaged over 300 yards passing per game (305.8 ypg) in his eight showings last year and could be in for a big junior season in Corvallis if he can stay healthy.
 

7. Cody Kessler, USC (SO)
There’s a clear drop-off in Pac-12 quarterbacks after the first six options are ranked. While Kessler has only thrown two passes in his career, it’s hard to ignore the potential of the starting quarterback at USC. The sophomore is still locked into a tight battle for the No. 1 spot with Max Wittek, but Kessler seemed to edge ahead this spring. The California native isn’t the biggest quarterback at 6-foot-1, but he brings more mobility to the table and elevated his performance this spring. Even though Kessler is unproven, if he picks up where he left off in the spring game, combined with the weapons at receiver and running back, the sophomore could have a huge season as USC looks to replace Matt Barkley.
 

8. Connor Halliday, Washington State (JR)
The Spokane (Wash.) Ferris prospect broke onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2011 when he threw for 494 yards and four touchdowns in a rare Pac-12 win over Arizona State. And that was before Mike Leach was calling plays for the Cougars. Last season, in just five starts, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound gunslinger threw for 1,878 yards and 15 touchdowns. With Jeff Tuel out of the picture after what seemed like a decade-long career in Pullman, Halliday is poised for a huge statistical season in Leach’s second season on the job. It remains to be seen, however, if those numbers will translate in the win column.
 

9. Zach Kline, California (FR)
Kline was an elite prospect coming out of Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley last season. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder was one of the most college-ready quarterbacks in the nation, and, after one season of redshirting, appears ready to take over as the star of the Golden Bears offense. He has a lightning quick release, accurate arm and deceptive mobility. He is a perfect fit in Sonny Dykes' patented high-flying passing attack, and while he should experience some freshman growing pains in 2013, fans in Berkeley have to be excited to have the Kline era officially underway.
 

10. Travis Wilson, Utah (SO)
Due to an injury to Jordan Wynn, Wilson was pushed into the starting lineup as a true freshman last season. And as expected, Wilson had his share of ups and downs. The California native threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona but completed only 8 of 23 throws against Washington. He finished the year with 1,311 yards and seven touchdowns and added 40 yards and four scores on the ground. At 6-foot-6, Wilson clearly has the size and skill set to eventually become one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks. However, the sophomore still has a ways to go, and in addition to the arrival of Dennis Erickson as co-offensive coordinator, the Utes must replace top running back John White. In time, Wilson will rise in the rankings. But for 2013, he’s still an unknown commodity.
 

11. B.J. Denker, Arizona (SR)
With Anu Solomon arriving on campus later this offseason, and Jesse Scroggins recovering from a foot injury, Denker holds on to the top spot for Arizona – at least for now. The junior college recruit made one start for the Wildcats last year, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 44 yards and one score against Colorado. Denker finished 2012 with 259 yards passing and three scores. Although Denker finished spring atop the depth chart, the battle to replace Matt Scott will pickup once Solomon and Scroggins are able to compete. Denker played well in limited action last year, but don’t expect the senior to replicate Scott’s numbers if he is the No. 1 quarterback.
 

12. Connor Wood, Colorado (JR)
The Buffaloes opened spring practice with six quarterbacks vying for the starting spot. And the race appeared to be down to two candidates: Nick Hirschman and Connor Wood. However, Hirschman decided to transfer in mid-April, leaving Wood as the team's No. 1 quarterback. The wildcard to watch will be true freshman Sefo Liufau, as he will get a chance to steal the starting spot in the fall. Hirschman and Wood both played significant snaps last season, but neither played well enough to secure the No. 1 spot. Wood threw for 265 yards and one touchdown last year in his first chance at major action on the FBS level. New coach Mike MacIntyre should generate some improvement from Colorado’s offense in 2013, but the quarterback situation is still a major concern.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Pac-12 Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 07:31
Path: /college-football/will-west-virginia-mountaineers-make-bowl-2013
Body:

With the departure of quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, West Virginia is expected to be picked near the bottom of the Big 12 in 2013.

As expected under coach Dana Holgorsen, the Mountaineers should find a way to be solid on offense. However, the team doesn’t have much clarity in its quarterback race, and the defense was one of the worst in the nation last year.

The non-conference schedule is favorable for West Virginia, but there’s not a lot of guaranteed victories once Big 12 play arrives. 

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ official college football top 25 countdown for 2013 will begin in early May. With the top 25 and predictions in mind, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout April and May. 

Will West Virginia Make a Bowl Game in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Missing a bowl game is a legitimate concern for West Virginia after going 7-6 with Geno Smith and Tavon Austin. The Mountaineers may flirt with a losing record, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Despite inexperience at quarterback and wide receiver, Dana Holgorsen will find some way to score points, probably centered around his running backs Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison. Both are capable of big games, but neither has proven it consistently or against top defenses. The biggest advantage for West Virginia is a lackluster Big 12, especially at quarterback. No Big 12 team is a clear pick for the top-15  at this point. And the West Virginia pass defense, abysmal a year ago, won’t face many top-flight quarterbacks, as indicated by our Big 12 quarterback rankings earlier this week. West Virginia is not in great shape right now, but there’s enough to work with to help the Mountaineers to bowl.
 

Tony Dobies, Staff Writer, BlueGoldNews.com, (@DOBIEST)
Two years ago, I would’ve laughed if you asked me whether West Virginia would make a bowl or not. “Of course they will,” I’d say. But, that’s just the way things have gone for this program over the past seven months.

West Virginia has quickly gone from a top-5 team to one that might not even challenge for a bowl. Without stars like Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, it’s going to be a new era in Morgantown.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen, now in his third year, has by far his hardest job yet. He’s forced to rebuild his high-powered attack and has to try to fix the gaping holes from last year’s defense. After a few offseason changes, the Mountaineers are headed into 2013 with hope.

The team seems to have bought into the T.E.A.M. acronym Holgorsen and his staff developed. It spent time learning about the history and tradition of the program earlier this year and that seemed to build camaraderie, something the players said was missed at times a year ago.

West Virginia will have a quarterback few have heard of (likely Ford Childress or Paul Millard) and a group of young receivers with potential but little experience. The offense will most likely rely on the running game, which doesn’t really fit what Holgorsen has done in the past.

The defense will be better. It can’t be worse. It seems the players have bought into a new, simpler system. The talent seems to be there, specifically at safety, to see some progress. Special teams could get a boost, too, from some youth at kicker.

The Big 12 Conference is expected to be down compared to a year ago. Seven of the top 10 quarterbacks in a pass-heavy league including four 4,000-yard passers are gone.

In addition, the Mountaineers could be a bit more comfortable with the Big 12 after the experience of a year ago.

For that reason, West Virginia should challenge for bowl eligibility. It will win no more than seven games and likely no less than five. I’ll say WVU finishes 6-6 and heads to another mediocre bowl.

In what should be considered a rebuilding year, six wins would be a decent season.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering West Virginia won seven games last season and must replace its top three players from that team – quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey – getting to a bowl game will be quite a challenge in 2013.

Despite the personnel losses and defensive question marks, I think West Virginia will find a way to get to six victories. It’s not going to be easy, but the Mountaineers have a path to a bowl game. Winning the three non-conference games is a must, and West Virginia has to beat Kansas and Iowa State in Big 12 play. If the Mountaineers win those five games, they should be able to steal a victory against Texas Tech or Oklahoma State in Morgantown to get bowl eligible.

While the quarterback position is getting most of the spring buzz, the bigger question mark for West Virginia is a defense that was one of the worst in the nation last year. With seven starters back, the Mountaineers should be able to show some improvement on this side of the ball. However, there are a lot of new players stepping into key roles on offense, which makes West Virginia arguably the biggest wildcard in the Big 12 in 2013.

Even though the Mountaineers are a team in transition, I think they will find a way to get to six wins and play in a bowl game for the 12th consecutive season.


Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
After starting out last season 5-0, West Virginia proceeded to lose five in a row and had to scramble with wins in its last two games to secure a bowl bid. The Mountaineers' trip to the Pinstripe Bowl to face Syracuse didn't go as planned, as the Orange dominated their former Big East foes 38-14. That put a disappointing ending to a season that held so much promise in early October. Unfortunately, I think the sledding in 2013 will be even tougher as Dana Holgorsen will have to try and reverse the trend of last season's 2-6 finish without record-setting quarterback Geno Smith and basically all of his wide receiver production from '12. The only reason the Mountaineers finished above .500 last season was because of their prolific offense, which is now pretty much starting over from scratch. Even with seven starters returning on defense, I think this team will be hard-pressed to manufacture six wins this fall, because I am pretty certain these Mountaineers won't be able to generate 500 yards and 40 points a game. Remember that's what last year's team produced and it managed just seven wins.


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Teaser:
<p> Will the West Virginia Mountaineers Make a Bowl in 2013?</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-ten-quarterbacks-2013
Body:

The Big Ten is heavy at the top when it comes to quarterbacks this season, as Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez and Michigan’s Devin Gardner could all be top-20 passers in 2013.

Miller is one of college football’s leading contenders for the Heisman and should thrive in his second year with coach Urban Meyer. Martinez showed big improvement last season and will be throwing to one of the Big Ten’s best receiving corps in 2013. This will be Gardner’s first opportunity to start a full season but he clearly showed he was ready for the opportunity last year.

The rest of the conference has some uncertainty, as Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Iowa all have a quarterback battle expected to extend into fall practice.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article.

Ranking the Big Ten's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Braxton Miller, Ohio State (JR)
The electric dual-threat talent from Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne was the No. 2-rated quarterback prospect in the nation in 2011. He quickly stole the starting job as a true freshman before enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign under spread guru Urban Meyer. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound dynamo is the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes and he consistently carried his team to an undefeated season with, at times, complete disregard for his own safety. He finished the year fourth in the Big Ten in rushing (1,271 yards) and was No. 2 in passing efficiency and total offense (Taylor Martinez). With speed, size and smarts, he is a perfect fit for Meyer’s offensive scheme and it means Miller could be the Heisman front-runner in 2013.
 

2. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska (SR)
Martinez was clearly one of college football’s most-improved quarterbacks last season. In 14 contests, he threw for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns and added 1,019 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Martinez topped 300 yards passing three times and had five contests of 100 or more rushing yards. After showing steady improvement in each of his first three years as a starter, Martinez is poised for his best year at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are loaded at receiver and return three starters on the offensive line. Expect Martinez to be in the mix for All-Big Ten honors and be a top-15 quarterback nationally this season.
 

3. Devin Gardner, Michigan (JR)
After an injury sidelined Denard Robinson last season, Gardner finally got his chance to start at quarterback for Michigan. The former top recruit waited his turn behind Robinson and saw some snaps at receiver early in the year. However, Gardner showed no rust when he moved back under center on a full-time basis, throwing for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns over the final five games. In the Outback Bowl against South Carolina, Gardner completed 18 of 36 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. His best performance came against Iowa, throwing for 314 yards and three scores, while adding 37 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Michigan needs to give Gardner more help at receiver and from its rushing attack, but the junior is poised to have an All-Big Ten year in his first as Michigan’s No. 1 quarterback.
 

4. Kain Colter, Northwestern (SR)
Even though Colter is ranked here, it’s essentially the duo of Colter/Trevor Siemian. In 13 games last season, Colter threw for 872 yards and eight touchdowns, rushed for 894 yards and 12 scores and caught 16 passes for 169 yards. Siemian passed for 1,312 yards and six touchdowns on 218 attempts last season. Most two-quarterback systems don’t work, but Northwestern seems to have found the right mix between Colter and Siemian. The Wildcats are coming off of a 10-3 season and the Colter-Siemian duo could lead this team to a spot in most preseason top 25 polls in 2013. 


5. Tre Roberson, Indiana (SO)
Roberson burst onto the scene as a true freshman midway through the 2011 season. The Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central product became the first true frosh to start in IU history when he took over the job against Illinois in Week 6. He tormented defenses the rest of the season with electric athletic ability (426 yards rushing) and had Hoosiers fans excited about 2012. However, after a huge game against Indiana State in the season opener, Roberson was lost for the season with a broken leg in Week 2. He redshirted and is poised to return to action this fall. Kevin Wilson has quickly created a potent passing attack in Bloomington and Roberson figures to be the star of the show in 2013.
 

6. Joel Stave, Wisconsin (SO)
Danny O’Brien was supposed to be the heir apparent to the great Russell Wilson. But the Maryland transfer looked lost from the start and Bret Bielema made the switch to Stave, a redshirt freshman walk-on from Greenfield (Wis.) Whitnall. Stave, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound pocket passer, totally rejuvenated the non-existent passing game the second he stepped into the lineup. He threw for 1,104 yards and six scores in less than six games, as he sustained a season-ending broken collarbone against Michigan State. The only two games the Badgers lost during the stretch were the two Stave couldn’t finish due to injury (Nebraska was the other), which only further indicates how important he was to creating balance on offense. Counting the loss to the Spartans, Wisconsin lost four of its last six games without Stave. Healthy and now in Gary Andersen’s prolific offensive scheme, look for Stave to flourish in his second season under center.
 

7. Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State (SR)
After struggling in his first season as Michigan State’s starting quarterback, Maxwell is under pressure to raise his performance in 2013. The Spartans have the talent and the schedule to win nine games this year, but quarterback play has to improve. In his first season as a starter, Maxwell threw for 2,606 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, he completed only 52.4 percent of his throws and tossed nine picks, including two in a key Legends Division loss to Northwestern. Maxwell was able to hold off Connor Cook and Tyler O’Connor this spring, but the battle will continue into the fall.
 

8. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (FR)
With Steven Bench’s decision to transfer after spring practice, the battle to replace Matt McGloin in Happy Valley is down to two contenders: Christian Hackenberg and Tyler Ferguson. Hackenberg ranked as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2013 recruiting class but won’t arrive on campus until this summer. Ferguson joined Penn State from the junior college ranks this spring and heads into fall as a tentative No. 1. Hackenberg has the talent, but there’s no need for coach Bill O’Brien to rush him into the starting lineup.  
 

9. Philip Nelson, Minnesota (SO)
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill decided to remove Nelson’s redshirt midway through last season and inserted him into the starting lineup for the final seven contests. Nelson threw for six touchdowns in his first three games but went three contests without a score, before turning in a solid performance in the bowl game (7 of 16, 138 yards, two touchdowns). Nelson has dual-threat potential, which is the type of quarterback Kill used successfully at Northern Illinois. The sophomore has potential but needs more help from the receiving corps and rushing attack. Nelson should build off of last season’s showing with a solid 2013 campaign.
 

10. Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois (SR)
Few quarterbacks in the nation have taken as many snaps and have as many question marks as the senior-to-be from Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound dual-threat quarterback has been a team and bowl game MVP (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) but has also been benched on more than one occasion and has missed plenty of time due to injury. He is a career 60.9-percent passer who threw more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (4) a year ago. His touchdown totals have dropped three straight seasons from 23 as a freshman to 20 as a sophomore and just eight a year ago. And the Illini went from back-to-back seven-win seasons to an abysmal 2-10 mark last fall. Scheelhaase’s legacy will be decided this fall and he has to play more consistent football if he wants fans to remember him like he was as a freshman — when he posted 1,825 yards passing and 868 yards rushing.
 

11. Rob Henry, Purdue (SR)
A three-star prospect from Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic, Henry has overcome plenty in his Boilermakers career. He redshirted in 2009 before making seven starts as a second-year freshman in '10. Then, after being named team co-captain, he tore up his knee a week before the 2011 season started. He came back again in 2012 and helped contribute behind Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound dual-threat showed flashes of athletic ability with 547 yards rushing as a freshman and should still bring that type of dynamic to Darrell Hazell’s new offense. However, staying healthy will be a key if Henry wants to help Purdue get to the postseason for the third straight season.
 

12. Jake Rudock, Iowa (SO)
James Vandenberg’s career at Iowa ended on a down note, but he still threw for 5,786 yards and 35 touchdowns during his tenure in Iowa City. With Vandenberg out of eligibility, the Hawkeyes have a three-way battle for the No. 1 job this offseason. And considering none of the candidates have thrown a pass on the FBS level, it’s a wide-open battle that may not be decided until late in the fall. Rudock is believed to have the inside track, as he served as Vandenberg’s backup last year. The 6-foot-3 passer was the Broward (Fla.) County Player of the Year as a high school senior and redshirted in his first season on campus. If Rudock doesn’t win the job, Cody Sokol – a junior college recruit that redshirted last season – and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard will get a chance to push for the top spot.
 

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big Ten Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/syracuse-or-pittsburgh-who-will-have-more-acc-wins-2013
Body:

The ACC welcomes two new teams into the fold for 2013, as Syracuse and Pittsburgh join from the Big East.

Syracuse went 8-5 last season but has a new coach (Scott Shafer) and suffered some key personnel departures. Quarterback Ryan Nassib must be replaced, and the defensive has key holes to fill on the line and in the secondary with the departure of safety Shamarko Thomas.

Pittsburgh finally has coaching stability with Paul Chryst, but the Panthers are coming off a 6-7 record in 2012. If Chryst can find the right quarterback – perhaps Rutgers transfer Tom Savage – Pittsburgh could make some noise in the Coastal Division. However, the Panthers need to find a go-to running back, especially after Rushel Shell decided to transfer in the spring.

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ official college football top 25 countdown for 2013 will begin in early May. With the top 25 and predictions in mind, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout April and May. 

Syracuse or Pittsburgh: Who Will Have More ACC Wins in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
This may be a race to six wins for both teams, but if either team has a chance to get into the seven- or eight-win range, it’s Pittsburgh. Even though the Panthers start at a two-win disadvantage since last season, the Panthers have a more solid nucleus than Syracuse. Paul Chryst has had a year to install his system and style and mend wounds from all the coaching turmoil since Dave Wannstedt was fired. Scott Shafer has the foundation rebuilt by Doug Marrone, but not the personnel. Although Rushel Shell left Pitt, this offense could be OK. Tom Savage may finally have a home after bouncing from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt. He had an up-and-down freshman season with Rutgers, but he still finished with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Pittsburgh’s defense also has the potential to be pretty good. Aaron Donald and Jason Hendricks, the two best players , are among nine returning starters for a defense that was one three teams in the Big East to hold opponents to fewer than five yards per play.


Jim Young (@ACCSports)
Both Pitt and Syracuse come into the ACC with a lot of questions, particularly at quarterback. I tend to give the Panthers a slight edge over the Orange simply because they have better continuity on their coaching staff and that their expected starting QB, Rutgers transfer Tom Savage has actually, you know, started. But when in doubt, go to the schedule. The Panthers have to play at FSU, at Georgia Tech and at Virginia Tech. Ouch. Add in tough home games against Miami and UNC and that Pitt has to play Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, and I’ll predict that the Orange ends the 2013 season with more ACC wins. But I doubt either team managed to reach .500 in league play.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Both teams should be excited about entering the ACC but only one has legitimate shot at going bowling in 2013. Syracuse watched one of the most productive quarterbacks in school history, a potential first-round bookend left tackle and its overachieving head coach depart for the NFL. Meanwhile, Pitt welcomes back a head coach for the first time since 2009-10 (Dave Wannstedt). Paul Chryst is an offensive wizard and a developing star in the coaching ranks and he has more talent to work with in 2013 than newbie Scott Shafer. With winnable games in the ACC against Duke, Virginia and Syracuse — despite being in the Carrier Dome — Pitt has an outside shot at four conference victories. Florida State, North Carolina and Miami all come to Heinz Field and fans shouldn't be shocked if Pitt wins one of them. The Orange, on the other hand, have winnable home games with Wake Forest, Boston College and Pittsburgh (as well as an un-winnable one with Clemson) but likely won't register a road ACC win (Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State, Maryland). I give Chryst and the Panthers an edge in their debut trip through the Atlantic Coast Conference.
 

Anson Whaley, Founder and Editor of Cardiac Hill, @PittPantherBlog
If you'd asked me this question a month ago, I'd have easily said Pitt. But that was before the departure of running back Rushel Shell, who is transferring out of the program. I'll still say the Panthers, but it's not as definitive. Pitt is breaking in a new quarterback with the loss of Tino Sunseri. That appears to be Arizona transfer senior Tom Savage, but redshirt freshman Chad Voytik had a huge spring game last week that could make the decision of head coach Paul Chryst a bit more difficult. There's also the loss of the team's leading running back and leading receiver, seniors Ray Graham and Mike Shanahan. That's a lot of production to replace and when you couple it with questionable offensive and defensive lines, there's plenty of reason to be concerned. On top of that, I also think the Panthers have the more difficult schedule. Still, the Orange will have their hands full trying to replace quarterback Ryan Nassib and the team's top two receivers from last season, seniors Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. Pitt's secondary also has a chance to be special and I expect the defense to be solid with improved play from the linebackers. I'm not convinced either team has a very good year, but I'll say the Panthers have a slightly better inaugural ACC season than Syracuse.
 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Syracuse and Pittsburgh are solid additions for the ACC, but both teams are entering the conference in a state of transition. The Orange lost coach Doug Marrone to the NFL, and quarterback Ryan Nassib, safety Shamarko Thomas and tackle Justin Pugh have all departed. Pittsburgh finally had an offseason of coaching stability, but running back Rushel Shell decided to transfer, leaving the offense without one of its top playmakers.

Although both teams have some significant question marks entering the season, I think Pittsburgh will finish with more ACC wins. Even though the Orange landed Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen at quarterback, the Panthers should be better under center with Tom Savage getting the edge over Chad Voytik. Pittsburgh could also have one of the ACC’s best defenses in 2013, especially in the back seven where six starters from last year return. The Orange have one of the ACC’s top backfields with Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, but the offensive line is a concern with Pugh and guard Zack Chibane departing. Syracuse also must rebuild its defensive line and find a new go-to receiver with the departure of Alec Lemon.

Coaching stability is a key aspect of this debate, as this is Scott Shafer’s first go-around as a head coach, while Chryst has one year under his belt. 
 

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
Even though Pittsburgh and Syracuse both enjoyed success in their final seasons in the Big East, it will be difficult for either team to build off of what took place in 2012 as they enter the ACC this fall. Both teams experienced heavy personnel losses at key positions, not to mention that Syracuse will be led by a first-year head coach. Even though Pittsburgh opens its season by hosting Florida State, I think the Panthers will navigate Year One in the ACC a little more successfully than Syracuse. The Orange don't play their first ACC game until Oct. 5, but it's against Clemson, a favorite to not only win the conference but also compete for the national title. However, before Syracuse hosts Clemson, the Orange have to get through the Big Ten double-header - home against Penn State, at Northwestern - that they open the season with. This is not exactly the ideal situation to break in a new quarterback and unproven wide receivers. Syracuse may have a slight edge over Pittsburgh when it comes to the depth of their respective divisions in the ACC, but the Panthers have more experience returning on both the field and sidelines and I think they will finish with a better conference record than the Orange this fall. Don't be surprised if this "race" isn't decided until the Nov. 23 meeting between these two in the Carrier Dome.


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Teaser:
<p> Syracuse or Pittsburgh: Who Will Have More ACC Wins in 2013?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-football/big-12-quarterback-rankings-2013
Body:

With no clear No. 1 quarterback returning for 2013, the Big 12 has an intriguing blend of potential and uncertainty surrounding the most important position on the field.

Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf ranks as Athlon’s No. 1 quarterback for 2013, but TCU’s Casey Pachall and Oklahoma’s Blake Bell could make a run at the top spot. Pachall missed most of last season due to a suspension, but if he picks up where he left off, the Horned Frogs will have one of the Big 12’s top passing attacks.

Texas Tech’s Michael Brewer, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Kansas State’s Daniel Sams are three players looking to break out in 2013. Brewer should shine under the direction of coach Kliff Kingsbury, while Sams showed potential in limited work last year.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article.

Ranking the Big 12 Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State (SR)
With the departure of Seth Doege, Geno Smith, Landry Jones, Nick Florence and Collin Klein, picking the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12 for 2013 is no easy task. Chelf gets the early edge over TCU’s Casey Pachall and Oklahoma’s Blake Bell as the No. 1 passer, as the senior has pulled ahead of Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh in Oklahoma State’s quarterback battle this spring. Chelf was a third-stringer until injuries forced Lunt and Walsh out of the lineup. In the final six games of last season, Chelf threw for 1,537 yards and 14 touchdowns and led the Cowboys to a 58-14 bowl victory over Purdue. He also finished the year with 162 rushing yards, including 63 in the 51-48 loss to Oklahoma. New coordinator Mike Yurcich was an excellent hire by coach Mike Gundy, and the Cowboys’ offense should remain among the best in the Big 12. If Chelf picks up where he left off in 2012, he should be the favorite to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors this fall.
 

2. Casey Pachall, TCU (SR)
Where to begin? The Brownwood, Texas, native was a highly touted dual-threat prospect coming out of high school in 2009. He took over for Andy Dalton in 2011 and showed fans in Fort Worth why he was such a coveted prospect by finishing second in the Mountain West (to Kellen Moore) in passing efficiency and leading the Frogs to a conference championship. Yet, one month into the 2012 season, Pachall was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and had failed a team-administered drug test. Gary Patterson was forced to suspend his signal caller indefinitely. But the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder’s difficult journey back into the starting lineup is nearly complete after successful substance abuse rehabilitation this offseason. He is a special athlete who will easily reclaim his starting job should he remain on the straight and narrow.
 

3. Blake Bell, Oklahoma (JR)
Not many quarterbacks check in at 6-foot-6 and more than 260 pounds, but that is exactly what the “Bell-dozer” brings to the Oklahoma offense. Certainly, the Wichita (Kan.) Bishop Carroll monstrosity has much to learn about being an effective passer — he has completed just 10 career passes — but he has a strong nose for the goal line. In his short two-year career backing up Landry Jones, Bell has scored more rushing touchdowns (24) than he has pass attempts (20). With an excellent offensive line and loads of typically talented Sooner skill talent, the stage is set for Bell to take Norman, and the nation, by storm in 2013.
 

4. David Ash, Texas (JR)
Many have pointed to issues under center as Texas’ biggest concern since Colt McCoy left town. Plain and simple, Ash, the former Belton (Texas) High star, wasn’t very good as a freshman in 2011. He ranked last among starters in the Big 12 in passing efficiency (108.00) while throwing for more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (4). Yet, Ash showed signs of growth last season as a sophomore, finishing fifth in the QB-rich Big 12 in passing efficiency (153.28). He threw eight more interceptions but, this time, accounted for 21 total touchdowns and more than 2,800 yards of offense. The critics have been hard on Ash for good reason, but he is just now entering his first season as an upperclassman and he should be able to take another step in his development this fall. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound quarterback has plenty of ability, he just needs to mature into a leader who holds his huddle accountable.
 

5. Michael Brewer, Texas Tech (SO)
If you are looking for one of college football’s top breakout players for 2013, look no further than Brewer. The sophomore signal caller takes over for Seth Doege, and high expectations surround the Lake Travis native. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris tutored Brewer at Lake Travis High School, so stepping into a spread attack like the one new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is installing won’t be much of an adjustment. Brewer only played in mop-up duty last season, throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns. With Kingsbury calling the plays, along with a solid group of receivers coming back in 2013, look for Brewer to have a monster year in his first as the starter for Texas Tech.
 

6. Daniel Sams, Kansas State (SO)
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder isn’t revealing much about the quarterback battle between sophomore Daniel Sams and junior college recruit Jake Waters. However, one thing is pretty clear: The Wildcats have two options that could start in 2013. Sams played sparingly as a backup to Collin Klein last season, throwing for 55 yards on six completions. He also added 235 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, averaging 7.3 yards per rush. Waters was the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year in 2012, throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns. Sams likely has an edge for the starting job, and his dual-threat ability makes him a dangerous weapon for Kansas State to unleash in 2013.
 

7. Bryce Petty, Baylor (JR)
The junior-to-be from Midlothian (Texas) High hasn’t gotten a lot of in-game experience as his 14 career pass attempts will attest. However, he is extremely familiar with Art Briles' system as he just completed his fourth spring practice with the Bears. Both Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence led the Big 12 in total offense each of the last two seasons, so expectations are high for Petty in his campaign as the starter. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder isn’t the same type of athlete that his predecessors were, but he has a big arm and plays in an offensive system that is as QB-friendly as any in the nation. If he can efficiently distribute the football to a host of elite playmakers, Baylor can go bowling once again in 2013.
 

8. Ford Childress, West Virginia (FR)
Like many of the teams in the Big 12, West Virginia has a lot of uncertainty surrounding its quarterback situation. Geno Smith departs after a standout senior year, leaving Paul Millard and Ford Childress to battle for the No. 1 spot. Millard has the edge in experience, as he has thrown 34 passes over the last two years. However, the edge in talent is on Childress’ side, as the 6-foot-5 passer was one of the top 150 recruits in the nation in 2012 according to ESPN. The Houston native is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Ray Childress and has all of the physical tools to shine in Dana Holgorsen’s spread attack. There’s a good chance Millard starts 2013 as West Virginia’s No. 1 quarterback. However, Childress is the Mountaineers’ long-term answer and should take over at some point in 2013.
 

9. Jake Heaps, Kansas (JR)
The Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline product is far removed from his recruiting days when he was touted as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation (2010). He originally signed with BYU, but after spotty play in two years, Heaps decided he needed a change of scenery and landed in Lawrence with Charlie Weis. There is plenty of ability in his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame as he played in all 13 games as a true freshman, throwing for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Cougars. But Heaps has to convince the Jayhawks — and Big 12 defenses — that he is capable of completing passes in big-time situations against big-time competition. Improving his career 57.1-percent completion rate will go a long way to ensuring KU is competitive on the field.
 

10. Sam Richardson, Iowa State (SO)
Three quarterbacks made starts for Iowa State last season, but the offense heads into the offseason with some clarity atop the depth chart. With Steele Jantz finishing his eligibility and Jared Barnett transferring, the No. 1 job clearly belongs to Richardson. He saw action in only four games last year and started the final two contests against West Virginia and Tulsa. Richardson’s best performance came against Kansas, throwing for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Against the Mountaineers, he threw for three touchdowns and rushed for 119 yards. Richardson is an intriguing prospect, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding him in 2013. Putting up numbers against Kansas and West Virginia wasn’t a problem for most quarterbacks last year, and Richardson struggled in the bowl game. With a full offseason to work as the starter, expect the sophomore to turn in a solid performance this fall.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big 12 Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 07:29
Path: /college-football/washington-or-oregon-state-who-will-finish-higher-pac-12-north-2013
Body:

The pecking order in the Pac-12 North is pretty clear. Oregon and Stanford should be the top two teams in the division, while Washington and Oregon State are likely battling for third place.

Washington had a disappointing 2012 season, as the Huskies had hopes of being a top-25 team. However, despite a much-improved defense, the offensive line struggled, and quarterback Keith Price was never able to get on track.

Oregon State was one of the Pac-12’s biggest surprises last season, finishing with a 9-4 record and spending a good chunk of the season ranked in the top 25.

Both teams could be top-25 teams in 2013 but expect a close race for third place in the Pac-12 North.

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ official college football top 25 countdown for 2013 will begin in early May. With the top 25 and predictions in mind, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout April and May. 

Washington or Oregon State: Who Will Finish Higher in the Pac-12 North in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
This is tough, mainly because they both have their strengths and their obvious flaws. I’m going to go with Washington, but I don’t feel strongly one way or another. The Huskies’ defense improved dramatically under Justin Wilcox last season, and only one of his top nine tacklers from last season returning. One of those, Shaq Thompson, is a potential superstar. On offense, I’m willing to accept last season’s inconsistency as an outlier. Keith Price, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams and Bishop Sankey are too good for the Huskies to rank ninth in the Pac-12 in yards per play. A healthy offensive line will be key to putting Washington’s offense back on track. Meanwhile, I’m concerned about Oregon State’s quarterback situation. Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz can both win games, but the Beavers would be better off to have one clear answer at quarterback. I also think the departure of Jordan Poyer, a lock-down cornerback, could be overlooked. This should be the season the Huskies’ get out of their 7-6 funk.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Both coaching staffs deserve kudos for huge turn arounds on the defensive side of the ball a year ago. Both the Beavers and Huskies developed into two of the stingier defenses in the league and should both be able to continue that trend, each could contend in the North in 2013. Yet, Stanford and Oregon are still the cream of the crop in this division, so it seems more likely that these two will be left to battle for third place. With similar schedules likely resulting in at least three Pac-12 losses each — against Oregon, Stanford and at Arizona State — both Oregon State and Washington are left to win tricky swing games if they expect to finish .500 or better in the league. Mike Riley's bunch gets USC and Washington at home while road trips to Cal and Utah are intriguing. Steve Sarkisian's squad has to travel to UCLA and Oregon State while Arizona comes to town early in the year. U of W gets a slight schedule advantage overall that is negated by the fact it will have to face the Beavers in Corvallis. This debate will be settled on the penultimate Saturday of the regular season (Nov. 23) where Oregon State will win a close battle against Washington in the friendly confines of Reser Stadium.

Kyle Kensing, Editor at SaturdayBlitz.com, (@kensing45)
The 2012 season was a return to normalcy for Oregon State. Mike Riley may have been on the hot seat after consecutive losing campaigns in 2010 and 2011, but in winning nine games, last year's Beavers did what Riley-coached teams do best: defy expectations. Oregon State loses some difficultly replaced players, namely cornerback Jordan Poyer and wide receiver Markus Wheaton. However, Riley returns 15 starters. Only three Pac-12 teams return more -- among them is Washington.

Washington is in its own run of consistency, though three straight 7-6 finishes may not be the kind of consistency Steve Sarkisian is seeking. Most anyone following the Pac-12 recently has awaited Washington's breakout campaign. The pieces are there in 2013 for it to finally come to fruition.

On paper, UW is the more attractive pick. The defense improved by leaps and bounds under Justin Wilcox. Bishop Sankey established himself as one of the nation's premiere rushers. If Keith Price can regain the spark he showed in 2011, the UW offense should be among the conference's most exciting.

But precedent favors Oregon State. Riley's continued defying of expectations is tough to bet against. Both teams will factor into the Pac-12 North title race, but OSU finishes ahead of UW. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I think Washington and Oregon State both have a strong case to be ranked inside of the preseason top 25 and should have a tight battle for third place in the Pac-12 North. The Huskies return 16 starters from a team that won seven games and lost two contests by three points or less. The Beavers bounced back after a disappointing 2011 campaign, winning nine games and finishing 6-3 in Pac-12 play. Washington has a difficult schedule, catching Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA in crossover play, with road games against Oregon State and Stanford. Oregon State plays Utah, Colorado, USC and Arizona State from the South and hosts Washington and Stanford this year. Even though the schedule is slanted in favor of the Beavers, I think the Huskies will find a way to finish higher in the North Division. A big part of Washington’s struggles last season was its offensive line, which allowed 2.9 sacks per game. However, the offense has too much firepower to struggle in 2013, especially if quarterback Keith Price gets back on track after a subpar 2012 season. The Beavers return most of their core from 2012 but have to replace both starting defensive tackles, receiver Markus Wheaton and cornerback Jordan Poyer. These two teams could finish tied in conference wins next year, but I think Washington edges Oregon State for third place in the North.


Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
I think these two teams are going to be neck-and-neck pretty much all season, so it wouldn't surprise me one bit if their head-to-head matchup on Nov. 23 decides who finishes above the other. And even though that game takes place on Oregon State's home turf, I am going to take Washington to finish ahead of the Beavers in the Pac-12 North standings this fall. Both teams have quite a bit of talent and experience returning, but in my opinion, the Huskies have a clear edge at the most important position of all - quarterback. Despite Keith Price's struggles last season, there's little denying the senior's talent and potential. His offensive line was decimated by injuries in 2012 and as long as that history doesn't repeat itself, Price should be able to put up some big numbers this season, especially with the weapons he has to work with. In fact, Washington has a chance to be a surprise team in the Pac-12, if not the nation, as its schedule includes the season opener against Boise State, crossover games in the Pac-12 on the road against Arizona State and UCLA - two of the expected South division contenders -  and a home game against Arizona. There also are the Huskies' back-to-back dates with Stanford (road) and Oregon (home) on Oct. 5 and 12, with the Cardinal and Ducks expected to be in the thick of the national title chase. If Price and the offense can do their part and the defense can continue to improve, Washington should not lack for chances to impress and shine in 2013, including finishing ahead of Oregon State in the Pac-12 standings.


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Teaser:
<p> Washington or Oregon State: Who Will Finish Higher in the Pac-12 in 2013?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-easts-quarterbacks-2013
Body:

With all of the teams coming and going in the Big East, the conference is clearly one in transition for 2013.

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is clearly the No. 1 quarterback in the Big East for 2013 and should be one of college football’s top 10 Heisman contenders. After Bridgewater, there’s a drop-off to the No. 2 option.

UCF’s Blake Bortles and Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay are solid No. 2 and No. 3 options, respectively. And Rutgers’ Gary Nova looks to get back on track after a rough finish to 2012.

The rest of the conference is filled with uncertainty under center, as SMU’s Garrett Gilbert, UConn’s Chandler Whitmer, Memphis’ Jacob Karam, and Houston’s David Piland still have plenty to prove. South Florida’s Bobby Eveld and Temple’s Connor Reilly enter their first year as the full-time starter for their team.

Ranking the Big East's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (JR)
After throwing for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2012, Bridgewater has his sights set high for 2013. Louisville should be a top-10 team this season, and the Florida native is one of the top Heisman contenders. Despite injuries to his arm and ankle, Bridgewater came off of the bench against Rutgers to throw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, which clinched the Big East title for Louisville. In the Sugar Bowl victory over Florida, he threw for 266 yards and one touchdown. With one of the nation’s top receiving corps coming back for the Cardinals, Bridgewater could record 4,000 passing yards in 2013.
 

2. Blake Bortles, UCF (JR)
In his first full season as UCF’s quarterback, Bortles earned All-Conference USA second-team honors and won MVP honors in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. He threw for 3,059 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, while rushing for 285 yards and eight scores. Bortles tossed only three picks in 2012 and completed 62.9 percent of his throws. Coming off of a strong sophomore campaign, Bortles can only get better in 2013. With a solid supporting cast around him, the junior could contend for American Athletic all-conference honors this fall.
 

3. Brendon Kay, Cincinnati (SR)
Before the 2012 season, the two-star recruit from Marine City (Mich.) High had attempted eight career passes. But two-thirds of the way through last season, the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder got the call to lead the 'Cats offense and he didn’t disappoint. He started the last five games of the season, winning four of them, including the Belk Bowl win over Duke. He finished the season with 1,298 yards passing, 10 touchdowns, just two interceptions, a sneaky good 306 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. Switching head coaches from Butch Jones to Tommy Tuberville likely won’t help his dual-threat statistics, but Kay is still plenty capable of efficiently running the new pro-style system to put Cincinnati in Big East — or AAC — contention. Another factor potentially in Kay's favor: Tuberville showed the ability to adapt to his roster by allowing Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege to air it out last season.
 

4. Gary Nova, Rutgers (JR)
The heady pro-style passer from famed Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., showed strong growth in 2012 in his first full season as the starter. After getting some starting experience under his belt in 2011, Nova threw for 2,651 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Rutgers to a Big East co-championship last season. He also lit up an SEC team on the road when he threw for 397 yards and five scores in a win over Arkansas. However, Nova also struggled at times, tossing six interceptions against Kent State and losing the final two starts of the regular season — costing the Knights a BCS bowl berth. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound signal caller should take the next step in his development process in his second season under center in Piscataway.


5. Garrett Gilbert, SMU (SR)
The Austin (Texas) Lake Travis product was the No. 3-rated quarterback prospect and No. 9-rated overall recruit in the 2009 class for the Texas Longhorns. And he showed flashes of elite upside when he filled in as a true freshman for Colt McCoy in the BCS National Championship game. However, his career never materialized for the Burnt Orange and he eventually transferred to SMU. Playing right away after graduating in Austin, Gilbert was solid on the Hilltop in his first year. He threw for 2,932 yards, rushed for 346 yards and accounted for 23 touchdowns. He led the Mustangs to a winning record and a bowl game and should be in for bigger things under QB guru June Jones in 2013.
 

6. Chandler Whitmer, UConn (JR)
The redshirt senior-to-be came to Storrs from Downers Grove (Ill.) South via Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. He eventually signed with UConn in 2012 and won the starting job a year ago. He got out of the gate extremely slowly — try no touchdowns and five interceptions in his first three games — but showed positive signs down the stretch by leading his team to wins over Pitt and Louisville in November. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder isn’t overly talented and won’t have the same staunch defense at his disposal in 2013 so he will have to take on a bigger and more efficient role if the Huskies expect to return to the postseason.
 

7. David Piland, Houston (JR)
The Cougars quarterback from famed Southlake (Texas) Carroll has dealt with loads of turnover in his Houston career. After working with three different offensive coordinators in three years, Piland enters 2013 with some stability around him. The coaching staff is the same and the offense returns entirely intact (10 starters), so the 6-foot-3, 196-pounder should be able to improve on his 2012 stat line of 2,929 yards, 16 TD, 12 INT, a completion percentage of 57.1, along with 190 rush yards a 2 TD. The key for Piland in 2013, according to head coach Tony Levine, will be playing with more consistency.
 

8. Jacob Karam, Memphis (SR)
Karam was a key pickup for Memphis last season, as he was immediately eligible following a transfer from Texas Tech. In his first year as a starter on the college level, Karam threw for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns. He tossed just three picks and rushed for 221 yards and one score. Karam threw for more than 275 yards just once, but he didn’t make many mistakes and was an upgrade for Memphis’ passing attack. The senior faced competition from redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch and junior Eric Mathews in the spring, but managed to hold on to the job. If Karam can take the next step in his development this offseason, Memphis could make a run at six wins in 2013.
 

9. Bobby Eveld, South Florida (SR)
South Florida’s starting quarterback spot is up for grabs this offseason. Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd were neck-and-neck in the spring, with Eveld finishing with a slight edge. The senior has played in 13 games in his career and has thrown for 837 yards and three touchdowns. However, Eveld has thrown seven picks and has completed just 54.7 percent of his throws. The Tampa native isn’t going to wow anyone with his physical ability, but he is a good fit under new coach Willie Taggart’s offense.
 

10. Connor Reilly, Temple (JR)
The Owls struggled to find the right mix at quarterback last season, as Chris Coyer and Juice Granger both received significant playing time. Reilly has yet to attempt a pass in his first two seasons on campus but enters the summer as Temple’s No. 1 quarterback. The 6-foot-3 passer is a good fit in new coach Matt Rhule’s offense but his lack of experience is concerning for a team that also lacks proven weapons at running back and receiver.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big East's Quarterbacks for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/mississippi-state-or-ole-miss-who-will-finish-more-sec-wins-2013
Body:

The SEC West is arguably college football’s toughest division. With Alabama expected to be ranked No. 1 in most preseason polls, along with two other potential top-10 teams – LSU and Texas A&M – Ole Miss and Mississippi State will have an uphill battle pushing for a top-three finish in the division.

Ole Miss is riding a wave of momentum after signing a top-five recruiting class, while Mississippi State has made three consecutive bowl games. Both programs are moving in the right direction and won’t be an easy out for the rest of the SEC in 2013.

Considering the offseason movement with both teams, can Ole Miss finish with more SEC wins than Mississippi State this year? Or will the Bulldogs reclaim bragging rights in the state?

The 2013 college football season is still over 100 days away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and expectations for each team going into 2013.

Athlon Sports’ official college football top 25 countdown for 2013 will begin in early May. With the top 25 and predictions in mind, Athlon’s editors will be debating some of the hottest topics from the preseason throughout April and May. 

Ole Miss or Mississippi State: Who Will Win More SEC Games in 2013?

Jon Cooper, lead writer and editor Saturday Down South, (@JonSDS)
That’s a loaded Magnolia State question that will cause quite a few black eyes over Thanksgiving dinner, won’t it?

Interestingly enough, these two teams’ SEC schedules are opposite of one another. Ole Miss’ schedule is more front- or middle-loaded, while MSU’s is back-loaded, much like last season. So, for the Rebels, it’s all about how they start out of the gates, and it’s all about how MSU finishes, again.

Ole Miss will wind up with more SEC wins for several reasons. First, they draw Vanderbilt and Missouri in the East and host Texas A&M and LSU in Oxford, two teams they had on the ropes in the closing minutes last season. If the Rebels can survive the brutal four-game stretch of Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU and come out .500, they have a real shot to move into a dark-horse-type situation in the SEC West. Secondly, the Rebels return 17 starters from last year’s sexy turnaround team. The top passer, pass catcher, rusher and defensive players all return, making this more of a veteran and tested team. And let’s not forget the Rebels will upgrade the defensive line with another year of development on the current roster and the blue chip-prospects from the 2013 recruiting class in Lavon Hooks and Robert Nkemdiche. Thirdly, we’ve seen the mystique surrounding second-year SEC head coaches. Urban Meyer won a championship in his second year, as did Nick Saban at Alabama. Will Muschamp posted an 11-win season last year in just his second season. I’m certainly not saying Ole Miss is ready to make a championship run, but I love what Hugh Freeze is doing with this club. He has certainly breathed life into an exhausted fan base and program. What’s not to like?

Overall, the direction and lack of momentum in the Mississippi State camp is concerning. Starting 7-0 and losing five of the last six isn’t exactly finishing strong. MSU also lost the heart and soul of the defense in corners Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay and linebacker Cam Lawrence. The remorseless five-game stretch – South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss – to finish the season would test the will of any team.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
This is a great debate that likely won't be decided until Thanksgiving Night when The Magnolia State will be held captive by the Egg Bowl. If all goes according to plan — which rarely happens — both teams are likely to be 3-4 in SEC play entering the 109th meeting between the historic rivals. The Bulldogs have won four straight at home over the Rebels and Dan Mullen is 3-1 overall against Ole Miss, giving Mississippi State a slight edge heading into this year's meeting. Both teams will be solid on offense and both will make a bowl game, but I'll take Hail State to top the Black Bears at home on Turkey Day — and, thus, in the conference standings. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The battle for bragging rights in the state of Mississippi is going to be an entertaining battle over the next few years. Dan Mullen has Mississippi State on the right track after three consecutive bowl games, and Hugh Freeze had an impressive debut at Ole Miss, followed by a top-five recruiting class. Both teams should be ranked among the top-40 this year, but I give an edge to Ole Miss in SEC wins. The Rebels have a tough early schedule, which features road games against Vanderbilt, Alabama and Auburn. However, I think Ole Miss will find a way to get to .500 in SEC play, as it can beat Missouri, Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State and potentially steal one against LSU or Texas A&M. I think Mississippi State will have a tougher time getting to .500, especially with swing games against Auburn and Arkansas on the road. Getting to 3-5 in SEC play is probably the most likely outcome for the Bulldogs in 2013. For now, it appears the momentum in the battle for Mississippi is clearly swinging in favor of Ole Miss’ direction. 

Mark Ross (@AthlonSports)
Ole Miss went 7-6 last year, Hugh Freeze's first season as head coach and the Rebels are well positioned to be a better team in SEC play than archrival Mississippi State this year. For one, the Rebels return 15 starters who have already spent one year playing for Freeze, meaning they should have an even better understanding of the offensive and defensive systems and what the coaching staff expects. Secondly, there's the matter of each school's conference slate, namely which teams from the SEC East they play. Ole Miss gets Vanderbilt, who continue to improve under James Franklin, and Missouri, who is still getting used to life in the SEC. Mississippi State gets Kentucky, who has a long way to go under new head coach Mark Stoops and South Carolina, a team that should be ranked in the preseason top 10 and figures to battle Georgia and Florida for supremacy in the East and potentially contend for a spot in the conference championship and national title games. Need I say any more? Oh and Ole Miss is bringing in a top-five recruiting class with players who have a great chance of not only playing, but making an impact in their first seasons. It's still early, but at this point things are looking up down in Oxford, Miss., for this fall.

Barrett Sallee, Lead SEC College Football Writer for Bleacher Report (@BarrettSallee)
Without a doubt, it's Ole Miss. The target is on head coach Hugh Freeze's back now after reclaiming state dominance last season and finishing with a top 10 recruiting class. The good news is that the Rebels return 18 starters from a year ago, many of whom will be pushed by the newcomers in the class of 2013. Freeze know how to get the most from his offense, and the addition of several newcomers including wide receiver Laquon Treadwell should pay immediate dividends.

For Mississippi State, it's almost a make or break year. The Bulldogs are 5-21 against FBS teams that finish with eight or more wins under head coach Dan Mullen, and desperately need a signature win. Mullen has done a lot to raise the floor of the program, but really hasn't done much to the ceiling. They need to win now, because Auburn and Arkansas aren't going to stay down forever. If they drop the opener to Oklahoma State in Houston, they'll finish the season dancing around .500.


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Teaser:
<p> Mississippi State or Ole Miss: Who Will Finish With More SEC Wins in 2013?</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 10:55
Path: /college-football/acc-quarterback-rankings-2013
Body:

The ACC has an interesting mix of quarterbacks for 2013. Proven options like Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, North Carolina’s Bryn Renner, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas should be the conference’s top-three passers for all-conference honors. Miami’s Stephen Morris will have to adjust to a new coordinator to, but he could easily surpass last year’s numbers. Wake Forest’s Tanner Price should benefit from another spring practice to work with a revamped offensive line, along with the return of receiver Michael Campanaro to full strength.

While Boyd, Renner and Thomas appear to be the conference’s top three quarterbacks, there’s a group of wildcards waiting to rise in the rankings.

Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Georgia Tech’s Vad Lee could be breakout performers in 2013, and Syracuse picked up Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen to lead the offense this fall.

College football’s 2013 season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about some of the top players in the nation. With spring practice coming to a close around the nation, Athlon will rank the top quarterbacks in each conference. One important note: This is just a ranking of starters and backups weren’t included for this article.

Ranking the ACC's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013

1. Tajh Boyd, Clemson (SR)
Boyd turned down the NFL for one more season in Death Valley. The senior is one of college football’s leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy and is the overwhelming favorite to earn ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2013. In his first season as a starter in 2011, Boyd threw for 3,828 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushed for 218 yards and five scores. Boyd only got better in his second season under coordinator Chad Morris, throwing for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also became a bigger threat on the ground, rushing for 514 yards and 10 scores in 2012. One of Boyd’s best performances came against LSU in the bowl game last year, throwing for 346 yards and leading Clemson on the game-winning drive in the final minutes. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be missed, but the Tigers return Sammy Watkins and four starters on the offensive line. As long as Boyd stays healthy, the pieces are in place for Clemson to make a run at an unbeaten record in 2013.
 

2. Bryn Renner, North Carolina (SR)
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound quarterback was one of the top five pro-style recruits coming out of West Springfield (Va.) High School in 2009. He has lived up to the billing and has a chance to have a special senior season in Larry Fedora’s system. Renner already owns multiple school records, like the single-season (28) and single-game (5) school passing touchdown records. He capped his second year under center winning seven of his last nine games and throwing for at least 300 yards in each of his last four contests. The senior's supporting cast won’t be as talented in 2013, but he is efficient — he’s a career 66.7-percent passer and tossed just seven interceptions last year — and has a chance at rewriting the North Carolina record books before he leaves Chapel Hill.
 

3. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (SR)
Initially a top-100 tight end prospect who didn’t want to play quarterback when he signed with Virginia Tech out of Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville, Thomas is on the verge of becoming the most productive Hokies quarterback in school history. The massive 6-foot-6, 260-pounder set the single-season school record for total offense as a sophomore (3,482 yards) and then broke his own mark as a junior (3,500). He has accounted for 57 touchdowns over the last two seasons and brings a big, powerful running ability that is virtually unstoppable in short yardage or goal line situations. However, he threw 16 interceptions last year after just 10 in 2011, and his efficiency needs to improve across the board. If he eliminates the mistakes, he could easily be the ACC Player of the Year.
 

4. Stephen Morris, Miami (SR)
A mid-level local recruit from Monsignor Pace High School, Morris blossomed as a junior in 2012. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback set a Miami single-season total offense record (3,415) as well as the ACC’s all-time single-game record with 566 yards against NC State. In fact, he threw for over 1,000 yards (1,002) over a two-game span to finish the month of September last year (436 vs. Georgia Tech). Morris proved to be dependable as well, tossing just seven interceptions in a school-record 421 attempts. With the youth developing around him and the running game improving, the Hurricanes gunslinger is poised for a big senior season this fall.


5. Tanner Price, Wake Forest (JR)
After throwing for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2011, Price took a step back on the stat sheet in 2012. In 12 contests, he threw for 2,300 yards and 12 touchdowns and tossed seven picks. The regression in stats was largely due to a struggling offensive line, along with an injury to star receiver Michael Campanaro. Although the Demon Deacons are still trying to find the right pieces on the line, Price should bounce back in 2013. In his career, the Texas native has thrown for 6,666 yards and 39 touchdowns and is completing 57.6 percent of his throws. Price isn’t going to post huge numbers, but expect him to help lead Wake Forest back into bowl contention in 2013.
 

6. Jameis Winston, Florida State (FR)
Winston hasn’t played a snap in a regular season game, but there’s no denying his potential. The redshirt freshman was locked into a tight battle with Clint Trickett for the starting job in spring practice, but Trickett decided to transfer to West Virginia in early May. Winston shined in Florida State’s spring game, completing 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. There’s a big difference between a performance in a spring game and actual game action in the fall. However, all signs point to Winston’s becoming a star, and the redshirt freshman should be one of the ACC’s breakout players in 2013.


7. Vad Lee, Georgia Tech (SO)
Lee is the next in line to pilot Paul Johnson’s triple option attack. Like Josh Nesbitt and Tevin Washington before him, Lee’s physicality and athletic ability are a perfect match for the Yellow Jackets’ offensive scheme. The Durham (N.C.) Hillside three-star prospect saw his playing time steadily increase last season, as Johnson got more comfortable going to the sophomore. He got 19 carries and threw nine passes in the first six games but carried 77 times for 358 yards and six touchdowns, while throwing 47 times over the final eight games of the year. His playing time last year should help the 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior-to-be immensely as he takes over as the leader of the Ramblin’ Wreck in ‘13.
 

8. Chase Rettig, Boston College (SR)
Rettig quietly had a solid 2012 campaign. In 12 starts, he threw for 3,060 yards and 17 touchdowns – all career highs. In three years with Boston College, the California native has thrown for 6,258 yards and 35 touchdowns. Rettig played well under coordinator Doug Martin’s tutelage last season, but Martin wasn’t retained by new coach Steve Addazio. With the change in coaching staffs, the Eagles will operate a different offensive scheme in 2013, which is expected to lean slightly with the run. Rettig is a better fit in a pro-style attack and isn’t much of a runner (-296 yards in three years). Considering he may not be a good fit in Addazio’s offense, Rettig may have trouble matching last season’s numbers. Although Rettig is coming off a solid season, the potential of Florida State's Jameis Winston and Georgia Tech's Vad Lee pushes him down the ACC quarterback rankings for 2013. 
 

9. Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (SR)
The burly passer from Springfield (Pa.) Cardinal O’Hara was an elite prospect when he signed with Rutgers in 2009. Not only did he start as a true freshman but he was the Scarlet Knights’ Most Valuable Player. However, it didn’t translate to success as a sophomore, and eventually, he transferred to Pitt. Offensive whiz Paul Chryst, however, might have found himself a steal with the large 6-foot-5, 230-pound passer. With a void under center, the strong-armed signal caller has all the tools to take advantage of the opportunity to run Chryst’s offense.
 

10. Anthony Boone, Duke (JR)
David Cutcliffe has built a sneaky good quarterback tradition in Duke with Sean Renfree and Thaddeus Lewis combining for nearly 20,000 yards between them (19,530). The 6-foot, 230-pound quarterback from Monroe (N.C.) Weddington is charged with continuing the Blue Devils aerial success. The redshirt junior-to-be has a big arm and flashed big-time ability in spot duty against Virginia a year ago by throwing for 212 yards and four touchdowns in the 42-17 win. There is no reason to think Boone won’t maintain Duke’s recent run of solid quarterback play.
 

11. Pete Thomas, NC State (JR)
The race to replace Mike Glennon is a tight battle between Thomas and sophomore Manny Stocker. Thomas started for two years at Colorado State before transferring to NC State. In two years with the Rams, he threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns and completed 64.7 percent of his throws as a freshman. Stocker played in five games last season and threw only two passes. New NC State coach Dave Doeren hired a solid offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, and the receiving corps has plenty of proven options. Thomas was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and if he beats out Stocker, the California native should have a solid season.


12. C.J. Brown, Maryland (JR)
Brown was a victim of bad luck last season. The Pennsylvania native was poised to be Maryland’s starting quarterback but suffered a torn ACL in fall practice. After a year of rehabbing his injured knee, Brown is slated to start 2013 as the Terrapins’ No. 1 quarterback. In 10 games in 2011, Brown threw for 842 yards and seven touchdowns and added 574 yards and five rushing scores. Considering he is coming off a knee injury, Brown may not be asked to run much early in the season. And if he struggles, New Mexico transfer Ricardo Young or sophomore Perry Hills could overtake him for the top spot.
 

13. David Watford, Virginia (SO)
The 6-foot-1, 200 pounder hails from Hampton (Va.) High School in one of the most talent-rich areas of the nation. From the same area as other elite ACC quarterbacks Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, Ronald Curry and E.J. Manuel, Watford is expected to rejuvenate the Cavaliers offense. He got playing time as a true freshman, throwing 74 passes in 2011, before redshirting in 2012. He will have to hold off former elite recruit Phillip Sims and redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert to keep the starting job in Charlottesville this year. But Watford has some intriguing upside for a team that finished 93rd in total offense a year ago.
 

14. Drew Allen, Syracuse (SR)
The Orange received a late boost this spring, as Allen chose to transfer to Syracuse and will join the quarterback competition this summer. The San Antonio native is eligible immediately since he graduated early and is expected to start over Charley Loeb and Terrel Hunt. Allen did not start a game with the Sooners during his three years in Norman but ranked as the No. 15 pro-style quarterback in the nation in the 2009 signing class. In three years with Oklahoma, Allen completed 18 of 30 passes for 160 yards and no touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, the senior has the size and intangibles to keep Syracuse’s passing attack performing at a high level. However, Allen does not have any starts under his belt and is a wildcard to watch in the ACC quarterback rankings.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> ACC Quarterback Rankings for 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-head-coaches-rise
Body:

It seems every college football season has an active coaching carousel at the end of the year. Athletic directors are always looking for the next big thing, and there is no shortage of coaches looking to make the jump to a top-tier BCS program.

Earlier this offseason, Athlon ranked the top 20 coaches on the hot seat for 2013. There’s a good chance most of the coaches on that list won’t return for 2014. Which begs the question: Who could fill those voids? Or which coaches are the next big stars in college football? Toledo’s Matt Campbell, Ball State’s Pete Lembo, Memphis’ Justin Fuente and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth are just a few names that should be among the next group of rising coach stars in college football. A few years ago, names like Kevin Sumlin, Hugh Freeze or Mike MacIntyre would have made this list. Now, all three coaches are at BCS programs.

Although Kliff Kingsbury and Dave Doeren are taking over BCS programs, both coaches deserve a mention in this space. Kingsbury isn’t going to leave Texas Tech, but his experience as a coordinator and high-scoring offense should have the Red Raiders climbing the Big 12 food chain in the next couple of years. Doeren arrives in Raleigh after a 23-4 stint at Northern Illinois. Expect Doeren to elevate the Wolfpack after a 40-35 record under former coach Tom O’Brien. 

College Football's Top 10 Head Coaches on the Rise for 2013

Matt Campbell, Toledo
At 33 years old, Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches. The Ohio native was a solid player during his career at Mount Union and is on the fast track as a head coach. After spending time as an assistant with Mount Union, Bowling Green and at Toledo, Campbell was promoted to the top spot after Tim Beckman left for Illinois. The Rockets went 9-4 last season and three of their losses came by a touchdown or less. Toledo has a handful of players departing on defense, but the offense should remain one of the best in the MAC. The Rockets host defending MAC champion Northern Illinois in late November, so all of the pieces are in place for Toledo to win the conference title this year. Campbell should be one of the MAC’s top coaches in 2013 and beyond.


Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
DeRuyter went 9-4 in his Fresno State debut and has the Bulldogs primed to contend for the Mountain West title in 2013. Prior to coming to Fresno State, DeRuyter served as a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Air Force, Nevada and Ohio. He was Texas A&M’s interim coach for the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl, which the Aggies defeated Northwestern 33-22. All signs point to DeRuyter being a home-run hire for Fresno State, but with the Bulldogs a potential top-25 team for 2013, he could receive interest from BCS programs this offseason.
 

Dave Doeren, NC State
NC State made one of the offseason’s top coaching moves by hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois. Although Tom O’Brien led the Wolfpack to four bowl games in five seasons, a 22-26 record in conference play wasn’t good enough. It’s tough to envision NC State consistently beating Clemson and Florida State, but the program can win more than it has the last few years. Doeren looks like the right coach to take NC State to the next level, as he comes to Raleigh after a 23-4 mark in two seasons with Northern Illinois. Although he inherited a good team from Jerry Kill, Doeren took the Huskies to new heights, including a berth in last season's Orange Bowl against Florida State. Prior to his two-year stint as Northern Illinois’ head coach, he served as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Kansas and also spent time as a graduate assistant at USC. Doeren doesn’t have any experience in the ACC, so it may take some time to build connections on the recruiting trail. However, all signs point to Doeren’s hire being a home run for NC State. 

Related Content: Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2013


Justin Fuente, Memphis
Fuente inherited a mess when he arrived at Memphis. The Tigers were coming off a disastrous two-year stint under Larry Porter, which resulted in a 3-21 record. And under Fuente’s watch, the Tigers showed big improvement in 2012. Memphis went 4-8 last season, which included a three-game winning streak to finish the campaign. The Tigers lost three games by 10 points or less and got better as the season progressed. Before taking over at Memphis, Fuente spent five years as an assistant at TCU, including the last three as the co-offensive coordinator. With the move to the American Athletic Conference (new name of the former Big East), Fuente’s job will get a little tougher in 2013. Memphis doesn’t quite have the talent to push for a bowl game this year, but the Tigers will continue to take another step forward under Fuente’s watch in 2013.
 

Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
If you are looking for college football’s next rising star in the non-BCS ranks to jump to a BCS job, look no further than Lafayette, La. Hudspeth has recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons and has two bowl victories since taking over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Before coming to Louisiana-Lafayette, Hudspeth went 66-21 and made five playoff appearances in seven years at North Alabama, a Division II member school. Hudspeth served as an assistant on Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State from 2009-10 and spent one year as Navy’s offensive coordinator in 2001. As each of his two head coaching stops have shown, Hudspeth is a proven winner and is ready to jump to a BCS school in the next few years. And under Hudspeth’s direction, expect the Ragin’ Cajuns to win the Sun Belt conference title in 2013.
 

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Kingsbury has been on a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and lands his first head coaching job at his alma mater. The San Antonio native had a prolific career as a starting quarterback under Mike Leach from 2000-02, finishing his career with just under 12,000 passing yards. Following his collegiate career in Lubbock, Kingsbury had a short professional stint, playing for five different teams in five seasons. Kingsbury joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Houston in 2008 and worked his way through the ranks, before becoming the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and guiding quarterback Case Keenum to nearly 20,000 career passing yards. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and produced a successful one-year stint as the offensive coordinator, which resulted in a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel). Kingsbury is young and unproven as a head coach, but he is the perfect fit at Texas Tech. For a program that never really embraced Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are in good hands with one of college football’s rising stars at head coach.

Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013
 

Pete Lembo, Ball State
Thanks to last season’s 9-4 record, Lembo now has an overall winning record at three different programs. In five years at Lehigh, Lembo won 44 games and led the Mountain Hawks to two playoff appearances. At his next stop, Lembo won 35 games at Elon and made one postseason appearance. Ball State showed big improvement in Lembo’s first season in 2011 and won nine games, with an appearance in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl in '12. Lembo should have the Cardinals in the mix for the MAC title in 2013 and as a sharp X’s and O’s coach, will be high on athletic director’s wish lists come December.
 

Trent Miles, Georgia State
The Panthers quietly made one of the offseason’s best hires by pulling Miles away from Indiana State. The Sycamores were 1-32 in the three years prior to Miles’ arrival but recorded a winning record in each of the last three seasons. Also, Indiana State was the only team to defeat FCS champion North Dakota State in 2012. Even though Miles’ overall record is just 20-36, he clearly improved Indiana State from one of the worst FCS programs to a top-25 team in his final year. Georgia State is another difficult job, as the Panthers transitioning from the FCS to the FBS level. However, the program is located in a good recruiting base (Atlanta) and should eventually be competitive in Sun Belt games. If Miles turns around Georgia State, he should expect to hear from BCS programs in the near future.
 

Willie Taggart, South Florida
After a three-year stint as Western Kentucky’s head coach, Taggart essentially returns home to take over the top spot at South Florida. Taggart went 16-20 during his three years with the Hilltoppers, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. The 14 victories during that stretch was the best two-year stint for Western Kentucky since 2004-05. Taggart played his high school ball at Manatee in Bradenton, Fla., which is just an hour outside of USF. The 36-year-old coach is clearly one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks and should help the Bulls be one of the most-improved teams in the conference in 2013.

Related Content: Ranking the Big East Coaches for 2013
 

Matt Wells, Utah State
Gary Andersen did a tremendous job at Utah State, elevating the Aggies from a 4-8 program in his first season to an 11-2 team in 2012. Andersen left for Wisconsin in December, which promoted Utah State to promote Wells to the top spot. The Oklahoma native has deep ties to the program, as he played quarterback for the Aggies from 1993-96 and has served as an assistant under Andersen over the last two seasons. In his only season as Utah State’s offensive coordinator, the Aggies averaged 34.9 points a game and ranked 21st nationally in total offense. Wells has proven himself as an assistant and should keep Utah State near the top of the Mountain West in his first chance to be a head coach.


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Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Head Coaches on the Rise</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-assistant-coaches-rise-2013
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The college football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which assistants will be atop athletic director’s wish lists to fill open vacancies after 2013.

As with any list of rising stars or coaches, there are always a handful of names that miss out on the list. However, that isn’t a knock on their coaching ability. Coordinators like Alabama’s Kirby Smart or Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi have been known for a few years now and will get plenty of looks to be a head coach in the future.

Clemson’s Chad Morris is perhaps the hottest name for potential open vacancies after the 2013 season, as the former Texas high school coach has transformed the Tigers’ into one of the nation’s best offenses. Morris is certainly known around the nation, but after interviewing for the Texas Tech vacancy in 2012, he could finally land a head-coaching gig after 2013.

Outside of Morris, keep a close watch on Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and Texas A&M co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital are a few coaches who should see their stock rise in 2013. 

College Football's Top 10 Assistant Coaches on the Rise for 2013

Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame
Diaco was the architect behind Notre Dame’s top-10 defense last season. The Fighting Irish finished seventh nationally in total defense and second in points allowed in 2012, and only two opponents scored over 20 points. Diaco followed coach Brian Kelly from Cincinnati to South Bend, and he worked in assistant jobs with Virginia, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan before joining the Bearcats. Diaco has quietly built an impressive resume and should get a chance to be a head coach soon. With a loaded defense returning to South Bend for 2013, Notre Dame should be one of the top-10 defenses in college football, which will make the New Jersey native a hot commodity in coaching searches once the 2013 season is over.
 

D.J. Durkin, defensive coordinator, Florida
Durkin was promoted to defensive coordinator in mid-January after Dan Quinn left for the NFL. Coach Will Muschamp plays a large role in shaping Florida’s defense, but Durkin’s promotion shouldn’t be overlooked. The Ohio native is highly regarded among coaches in the SEC and worked under two of the best coaches during the BCS era – Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. This is Durkin’s first chance to be a coordinator, but with Muschamp on the sidelines, don’t expect Florida’s defense to suffer much of a drop in production in 2013 and beyond.
 

Scott Frost, offensive coordinator, Oregon
One of Mark Helfrich’s first jobs as head coach was to promote Frost from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator. The former Nebraska quarterback was regarded for his work on the Ducks’ staff since 2009 and helped to mold the receiving corps into one of the best in the conference going into 2013. Helfrich is expected to call the plays this year, but Frost will have a role in developing the gameplan each week. After a successful career as a starting quarterback at Nebraska, Frost is on the fast track through the assistant ranks, and his ability to pull talent to Eugene will help keep Oregon among the best teams in the nation.
 

Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State
Urban Meyer has a good eye for finding talent in the assistant ranks, so it was no surprise when he picked Herman to join his staff. Herman came to Columbus after three years directing Iowa State’s offense. The Cyclones didn’t have a ton of talent to work with on offense but averaged over 20 points a game in each of Herman’s three seasons. Before Iowa State, Herman called the plays at Rice and directed the Owls’ offense to an average of 41.3 points per game in 2008. Learning under one of the best coaches in college football should only raise Herman’s profile, and the California native should help Meyer direct one of the nation’s top offenses in 2013.
 

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson
Considering his success over the last two years at Clemson, it may be a bit of a stretch to put Morris in this category. However, the 44-year-old coach will be a hot commodity in coaching circles this offseason, as the Tigers are primed to make a run at an ACC Championship and could be a top-five team in some preseason polls. With quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins back on campus, Clemson will have one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses and could surpass last season’s average of 41 points per game. Morris was a successful high school coach before taking over as Tulsa’s offensive coordinator in 2010, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a chance to run his own program.
 

Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State
Norvell was the engineer behind Arizona State’s high-powered offense last season, which averaged 38.4 points a game and ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in total offense. At 32 years old, Norvell is one of college football’s youngest coordinators. However, there’s no doubt he is one of the Pac-12’s rising stars in the assistant ranks. Before coming to Arizona State, Norvell followed Todd Graham to stops at Tulsa and Pittsburgh and started four years at receiver during his playing career at Central Arkansas. Norvell has some holes to fill with running back Cameron Marshall and two receivers departing, but the Sun Devils should once again have one of the best offenses in the Pac-12.
 

Nick Rolovich, offensive coordinator, Nevada
Rolovich is the lone non-BCS coordinator to make this list for 2013. The California native played quarterback at Hawaii from 2000-01 and had a short professional stint with the Broncos, before spending five seasons in the Arena Football League and one in NFL Europe. Rolovich has been on a quick rise through the assistant ranks, as he spent two years at the City College of San Francisco from 2007-08 and was hired as Hawaii’s quarterbacks coach by Greg McMackin in 2008. Rolovich worked in that capacity until the 2009 season, when he was promoted to offensive coordinator. The Warriors averaged over 30 points a game in 2010 and 2011 under Rolovich’s watch. After Norm Chow was hired as Hawaii’s head coach, Rolovich left to join Nevada’s staff and spent the year learning the Pistol offense under Chris Ault. With his background under two different schemes and success with molding quarterbacks into starters, Rolovich is one of college football’s up-and-coming offensive playcallers.
 

Jake Spavital, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Texas A&M
After working with Case Keenum at Houston and Geno Smith at West Virginia, Spavital gets to tutor Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in 2013. The Oklahoma native has been on a fast track through the assistant ranks, starting his career at Tulsa under Gus Malzahn in 2008, before joining Dana Holgorsen at Houston in 2009. Spavital worked for two years under Holgorsen at West Virginia, serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Clarence McKinney is expected to call the plays for the Aggies in 2013, but Spavital’s experience working under Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury will help ease the transition for Manziel. Expect Spavital to be a hot name in coordinator searches at the end of 2013.
 

Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Washington
Wilcox transformed Washington’s defense from one of the worst in the nation in 2012 to rank fourth in the Pac-12 in points and yards allowed in 2013. The Oregon native started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Boise State in 2001 and worked in that capacity until joining California as a linebackers coach in 2003. After three years with the Golden Bears, Wilcox was selected as Boise State’s defensive coordinator in 2006 and coached in that role until 2009. He served for two years as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator under Derek Dooley in 2010 and took over at Washington in 2012. Wilcox is only 36 years old, but he is ready to be a head coach. However, until he leaves Seattle, expect the Huskies to rank among the best defenses in the Pac-12.
 

Mike Yurcich, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State
A few eyebrows were raised when Mike Gundy announced Yurcich as his new offensive coordinator. However, the Ohio native appears to be a perfect replacement for Todd Monken, who left to be the head coach at Southern Miss. Yurcich comes to Stillwater after a two-year stint as Shippensburg’s offensive coordinator. Under his watch, Shippensburg’s quarterback (Zach Zulli) won the Harlon Hill Award for the top player in Division II, while the offense averaged 529.2 yards per game in 2012. Yurcich doesn’t have to make wholesale changes at Oklahoma State, as the offense will largely use most of the same scheme from the previous year. However, expect Yurcich to put his own tweaks into the system, which as evidenced on the Division II level, should work out well for the Cowboys. 


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Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Assistant Coaches on the Rise for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-125-college-football-head-coaches-2013
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Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 125 college football coaches rank nationally.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference or nationally is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches for all 125 programs. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank nationally.

Coach Rankings for 2013: ACC | Big East | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 68-13 (2007-present)
Record at LSU: 48-16 (2000-04)
Record at Michigan State: 34-24-1 (1995-99)
Record at Toledo: 9-2 (1990)
Overall Record: 159-55-1 (17 years)

Saban is without question the best coach in college football. He started his career as a head coach in 1990 with Toledo, then spent the next four seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns. In 1995, Saban was hired as Michigan State’s head coach and guided the Spartans to a 34-24-1 record under his watch. Saban left East Lansing for Baton Rouge and LSU in 2000 and led the Tigers to a 48-16 record in five years, including a national championship in 2003. Saban had a two-year stint with the Dolphins but jumped at the opportunity to lead Alabama in 2007. After a 7-6 record in his first season, Saban is 61-7 in his last five years with the Crimson Tide, which includes three national championships. At 61 years old, Saban is still at the top of his game and should have Alabama in the mix for a SEC and national title every year he is on the sidelines.
 

2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 12-0 (2012-present)
Record at Florida: 65-15 (2005-2010)
Record at Utah: 22-2 (2003-04)
Record at Bowling Green: 17-6 (2001-02)
Overall Record: 116-23 (11 years)

Really the only thing left on Meyer’s resume is to defeat an SEC school in the national championship. In his first year at Ohio State, he took a 6-7 Buckeyes team and turned them into a perfect 12-0 program, proving his past successes were no fluke. He already claims two BCS National Championships, four conference titles (would have been five had OSU been eligible last year), three conference Coach of the Year awards, one Heisman winner and one national Coach of the Year honor. In each stop along the way, Meyer has proven to have an immediate impact on the program be it at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida or Ohio State. He is an elite recruiter and an elite talent developer. No, he isn’t the nicest or most honest guy in the business, but his teams are extremely well coached and they win big.

RELATED: Help us pick Athlon's 2013 Ohio State Preseason College Football Cover! 


3. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Overall Record at Kansas State: 
170-85-1 (1989-2005, 2009-present, 21 years)

Snyder doesn’t get the national credit like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, but there’s no denying he is one of the best coaches in college football. Prior to his arrival at Kansas State, the Wildcats had just one bowl appearance and recorded only one winning season from 1971-88. After Snyder’s arrival, Kansas State immediately went from a laughingstock to a consistent winner. The Wildcats won six games in Snyder’s first two seasons but recorded 10 years of nine victories or more from 1993-2003. Snyder retired after the 2005 season, but a failed three-year stint under Ron Prince brought him back to the sidelines. And just as Kansas State did in Snyder’s first stint, the program quickly emerged as a conference title contender and was in the mix to play for the national title last season. Snyder isn’t flashy, but his teams are always well-coached and prepared. As long as Snyder roams the sidelines in Manhattan, regardless of how many starters Kansas State loses, never count out the Wildcats from the Big 12 title discussion.
 

4. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Record at Notre Dame: 28-11 (2010-present)
Record at Cincinnati: 34-6 (2007-09)
Record at Central Michigan: 19-16 (2004-06)
Record at Grand Valley State: 118-35-2 (1991-2003)
Overall Record: 199-68-2 (23 years)

Not many coaches in college football can rival Kelly’s resume in four stops as a head coach. Kelly’s first head coaching gig came in 1991 at Grand Valley State, and he stayed in that capacity until 2003. During 13 years with Grand Valley State, Kelly went 118-35-2 and won two Division II titles. After his success with the Lakers, Kelly went 19-16 with Central Michigan, which included a MAC Championship in 2006. Kelly moved on to Cincinnati at the end of the 2006 season and guided the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East titles in 2008 and 2009. After back to-back 8-5 seasons with Notre Dame, Kelly led the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the BCS National Championship game at the end of the 2012 season. Despite the blowout loss to Alabama in the title game, Kelly clearly has the program back on track to be an annual top 10-15 team. 
 

5. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 66-37 (2005-present)
Record at Florida: 122-27-1 (1990-2001)
Record at Duke: 20-13-1 1987-89)
Overall Record: 208-77-2 (22 years)

After six consecutive seasons with at least five losses, Spurrier has delivered two (if not three) of the best seasons in South Carolina football history. It clearly took some time to build the Gamecocks into a consistent winner for the first time in program history. But there is no doubt the Gamecocks have become one of the league's top contenders. Not only is Spurrier extremely relevant in the league heading into the 2013 season at age 68 (April 20), but he has achieved at a high level over time as well. in a conference known for its ability to devour quality coaches, few have proven to be as adaptable and as consistent as Spurrier. He has an incredible 122-41 record in SEC play over his 20-year career in the league for an average of more than six conference wins per season (6.1). With one national championship under his belt from his time at Florida, should he bring a conference crown to Columbia, his name would belong with those two guys from Alabama as the SEC's greatest of all-time. The only problem is Carolina has gone from first to second to third in the East the last three seasons despite appearing to get better on the field.
 

6. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Overall Record at Boise State: 84-8 (2006-present)

There are few coaches in college football with a more impressive resume than Petersen. In seven years with the Broncos, Petersen has recorded at least 10 wins in every season. He has also never lost more than three games in a single season during his tenure in Boise. Also, Boise State has played in two BCS bowl games and has four finishes inside of the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll. Despites overtures from BCS programs, Petersen hasn’t showed any interest in leaving Boise State. Under his watch, the Broncos have upgraded their facilities and landed a favorable deal to stay in the Mountain West, instead of joining the American Athletic Conference (formerly known as the Big East). Even though college football’s postseason format will change, expect Boise State to remain a player on the national scene as long as Petersen is on the sidelines. And BCS programs will keep calling the California native, but Petersen seems pretty comfortable in Boise.  


7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Overall Record: 149-37 (1999-present, 14 years)

Stoops has been the picture of consistency and success during his Oklahoma tenure. The Sooners have won at least 10 games in 11 of Stoops’ 14 seasons in Norman and claimed the national title after the 2000 season. Under his guidance, Oklahoma has emerged as a national powerhouse once again. The Sooners have claimed at least a share of the Big 12 title nine times under Stoops and have eight BCS bowl appearances. And after a 10-3 record in 2012, which would be considered a successful year for most programs, Stoops didn’t sit idle. Oklahoma will have three new assistant coaches for 2013, which should inject some fresh energy into the program. Even though some may criticize Stoops for his 1-5 record in the last six BCS bowls, the Ohio native is still one of the nation’s premier coaches.
 

8. Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
Record at Western Kentucky: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Arkansas: 34-17 (2008-2011)
Record at Louisville: 41-9 (2003-06)
Overall Record: 75-26 (8 years)

Petrino’s tenure at Arkansas ended in disastrous fashion thanks to one motorcycle ride in April. After sitting out 2012, Petrino is back on the sidelines – with a job that’s a lot less high-profile than Arkansas: Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers made significant progress under former coach Willie Taggart, and Petrino should be able to build on that in 2013. At each of his stops as a collegiate head coach, Petrino built an instant winner. In his first season at Louisville, the Cardinals went 9-4 and finished 12-1 in 2006 with a Big East title and Orange Bowl victory over Wake Forest. Petrino had a failed stint in the NFL with the Falcons, but he returned to the sidelines at Arkansas and led the Razorbacks to a 34-17 record in four seasons. Make no mistake: Petrino isn’t going to be on the sidelines for very long in Bowling Green. However, until a BCS program decides to hire him, Petrino will be very successful at Western Kentucky


9. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 216-104-2 (1987-present)
Record at Murray State: 42-23-2 (1981-1986)
Overall Record: 258-127-4 (31 years)

First as a player and now as the head coach, Beamer has been a part of Virginia Tech football for four decades, and his success has made “Beamerball” a recognized commodity both within and outside of the state. After a slow start to his coaching career at Tech, Beamer has led the Hokies to 20 straight bowl games dating back to 1993. During this time he won three Big East championships — including one memorable run at the national title with Michael Vick in 1999 — four ACC titles and five conference Coach of the Year Awards. In eight years of playing in the Coastal, Beamer has won the division five times. His seven-win 2012 campaign ended an eight-year run with at least 10 wins and it forced him to make some coaching changes. That said, he is still the longest tenured and winningest active coach in college football.


10. Gary Patterson, TCU
Overall Record at TCU: 116-36 (2000-present, 13 years)

Since 2000, TCU has played in the WAC, Conference USA, Mountain West and Big 12. The one constant and driving force behind the conference changes and rise of TCU as one of college football’s top-25 programs of the BCS era: Gary Patterson. The Kansas native had no FBS head coaching experience when he was promoted at TCU in 2000 but has eight seasons of 10 or more wins, including a 13-0 mark in 2010. The Horned Frogs dominated the Mountain West from 2005-2011, losing only seven conference games during that stretch. Moving to the Big 12 is a step up in competition for TCU. But the program has a lucrative recruiting base, and Patterson is clearly one of the top-15 coaches in the nation. As long as the Horned Frogs continue to recruit well, competing in the Big 12 won’t be a problem.


11. Mark Richt, Georgia
Overall Record at Georgia: 118-40 (2001-present, 12 years)

Yes, Spurrier has been around longer than the Georgia coach, but along with Gary Pinkel of Missouri, Richt is your longest tenured coach in the nation's toughest league. And he added his sixth SEC East title and fifth SEC title game appearance to his resume in 2012. A model of consistency, Richt has won at least eight games in all but one of his 12 SEC campaigns and has never finished a regular season under .500 and never missed a postseason. Fans were restless following the low point of the tenure — a loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl following the 2010 season, but he made quality staff adjustments and has rebounded with back-to-back SEC championship game appearances. Richt returned the Dawgs to prominence with two SEC titles in 2002 and 2005, but after three straight losses in Atlanta, Georgia faithful are eagerly waiting to cap a season a with a win in the Georgia Dome rather than a loss. A win would likely earn Richt his third SEC Coach of the Year award.

Related Content: Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013


12. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Overall Record at Northwestern: 50-39 (2006-present, 7 years)

Fitzgerald is the perfect fit at Northwestern, and he continues to take the program to new heights. The Illinois native starred at linebacker for the Wildcats from 1993-96 and was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Fitzgerald had no coordinator experience when he was promoted to the top spot at Northwestern and took over the program in a difficult time, replacing Randy Walker after his unexpected death in 2006. Despite his inexperience on the sidelines, Fitzgerald has been a home-run hire for Northwestern. The Wildcats are 50-39 under his watch and have played in five consecutive bowl games. Northwestern earned its first bowl victory since the 1949 Rose Bowl by beating Mississippi State 34-20 in last season's Gator Bowl. Fitzgerald is never going to reel in top-25 recruiting classes, but he has done a good job of finding and developing plenty of talent during his tenure. As long as Fitzgerald stays on the sidelines in Evanston, expect the Wildcats to remain a consistent contender in the Big Ten Legends Division, and they could start 2013 in the preseason top 25.
 

13. Art Briles, Baylor 
Record at Baylor: 33-30 (2008-present)
Record at Houston: 34-28 (2003-07)
Overall Record: 67-58 (10 years) 

From 1997-2007, Baylor was one of the Big 12’s worst programs. The Bears compiled a 31-94 mark and did not record a bowl appearance during that stretch. Enter Art Briles. Since Briles’ arrival, the Bears have been much more competitive in the Big 12. Baylor has 25 victories over the last three seasons and has played in three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history. Briles’ success isn’t contained just to Baylor, as he took over Houston and went 34-28 in five years with the Cougars. Two different programs, two challenging and different reclamation efforts. Considering what Briles has done on the high school level, at Houston and now at Baylor, he’s easily one of college football’s top-20 coaches going into the 2013 season.   

Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013
 

14. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 19-7 (2011-present)
Record at San Diego State: 13-12 (2009-10)
Record at Ball State: 34-38 (2003-08)
Overall Record: 66-57 (10 years)

After turning around Ball State and San Diego State, Hoke was Michigan’s pick to lead the program back to national prominence. So far, so good. The Wolverines are 19-7 under Hoke’s watch and have back-to-back 6-2 records in conference play. Michigan also won the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech to cap its first season under Hoke’s watch and has finished each of the past two seasons ranked in the Associated Press top 25. Although Hoke posted an overall losing mark at Ball State (34-38), the program didn’t have a winning record in the six seasons prior to his arrival. He was able to guide the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, including a 12-1 regular season record in 2008. San Diego State was considered an annual underachiever prior to Hoke, but he led the Aztecs to the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl – their first postseason appearance since 1998. As a Michigan man, Hoke is a perfect fit in Ann Arbor. And after two seasons, Hoke has the Wolverines poised once again to be a threat to win the Big Ten title every year.

Related Content: Ranking the Big Ten Coaches for 2013
 

15. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Overall Record at Oklahoma State: 67-35 (2005-present, 8 years)

Even though Gundy ranks No. 5 in Athlon’s Big 12 coach rankings for 2013, there’s not much separating the former Oklahoma State quarterback from the rest of the coaches in the conference. And it’s also hard to find a coach in the nation that’s a better fit at their current program. Considering Gundy played at Oklahoma State and served as an assistant prior to being elevated to head coach, he’s the perfect leader for a program that has made significant gains over the last 10 years. After going 18-19 in his first three seasons, Gundy has led the Cowboys to five consecutive seasons of at least eight victories. Oklahoma State recorded a 23-3 mark from 2010-11, which included an outright Big 12 title in 2011 and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. Having a booster like T. Boone Pickens certainly doesn’t hurt Oklahoma State, especially when it comes to building new facilities. However, Gundy has elevated the Cowboys from battling just for bowl berths to conference titles in just a few seasons. 
 

16. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 11-2 (2012-present)
Record at Houston: 35-17 (2008-2011)
Overall Record: 46-19 (5 years)

Sumlin’s debut at Texas A&M was a rousing success. In the Aggies’ first season in the SEC, Sumlin guided Texas A&M to an 11-2 record, helped to propel quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Heisman, and had the Aggies on the doorstep of playing in a BCS bowl. Sumlin came to Texas A&M after a 35-17 record in four seasons at Houston, which included a 12-1 mark in 2011. The Alabama native built a strong resume as an assistant, making stops at Wyoming, Minnesota, Purdue, Texas A&M and at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. One of the underrated aspects of Sumlin’s hire was a top-notch coaching staff, which included Kliff Kingsbury and Brian Polian, who both departed for head coaching jobs in the offseason. However, Sumlin restocked his staff, and with Texas A&M reeling in a top-10 recruiting class, the future looks bright in College Station. Sumlin’s next priority? Cut into Texas’ hold on the state and elevate Texas A&M into a consistent contender in the SEC.
 

17. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Overall Record at Vanderbilt:
 15-11 (2011-present, 2 years)

Vanderbilt had never been to back-to-back bowl games in program history, but in just two short years, that is exactly what Franklin has done for the Commodores. It really is the only statistic that matters as Vandy has achieved at a higher level than ever before in the 117-year history of the program. With the only exception of attendance — which is still very strong compared to pre-Franklin standards — everything about this program screams S-E-C. Franklin has the Dores recruiting at an all-time rate, the offense is scoring at unprecedented levels and the program as a whole has a swagger never before seen on West End. Franklin is meticulous in his holistic and forward-thinking approach to selling a program and its exactly what a program like Vanderbilt has to have if it wants to continue to grow and contend with much more powerful SEC programs.
 

18. Charlie Strong, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 25-14 (2010-present)
Record at Florida: 0-1 (2004 Peach Bowl)
Overall Record: 25-15 (3 full years)

Strong had to wait a while for his first head coaching gig, but the Arkansas native has shown in just three full seasons he is one of the top 25 coaches in the nation. After stops as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina, Strong was hired as Louisville’s head coach in 2010. He didn’t inherit a full cupboard from the previous coaching staff, so it was no surprise Strong went 7-6 in each of his first two years in Louisville. However, the Cardinals took flight in 2012, winning 11 games (including an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over Florida). Strong turned down overtures from other BCS programs and will be tough to pry away from Louisville. If the Cardinals finish in the top 10 as most expect in 2013, expect to see Strong’s name move even higher on the list of the nation’s best coaches.
 

19. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 13-11 (2011-present)
Record at Temple: 27-34 (2006-2010)
Overall Record: 40-45 (6 years)

Golden earned the Miami job after building bottom feeder Temple into a MAC contender. He didn’t have a losing league record in his final four seasons in Philly and earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2009. A massive NCAA scandal involving super booster Nevin Shapiro didn’t slow Golden’s recruiting efforts and his team showed improvement last fall by winning the ACC's Coastal Division. Yet, for a second straight year, Miami missed a bowl game due to self-imposed postseason sanctions. His tribute to Howard Schnellenberger — a dress shirt, tie, slacks and jacket gameday attire — has once again become an iconic symbol on the Hurricanes’ sideline. After more than 10 freshmen saw starting time in ’12, Miami could be the front-runner in the Coastal this fall. Golden still has much to prove in Coral Gables, but his resurrection job at Temple shows he's capable of elevating Miami back into ACC title contention - provided the program can dodge major NCAA sanctions from the ongoing investigation. 


20. David Shaw, Stanford
Overall Record at Stanford: 23-4 (2011-present)

Even after two years of winning at an 85-percent clip, there is still somewhat of an unknown factor with Shaw. He has finished tied for first in the Pac-12 North Division both seasons on the Farm, claimed a conference championship and won the school’s first Rose Bowl since 1972. Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck built the Cardinal program back to respectability, and, now that expectations have been elevated significantly, it will be no small feat to maintain this level of success. Shaw is steeped in Stanford tradition as a player and is one of the most well-liked men in the business. If he keeps recruiting at a high level, the Cardinal will remain a factor in the Pac-12 North for years to come. However, the bar has been set high after the last few years, and it’s easy to see just how valuable of a coach Harbaugh was after taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second year in the NFL.
 

21. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Overall Record at Oregon State: 81-67 (1997-98, 2003-present)

Riley has one of the most unique career paths in all of football. He won big in the CFL before his first stint in Corvallis (8-14) led to an NFL job in San Diego. He returned to Oregon State in 2003 and posted six winning campaigns in his next seven seasons, including the school’s first 10-win season (2006) and a Pac-10 Coach of the Year award (2008). Yet, after two losing seasons in 2010-11, Riley started to feel some pressure to win entering 2012, and he delivered in a big way. Riley turned the league’s worst rushing defense into one of the Pac-12’s best in one offseason and returned the Beavers to a bowl game. There are few people more liked in the industry than Riley and he consistently gets more out of less than most of his coaching peers. There is a reason he is the winningest coach in Oregon State history. It can be tough to sustain success at a program like Oregon State, but Riley is the right man to keep the Beavers in contention for a winning record every year.
 

22. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Michigan: 15-22 (2008-10)
Record at West Virginia: 60-26 (2001-07)
Record at Glenville State: 43-28-2 (1990-96)
Record at Salem: 2-8 (1988)
Overall Record: 134-93-2 (19 years)

Although his lack of success at Michigan is an eyesore on an otherwise stellar resume, Rodriguez is still one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. And if there was any doubt about his coaching prowess, he answered those questions with an 8-5 debut at Arizona in 2012. The Wildcats’ eight victories were a four-game improvement from 2011 and three of their losses were by seven points or less, including an overtime defeat to Stanford. Rodriguez should win big at Arizona, as he is a much better fit in the desert than in the Big Ten with Michigan. In seven years with West Virginia from 2001-07, Rodriguez led the Mountaineers to 60 wins, including a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia in 2005. West Virginia also claimed at least a share of the conference title in four years under Rodriguez’s watch. Arizona must replace quarterback Matt Scott in 2013, but the Wildcats could be pushing for a spot every year in the top 25 as long as Rodriguez is on the sideline.
 

23. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Overall Record at Mississippi State: 29-22 (2009-present, 5 years)

Each BCS conference seems to have one coach that cannot be judged strictly on his record. Mullen fits that profile for the SEC, as he is coming off his fifth year in Starkville and has a 29-22 overall record. Although Mullen’s overall record isn’t overly impressive, Mississippi State is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. The Bulldogs have played in three consecutive bowl games under Mullen and are coming off a 4-4 conference record in the always loaded SEC. Mullen is 3-1 against rival Ole Miss and has won seven or more games in each of the last three seasons. Prior to taking the top spot at Mississippi State, Mullen worked as an assistant under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. There’s no question Mullen needs to consistently beat some of the top teams in the SEC West to climb higher in the coach rankings. However, it’s not easy to win the division right now, especially as Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M could all be top-15 teams in 2013. If Mullen was at one of the top jobs in the conference – Florida, Alabama, LSU or Georgia – he would easily win at a higher level.

Related Content: Ranking the SEC Coaches for 2013
 

24. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 84-21 (2005-present)
Record at Oklahoma State: 28-21 (2001-04)
Overall Record: 113-42 (12 years)

Needless to say, Miles’ interesting personality sometimes distracts from his coaching ability. The Ohio native got his chance to be a head coach in 2001, as he was hired to lead Oklahoma State. The Cowboys went 4-7 in his first year but recorded at least seven victories in each of the next three seasons. Miles parlayed his success with Oklahoma State into the top spot at LSU, which he has held since 2005. Under Miles, the Tigers have had plenty of success – 84 victories and seven finishes in the Associated Press top 25 poll. LSU is 34-6 over the last three years and played for the national championship after the 2011 season. Although the Tigers have experienced plenty of success under Miles, there’s also a sense of disappointment. LSU went 10-3 with a team that was picked among the top two by most preseason polls last season. The Tigers also had a disappointing 8-5 2008 campaign and are 1-3 in their last four bowl games. There’s no question Miles is a solid coach, but he has plenty of talent at his disposal, and the Tigers have slightly underachieved.
 

25. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Wisconsin: 68-24 (2006-2012)
Overall Record: 68-24 (7 years)

Bielema’s decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas came as a surprise, but the lure of coaching in the SEC was tough to turn down. In seven years with the Badgers, Bielema had a 68-24 record, and led Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. Bielema led the Badgers to five finishes in the Associated Press' top 25 and had four seasons of 10 or more victories. Although Bielema was a good coach in the Big Ten, the road is much tougher in the SEC. Arkansas is in for a transition year in 2013, and the team will have to contend with improving programs at Texas A&M and Ole Miss in the West. While Bielema isn’t likely to lead the Razorbacks to a 10-win season in 2013 or '14, he is a good pick for a program that should be a consistent bowl team. Bielema will need some time to adjust to the SEC, but he should be a good fit at Arkansas.
 

26. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 51-28 (2007-present)
Record at Cincinnati: 18-17 (2004-06)
Overall Record: 51-28 (9 years)

The Spartans underachieved in 2012, but Dantonio’s overall record in six years in East Lansing is a rock-solid 51-28. The Texas native has guided Michigan State to six consecutive bowl berths and recorded back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2010-11. Dantonio’s 2011 team played for the Big Ten Championship, and the 2012 squad tied for the conference title. Prior to his tenure with Michigan State, Dantonio recorded an 18-17 record in three years with Cincinnati, which included two bowl appearances. Michigan State has the resources to be a consistent top-25 program but was considered an underachiever before Dantonio’s arrival. Despite slipping to 7-6 in 2012, Dantonio will have Michigan State back in the mix for the Big Ten Legends Division. 
 

27. Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Overall Record at Penn State: 8-4 (Penn State, 2012-present)

Bill Belichick assistants haven’t exactly gone on to do big things as head coaches, but in one short year, O’Brien might be on his way to being the best of the Patriots' coach’s offspring. There is little viable evidence in favor of or against O’Brien as a head coach other than the job he did in his first year in Happy Valley. In the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history, he won eight games with an offense that was more creative and innovative than fans at Penn State had seen in nearly a decade. He also recruited extremely well considering the circumstances. The sample size is extraordinarily small and the situation is still difficult to quantify. That said, it's pretty clear that O’Brien has won most of Nittany Nation over in one quick season. And if his growing interest from NFL executives is any indication, Penn State has found a good one in the Brown University graduate.
 

28. Mack Brown, Texas
Record at Texas: 150-43 (1998-present)
Record at North Carolina: 69-46-1 (1988-97)
Record at Tulane: 11-23 (1985-87)
Record at Appalachian State: 6-5 (1983)
Overall Record: 236-117-1 (29 years)

Is 2013 a make-or-break year for Brown at Texas? It’s certainly a possibility. The Longhorns 11-15 mark in conference play over the last three years is unacceptable for one of college football’s premier programs. Brown transformed Texas into a national title contender, but it’s clear his best days as a head coach are probably behind him. Prior to coming to Austin, Brown worked as a head coach for one season at Appalachian State, three years at Tulane and for 10 years at North Carolina. In some regard, Brown is a victim of his own success at Texas. In his first 12 seasons in Austin, the Longhorns won at least nine games in every year and beat USC to win the 2005 national championship. However, since losing to Alabama in the 2009 BCS title, Texas hasn’t been the same program. The Longhorns have the talent to win the Big 12 title in 2013. If Texas fails to surpass its 2012 win total (nine), there will be plenty of calls for a coaching change in Austin.

Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013
 

29. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-6 (2011)
Record at Tulsa: 36-17 (2007-10)
Record at Rice: 7-6 (2006)
Overall Record: 57-34 (7 years)

With four head coaching jobs in seven years, it’s fair to poke fun at Graham’s job-hopping skills. However, what’s lost in his movement is the Texas native is a very good coach. In his only season at Rice, Graham improved the Owls’ win total by six games from the previous year. At Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane won at least 10 games in three of his four seasons. And at Pittsburgh, Graham led the Panthers to a 6-6 regular-season record and an invite to the BBVA Compass Bowl. Arizona State finished with an 8-5 record last season, the program's first winning mark since 2007. The Sun Devils were close to winning the Pac-12 South Division, as they lost to UCLA by just two points in late October. Under Graham, Arizona State also cut out the boneheaded mistakes and penalties that seemed to plague this program in recent years. The Sun Devils have the personnel to win the division in 2013, and Graham could have this team in the mix for a spot in most preseason top-25 polls.

Related Content: Ranking the Pac-12 Coaches for 2013
 

30. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 7-6 (2012-present)
Record at Arkansas State: 10-2 (2011)
Record at Lambuth: 20-5 (2008-09)
Overall Record: 37-13 (4 years)

After a successful debut in Oxford, a case could be made Freeze should be ranked higher on this list. The Mississippi native inherited an Ole Miss team that went 2-10 in the year prior to his arrival and guided the Rebels to a 7-6 finish with a victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. After finishing 2011 as the SEC’s worst team, Ole Miss was one of college football’s top 40 teams last year. Success and improvement hasn’t just been limited to one stop for Freeze, as Lambuth was 20-5 from 2008-09 under his watch, and Arkansas State went 4-8 prior to his arrival, only to win 10 games in Freeze’s only season in Jonesboro. Freeze is bringing in a top-five recruiting class to Oxford, and the program is clearly headed in the right direction. The Mississippi native has never been a head coach at one stop long enough to show he can sustain success for five or more seasons. However, considering his recruiting haul and track record so far, there’s little to doubt Freeze will continue to climb on this list in the coming years.


31. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 3-9 (2012-present)
Record at Texas Tech: 84-43 (2000-09)
Overall Record: 87-52 (11 years)

Leach is an evaluation anomaly. He has more than a decade of elite-level coaching prowess loaded with some of the most prolific passing statistics in the history of college football. His quarterbacks litter the NCAA passing record books, but his off-the-field headlines have dominated his resume in recent years. A strange and bizarre ousting from Texas Tech led to a brief hiatus from coaching and a short radio career with SiriusXM. Leach took the Washington State job and immediately dealt with locker room upheaval as well as on-the-field deficiencies. His team lost its best player (Marquess Wilson) late in the season, and the rushing offense was the worst in FBS football. Yet somehow, he was still able to finish his first year with a monumental comeback against arch-rival Washington in the Apple Cup. However, more than three wins is needed to keep Leach in the good graces of the Cougars brass this fall.


32. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 41-26 (2008-present)
Record at Navy: 45-29 (2002-07)
Record at Georgia Southern: 62-10 (1997-2001)
Overall Record: 148-65 (15 years)

After two I-AA National Championships at Georgia Southern, Johnson completely reinvented the Naval Academy before bringing his patented triple-option attack to the big leagues. Since showing up at Georgia Tech, Johnson has never posted a losing ACC record, has played in three ACC championship games and never missed the postseason. The Sun Bowl win over USC a year ago was his first at Tech and the school’s first bowl win since 2004. Needless to say, the long-time head coach has proven his option system is fully capable of winning at a high level.
 

33. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Utah State: 26-24 (2009-2012)
Record at Southern Utah: 4-7 (2003)
Overall Record: 30-31 (5 years)

Don’t be fooled by Andersen’s 30-31 career record. The Utah native is an excellent coach who should win big in Madison. Prior to his first head coaching job at Southern Utah in 2003, Andersen worked as an assistant at Northern Arizona and Utah. And after a one-year stint as the Thunderbirds head coach, he rejoined the Utes’ coaching staff and stayed in Salt Lake City until 2009, when he was picked to lead Utah State. Andersen turned the Aggies from WAC bottom feeder to a title contender, leading Utah State to an 11-2 record in 2012 with a top-20 finish in the Associated Press' poll. Andersen doesn’t have experience coaching in the Big Ten, but he is familiar with Urban Meyer since he served as his defensive line coach with the Utes in 2004. Despite his lack of familiarity with the Big Ten, Andersen has been successful at each of his coaching stops, and Utah State showed big improvement in each of his four seasons. With Meyer leading Ohio State, the Badgers may not match its recent run of three straight Big Ten titles in the near future. However, Wisconsin should be a consistent top-25 team under Andersen’s watch.

Related Content: Ranking the Big Ten Coaches for 2013
 

34. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
Record at Louisiana-Lafayette: 18-8 (2011-present)
Record at North Alabama: 66-21 (2002-08)
Overall Record: 84-29 (9 years)

If you are looking for college football’s next rising star in the non-BCS ranks, look no further than Lafayette, La. Hudspeth has recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons and has two bowl victories since taking over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Before coming to Louisiana-Lafayette, Hudspeth went 66-21 and made five playoff appearances in seven years at North Alabama, a Division II member school. Hudspeth served as an assistant on Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State from 2009-10 and spent one year as Navy’s offensive coordinator in 2001. As each of his two head coaching stops have shown, Hudspeth is a proven winner and is ready to jump to a BCS school in the next few years. 


35. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Overall Record at Nebraska: 49-20 (Nebraska, 2003, 2008-present)

Pelini is one of the most intriguing coaches to evaluate among all the BCS conferences, if not the entire FBS pool. He leads one of the most powerful and historic programs in the nation and has resources at his disposal that most schools only dream of. He has led the Cornhuskers to three conference championship games in six seasons in two different leagues and has never won fewer than nine games. He also posted his best conference record with a 7-1 mark a year ago. However, he has also had many uncomfortable (and possibly inappropriate) moments with his players on national television and has never lost fewer than four games in any season. Nebraska is back competing for league championships for the first time since the '90s, but is Pelini treading water at 9-4 each season or was 2012 a glimpse of more to come?
 

36. Will Muschamp, Florida
Overall Record at Florida: 18-8 (2011-present, 2 years)

The fiery Florida coach proved a lot in his crucial second season at the helm in Gainesville. His team was one lost fumble at the goal line away from playing for a national championship in the SEC title game. His teams play with fierce physicality and his side of the ball, the defense, has been a major strength. His track record of big-time success — two national championship game appearances as a defensive coordinator — under Nick Saban, Mack Brown and Tommy Tuberville points to his ability to grind it out in a brutal conference. Yet, at times, his teams tend to play out of control — much like his coaching style — and its the only thing keeping him from being one of the league's elite field generals. So with a reworked defense and third(-ish) year starter under center, Gators fans are anxiously awaiting Muschamp's third season. Finishing a game against Georgia would go a long way to proving Muschamp is the long-term answer.
 

37. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Overall Record at Florida State: 31-10 (2010-present, 3 years)

Under Fisher’s direction, Florida State has once again emerged as a top-10 program. The Seminoles slipped in the final years under Bobby Bowden but have won at least nine games in each of Fisher’s three seasons. Florida State also has three bowl wins under Fisher and is 1-1 in the ACC Championship game under his watch. Despite Fisher’s success, the Seminoles have yet to climb back into the national title discussion and have finished just once in the Associated Press' poll final top 10. So while Florida State has made strides under Fisher, it’s not back among the nation’s elite – at least right now. The Seminoles continue to recruit well, and there’s plenty of young talent to fill the voids by the departing players. Fisher has a revamped coaching staff and a new indoor facility is on the way. All of the pieces are in place for Florida State to win big once again. If Fisher can elevate the Seminoles into a consistent top-five team once again, he will move into the top three of the ACC coaching ranks. However, Florida State also has a few head-scratching losses under Fisher, including a 17-16 road loss to NC State in 2012 and a 14-13 home defeat to Virginia in '11. If Fisher wants to be considered elite, it’s time for the puzzling losses to end.

Related Content: Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2013
 

38. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Overall Record at Iowa State: 24-27 (2009-present, 4 years)

Rhoads is the textbook example of why coaches shouldn’t always be judged just by the wins and losses on their resume. Iowa State is arguably the most difficult job in the Big 12 and one of the toughest from a BCS conference. So while Rhoads 24-27 record isn’t going to wow anyone, it’s impressive what he’s been able to do during his time in Ames. The Cyclones have played in three bowl games under Rhoads, with a victory in the 2009 Insight Bowl against Minnesota. Iowa State has won two in a row over rival Iowa and under Rhoads’ watch, the Cyclones have scored upset victories against Texas and Oklahoma State. As a native of Iowa, it would take a lot of Rhoads to leave Iowa State for another program. However, as long as the Cyclones in contention for a bowl every year, Rhoads’ name will keep coming up in coaching searches for top BCS programs.


39. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 8-4 (2012-present)
Record at Southern Miss: 34-19 (2008-11)
Overall Record: 42-23 (5 years)

Fedora cut his coaching chops at Baylor, Air Force, Middle Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma State. After a four-year run at Southern Miss that culminated with a C-USA Championship in 2011, Fedora landed at a North Carolina program still reeling from the aftermath of the Butch Davis era. He led the Heels to a co-Coastal Division title last season, but bowl sanctions didn’t allow North Carolina to play in the postseason. His offensive scheme is a proven commodity, but can he rebuild a roster hurt heavily by NFL defections and scholarship limitations?
 

40. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Overall Record at Clemson: 40-21 (2008-present, 5 years)

Swinney is one of the toughest coaches to rank in the ACC. He may not be the best X’s and O’s coach, but Clemson is 40-21 with two appearances in the ACC Championship under his watch. The Tigers seem to have turned a corner under Swinney’s direction and are the favorite to win the ACC in 2013. While Swinney deserves credit for the Tigers’ rise in recent years, having two of college football’s highest-paid coordinators hurts his case to be ranked higher on this list. Since Chad Morris arrived at Clemson, the Tigers are 21-6. Prior to his arrival, Swinney was just 19-15. Credit Clemson for giving Swinney the money to spend on quality assistants, which has clearly paid dividends for the program in recent years. Is Swinney an elite coach? Probably not. However, as long as he continues to recruit at a high level and hire good coordinators when Morris and Brent Venables leave for head coaching jobs, Clemson should remain one of the top programs in the ACC. 
 

41. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: First Season
Record at Cincinnati: 23-14 (2010-2012)
Record at Central Michigan: 27-13 (2007-2009)
Overall Record: 50-27 (6 years)

The book on Jones is fairly straight forward. His teams have won at least a share of a league championship in four of his six seasons as a head coach. Two of them were outright while at Central Michigan and two of them were co-championships in the always murky Big East with the Bearcats. He has an excellent win-loss record and has taken a forward-thinking approach in his short tenure at Tennessee and it has made for big waves on the recruiting trail. However, he took over programs built up by Brian Kelly at his previous two stops and it remains to be seen if he can compete with the likes of Spurrier, Richt and Saban every single season. There is some renewed energy in Knoxville but fans can't be in anything but wait and see mode with Jones, the Vols' fourth head coach since 2008. 

Related Content: Ranking the SEC Coaches for 2013
 

42. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 90-61 (2001-present)
Record at Toledo: 73-37-3 (1991-2000)
Overall Record: 163-98-3 (21 years)

Pinkel has a long and storied career on the sidelines at both Toledo and Mizzou with at least 70 wins at both. He built the Tigers football program to never before seen levels of success, both in the win column and in the box score. He is essentially responsible for Missouri being an attractive option for the SEC and needs to be given a lion's share of credit for the three-letter patch currently on their shoulder pads. He is No. 3 all-time in wins and is just 11 wins from becoming Missouri's winningest coach in history. That said, he never broke through in the Big 12 with a conference championship and watched his team post its worst finish in Pinkel's second season (2002). He has been around a long time and gets a lot of credit for building Mizzou football into what it is today, but now he is facing the biggest and best the game has to offer.


43. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Record at Cincinnati: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Texas Tech: 20-17 (2010-2012)
Record at Auburn: 85-40 (1999-2008)
Record at Ole Miss: 25-20 (1995-98)
Overall Record: 130-77 (17 years)

First, Tuberville has coached at three power conference jobs and has a winning record at all three. Second, he has an undefeated season in the SEC to his credit and is 50 games over .500 in the country’s toughest league. Third, he has a bizarre off-the-field resume that includes traffic accidents, ponzi schemes and questionable recruiting tactics as well as two strange departures from quality jobs. He was never a clean fit at Texas Tech and the program’s first losing season since 1992 led to an unsettling relationship with the fans. He improved the Red Raiders' atrocious 2011 defense enough to return to a bowl game last fall but could see the handwriting on the wall and bolted for the Bearcats. If the Cincy fans can handle the good with the bad, Tuberville should be able to keep the Bearcats competing for league championships.

Related Content: Want to know more (stats, history, records) about coaches? Check out CoachingRoots.com.  

44. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at San Jose State: 16-21 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-21 (3 years)

MacIntyre has a tough job ahead of him at Colorado, but his previous stint at San Jose State shows he is up for the task. In three years with the Spartans, MacIntyre recorded a 16-21 overall mark and led the program to a top-25 finish in the Associated Press poll at the conclusion of 2012. San Jose State was not in great shape when MacIntyre arrived in 2010, as the program went 8-16 in Dick Tomey’s last two years and had just one winning season from 2001-09. After a 1-12 record in 2010, MacIntyre’s team showed steady improvement by winning five games in '11 and 11 last fall. The Spartans' only losses in 2012 came to Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Stanford and a very good Utah State team in mid-October. The Buffaloes are in need of major repair after seven consecutive losing seasons. It may take some time for MacIntyre to get Colorado in contention for a bowl game, but expect the Buffaloes to show marked improvement in 2013. 

Related Content: Ranking the Pac-12 Coaches for 2013
 

45. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
Overall Record at Washington: 26-25 (2009-present, 4 years)

Coach Sark has proven that he is adaptable during his four years in Seattle. Prior to his arrival in 2009, Washington hadn’t had a winning record since 2002. Sarkisian changed that with a 7-6 campaign in 2010, which included an unexpected win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. However, three straight 7-6/5-4 records have a stagnant feel to them. That said, he has shown the ability to make adjustments when one of the worst defenses in the nation became one of the best overnight when he hired Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi last season. Washington is moving back into a brand new Husky Stadium and the U of W brand is hotter than ever on the recruiting trail, so Sarkisian gets credit for rebuilding the program. However, he needs to take the next step and show that his team can compete for Pac-12 North Division titles.


46. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Overall Record at BYU: 74-29 (2005-present, 8 years)

Mendenhall has quietly amassed 74 victories in eight years in Provo, and BYU has won four consecutive bowl games under his watch. In addition to his success on the field, Mendenhall has guided BYU through its transition from the Mountain West Conference to football independence, which has resulted in an 18-8 mark for the Cougars the past two seasons. Mendenhall’s teams have produced plenty of firepower on offense, but the defense is usually a strength in Provo. BYU ranked third nationally in points allowed and in total defense last season and could have one of the nation’s top linebackers with Kyle Van Noy returning for his senior year. The only blemish on Mendenhall’s resume would be a 3-5 mark against rival Utah, as the Cougars have lost three straight to the Utes.  

47. Willie Taggart, South Florida
Record at South Florida: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Western Kentucky: 16-20 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-20 (3 years)

After a three-year stint as Western Kentucky’s head coach, Taggart essentially returns home to take over the top spot at South Florida. Taggart went 16-20 during his three years with the Hilltoppers, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. The 14 victories during that stretch was the best two-year stint for Western Kentucky since 2004-05. Taggart played his high school ball at Manatee in Bradenton, Fla., which is just an hour outside of USF. The 36-year-old coach is clearly one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks and should help the Bulls be one of the most-improved teams in the conference in 2013.

Related Content: Ranking the Big East Coaches for 2013


48. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: 73-74 (2001-present)
Record at Ohio: 33-33-1 (1995-2000, 6 years)
Overall Record: 106-107-1 (18 years)

Grobe has done a lot of good things at Wake Forest, which includes leading the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship and a BCS bowl in 2006. The West Virginia native isn’t the flashiest coach, but he turned around Ohio during his six-year stint from 1995-2000 and has a 73-74 mark during his Wake Forest tenure. While a 73-74 record isn’t overly impressive, winning in Winston-Salem is no easy task, and Grobe needs just five victories to become the school’s all-time winningest coach. Despite making Wake Forest into a more competitive team within the ACC, there’s some concern Grobe may have slipped in recent years. The Demon Deacons have four consecutive losing seasons and won only one conference game in 2010. It's not easy to sustain success at Wake Forest. But considering Grobe's track record and the youth on this team last season, he should have the Demon Deacons back in the mix for a bowl game in 2013.
 

49. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 21-40 (2008-present)
Record at Ole Miss: 44-29 (1998-2004)
Overall Record: 65-69 (11 years)

Cutcliffe has been an incredibly effective offensive coach — when he has a Manning under center. After coaching Peyton in Knoxville, he posted five winning seasons in six years at Ole Miss (three of which Eli quarterbacked) but was fired before his seventh season. After four years of coordinating at Notre Dame and Tennessee, he returned as a head coach at Duke. The Blue Devils haven’t posted a winning record in his five years and are 9-31 in ACC play under Cutcliffe. That said, his offenses have always been excellent, the team is much more competitive than it was prior to his arrival, and Duke finally returned to the postseason in 2012 for the first time since 1994.


50. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia 
Overall Record at West Virginia: 17-9 (2011-present, 2 years)

Holgorsen is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football, but his two-year stint as West Virginia’s coach has been a mixed bag of results. In his first season, the Mountaineers went 10-3 and claimed the Big East title. West Virginia capped off the 2011 season in style, gashing Clemson for 70 points in a 70-33 Orange Bowl rout. And the Mountaineers managed to ride that momentum early in 2013, starting 5-0 with exciting shootout victories against Baylor and Texas. However, the season took a nosedive with a road trip to Lubbock. West Virginia lost five consecutive games, before rallying to win the final two regular season contests of 2012. The Mountaineers played in the Pinstripe Bowl but were dominated 38-14 by former Big East rival Syracuse. So after two seasons, it’s hard to judge just how effective Holgorsen is as a head coach. He proved his mettle as an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State and helped to guide West Virginia to an average of 502 yards per game last year. However, the Mountaineers’ defense was a disaster, and the talent level on both sides of the ball needs to be upgraded to win in the Big 12. Holgorsen still has much to prove, but the 2011 season showed he is capable of elevating the program. With the transition to a tougher conference, some patience will be required in Morgantown. 

Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013
 

51. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 6-18 (2011-present)
Record at Connecticut: 74-70 (1999-2010)
Overall Record: 80-88 (14 years)

After a disastrous debut with Maryland in 2011, Edsall appears to have the Terrapins headed back in the right direction. Maryland went 2-10 in Edsall’s first season and navigated four season-ending injuries to quarterbacks in 2012 to finish with a 4-8 mark. Prior to taking the job at Maryland, Edsall spent 12 years as the head coach at Connecticut. Under his watch, the Huskies recorded a 74-70 mark and played in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. Before Edsall was picked as Connecticut’s head coach in 1999, he worked at Syracuse (1980-90), spent three seasons with Boston College (1991-93), served four years in the NFL with the Jaguars (1994-97) and one season as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator ('98). Edsall is just under .500 for his head coaching career, but he had to bring Connecticut from the FCS level to the Big East, which was no easy task. And Edsall’s job is only going to get tougher in the coming years, especially after Maryland joins the Big Ten in 2014.


52. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-7 (2012-present)
Overall Record: 6-7 (1 year)

The former Wisconsin quarterback has coached all over North America in the NFL (San Diego), CFL (Ottawa, Saskatchewan) and at numerous college programs. However, he blossomed as an elite offensive mind at his alma mater in Madison. For seven seasons, Chryst led arguably the greatest era of offensive football in Badgers history, culminating in a near national title berth in 2011. This led to his first head coaching job at Pitt in 2012. His first season leading the Panthers — a team faced with its fourth different head coach in as many years — began slowly but his team showed marked improvement over the course of the season and all signs point to being competitive in their new league.
 

53. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Arkansas State: 9-3 (2012)
Overall Record: 9-3 (1 year)

Although Gene Chizik was the head coach for Auburn’s national title team in 2010, it’s pretty evident much of the credit for the team’s success was due to quarterback Cam Newton and Malzahn. And after spending one year at Arkansas State, Malzahn is back at Auburn as the head coach. In his one season with the Red Wolves, Malzahn led the team to a 9-3 record. There’s no question Malzahn is one of college football’s top offensive minds, and his one year of experience at Arkansas State should have him better prepared for coaching in the SEC. However, Malzahn still needs to prove he can be a successful head coach at the SEC level. With more head coaching experience, Malzahn should rank higher on this list. And with his familiarity with the team in 2013, Auburn could be the most-improved team in the SEC.


54. Jim Mora, UCLA
Overall Record at UCLA: 9-5 (2012-present)

Mora wasn’t the most popular hire when he was picked to replace Rick Neuheisel at UCLA. After all, a 31-33 career record in the NFL isn’t anything special. However, the Bruins improved their win total by three games in Mora’s first season and lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game by just three points. Mora still has much to prove in the next few seasons, as he inherited a lot of talent from the previous coaching staff, and despite winning the division, UCLA lost its final three games of 2012. Mora has surrounded himself with a good staff, and the Bruins have recruited well in each of the last two years. If UCLA wins the South Division once again in 2013, Mora will more than likely rise in these coach rankings next season. 
 

55. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Overall Record at Utah: 71-32 (8 years)

As expected, the move from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 has made life a little more difficult for Utah. Whittingham has been a solid coach in his tenure, but can he elevate the program into Pac-12 title contention? It’s clear it’s going to take some time for the Utes to be an annual factor in the South Division, especially with UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State all showing progress last year. Whittingham led Utah to a 58-20 mark in six years (plus one Fiesta Bowl win in 2004) in the Mountain West. But the Utes are just 13-12 in two seasons in the Pac-12 and missed out on a bowl appearance in 2012 for the first time since 2002. There’s no question Whittingham was a key reason why Utah was successful in the Mountain West and is guiding the program through a tough conference transition. However, Utah took a step back in 2012, and Whittingham is just 7-11 in two years in Pac-12 games.


56. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Louisiana Tech: 22-15 (2010-2012)
Overall Record: 22-15 (3 years)

Dykes has a legacy synonymous with coaching as the son of Texas Tech’s legendary head coach Spike Dykes. He worked his way from up the high school and small college ranks before jobs at Kentucky, Texas Tech and Arizona, which led to his first head coaching gig at Louisiana Tech. Learning from his father and fellow Pac-12 North offensive guru Mike Leach, Dykes’ powerful offenses have been his signature. He won the WAC Championship and conference Coach of the Year honors in 2011 and then finished with the nation’s No. 1-rated total and scoring offense in ’12. He walks into a much better situation at Cal than when predecessor Jeff Tedford arrived, as facilities and stadium upgrades make the Bears job much more competitive.
 

57. Lane Kiffin, USC
Record at USC: 25-13 (2010-present)
Record at Tennessee: 7-6 (2009)
Overall Record: 32-19 (4 years)

There’s no question Kiffin is the toughest coach in the Pac-12 to rank. Kiffin has shown flashes of promise at each of his collegiate coaching stops, starting with a 7-6 record at Tennessee in 2009. The Volunteers were one of the SEC’s worst offensive teams in 2008, yet Kiffin turned Jonathan Crompton into a solid quarterback, and the offense averaged 29.3 points a game. Despite NCAA sanctions hanging over the program, Kiffin guided USC to an 18-7 record during his first two years, including a 2011 Pac-12 South Division title. However, the Trojans were banned from postseason play, so USC could not participate in the conference championship game. While those are the positives, the negatives for Kiffin largely center on the 2012 season. The Trojans were widely picked as a national title favorite but finished with a disappointing 7-6 record and were defeated by a 6-7 Georgia Tech team in the Sun Bowl. Kiffin has had his share of drama at each stop, including recruiting violations at Tennessee, and the deflated football scandal and jersey switch controversy in 2012. Can Kiffin succeed at USC? Absolutely. However, the Minnesota native should worry less about the media, injuries and off-the-field nonsense and concentrate more on the X’s and O’s. The Trojans have the talent to win the Pac-12 South Division. But if this team stumbles once again, Kiffin will likely be out of a job at the end of the year.


58. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Overall Record at Air Force: 47-31 (6 years)

Regardless of personnel losses, it always seems Air Force finds a way to win seven or eight games every year. And that’s a big credit to the coaching of Calhoun, who has served as Air Force’s head coach since 2007. The Falcons have won 47 games under Calhoun and have made six consecutive bowl appearances. Prior to coming to Air Force, Calhoun coached in the NFL with the Broncos and Texans and worked in college with Jim Grobe at Ohio and Wake Forest. As a former Air Force quarterback, Calhoun isn’t going to be in a hurry to leave the service academy. And as long as Calhoun is on the sidelines, the Falcons will be a tough out in the Mountain West every year.


59. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-4 (2011-12)
Overall Record: 23-4 (2 years)

NC State made one of the offseason’s top coaching moves by hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois. Although Tom O’Brien led the Wolfpack to four bowl games in five seasons, a 22-26 record in conference play wasn’t good enough. It’s tough to envision NC State consistently beating Clemson and Florida State, but the program can win more than it has the last few years. Doeren looks like the right coach to take NC State to the next level, as he comes to Raleigh after a 23-4 mark in two seasons with Northern Illinois. Although he inherited a good team from Jerry Kill, Doeren took the Huskies to new heights, including a berth in last season's Orange Bowl against Florida State. Prior to his two-year stint as Northern Illinois’ head coach, he served as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Kansas and also spent time as a graduate assistant at USC. Doeren doesn’t have any experience in the ACC, so it may take some time to build connections on the recruiting trail. However, all signs point to Doeren’s hire being a home run for NC State.


60. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 100-74 (1999-present)
Record at Maine: 12-21 (1990-92)
Overall Record: 112-95 (17 years)

A few seasons ago, Ferentz would have ranked much higher on this list. However, Iowa has been going in the wrong direction over the last three years. After going 11-22 including an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech in 2009, the Hawkeyes have watched their win total decrease in each of the last three years. This steady decline resulted in a 4-8 mark in 2012, which was Ferentz’s fewest wins since 2000 (3-9). While Ferentz has led Iowa to 10 bowl games and two BCS bowls, the program seems to have gone stale in recent years, and he certainly didn’t make anyone in Iowa City happy when he hired Greg Davis as his offensive coordinator in 2012. Are the Hawkeyes capable of getting back on track under Ferentz? Absolutely. However, with Ohio State and Michigan coming back to national prominence, along with a challenging division (at least for now), Iowa has a tough road to contend in the Big Ten. Ferentz has done a lot of good things for the program, but if the Hawkeyes have a few losing seasons in a row, it might be time for a fresh start for both parties.
 

61. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 9-16 (2011-present)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-16 (2008-10)
Record at Southern Illinois: 55-32 (2001-07)
Record at Emporia State: 11-11 (1999-2000)
Record at Saginaw Valley State: 38-14 (1994-98)
Overall Record: 136-89 (19 years)

Kill isn’t flashy or exciting, but he enters 2013 with the most wins during his head coaching career among his Big Ten peers. The Kansas native started his career with Saginaw Valley State in 1994 and recorded a winning record in each of his five seasons. Kill took over at Emporia State in 1999 and left for Southern Illinois in 2001. He went 55-32 with the Salukis, which included five consecutive playoff appearances from 2003-07. After that, Kill led Northern Illinois to three straight bowl trips from 2008-10 and recruited many of the players who played in the Huskies’ Orange Bowl appearance last season. Minnesota went 3-9 in Kill’s first season but improved to 6-7 and earned a bowl berth in 2012. Kill knows how to develop talent and can uncover hidden gems on the recruiting trail. Minnesota isn’t an easy job, but Kill’s track record shows he can consistently produce a winner. Expect the Golden Gophers to only get better with Kill on the sidelines the next few seasons.
 

62. Frank Solich, Ohio
Record at Ohio: 59-44 (2005-present)
Record at Nebraska: 58-19 (1998-2003)
Overall Record: 117-63 (14 years)


Solich had a tough assignment in his first head coaching gig, as he had to take over for legendary coach Tom Osborne at Nebraska. Although Solich went 58-19 in six years with the Cornhuskers, he was canned following the 2003 season. After sitting out the 2004 season, Solich returned to the coaching ranks at Ohio. He led the Bobcats to a bowl game in his second year (2006) and has a winning record in each of the last four years. Solich isn’t flashy, but he’s clearly one of the top coaches outside of the BCS conferences.
 

63. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Record at Ball State: 15-10 (2011-present)
Record at Elon: 35-22 (2006-2010)
Record at Lehigh: 44-14 (2001-05)
Overall Record: 94-46 (12 years)

After producing winning records at three different programs, Lembo is one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks. In five years at Lehigh, Lembo won 44 games and led the Mountain Hawks to two playoff appearances. At his next stop, Lembo won 35 games at Elon and made one postseason appearance. Ball State showed big improvement in Lembo’s first season in 2011 and won nine games in '12. Lembo should have the Cardinals in the mix for the MAC title in 2013 and could be on the short list for any BCS openings this offseason. 
 

64. June Jones, SMU
Record at SMU: 31-34 (2008-present)
Record at Hawaii: 76-41 (1999-2007
Overall Record: 107-75 (14 years)

Jones inherited two programs that were in need of major repair prior to his arrival. And despite his losing record at SMU, it’s clear the Oregon native has made the Mustangs a better team. Jones began his coaching career in 1983 as an assistant at Hawaii, before spending the next 14 seasons at the professional level, which included a 22-36 record as an NFL head coach. In Jones’ first season at Hawaii in 1999, the Warriors made a nine-game improvement in the win column. Hawaii played in a BCS bowl in the 2007 season and recorded three seasons of 10 or more victories during Jones’ tenure. He took over SMU in 2008, and the Mustangs went 1-11 in his first year. However, SMU has at least seven victories in each of the last four years, which is the best stretch in school history since the Mustangs won 10 games every season from 1981-84. Considering Jones has elevated two struggling programs to new heights, SMU has to be encouraged about competing in its new conference home in 2013 and beyond.
 

65. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 16-21 (2010-present)
Record at Richmond: 24-5 (2008-2009)
Overall Record: 40-26 (5 years)

London is somewhat of a mystery at Virginia. He was one year removed from an FCS National Championship at Richmond when the Cavaliers hired him in 2010. He took an underachiever and turned them into an eight-win team in just one season on the job and has totally reinvigorated the Virginia brand on the in-state recruiting trail. However, his Wahoos took a major step back in 2012, finishing 2-6 in the ACC and 4-8 overall. Needless to say, London’s 2013 campaign will be carefully scrutinized.
 

66. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Overall Record at Texas Tech: 0-0 (First Season)

Kingsbury has been on a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and lands his first head coaching job at his alma mater. The San Antonio native had a prolific career as a starting quarterback under Mike Leach from 2000-02, finishing his career with just under 12,000 passing yards. Following his collegiate career in Lubbock, Kingsbury had a short professional stint, playing for five different teams in five seasons. Kingsbury joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Houston in 2008 and worked his way through the ranks, before becoming the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and guiding quarterback Case Keenum to nearly 20,000 career passing yards. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and produced a successful one-year stint as the offensive coordinator, which resulted in a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel). Kingsbury is young and unproven as a head coach, but he is the perfect fit at Texas Tech. For a program that never really embraced Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are in good hands with one of college football’s rising stars at head coach.
 

67. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Kent State: 16-10 (2011-2012)
Overall Record: 16-10 (2 years)

No one can accuse Hazell of not paying his dues. Born in Cinnaminson, N.J., and playing his college ball at Muskingum University (New Concord, Ohio), Hazell spent 25 years as an assistant before getting his first head coaching gig at Kent State. Doug Martin posted nary a winning season with the Flashes in seven seasons prior to Hazell’s arrival. In just two years, Hazell built KSU into a division champion and set a school record with 11 wins. With heavy coaching ties to the Midwest and Northeast, Hazell should be able to recruit the Big Ten footprint well and clearly has the coaching chops to be successful at Purdue.


68. George O'Leary, UCF
Record at UCF: 60-55 (2004-present)
Record at Georgia Tech: 52-33 (1994-2001)
Overall Record: 112-88 (17 years)

Like Tuberville, O’Leary has a similarly bizarre resume. He has been a consistent winner at both coaching stops in his career, including three conference championships and four division titles in eight years in C-USA. His teams play well against upper tier competition and he took an 0-11 team and turned them into a division champ in one season. Yet, he also is infamously known for lying on his resume which got him fired from Notre Dame before coaching a game, as well as the death of Ereck Plancher — a player who passed away after being over-worked on the practice field. His teams have lacked consistency from year to year, going from 10 wins to four and back since 2007, but that doesn't change his overall winning percentage (.560) over his 17 years as a head coach.


69. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Overall Record at Indiana: 5-19 (Indiana, 2011-present)

Offense has long been the name of the game for Wilson, both at Oklahoma as a coordinator and now at Indiana. After grooming nearly a decade’s worth of elite passers in Norman, Wilson has quickly turned Indiana’s passing game into one of the Big Ten’s best. His team ranked fifth in the league in passing offense, but managed just one win in his first year in Bloomington. Last season, his team led the league in passing offense and improved to four wins with all signs pointing to even more success — and a possible bowl game — in 2013. There is still much to be accomplished for Wilson to be considered one of the league’s better coaches but more progress in Year 3 at Indiana would go a long way to proving that the Hoosiers made the right choice.
 

70. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Record at San Diego State: 17-9 (2011-present)
Record at New Mexico: 65-69 (1998-2008)
Overall Record: 82-78 (13 years)

Long doesn’t get much credit on the national scene, but the Utah native has quietly had a solid career on the sidelines. After spending over 20 years as an assistant, Long was hired as the head coach at his alma mater (New Mexico) in 1998. In 11 years with the Lobos, Long won 65 games and led the program to five bowl appearances. His best season came in 2007, as New Mexico won nine games and claimed a bowl victory over Nevada. Long resigned as the Lobos’ head coach after the 2008 season and joined San Diego State’s staff as defensive coordinator. After serving for two years as the defensive playcaller under Brady Hoke, Long was promoted to head coach and has a 17-9 mark in two years. Long played quarterback in college but is known for his unique 3-3-5 scheme on defense. Although San Diego State has been a tough place to win in the past, Long seems to have helped the program turn a corner.
 

71. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Overall Record at Kentucky: First Season

The newest kid on the SEC block, Stoops' future as a head coach is anyone's guess. What we do know is this: He hails from Youngstown, Ohio and played defensive back for Iowa before he worked his way up through the ranks. Stoops was a defensive coordinator for Houston then Miami then Arizona (with his brother, Mike) and ultimately Florida State in 2010. He took the 108th-ranked defense and turned it into the 42nd-rated unit in one season before finishing fourth and second nationally in total defense in 2011 and '12 respectively. He did a great job finishing the recruiting cycle for the Wildcats, but at one of the toughest power conference jobs in the nation, it takes more than a few recruiting wins to be successful in Lexington.


72. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
Record at Bowling Green: 22-28 (2009-present)
Record at Richmond: 29-20 (2004-07)
Record at Fordham: 29-29 (1999-2003)
Overall Record: 80-77 (13 years)


Clawson’s one-year stint as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator didn’t go so well, but he has been a successful head coach at three different stops. At Fordham, he led the Rams to 19 wins over his final two seasons, while guiding Richmond to the FCS playoffs in two out of his four years on campus. The Falcons won seven games in Clawson’s first season but fell to 2-10 in 2010. However, Bowling Green rebounded quickly, as the Falcons are 13-12 in the last two years and finished second in the MAC East standings in 2012. Don't be surprised if Clawson gets a look from BCS programs after the 2013 season.


73. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Overall Record at Oregon: 0-0 (First Season)

After playing and coaching at small Southern Oregon, Helfrich landed with the Ducks in 1997 under Dirk Koetter. He then followed Koetter to both Boise State and Arizona State, returning to Eugene in 2009 as offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly. After two National Quarterbacks Coach of the Year Awards (2010, '12), Helfrich got his chance when Kelly departed for the NFL. He is the third consecutive offensive coordinator to be elevated to head coach at Oregon as the previous two — Mike Bellotti and Kelly — have proven the method for hiring is extremely effective. With a stacked roster returning on offense, all signs point to immediate success for the new headman in Oregon. However, Helfrich is largely an unknown and has never been a head coach prior to 2013. Even if Helfrich can keep Oregon performing at a high level this year, is he capable of keeping the Ducks in national championship contention in 2014 and '15? Oregon's method of promoting from within has worked well with its last two hires. However, Helfrich still has a lot to prove entering his first season as the head Duck.
 

74. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Overall Record at Rutgers: 9-4 (2012-present, 1 year)

When Kyle Flood was given the head coaching job at Rutgers, it was his first leadership position since 1994 at St. Francis Prep. The offensive line coach has heavy ties to the Northeast and has proven to be an excellent recruiter for the Scarlet Knights. And all he did in his first season was win a share of the Big East title after being picked fourth in the conference in the preseason. Having said that, Flood’s bunch could have clinched an outright crown had they defeated either Pitt on the road or Louisville at home. Needless to say, the jury is still out on Flood’s long-term future at The Garden State’s state school.
 

75. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Overall Record at Memphis: 4-8 (2012-present, 1 year)

Fuente inherited a mess when he arrived at Memphis. The Tigers were coming off a disastrous two-year stint under Larry Porter, which resulted in a 3-21 record. And under Fuente’s watch, the Tigers showed big improvement in 2012. Memphis went 4-8 last season, which included a three-game winning streak to finish the campaign. The Tigers lost three games by 10 points or less and got better as the season progressed. Before taking over at Memphis, Fuente spent five years as an assistant at TCU, including the last three as the co-offensive coordinator. With the move to the American Athletic Conference (new name of the former Big East), Fuente’s job will get a little tougher in 2013. Memphis doesn’t quite have the talent to push for a bowl game this year, but the Tigers will continue to take another step forward under Fuente’s watch in 2013.

76. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
The Midshipmen have maintained course under Niumatalolo, winning eight games in four out of his five seasons. After dropping to 5-7 in 2011, Navy finished 8-5 in 2012 and returned to the postseason with a trip to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

77. Steve Addazio, Boston College
After two years at Temple, Addazio takes over a Boston College program that has fallen on hard times after 12 consecutive winning seasons from 1999-2010. Addazio had a solid two-year stint at Temple, which produced the program’s first bowl victory since 1979 and a 9-4 mark in 2011. With the departure of a handful of key players on both sides of the ball, along with the transition to the Big East, Temple took a step back in the win column in 2012. Addazio is a good recruiter and as a native of Connecticut, is a good fit in the Northeast. Boston College doesn’t have to be an ACC title contender in every season for Addazio to be successful. But the Eagles need to get back to contending for bowl games in the near future. Addazio looks like a good hire for Boston College, but the lack of head coaching experience and building a program keeps him from being ranked higher on this list.

78. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
DeRuyter went 9-4 in his Fresno State debut and has the Bulldogs primed to contend for the Mountain West title in 2013. Prior to coming to Fresno State, DeRuyter served as a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Air Force, Nevada and Ohio. All signs point to DeRuyter being a home-run hire for Fresno State.

79. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Blankenship inherited a good team after Todd Graham left for Pittsburgh after the 2010 season. In two years, the Golden Hurricane is 19-8 under Blankenship’s direction. Can Blankenship keep Tulsa on the right track as the program makes the move to the American Athletic Conference in 2014?

80. Tim Beckman, Illinois
All signs were positive for Beckman when he took over for Ron Zook at Illinois last season. He learned under two respected names in Jim Tressel and Mike Gundy before building Toledo into a MAC contender in his three years leading the Rockets. Everyone knew it was going to take time to rebuild the Illini following the Zooker, however, no one expected a 2-10 debut season in Urbana-Champaign. He has his work cut out for him in a tough division loaded with solid coaches and powerful programs to prove he was the right choice for the job.

81. Terry Bowden, Akron
Bowden has a long road ahead to rebuild Akron into one of the MAC’s top programs. However, his track record at Samford, Auburn and North Alabama suggests he will eventually get the Zips into conference title contention. And if Akron continues to improve, Bowden could get another opportunity to lead a BCS team.

82. Dave Christensen, Wyoming
Christensen’s tenure at Wyoming has been marked by two bowl appearances, followed by losing seasons the next year. If that trend holds true, the Cowboys will be bowling in 2013. And getting to a bowl game would be a boost for Christensen, especially after last year’s embarrassing post-game tirade against Air Force’s Troy Calhoun.

83. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Blakeney has guided Troy from the FCS to the FBS ranks, winning 169 games with the Trojans since 1991. However, Troy is coming off its first back-to-back losing seasons in his tenure and have won only five Sun Belt games the last two years.

84. Matt Campbell, Toledo
At 33 years old, Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches. The Ohio native was a solid player during his career at Mount Union and is on the fast track as a head coach. After spending time as an assistant with Mount Union, Bowling Green and at Toledo, Campbell was promoted to the top spot after Tim Beckman left for Illinois. Campbell should be one of the MAC’s top coaches in 2013 and beyond.

85. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
McNeill took over the top spot at his alma mater in 2010, and the Pirates are 19-19 over the last three years. East Carolina is coming off its best record (8-5) under McNeill and will be picked near the top of the C-USA East Division in 2013.

86. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
After a 2-10 record in 2011, Stockstill was on the hot seat entering 2012. However, Stockstill and MTSU rebounded with an 8-4 record, which put his overall mark with the Blue Raiders at 43-44. MTSU has six victories in four out of Stockstill’s seven years in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

87. Dan McCarney, North Texas
McCarney’s career record is 65-100, which is deceiving considering he spent 12 years on the sidelines at a difficult place to maintain success (Iowa State). McCarney is just 9-15 in two seasons with North Texas, but the Mean Green are on the right track as they make the move from the Sun Belt to Conference USA.

88. Paul Pasqualoni, UConn
Pasqualoni has deep ties to the Northeast and is on his third coaching stop in the region. After 11 consecutive winning seasons to start his Syracuse tenure, the program began to erode and the Orange made a move following the 2004 season. Pasqualoni went to work in the NFL as a defensive coordinator for both Dallas and Miami before returning to the college ranks two years ago at UConn. Clearly, he has been around the game for a long time and is in the twilight of his career — as his last winning season as a head coach was in 2001.

89. Bob Davie, New Mexico
After spending 10 years away from the sidelines, Davie left the booth and took over at New Mexico in 2012. The Lobos showed vast improvement in his first season, winning four games and losing five games by a touchdown or less. 

90. Jim McElwain, Colorado State
McElwain had a tough first season at Colorado State (4-8), but the Rams showed signs of life at the end of 2012. The Montana native served as an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11 and has NFL experience from one season with the Raiders in '06. Give McElwain some time and Colorado State should be return to being a consistent winner in the Mountain West.

91. Trent Miles, Georgia State
The Panthers quietly made one of the offseason’s best hires by pulling Miles away from Indiana State. The Sycamores were awful prior to Miles' arrival, but he won six games in each of his last three years. If Miles picks up where he left off at Indiana State, he will attract interest from bigger programs.

92. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
Franchione disappeared for a few years after his firing at Texas A&M in 2007 but resurfaced at Texas State in '11. In the last two years with the Bobcats, Franchione has a 10-14 record. However, Franchione is guiding the program through its transition to the FBS level, and he has been a successful coach at previous stops. Expect Franchione to have Texas State in competition for the Sun Belt title in the next few seasons.

93. David Bailiff, Rice
Bailiff has an interesting resume, as six of his nine seasons as a head coach resulted in a losing record. However, he has some high points, as Rice went 10-3 in 2008 and finished 7-6 with a victory over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl last year. It’s not easy to win at Rice, but Bailiff seems to have the Owls poised to contend for the C-USA West Division title in 2013.

94. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
After a 34-23 record at Connecticut and a 38-27 mark at East Carolina, most expected Holtz would be a good fit at USF. Instead, Holtz went 16-21 in three years with the Bulls. Considering his success at two previous stops, Holtz’s record at USF is the outlier. Can he get back on track at Louisiana Tech?

95. Larry Coker, UTSA
Despite a 60-15 record and a national championship in 2001, Coker was canned at Miami after six seasons. The veteran coach was hired by UTSA in 2009 to start its football program, and the Roadrunners have been very competitive in just two seasons on the field (12-10). Coker seems to be a good fit for UTSA as it transitions to Conference USA this year.

96. Todd Berry, ULM
Berry had a disastrous stint at Army (5-35) but led ULM to its first bowl game in program history in 2012. Berry has brought steady improvement to the Warhawks, who should be in the mix for the Sun Belt title in 2013.

97. Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State
Harsin, who served as offensive coordinator at Boise State and Texas, finally landed his first head coaching job with Arkansas State. He is a rising star and should keep the Red Wolves near the top of the Sun Belt. Don’t be surprised if Harsin is at a BCS program in three years.

98. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Caragher was hired at San Jose State after a six-year stint at San Diego, which resulted in a 44-22 record. Caragher is walking into a good situation with the Spartans, as most of their core returns from last year’s 11-2 team.

99. Matt Wells, Utah State
Wells played quarterback at Utah State from 1993-96 and was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach after Gary Andersen left for Wisconsin. There’s a lot to like about Wells, and he should keep Utah State among the best in the Mountain West.

100. Brian Polian, Nevada
Polian, the son of former NFL executive Bill Polian, has cut his teeth as an assistant at UCF, Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M in recent years. Nevada is Polian’s first head-coaching gig, and he has a tough assignment taking over for legendary coach Chris Ault.

101. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Holliday is regarded as an excellent recruiter, but his three-year stint as a head coach still leaves a lot to be desired. Marshall is 17-20 under Holliday’s watch, although the Thundering Her should be picked to finish near the top of C-USA's East Division in 2013.

102. Garrick McGee, UAB
The former Oklahoma quarterback is considered one of the rising stars in the coaching profession and is coming off a 3-9 season in his first year at UAB. While three wins aren’t anything special, the Blazers showed some progress in 2012 and could be a bowl team in 2013.

103. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Monken is a huge upgrade over former coach Ellis Johnson, who proved to be a one-year disaster for Southern Miss. The Illinois native has experience in the NFL and helped oversee one of the nation’s top offenses during his stint at Oklahoma State.

104. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Carey was promoted to the top spot after Dave Doeren left for NC State in early December. The Wisconsin native has no prior head coaching experience and has a tough assignment as he tries to keep Northern Illinois atop the MAC food chain. 

105. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Shafer was promoted to head coach following Doug Marrone's departure to the NFL to lead the Bills. Shafer has more than 20 years of experience as an assistant coach, making stops at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Ilinois, Western Michigan, Stanford and Michigan along the way. However, this is his first shot at leading an entire program, and while he was a popular hire among the players, he still has much to prove as a head coach in 2013.

106. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Weis was considered by most to be a bad hire at Kansas. So far, he’s done nothing to dispel those thoughts. Weis didn’t inherit the best roster, but the Jayhawks recorded only one victory last year and ranked near the bottom nationally in scoring offense and defense. Don't forget his five-year stint as Notre Dame's head coach (19-6 the first two years, 16-21 the final three) didn't go exactly as planned either. Kansas could be more competitive in 2013, but Weis is not the answer to elevate the program into the Big 12 title contention.

107. Rich Ellerson, Army
Ellerson was a successful coach at Cal Poly and went 12-13 in his first two years at Army. However, the Black Knights are just 5-19 in the last two seasons. There’s no question Army is a difficult place to sustain success, and Ellerson’s track record suggests he will eventually get the program back on track.   

108. Tony Levine, Houston
Levine received a curious promotion to the top spot after Kevin Sumlin departed for Texas A&M. The Minnesota native had no head coaching experience prior to taking over at Houston, as his resume consisted of stops as an assistant at Texas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville and the Cougars. He was a popular pick to be head coach among Houston’s players, but the move didn’t work out well for the Cougars in 2012. Levine still has a lot to prove, especially as Houston makes the move to the conference formally known as the Big East.

109. Matt Rhule, Temple
There is plenty to like about the former Penn State linebacker’s resume. He is from the Northeast, has rich ties to the Temple program and was hired to work for respected coaching names like Tom Coughlin and Al Golden. Yet, he has never been a head coach at any level and is a complete unknown when it comes to leading a program. 

110. Joey Jones, South Alabama
Jones is guiding the Jaguars through their transition from FCS to FBS play. The Alabama native went 23-4 in his first three seasons with the Jaguars but was 2-10 last year. South Alabama wasn’t overwhelmed by its first year in the Sun Belt, so the future looks bright for Jones and the Jaguars.

111. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
The Bulls have increased their win total by one game in each of the last two years since going 2-10 in Quinn’s first season (2010). Quinn seems to have Buffalo on the right track, but his overall record as a head coach is just 10-28.

112. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
As a New Orleans native, Johnson is a perfect fit at Tulane. The Green Wave showed some promise in Johnson’s first season and should benefit from the construction of an on-campus stadium as the program moves to the American Athletic Conference.

113. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
The Chippewas were one of the MAC’s top programs under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. Despite a bowl appearance last year, CMU is trending in the wrong direction under Enos.

114. Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio)
Treadwell was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistants when he returned to his alma mater in 2011. However, the RedHawks are just 8-16 in Treadwell’s first two seasons at the helm.

115. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan is arguably the nation’s toughest job. English went 6-6 in 2011 but is 2-10 in each of his two other seasons.

116. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Fleck is college football’s youngest coach (32) and has brought some enthusiasm to the program after a 4-8 season. However, Fleck has no coordinator or head coaching experience.

117. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Hauck had a good run at Montana (80-17) but is just 6-32 in three years at UNLV.

118. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Haynes returns to his alma mater for his first head-coaching gig. And he has big shoes to fill, as former coach Darrell Hazell nearly led the program to a BCS bowl last year.

119. Carl Pelini, FAU
Pelini was a strange hire for FAU, but the Owls won two out of their last five games in 2012.

120. Sean Kugler, UTEP
As a former UTEP player, Kugler should be a good fit at El Paso. However, he was a so-so line coach in the NFL and has no head coaching experience.

121. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
The Aggies were left in a tough spot after DeWayne Walker left for the NFL in January. Martin won 29 games in seven seasons at Kent State (2004-10), and the road will be even tougher at New Mexico State.

122. Charley Molnar, UMass
Molnar has a tough assignment, as UMass is transitioning from FCS to FBS. As expected, the Minutemen were overmatched last season but did show signs of progress towards the end.

123. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Petrino is a good fit at Idaho, as he grew up in Montana and served as an assistant from 1992-94 with the Vandals. Petrino has no head coaching experience, so he has a lot to prove in 2013.

124. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Chow has an extensive career as an assistant, but his first head-coaching gig came at the ripe age of 65. As evidenced by his 3-9 mark in his first season, there’s a reason why Chow had to wait so long to be a head coach.

125. Ron Turner, FIU
FIU made a big mistake in firing Mario Cristobal. Turner had a 35-57 record in eight seasons (1997-2004) at Illinois and certainly isn’t going to inspire much enthusiasm from the  fan base.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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R
anking the Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-quarterbacks-hot-seat-2013
Body:

Most college football fans associate the word “hot seat” with coaching changes. While that term mostly applies to the men on the sideline, it can also factor into the discussion of quarterbacks. Every coach preaches competition under center in the spring, but the reality is only a handful of quarterback battles are really open.

Quarterback play isn’t solely to blame for the struggles of some teams last season, but there’s no question it can play a significant role in why a team fails to meet preseason expectations.

With spring drills underway, now is the time for struggling quarterbacks to either reclaim their starting job or open the year on the hot seat. Here are 10 quarterbacks that need a big preseason after failing to meet expectations last year.

10 Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat for 2013

David Ash, Texas
With 18 starters returning, everything is in place for Texas to win the Big 12 title in 2013. Of course, there’s one glaring question mark that could decide whether or not the Longhorns improve on last season’s nine wins: Quarterback play. Since Colt McCoy left Austin, Texas has struggled to find a quarterback. Ash has shown flashes of potential, including back-to-back 300-yard performances in September against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. However, he didn’t play well against TCU (104 passing yards) and started slow in the bowl game but finished with 241 yards and two passing scores. Major Applewhite will call the plays this year for Texas, and if he can get Ash on track, the Longhorns should easily surpass last year’s nine victories.
 

James Franklin, Missouri
Much like some of the other quarterbacks on this list, Franklin’s 2012 season isn’t entirely to blame for Missouri’s struggles. Transitioning to the SEC was the toughest challenge for the Tigers, but the offensive line never found any consistency, and Franklin was never 100 percent after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. After recording 3,846 yards of total offense and 36 touchdowns in 2011, Franklin managed just 1,562 passing yards and 10 passing scores in 2012. The Tigers should be better in their second tour through the SEC, but Franklin’s health and the return of running back Henry Josey should help this offense find a much-needed spark. The Missouri coaching staff planned on getting an extended look at redshirt freshman Maty Mauk this spring, but Franklin shouldn’t have any trouble holding onto the starting nod. Missouri probably won’t ask the senior to run as much as he did in 2011, but his dual-threat ability should be featured more in 2013.
 

Connor Halliday, Washington State
Mike Leach’s first season in Pullman brought high expectations, but the Cougars were one of the nation’s biggest disappointments. Leach’s high-powered passing attack never got on track, and Washington State won just three games and averaged a paltry 20.4 points a game. Quarterback play was a huge issue for the Cougars last season, as Jeff Tuel and Halliday shared time under center. Tuel expired his eligibility, leaving Halliday as Washington State’s No. 1 passer for spring practice. The Washington native finished 2012 with 1,878 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he also threw 13 picks. Halliday isn’t guaranteed the starting job, as redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca and true freshman Tyler Bruggman will have an opportunity to push for time this preseason. Halliday showed some flashes of promise last year, including four performances of at least 300 passing yards. If the Cougars want to contend for a bowl game, Halliday needs to take command of the offense and show he’s the No. 1 quarterback this spring.
 

Jake Heaps, Kansas
Heaps ranked as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the 2010 recruiting class and started 10 games as a true freshman at BYU, throwing for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns. Despite his experience as a freshman, Heaps failed to build on his performance in 2011 and was benched after a slow start. The Washington native transferred to Kansas after the 2011 season and has two years of eligibility remaining. Heaps is clearly the most talented quarterback on the Jayhawks’ roster, but his performance at BYU certainly wasn’t up to his recruiting hype. Kansas has a good stable of running backs, but the offensive line and receiving corps is still a work in progress. After spending last year on the sidelines, is Heaps ready to take the next step in his development?
 

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State
The first year in the post-Kirk Cousins era did not go well for Michigan State. The Spartans needed a win in their regular season finale against Minnesota just to get bowl eligible and finished 108th nationally in scoring offense. Maxwell completed only 52.6 percent of his throws, while passing for 2,606 yards and 13 touchdowns. Despite his struggles, Maxwell remained the starter for the full season but lost playing time in the bowl game to Connor Cook. Coach Mark Dantonio and co-coordinators Dave Warner and Jim Bollman are giving Maxwell the first chance to win the starting quarterback job this spring. The senior won’t have All-Big Ten running back Le’Veon Bell to lean on in 2013, but the receiving corps and offensive line should be solid. If Maxwell struggles early in the year, Dantonio shouldn’t hesitate to give Cook a chance to spark the offense.
 

Zach Mettenberger, LSU
As expected with any first-year starter, Mettenberger experienced his share of ups and downs. The Georgia native finished 2012 with 2,609 passing yards and 12 touchdowns and threw for 298 yards in the 21-17 loss to Alabama. While Mettenberger’s performance against Alabama was one of his best of last season, he also threw for only 97 yards against Texas A&M and struggled in a 12-10 victory against Auburn. With another spring practice under his belt, along with the arrival of former NFL coordinator Cam Cameron, the pressure is on Mettenberger to take the next step in his development. LSU has one of the SEC’s best rushing attacks, and the receiving corps is among the best in the conference. The Tigers suffered some significant losses on defense, which makes improvement on the passing attack a priority if they want to contend in the SEC West.
 

Gary Nova, Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights were on the doorstep of an outright conference title last season but losses at Pittsburgh and against Louisville prevented a berth in a BCS bowl. With a defense that ranked fourth nationally in fewest points allowed per game, the Scarlet Knights didn’t need their offense to average 40 points a contest. However, Rutgers never seemed to show improvement on offense last year, as it didn’t score more than 17 points in each of its final four games. Nova had a few solid performances (397 yards against Arkansas, 232 yards and four touchdowns against Temple), but he did not play well against Pittsburgh or in the bowl against Virginia Tech. With running back Jawan Jamison moving onto the NFL, the Scarlet Knights need Nova to carry more of the offensive workload in 2013. Rutgers will have a new coordinator (Ron Prince), but wholesale changes aren’t expected. If Nova can regain his early 2012 form – 17 touchdowns, three interceptions in six games – Rutgers should push for a finish in the top three of the Big East.
 

Keith Price, Washington
With an offensive line that struggled to provide consistent protection, it’s unfair to blame Price for all of Washington’s offensive struggles last year. After averaging 33.4 points a game in 2011, the Huskies posted only 24 points per contest in 2012. Price simply wasn’t the same player that was touted as a darkhorse Heisman candidate in the preseason, as he threw for 2,728 yards and 19 touchdowns. With the line expected to be better in 2013, and the return of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and receiver Kasen Williams, Price should be in for a bounce-back campaign. However, if the line struggles, once again, Washington’s offense could finish near the bottom of the Pac-12 in scoring and total yards for the second year in a row.
 

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
Make no mistake: 2012 was simply a disaster for Illinois. The Fighting Illini went backwards in Tim Beckman’s first season, with the offense hitting rock bottom by averaging just 16.7 points a game. It’s unfair to blame Scheelhaase for everything that went wrong last year, especially since Illinois had very little production from the running backs or any protection from the offensive line. Entering his senior year, Scheelhaase has thrown for 5,296 yards and 34 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,795 yards and 15 scores. New coordinator Bill Cubit should improve Illinois’ offense, but the surrounding cast has to step up and help Scheelhaase more than it did in 2012.
 

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
2013 certainly didn’t go according to plan for Virginia Tech. The Hokies had ACC title aspirations but needed victories over Boston College and Virginia in late November just to get bowl eligible. Thomas was a second-team All-ACC selection in his first year as a starter, so expectations were high going into 2013. Instead of taking a step forward in his development, the Virginia native regressed. Thomas watched his completion percentage dip from 59.8 percent in 2011 to 51.3 percent in 2012. His interceptions also increased from 10 in 2011 to 16 in 2012. After Virginia Tech’s offensive struggles last year, coach Frank Beamer decided to shake up the offensive staff, hiring Scot Loeffler as the new coordinator. Loeffler’s stint at Auburn did not go well, and he’s stepping into a situation where Virginia Tech has a questionable offensive line and lacks proven playmakers at receiver and no No. 1 running back. Thomas recorded more yards of total offense in 2012 than he did in 2011, but the Hokies need their senior signal-caller to play more mistake-free ball in 2013.
 

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Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Quarterbacks Under Pressure for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 07:50
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-coaches-2013
Body:

Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how each conference stacks up with its head coach rankings for 2013.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference.

Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 68-13 (2007-present)
Record at LSU: 48-16 (2000-04)
Record at Michigan State: 34-24-1 (1995-99)
Record at Toledo: 9-2 (1990)
Overall Record: 159-55-1 (17 years)

Saban is without question the best coach in college football. He started his career as a head coach in 1990 with Toledo, then spent the next four seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns. In 1995, Saban was hired as Michigan State’s head coach and guided the Spartans to a 34-24-1 record under his watch. Saban left East Lansing for Baton Rouge and LSU in 2000 and led the Tigers to a 48-16 record in five years, including a national championship in 2003. Saban had a two-year stint with the Dolphins but jumped at the opportunity to lead Alabama in 2007. After a 7-6 record in his first season, Saban is 61-7 in his last five years with the Crimson Tide, which includes three national championships. At 61 years old, Saban is still at the top of his game and should have Alabama in the mix for a SEC and national title every year he is on the sidelines.
 

2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 66-37 (2005-present)
Record at Florida: 122-27-1 (1990-2001)
Record at Duke: 20-13-1 1987-89)
Overall Record: 208-77-2 (22 years)

After six consecutive seasons with at least five losses, Spurrier has delivered two (if not three) of the best seasons in South Carolina football history. It clearly took some time to build the Gamecocks into a consistent winner for the first time in program history. But there is no doubt the Gamecocks have become one of the league's top contenders. Not only is Spurrier extremely relevant in the league heading into the 2013 season at age 68 (April 20), but he has achieved at a high level over time as well. in a conference known for its ability to devour quality coaches, few have proven to be as adaptable and as consistent as Spurrier. He has an incredible 122-41 record in SEC play over his 20-year career in the league for an average of more than six conference wins per season (6.1). With one national championship under his belt from his time at Florida, should he bring a conference crown to Columbia, his name would belong with those two guys from Alabama as the SEC's greatest of all-time. The only problem is Carolina has gone from first to second to third in the East the last three seasons despite appearing to get better on the field.
 

3. Mark Richt, Georgia
Overall Record at Georgia: 118-40 (2001-present, 12 years)

Yes, Spurrier has been around longer than the Georgia coach, but along with Gary Pinkel of Missouri, Richt is your longest tenured coach in the nation's toughest league. And he added his sixth SEC East title and fifth SEC title game appearance to his resume in 2012. A model of consistency, Richt has won at least eight games in all but one of his 12 SEC campaigns and has never finished a regular season under .500 and never missed a postseason. Fans were restless following the low point of the tenure — a loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl following the 2010 season, but he made quality staff adjustments and has rebounded with back-to-back SEC championship game appearances. Richt returned the Dawgs to prominence with two SEC titles in 2002 and 2005, but after two straight losses in Atlanta, Georgia faithful are eagerly waiting to cap a season a with a win in the Georgia Dome rather than a loss. A win would likely earn Richt his third SEC Coach of the Year award.
 

RELATED CONTENT: Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

4. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 11-2 (2012-present)
Record at Houston: 35-17 (2008-2011)
Overall Record: 46-19 (5 years)

Sumlin’s debut at Texas A&M was a rousing success. In the Aggies’ first season in the SEC, Sumlin guided Texas A&M to an 11-2 record, helped to propel quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Heisman, and had the Aggies on the doorstep of playing in a BCS bowl. Sumlin came to Texas A&M after a 35-17 record in four seasons at Houston, which included a 12-1 mark in 2011. The Alabama native built a strong resume as an assistant, making stops at Wyoming, Minnesota, Purdue, Texas A&M and at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. One of the underrated aspects of Sumlin’s hire was a top-notch coaching staff, which included Kliff Kingsbury and Brian Polian, who both departed for head coaching jobs in the offseason. However, Sumlin restocked his staff, and with Texas A&M reeling in a top-10 recruiting class, the future looks bright in College Station. Sumlin’s next priority? Cut into Texas’ hold on the state and elevate Texas A&M into a consistent contender in the SEC.
 

5. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Overall Record at Vanderbilt:
15-11 (2011-present, 2 years)

Vanderbilt had never been to back-to-back bowl games in program history, but in just two short years, that is exactly what Franklin has done for the Commodores. It really is the only statistic that matters as Vandy has achieved at a higher level than ever before in the 117-year history of the program. With the only exception of attendance — which is still very strong compared to pre-Franklin standards — everything about this program screams S-E-C. Franklin has the Dores recruiting at an all-time rate, the offense is scoring at unprecedented levels and the program as a whole has a swagger never before seen on West End. Franklin is meticulous in his holistic and forward-thinking approach to selling a program and its exactly what a program like Vanderbilt has to have if it wants to continue to grow and contend with much more powerful SEC programs.
 

6. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Overall Record at Mississippi State: 29-22 (2009-present, 5 years)

Each BCS conference seems to have one coach that cannot be judged strictly on his record. Mullen fits that profile for the SEC, as he is coming off his fifth year in Starkville and has a 29-22 overall record. Although Mullen’s overall record isn’t overly impressive, Mississippi State is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. The Bulldogs have played in three consecutive bowl games under Mullen and are coming off a 4-4 conference record in the always loaded SEC. Mullen is 3-1 against rival Ole Miss and has won seven or more games in each of the last three seasons. Prior to taking the top spot at Mississippi State, Mullen worked as an assistant under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. There’s no question Mullen needs to consistently beat some of the top teams in the SEC West to climb higher in the coach rankings. However, it’s not easy to win the division right now, especially as Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M could all be top-15 teams in 2013. If Mullen was at one of the top jobs in the conference – Florida, Alabama, LSU or Georgia – he would easily win at a higher level.
 

7. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 84-21 (2005-present)
Record at Oklahoma State: 28-21 (2001-04)
Overall Record: 113-42 (12 years)

Needless to say, Miles’ interesting personality sometimes distracts from his coaching ability. The Ohio native got his chance to be a head coach in 2001, as he was hired to lead Oklahoma State. The Cowboys went 4-7 in his first year but recorded at least seven victories in each of the next three seasons. Miles parlayed his success with Oklahoma State into the top spot at LSU, which he has held since 2005. Under Miles, the Tigers have had plenty of success – 84 victories and seven finishes in the Associated Press top 25 poll. LSU is 34-6 over the last three years and played for the national championship after the 2011 season. Although the Tigers have experienced plenty of success under Miles, there’s also a sense of disappointment. LSU went 10-3 with a team that was picked among the top two by most preseason polls last season. The Tigers also had a disappointing 8-5 2008 campaign and are 1-3 in their last four bowl games. There’s no question Miles is a solid coach, but he has plenty of talent at his disposal, and the Tigers have slightly underachieved.
 

 

8. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Wisconsin: 68-24 (2006-2012)
Overall Record: 68-24 (7 years)

Bielema’s decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas came as a surprise, but the lure of coaching in the SEC was tough to turn down. In seven years with the Badgers, Bielema had a 68-24 record, and led Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. Bielema led the Badgers to five finishes in the Associated Press' top 25 and had four seasons of 10 or more victories. Although Bielema was a good coach in the Big Ten, the road is much tougher in the SEC. Arkansas is in for a transition year in 2013, and the team will have to contend with improving programs at Texas A&M and Ole Miss in the West. While Bielema isn’t likely to lead the Razorbacks to a 10-win season in 2013 or '14, he is a good pick for a program that should be a consistent bowl team. Bielema will need some time to adjust to the SEC, but he should be a good fit at Arkansas.
 

9. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 7-6 (2012-present)
Record at Arkansas State: 10-2 (2011)
Record at Lambuth: 20-5 (2008-09)
Overall Record: 37-13 (4 years)

After a successful debut in Oxford, a case could be made Freeze should be ranked higher on this list. The Mississippi native inherited an Ole Miss team that went 2-10 in the year prior to his arrival and guided the Rebels to a 7-6 finish with a victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. After finishing 2011 as the SEC’s worst team, Ole Miss was one of college football’s top 40 teams last year. Success and improvement hasn’t just been limited to one stop for Freeze, as Lambuth was 20-5 from 2008-09 under his watch, and Arkansas State went 4-8 prior to his arrival, only to win 10 games in Freeze’s only season in Jonesboro. Freeze is bringing in a top-five recruiting class to Oxford, and the program is clearly headed in the right direction. The Mississippi native has never been a head coach at one stop long enough to show he can sustain success for five or more seasons. However, considering his recruiting haul and track record so far, there’s little to doubt Freeze will continue to climb on this list in the coming years.
 

10. Will Muschamp, Florida
Overall Record at Florida: 18-8 (2011-present, 2 years)

The fiery Florida coach proved a lot in his crucial second season at the helm in Gainesville. His team was one lost fumble at the goal line away from playing for a national championship in the SEC title game. His teams play with fierce physicality and his side of the ball, the defense, has been a major strength. His track record of big-time success — two national championship game appearances as a defensive coordinator — under Nick Saban, Mack Brown and Tommy Tuberville points to his ability to grind it out in a brutal conference. Yet, at times, his teams tend to play out of control — much like his coaching style — and its the only thing keeping him from being one of the league's elite field generals. So with a reworked defense and third(-ish) year starter under center, Gators fans are anxiously awaiting Muschamp's third season. Finishing a game against Georgia would go a long way to proving Muschamp is the long-term answer.
 

11. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: First Season
Record at Cincinnati: 23-14 (2010-2012)
Record at Central Michigan: 27-13 (2007-2009)
Overall Record: 50-27 (6 years)

The book on Jones is fairly straight forward. His teams have won at least a share of a league championship in four of his six seasons as a head coach. Two of them were outright while at Central Michigan and two of them were co-championships in the always murky Big East with the Bearcats. He has an excellent win-loss record and has taken a forward-thinking approach in his short tenure at Tennessee and it has made for big waves on the recruiting trail. However, he took over programs built up by Brian Kelly at his previous two stops and it remains to be seen if he can compete with the likes of Spurrier, Richt and Saban every single season. There is some renewed energy in Knoxville but fans can't be in anything but wait and see mode with Jones, the Vols' fourth head coach since 2008. 
 

12. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 90-61 (2001-present)
Record at Toledo: 73-37-3 (1991-2000)
Overall Record: 163-98-3 (21 years)

Pinkel has a long and storied career on the sidelines at both Toledo and Mizzou with at least 70 wins at both. He built the Tigers football program to never before seen levels of success, both in the win column and in the box score. He is essentially responsible for Missouri being an attractive option for the SEC and needs to be given a lion's share of credit for the three-letter patch currently on their shoulder pads. He is No. 3 all-time in wins and is just 11 wins from becoming Missouri's winningest coach in history. That said, he never broke through in the Big 12 with a conference championship and, last year, watched his team post its worst finish since Pinkel's second season (2002). He has been around a long time and gets a lot of credit for building Mizzou football into what it is today, but now he is facing the biggest and best the game has to offer.
 

13. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Arkansas State: 9-3 (2012)
Overall Record: 9-3 (1 year)

Although Gene Chizik was the head coach for Auburn’s national title team in 2010, it’s pretty evident much of the credit for the team’s success was due to quarterback Cam Newton and Malzahn. And after spending one year at Arkansas State, Malzahn is back at Auburn as the head coach. In his one season with the Red Wolves, Malzahn led the team to a 9-3 record. There’s no question Malzahn is one of college football’s top offensive minds, and his one year of experience at Arkansas State should have him better prepared for coaching in the SEC. However, Malzahn still needs to prove he can be a successful head coach at the SEC level. With more head coaching experience, Malzahn should rank higher on this list. And with his familiarity with the team in 2013, Auburn could be the most-improved team in the SEC.


14. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Overall Record at Kentucky: First Season

The newest kid on the SEC block, Stoops' future as a head coach is anyone's guess. What we do know is this: He hails from Youngstown, Ohio and played defensive back for Iowa before he worked his way up through the ranks. Stoops was a defensive coordinator for Houston then Miami then Arizona (with his brother, Mike) and ultimately Florida State in 2010. He took the 108th-ranked defense and turned it into the 42nd-rated unit in one season before finishing fourth and second nationally in total defense in 2011 and '12 respectively. He did a great job finishing the recruiting cycle for the Wildcats, but at one of the toughest power conference jobs in the nation, it takes more than a few recruiting wins to be successful in Lexington.

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

Want to know more (stats, history, records, etc) about SEC coaches? Check out CoachingRoots.com

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Ranking the Pac-12 Head Coaches for 2013

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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the SEC's College Football Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 07:33
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-easts-college-football-coaches-2013
Body:

Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how each conference stacks up with its head coach rankings for 2013.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference.

Ranking the Big East (American Athletic Conference) Head Coaches for 2013

1. Charlie Strong, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 25-14 (2010-present)
Record at Florida: 0-1 (2004 Peach Bowl)
Overall Record: 25-15 (3 full years)

Strong had to wait a while for his first head coaching gig, but the Arkansas native has shown in just three full seasons he is one of the top 25 coaches in the nation. After stops as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina, Strong was hired as Louisville’s head coach in 2010. He didn’t inherit a full cupboard from the previous coaching staff, so it was no surprise Strong went 7-6 in each of his first two years in Louisville. However, the Cardinals took flight in 2012, winning 11 games (including an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over Florida). Strong turned down overtures from other BCS programs and will be tough to pry away from Louisville. If the Cardinals finish in the top 10 as most expect in 2013, expect to see Strong’s name move even higher on the list of the nation’s best coaches.


2. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Record at Cincinnati: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Texas Tech: 20-17 (2010-2012)
Record at Auburn: 85-40 (1999-2008)
Record at Ole Miss: 25-20 (1995-98)
Overall Record: 130-77 (17 years)

First, Tuberville has coached at three power conference jobs and has a winning record at all three. Second, he has an undefeated season in the SEC to his credit and is 50 games over .500 in the country’s toughest league. Third, he has a bizarre off-the-field resume that includes traffic accidents, ponzi schemes and questionable recruiting tactics as well as two strange departures from quality jobs. He was never a clean fit at Texas Tech and the program’s first losing season since 1992 led to an unsettling relationship with the fans. He improved the Red Raiders' atrocious 2011 defense enough to return to a bowl game last fall but could see the handwriting on the wall and bolted for the Bearcats. If the Cincy fans can handle the good with the bad, Tuberville should be able to keep the Bearcats competing for league championships.


3. Willie Taggart, South Florida
Record at South Florida: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Western Kentucky: 16-20 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-20 (3 years)

After a three-year stint as Western Kentucky’s head coach, Taggart essentially returns home to take over the top spot at South Florida. Taggart went 16-20 during his three years with the Hilltoppers, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. The 14 victories during that stretch was the best two-year stint for Western Kentucky since 2004-05. Taggart played his high school ball at Manatee in Bradenton, Fla., which is just an hour outside of USF. The 36-year-old coach is clearly one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks and should help the Bulls be one of the most-improved teams in the conference in 2013.
 

4. June Jones, SMU
Record at SMU: 31-34 (2008-present)
Record at Hawaii: 76-41 (1999-2007
Overall Record: 107-75 (14 years)

Jones inherited two programs that were in need of major repair prior to his arrival. And despite his losing record at SMU, it’s clear the Oregon native has made the Mustangs a better team. Jones began his coaching career in 1983 as an assistant at Hawaii, before spending the next 14 seasons at the professional level, which included a 22-36 record as an NFL head coach. In Jones’ first season at Hawaii in 1999, the Warriors made a nine-game improvement in the win column. Hawaii played in a BCS bowl in the 2007 season and recorded three seasons of 10 or more victories during Jones’ tenure. He took over SMU in 2008, and the Mustangs went 1-11 in his first year. However, SMU has at least seven victories in each of the last four years, which is the best stretch in school history since the Mustangs won 10 games every season from 1981-84. Considering Jones has elevated two struggling programs to new heights, SMU has to be encouraged about competing in its new conference home in 2013 and beyond.


5. George O'Leary, UCF
Record at UCF: 60-55 (2004-present)
Record at Georgia Tech: 52-33 (1994-2001)
Overall Record: 112-88 (17 years)

Like Tuberville, O’Leary has a similarly bizarre resume. He has been a consistent winner at both coaching stops in his career, including three conference championships and four division titles in eight years in C-USA. His teams play well against upper tier competition and he took an 0-11 team and turned them into a division champ in one season. Yet, he also is infamously known for lying on his resume which got him fired from Notre Dame before coaching a game, as well as the death of Ereck Plancher — a player who passed away after being over-worked on the practice field. His teams have lacked consistency from year to year, going from 10 wins to four and back since 2007, but that doesn't change his overall winning percentage (.560) over his 17 years as a head coach.
 

6. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Overall Record at Rutgers: 9-4 (2012-present, 1 year)

When Kyle Flood was given the head coaching job at Rutgers, it was his first leadership position since 1994 at St. Francis Prep. The offensive line coach has heavy ties to the Northeast and has proven to be an excellent recruiter for the Scarlet Knights. And all he did in his first season was win a share of the Big East title after being picked fourth in the conference in the preseason. Having said that, Flood’s bunch could have clinched an outright crown had they defeated either Pitt on the road or Louisville at home. Needless to say, the jury is still out on Flood’s long-term future at The Garden State’s state school.
 

7. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Overall Record at Memphis: 4-8 (2012-present, 1 year)

Fuente inherited a mess when he arrived at Memphis. The Tigers were coming off a disastrous two-year stint under Larry Porter, which resulted in a 3-21 record. And under Fuente’s watch, the Tigers showed big improvement in 2012. Memphis went 4-8 last season, which included a three-game winning streak to finish the campaign. The Tigers lost three games by 10 points or less and got better as the season progressed. Before taking over at Memphis, Fuente spent five years as an assistant at TCU, including the last three as the co-offensive coordinator. With the move to the American Athletic Conference (new name of the former Big East), Fuente’s job will get a little tougher in 2013. Memphis doesn’t quite have the talent to push for a bowl game this year, but the Tigers will continue to take another step forward under Fuente’s watch in 2013.
 

8. Paul Pasqualoni, UConn
Record at UConn: 10-14 (2011-present)
Record at Syracuse: 107-59-1 (1991-2004)
Record at Western Connecticut: 34-17 (1982-1986)
Overall Record: 151-90-1 (21 years)

Like Temple's Matt Rhule (see below), Pasqualoni entered the coaching ranks after starring at linebacker for Penn State. He has deep ties to the Northeast and is on his third coaching stop in the region. After 11 consecutive winning seasons to start his Syracuse tenure, the program began to erode and the Orange made a move following the 2004 season. Pasqualoni went to work in the NFL as a defensive coordinator for both Dallas and Miami before returning to the college ranks two years ago at UConn. Clearly, he has been around the game for a long time and is in the twilight of his career — as his last winning season as a head coach was in 2001 — but the resume also clearly indicates that the man can coach (see UConn’s No. 1-rated Big East defense). He likely needs to adapt to a new era of college football if he wants to succeed and must do so quickly in order to prove he is still capable of winning in the current NCAA landscape.


9. Tony Levine, Houston
Overall Record at Houston: 6-7 (2011-present)

Levine received a curious promotion to the top spot after Kevin Sumlin departed for Texas A&M. The Minnesota native had no head coaching experience prior to taking over at Houston, as his resume consisted of stops as an assistant at Texas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville and the Cougars. Levine also was an assistant strength and conditioning coach for two years with the NFL's Carolina Panthers from 2006-07. He was a popular pick to be head coach among Houston’s players, but the move didn’t work out well for the Cougars in 2012. Levine led Houston to a bowl victory over Penn State after Sumlin departed, but the Cougars were 5-7 last year. Losing quarterback Case Keenum was a tough blow for an offense that was one of the best in the nation in 2011, but Houston had too much talent returning to miss on a bowl game. Levine made good adjustments to the coaching staff in the offseason, and the Cougars return the bulk of their personnel. Levine still has a lot to prove, especially as Houston makes the move to the conference formally known as the Big East.
 

10. Matt Rhule, Temple
Overall Record at Temple: 0-0 (First Season)

There is plenty to like about the former Penn State linebacker’s resume. He is from the Northeast, has rich ties to the Temple program and was hired to work for respected coaching names like Tom Coughlin and Al Golden. Yet, he has never been a head coach at any level and is a complete unknown when it comes to leading a program. Temple is a brutally tough place to win, but the Owls posted three seasons in a row with at least eight wins from 2009-11 under both Golden and Steve Addazio. Rhule is in for a uphill battle if he expects to return Temple to the postseason after a 4-7 debut in the Owls' return to the Big East last fall.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


Related College Football Content

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Ranking the Big Ten Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Pac-12 Head Coaches for 2013

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College Football's Pre-Spring Top 25 Heisman Contenders

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big East's College Football Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 07:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-college-football-coaches-2013
Body:

Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how each conference stacks up with its head coach rankings for 2013.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference.

Ranking the Pac-12 Head Coaches for 2013

1. David Shaw, Stanford
Overall Record at Stanford: 23-4 (2011-present)

Even after two years of winning at an 85-percent clip, there is still somewhat of an unknown factor with Shaw. He has finished tied for first in the Pac-12 North Division both seasons on the Farm, claimed a conference championship and won the school’s first Rose Bowl since 1972. Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck built the Cardinal program back to respectability, and, now that expectations have been elevated significantly, it will be no small feat to maintain this level of success. Shaw is steeped in Stanford tradition as a player and is one of the most well-liked men in the business. If he keeps recruiting at a high level, the Cardinal will remain a factor in the Pac-12 North for years to come. However, the bar has been set high after the last few years, and it’s easy to see just how valuable of a coach Harbaugh was after taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second year in the NFL.
 

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Overall Record at Oregon State: 81-67 (1997-98, 2003-present)

Riley has one of the most unique career paths in all of football. He won big in the CFL before his first stint in Corvallis (8-14) led to an NFL job in San Diego. He returned to Oregon State in 2003 and posted six winning campaigns in his next seven seasons, including the school’s first 10-win season (2006) and a Pac-10 Coach of the Year award (2008). Yet, after two losing seasons in 2010-11, Riley started to feel some pressure to win entering 2012, and he delivered in a big way. Riley turned the league’s worst rushing defense into one of the Pac-12’s best in one offseason and returned the Beavers to a bowl game. There are few people more liked in the industry than Riley and he consistently gets more out of less than most of his coaching peers. There is a reason he is the winningest coach in Oregon State history. It can be tough to sustain success at a program like Oregon State, but Riley is the right man to keep the Beavers in contention for a winning record every year.
 

3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Michigan: 15-22 (2008-10)
Record at West Virginia: 60-26 (2001-07)
Record at Glenville State: 43-28-2 (1990-96)
Record at Salem: 2-8 (1988)
Overall Record: 134-93-2 (19 years)

Although his lack of success at Michigan is an eyesore on an otherwise stellar resume, Rodriguez is still one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. And if there was any doubt about his coaching prowess, he answered those questions with an 8-5 debut at Arizona in 2012. The Wildcats’ eight victories were a four-game improvement from 2011 and three of their losses were by seven points or less, including an overtime defeat to Stanford. Rodriguez should win big at Arizona, as he is a much better fit in the desert than in the Big Ten with Michigan. In seven years with West Virginia from 2001-07, Rodriguez led the Mountaineers to 60 wins, including a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia in 2005. West Virginia also claimed at least a share of the conference title in four years under Rodriguez’s watch. Arizona must replace quarterback Matt Scott in 2013, but the Wildcats could be pushing for a spot every year in the top 25 as long as Rodriguez is on the sideline.
 

4. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-6 (2011)
Record at Tulsa: 36-17 (2007-10)
Record at Rice: 7-6 (2006)
Overall Record: 57-34 (7 years)

With four head coaching jobs in seven years, it’s fair to poke fun at Graham’s job-hopping skills. However, what’s lost in his movement is the Texas native is a very good coach. In his only season at Rice, Graham improved the Owls’ win total by six games from the previous year. At Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane won at least 10 games in three of his four seasons. And at Pittsburgh, Graham led the Panthers to a 6-6 regular-season record and an invite to the BBVA Compass Bowl. Arizona State finished with an 8-5 record last season, the program's first winning mark since 2007. The Sun Devils were close to winning the Pac-12 South Division, as they lost to UCLA by just two points in late October. Under Graham, Arizona State also cut out the boneheaded mistakes and penalties that seemed to plague this program in recent years. The Sun Devils have the personnel to win the division in 2013, and Graham could have this team in the mix for a spot in most preseason top-25 polls. 
 

5. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 3-9 (2012-present)
Record at Texas Tech: 84-43 (2000-09)
Overall Record: 87-52 (11 years)

Leach is an evaluation anomaly. He has more than a decade of elite-level coaching prowess loaded with some of the most prolific passing statistics in the history of college football. His quarterbacks litter the NCAA passing record books, but his off-the-field headlines have dominated his resume in recent years. A strange and bizarre ousting from Texas Tech led to a brief hiatus from coaching and a short radio career with SiriusXM. Leach took the Washington State job and immediately dealt with locker room upheaval as well as on-the-field deficiencies. His team lost its best player (Marquess Wilson) late in the season, and the rushing offense was the worst in FBS football. Yet somehow, he was still able to finish his first year with a monumental comeback against arch-rival Washington in the Apple Cup. However, more than three wins is needed to keep Leach in the good graces of the Cougars brass this fall.
 

6. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at San Jose State: 16-21 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-21 (3 years)

MacIntyre has a tough job ahead of him at Colorado, but his previous stint at San Jose State shows he is up for the task. In three years with the Spartans, MacIntyre recorded a 16-21 overall mark and led the program to a top-25 finish in the Associated Press poll at the conclusion of 2012. San Jose State was not in great shape when MacIntyre arrived in 2010, as the program went 8-16 in Dick Tomey’s last two years and had just one winning season from 2001-09. After a 1-12 record in 2010, MacIntyre’s team showed steady improvement by winning five games in '11 and 11 last fall. The Spartans' only losses in 2012 came to Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Stanford and a very good Utah State team in mid-October. The Buffaloes are in need of major repair after seven consecutive losing seasons. It may take some time for MacIntyre to get Colorado in contention for a bowl game, but expect the Buffaloes to show marked improvement in 2013. 
 

7. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
Overall Record: 26-25 (2009-present, 4 years)

Coach Sark has proven that he is adaptable during his four years in Seattle. Prior to his arrival in 2009, Washington hadn’t had a winning record since 2002. Sarkisian changed that with a 7-6 campaign in 2010, which included an unexpected win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. However, three straight 7-6/5-4 records have a stagnant feel to them. That said, he has shown the ability to make adjustments when one of the worst defenses in the nation became one of the best overnight when he hired Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi last season. Washington is moving back into a brand new Husky Stadium and the U of W brand is hotter than ever on the recruiting trail, so Sarkisian gets credit for rebuilding the program. However, he needs to take the next step and show that his team can compete for Pac-12 North Division titles.
 

8. Jim Mora, UCLA
Overall Record at UCLA: 9-5 (2012-present)

Mora wasn’t the most popular hire when he was picked to replace Rick Neuheisel at UCLA. After all, a 31-33 career record in the NFL isn’t anything special. However, the Bruins improved their win total by three games in Mora’s first season and lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game by just three points. Mora still has much to prove in the next few seasons, as he inherited a lot of talent from the previous coaching staff, and despite winning the division, UCLA lost its final three games of 2012. Mora has surrounded himself with a good staff, and the Bruins have recruited well in each of the last two years. If UCLA wins the South Division once again in 2013, Mora will more than likely rise in these coach rankings next season. 
 

9. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Overall Record at Utah: 71-32 (8 years)

As expected, the move from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 has made life a little more difficult for Utah. Whittingham has been a solid coach in his tenure, but can he elevate the program into Pac-12 title contention? It’s clear it’s going to take some time for the Utes to be an annual factor in the South Division, especially with UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State all showing progress last year. Whittingham led Utah to a 58-20 mark in six years (plus one Fiesta Bowl win in 2004) in the Mountain West. But the Utes are just 13-12 in two seasons in the Pac-12 and missed out on a bowl appearance in 2012 for the first time since 2002. There’s no question Whittingham was a key reason why Utah was successful in the Mountain West and is guiding the program through a tough conference transition. However, Utah took a step back in 2012, and Whittingham is just 7-11 in two years in Pac-12 games.
 

10. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Louisiana Tech: 22-15 (2010-2012)
Overall Record: 22-15 (3 years)

Dykes has a legacy synonymous with coaching as the son of Texas Tech’s legendary head coach Spike Dykes. He worked his way from up the high school and small college ranks before jobs at Kentucky, Texas Tech and Arizona, which led to his first head coaching gig at Louisiana Tech. Learning from his father and fellow Pac-12 North offensive guru Mike Leach, Dykes’ powerful offenses have been his signature. He won the WAC Championship and conference Coach of the Year honors in 2011 and then finished with the nation’s No. 1-rated total and scoring offense in ’12. He walks into a much better situation at Cal than when predecessor Jeff Tedford arrived, as facilities and stadium upgrades make the Bears job much more competitive.
 

11. Lane Kiffin, USC
Record at USC: 25-13 (2010-present)
Record at Tennessee: 7-6 (2009)
Overall Record: 32-19 (4 years)

There’s no question Kiffin is the toughest coach in the Pac-12 to rank. Kiffin has shown flashes of promise at each of his collegiate coaching stops, starting with a 7-6 record at Tennessee in 2009. The Volunteers were one of the SEC’s worst offensive teams in 2008, yet Kiffin turned Jonathan Crompton into a solid quarterback, and the offense averaged 29.3 points a game. Despite NCAA sanctions hanging over the program, Kiffin guided USC to an 18-7 record during his first two years, including a 2011 Pac-12 South Division title. However, the Trojans were banned from postseason play, so USC could not participate in the conference championship game. While those are the positives, the negatives for Kiffin largely center on the 2012 season. The Trojans were widely picked as a national title favorite but finished with a disappointing 7-6 record and were defeated by a 6-7 Georgia Tech team in the Sun Bowl. Kiffin has had his share of drama at each stop, including recruiting violations at Tennessee, and the deflated football scandal and jersey switch controversy in 2012. Can Kiffin succeed at USC? Absolutely. However, the Minnesota native should worry less about the media, injuries and off-the-field nonsense and concentrate more on the X’s and O’s. The Trojans have the talent to win the Pac-12 South Division. But if this team stumbles once again, Kiffin will likely be out of a job at the end of the year.
 

12. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Overall Record at Oregon: 0-0 (First Season)

After playing and coaching at small Southern Oregon, Helfrich landed with the Ducks in 1997 under Dirk Koetter. He then followed Koetter to both Boise State and Arizona State, returning to Eugene in 2009 as offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly. After two National Quarterbacks Coach of the Year Awards (2010, '12), Helfrich got his chance when Kelly departed for the NFL. He is the third consecutive offensive coordinator to be elevated to head coach at Oregon as the previous two — Mike Bellotti and Kelly — have proven the method for hiring is extremely effective. With a stacked roster returning on offense, all signs point to immediate success for the new headman in Oregon. However, Helfrich is largely an unknown and has never been a head coach prior to 2013. Even if Helfrich can keep Oregon performing at a high level this year, is he capable of keeping the Ducks in national championship contention in 2014 and '15? Oregon's method of promoting from within has worked well with its last two hires. However, Helfrich still has a lot to prove entering his first season as the head Duck.

 

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


Related College Football Content

Ranking the ACC Head Coaches for 2013
Ranking the Big 12 Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Big Ten Head Coaches for 2013

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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Pac-12's College Football Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 07:27
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-college-football-coaches-2013
Body:

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how each conference stacks up with its head coach rankings for 2013.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference.

Ranking the Big Ten Head Coaches for 2013

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 12-0 (2012-present)
Record at Florida: 65-15 (2005-2010)
Record at Utah: 22-2 (2003-04)
Record at Bowling Green: 17-6 (2001-02)
Overall Record: 116-23 (11 years)

Really the only thing left on Meyer’s resume is to defeat an SEC school in the national championship. In his first year at Ohio State, he took a 6-7 Buckeyes team and turned them into a perfect 12-0 program, proving his past successes were no fluke. He already claims two BCS National Championships, four conference titles (would have been five had OSU been eligible last year), three conference Coach of the Year awards, one Heisman winner and one national Coach of the Year honor. In each stop along the way, Meyer has proven to have an immediate impact on the program be it at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida or Ohio State. He is an elite recruiter and an elite talent developer. No, he isn’t the nicest or most honest guy in the business, but his teams are extremely well coached and they win big.


2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Overall Record at Northwestern: 50-39 (2006-present, 7 years)

Fitzgerald is the perfect fit at Northwestern, and he continues to take the program to new heights. The Illinois native starred at linebacker for the Wildcats from 1993-96 and was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Fitzgerald had no coordinator experience when he was promoted to the top spot at Northwestern and took over the program in a difficult time, replacing Randy Walker after his unexpected death in 2006. Despite his inexperience on the sidelines, Fitzgerald has been a home-run hire for Northwestern. The Wildcats are 50-39 under his watch and have played in five consecutive bowl games. Northwestern earned its first bowl victory since the 1949 Rose Bowl by beating Mississippi State 34-20 in last season's Gator Bowl. Fitzgerald is never going to reel in top-25 recruiting classes, but he has done a good job of finding and developing plenty of talent during his tenure. As long as Fitzgerald stays on the sidelines in Evanston, expect the Wildcats to remain a consistent contender in the Big Ten Legends Division, and they could start 2013 in the preseason top 25.


3. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 19-7 (2011-present)
Record at San Diego State: 13-12 (2009-10)
Record at Ball State: 34-38 (2003-08)
Overall Record: 66-57 (10 years)

After turning around Ball State and San Diego State, Hoke was Michigan’s pick to lead the program back to national prominence. So far, so good. The Wolverines are 19-7 under Hoke’s watch and have back-to-back 6-2 records in conference play. Michigan also won the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech to cap its first season under Hoke’s watch and has finished each of the past two seasons ranked in the Associated Press top 25. Although Hoke posted an overall losing mark at Ball State (34-38), the program didn’t have a winning record in the six seasons prior to his arrival. He was able to guide the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, including a 12-1 regular season record in 2008. San Diego State was considered an annual underachiever prior to Hoke, but he led the Aztecs to the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl – their first postseason appearance since 1998. As a Michigan man, Hoke is a perfect fit in Ann Arbor. And after two seasons, Hoke has the Wolverines poised once again to be a threat to win the Big Ten title every year.
 

4. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 51-28 (2007-present)
Record at Cincinnati: 18-17 (2004-06)
Overall Record: 51-28 (9 years)

The Spartans underachieved in 2012, but Dantonio’s overall record in six years in East Lansing is a rock-solid 51-28. The Texas native has guided Michigan State to six consecutive bowl berths and recorded back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2010-11. Dantonio’s 2011 team played for the Big Ten Championship, and the 2012 squad tied for the conference title. Prior to his tenure with Michigan State, Dantonio recorded an 18-17 record in three years with Cincinnati, which included two bowl appearances. Michigan State has the resources to be a consistent top-25 program but was considered an underachiever before Dantonio’s arrival. Despite slipping to 7-6 in 2012, Dantonio will have Michigan State back in the mix for the Big Ten Legends Division. 
 

5. Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Overall Record at Penn State: 8-4 (Penn State, 2012-present)

Bill Belichick assistants haven’t exactly gone on to do big things as head coaches, but in one short year, O’Brien might be on his way to being the best of the Patriots' coach’s offspring. There is little viable evidence in favor of or against O’Brien as a head coach other than the job he did in his first year in Happy Valley. In the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history, he won eight games with an offense that was more creative and innovative than fans at Penn State had seen in nearly a decade. He also recruited extremely well considering the circumstances. The sample size is extraordinarily small and the situation is still difficult to quantify. That said, it's pretty clear that O’Brien has won most of Nittany Nation over in one quick season. And if his growing interest from NFL executives is any indication, Penn State has found a good one in the Brown University graduate.
 

6. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Utah State: 26-24 (2009-2012)
Record at Southern Utah: 4-7 (2003)
Overall Record: 30-31 (5 years)

Don’t be fooled by Andersen’s 30-31 career record. The Utah native is an excellent coach who should win big in Madison. Prior to his first head coaching job at Southern Utah in 2003, Andersen worked as an assistant at Northern Arizona and Utah. And after a one-year stint as the Thunderbirds head coach, he rejoined the Utes’ coaching staff and stayed in Salt Lake City until 2009, when he was picked to lead Utah State. Andersen turned the Aggies from WAC bottom feeder to a title contender, leading Utah State to an 11-2 record in 2012 with a top-20 finish in the Associated Press' poll. Andersen doesn’t have experience coaching in the Big Ten, but he is familiar with Urban Meyer since he served as his defensive line coach with the Utes in 2004. Despite his lack of familiarity with the Big Ten, Andersen has been successful at each of his coaching stops, and Utah State showed big improvement in each of his four seasons. With Meyer leading Ohio State, the Badgers may not match its recent run of three straight Big Ten titles in the near future. However, Wisconsin should be a consistent top-25 team under Andersen’s watch.


7. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Overall Record at Nebraska: 49-20 (Nebraska, 2003, 2008-present)

Pelini is one of the most intriguing coaches to evaluate among all the BCS conferences, if not the entire FBS pool. He leads one of the most powerful and historic programs in the nation and has resources at his disposal that most schools only dream of. He has led the Cornhuskers to three conference championship games in six seasons in two different leagues and has never won fewer than nine games. He also posted his best conference record with a 7-1 mark a year ago. However, he has also had many uncomfortable (and possibly inappropriate) moments with his players on national television and has never lost fewer than four games in any season. Nebraska is back competing for league championships for the first time since the '90s, but is Pelini treading water at 9-4 each season or was 2012 a glimpse of more to come?
 

8. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 100-74 (1999-present)
Record at Maine: 12-21 (1990-92)
Overall Record: 112-95 (17 years)

A few seasons ago, Ferentz would have ranked much higher on this list. However, Iowa has been going in the wrong direction over the last three years. After going 11-22 including an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech in 2009, the Hawkeyes have watched their win total decrease in each of the last three years. This steady decline resulted in a 4-8 mark in 2012, which was Ferentz’s fewest wins since 2000 (3-9). While Ferentz has led Iowa to 10 bowl games and two BCS bowls, the program seems to have gone stale in recent years, and he certainly didn’t make anyone in Iowa City happy when he hired Greg Davis as his offensive coordinator in 2012. Are the Hawkeyes capable of getting back on track under Ferentz? Absolutely. However, with Ohio State and Michigan coming back to national prominence, along with a challenging division (at least for now), Iowa has a tough road to contend in the Big Ten. Ferentz has done a lot of good things for the program, but if the Hawkeyes have a few losing seasons in a row, it might be time for a fresh start for both parties.
 

9. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 9-16 (2011-present)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-16 (2008-10)
Record at Southern Illinois: 55-32 (2001-07)
Record at Emporia State: 11-11 (1999-2000)
Record at Saginaw Valley State: 38-14 (1994-98)
Overall Record: 136-89 (19 years)

Kill isn’t flashy or exciting, but he enters 2013 with the most wins during his head coaching career among his Big Ten peers. The Kansas native started his career with Saginaw Valley State in 1994 and recorded a winning record in each of his five seasons. Kill took over at Emporia State in 1999 and left for Southern Illinois in 2001. He went 55-32 with the Salukis, which included five consecutive playoff appearances from 2003-07. After that, Kill led Northern Illinois to three straight bowl trips from 2008-10 and recruited many of the players who played in the Huskies’ Orange Bowl appearance last season. Minnesota went 3-9 in Kill’s first season but improved to 6-7 and earned a bowl berth in 2012. Kill knows how to develop talent and can uncover hidden gems on the recruiting trail. Minnesota isn’t an easy job, but Kill’s track record shows he can consistently produce a winner. Expect the Golden Gophers to only get better with Kill on the sidelines the next few seasons.


10. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Kent State: 16-10 (2011-2012)
Overall Record: 16-10 (2 years)

No one can accuse Hazell of not paying his dues. Born in Cinnaminson, N.J., and playing his college ball at Muskingum University (New Concord, Ohio), Hazell spent 25 years as an assistant before getting his first head coaching gig at Kent State. Doug Martin posted nary a winning season with the Flashes in seven seasons prior to Hazell’s arrival. In just two years, Hazell built KSU into a division champion and set a school record with 11 wins. With heavy coaching ties to the Midwest and Northeast, Hazell should be able to recruit the Big Ten footprint well and clearly has the coaching chops to be successful at Purdue.
 

11. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Overall Record at Indiana: 5-19 (Indiana, 2011-present)

Offense has long been the name of the game for Wilson, both at Oklahoma as a coordinator and now at Indiana. After grooming nearly a decade’s worth of elite passers in Norman, Wilson has quickly turned Indiana’s passing game into one of the Big Ten’s best. His team ranked fifth in the league in passing offense, but managed just one win in his first year in Bloomington. Last season, his team led the league in passing offense and improved to four wins with all signs pointing to even more success — and a possible bowl game — in 2013. There is still much to be accomplished for Wilson to be considered one of the league’s better coaches but more progress in Year 3 at Indiana would go a long way to proving that the Hoosiers made the right choice.
 

12. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Record at Illinois: 2-10 (2012-present)
Record at Toledo: 21-16 (2009-2011)
Overall Record: 23-26 (4 years)

All signs were positive for Beckman when he took over for Ron Zook at Illinois last season. He learned under two respected names in Jim Tressel and Mike Gundy before building Toledo into a MAC contender in his three years leading the Rockets. Everyone knew it was going to take time to rebuild the Illini following the Zooker, however, no one expected a 2-10 debut season in Urbana-Champaign. He has his work cut out for him in a tough division loaded with solid coaches and powerful programs to prove he was the right choice for the job.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


Related College Football Content

Ranking the ACC Head Coaches for 2013
Ranking the Big 12 Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

Big Ten 2013 Schedule Analysis

College Football's Top 25 Pre-Spring Heisman Contenders

College Football's Top Assistant Coach Hires for 2013

College Football's Top 10 Defensive Players on the Rise for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big Ten's College Football Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-college-football-coaches-2013
Body:

Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how each conference stacks up with its head coach rankings for 2013.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference.

Ranking the ACC Head Coaches for 2013

1. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 216-104-2 (1987-present)
Record at Murray State: 42-23-2 (1981-1986)
Overall Record: 258-127-4 (31 years)

First as a player and now as the head coach, Beamer has been a part of Virginia Tech football for four decades, and his success has made “Beamerball” a recognized commodity both within and outside of the state. After a slow start to his coaching career at Tech, Beamer has led the Hokies to 20 straight bowl games dating back to 1993. During this time he won three Big East championships — including one memorable run at the national title with Michael Vick in 1999 — four ACC titles and five conference Coach of the Year Awards. In eight years of playing in the Coastal, Beamer has won the division five times. His seven-win 2012 campaign ended an eight-year run with at least 10 wins and it forced him to make some coaching changes. That said, he is still the longest tenured and winningest active coach in college football.
 

2. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 13-11 (2011-present)
Record at Temple: 27-34 (2006-2010)
Overall Record: 40-45 (6 years)

Golden earned the Miami job after building bottom feeder Temple into a MAC contender. He didn’t have a losing league record in his final four seasons in Philly and earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2009. A massive NCAA scandal involving super booster Nevin Shapiro didn’t slow Golden’s recruiting efforts and his team showed improvement last fall by winning the ACC's Coastal Division. Yet, for a second straight year, Miami missed a bowl game due to self-imposed postseason sanctions. His tribute to Howard Schnellenberger — a dress shirt, tie, slacks and jacket gameday attire — has once again become an iconic symbol on the Hurricanes’ sideline. After more than 10 freshmen saw starting time in ’12, Miami could be the front-runner in the Coastal this fall. Golden still has much to prove in Coral Gables, but his resurrection job at Temple shows he's capable of elevating Miami back into ACC title contention - provided the program can dodge major NCAA sanctions from the ongoing investigation. 
 

3. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 41-26 (2008-present)
Record at Navy: 45-29 (2002-07)
Record at Georgia Southern: 62-10 (1997-2001)
Overall Record: 148-65 (15 years)

After two I-AA National Championships at Georgia Southern, Johnson completely reinvented the Naval Academy before bringing his patented triple-option attack to the big leagues. Since showing up at Georgia Tech, Johnson has never posted a losing ACC record, has played in three ACC championship games and never missed the postseason. The Sun Bowl win over USC a year ago was his first at Tech and the school’s first bowl win since 2004. Needless to say, the long-time head coach has proven his option system is fully capable of winning at a high level.

 

4. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Overall Record at Florida State: 31-10 (2010-present, 3 years)

Under Fisher’s direction, Florida State has once again emerged as a top-10 program. The Seminoles slipped in the final years under Bobby Bowden but have won at least nine games in each of Fisher’s three seasons. Florida State also has three bowl wins under Fisher and is 1-1 in the ACC Championship game under his watch. Despite Fisher’s success, the Seminoles have yet to climb back into the national title discussion and have finished just once in the Associated Press' poll final top 10. So while Florida State has made strides under Fisher, it’s not back among the nation’s elite – at least right now. The Seminoles continue to recruit well, and there’s plenty of young talent to fill the voids by the departing players. Fisher has a revamped coaching staff and a new indoor facility is on the way. All of the pieces are in place for Florida State to win big once again. If Fisher can elevate the Seminoles into a consistent top-five team once again, he will move into the top three of the ACC coaching ranks. However, Florida State also has a few head-scratching losses under Fisher, including a 17-16 road loss to NC State in 2012 and a 14-13 home defeat to Virginia in '11. If Fisher wants to be considered elite, it’s time for the puzzling losses to end.


5. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 8-4 (2012-present)
Record at Southern Miss: 34-19 (2008-11)
Overall Record: 42-23 (5 years)

Fedora cut his coaching chops at Baylor, Air Force, Middle Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma State. After a four-year run at Southern Miss that culminated with a C-USA Championship in 2011, Fedora landed at a North Carolina program still reeling from the aftermath of the Butch Davis era. He led the Heels to a co-Coastal Division title last season, but bowl sanctions didn’t allow North Carolina to play in the postseason. His offensive scheme is a proven commodity, but can he rebuild a roster hurt heavily by NFL defections and scholarship limitations?
 

6. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Overall Record at Clemson: 40-21 (2008-present, 5 years)

Swinney is one of the toughest coaches to rank in the ACC. He may not be the best X’s and O’s coach, but Clemson is 40-21 with two appearances in the ACC Championship under his watch. The Tigers seem to have turned a corner under Swinney’s direction and are the favorite to win the ACC in 2013. While Swinney deserves credit for the Tigers’ rise in recent years, having two of college football’s highest-paid coordinators hurts his case to be ranked higher on this list. Since Chad Morris arrived at Clemson, the Tigers are 21-6. Prior to his arrival, Swinney was just 19-15. Credit Clemson for giving Swinney the money to spend on quality assistants, which has clearly paid dividends for the program in recent years. Is Swinney an elite coach? Probably not. However, as long as he continues to recruit at a high level and hire good coordinators when Morris and Brent Venables leave for head coaching jobs, Clemson should remain one of the top programs in the ACC.
 

7. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: 73-74 (2001-present)
Record at Ohio: 33-33-1 (1995-2000, 6 years)
Overall Record: 106-107-1 (18 years)

Grobe has done a lot of good things at Wake Forest, which includes leading the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship and a BCS bowl in 2006. The West Virginia native isn’t the flashiest coach, but he turned around Ohio during his six-year stint from 1995-2000 and has a 73-74 mark during his Wake Forest tenure. While a 73-74 record isn’t overly impressive, winning in Winston-Salem is no easy task, and Grobe needs just five victories to become the school’s all-time winningest coach. Despite making Wake Forest into a more competitive team within the ACC, there’s some concern Grobe may have slipped in recent years. The Demon Deacons have four consecutive losing seasons and won only one conference game in 2010. It's not easy to sustain success at Wake Forest. But considering Grobe's track record and the youth on this team last season, he should have the Demon Deacons back in the mix for a bowl game in 2013.
 

8. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 21-40 (2008-present)
Record at Ole Miss: 44-29 (1998-2004)
Overall Record: 65-69 (11 years)

Cutcliffe has been an incredibly effective offensive coach — when he has a Manning under center. After coaching Peyton in Knoxville, he posted five winning seasons in six years at Ole Miss (three of which Eli quarterbacked) but was fired before his seventh season. After four years of coordinating at Notre Dame and Tennessee, he returned as a head coach at Duke. The Blue Devils haven’t posted a winning record in his five years and are 9-31 in ACC play under Cutcliffe. That said, his offenses have always been excellent, the team is much more competitive than it was prior to his arrival, and Duke finally returned to the postseason in 2012 for the first time since 1994.


9. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 6-18 (2011-present)
Record at Connecticut: 74-70 (1999-2010)
Overall Record: 80-88 (14 years)

After a disastrous debut with Maryland in 2011, Edsall appears to have the Terrapins headed back in the right direction. Maryland went 2-10 in Edsall’s first season and navigated four season-ending injuries to quarterbacks in 2012 to finish with a 4-8 mark. Prior to taking the job at Maryland, Edsall spent 12 years as the head coach at Connecticut. Under his watch, the Huskies recorded a 74-70 mark and played in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. Before Edsall was picked as Connecticut’s head coach in 1999, he worked at Syracuse (1980-90), spent three seasons with Boston College (1991-93), served four years in the NFL with the Jaguars (1994-97) and one season as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator ('98). Edsall is just under .500 for his head coaching career, but he had to bring Connecticut from the FCS level to the Big East, which was no easy task. And Edsall’s job is only going to get tougher in the coming years, especially after Maryland joins the Big Ten in 2014.


10. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-7 (2012-present)
Overall Record: 6-7 (1 year)

The former Wisconsin quarterback has coached all over North America in the NFL (San Diego), CFL (Ottawa, Saskatchewan) and at numerous college programs. However, he blossomed as an elite offensive mind at his alma mater in Madison. For seven seasons, Chryst led arguably the greatest era of offensive football in Badgers history, culminating in a near national title berth in 2011. This led to his first head coaching job at Pitt in 2012. His first season leading the Panthers — a team faced with its fourth different head coach in as many years — began slowly but his team showed marked improvement over the course of the season and all signs point to being competitive in their new league.


11. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-4 (2011-12)
Overall Record: 23-4 (2 years)

NC State made one of the offseason’s top coaching moves by hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois. Although Tom O’Brien led the Wolfpack to four bowl games in five seasons, a 22-26 record in conference play wasn’t good enough. It’s tough to envision NC State consistently beating Clemson and Florida State, but the program can win more than it has the last few years. Doeren looks like the right coach to take NC State to the next level, as he comes to Raleigh after a 23-4 mark in two seasons with Northern Illinois. Although he inherited a good team from Jerry Kill, Doeren took the Huskies to new heights, including a berth in last season's Orange Bowl against Florida State. Prior to his two-year stint as Northern Illinois’ head coach, he served as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Kansas and also spent time as a graduate assistant at USC. Doeren doesn’t have any experience in the ACC, so it may take some time to build connections on the recruiting trail. However, all signs point to Doeren’s hire being a home run for NC State.
 

12. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 16-21 (2010-present)
Record at Richmond: 24-5 (2008-2009)
Overall Record: 40-26 (5 years)

London is somewhat of a mystery at Virginia. He was one year removed from an FCS National Championship at Richmond when the Cavaliers hired him in 2010. He took an underachiever and turned them into an eight-win team in just one season on the job and has totally reinvigorated the Virginia brand on the in-state recruiting trail. However, his Wahoos took a major step back in 2012, finishing 2-6 in the ACC and 4-8 overall. Needless to say, London’s 2013 campaign will be carefully scrutinized.
 

13. Steve Addazio, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Temple: 13-11 (2011-12)
Overall Record: 13-11 (2 years)

After two years at Temple, Addazio takes over a Boston College program that has fallen on hard times after 12 consecutive winning seasons from 1999-2010. Addazio had a solid two-year stint at Temple, which produced the program’s first bowl victory since 1979 and a 9-4 mark in 2011. With the departure of a handful of key players on both sides of the ball, along with the transition to the Big East, Temple took a step back in the win column in 2012. Before his two-year stint with the Owls, Addazio was an assistant at Florida from 2005-10. He also served as an assistant with Syracuse, Notre Dame and Indiana before coming to Gainesville, and was highly regarded for his work on the high school level in Connecticut from 1988-94. Addazio is a good recruiter and as a native of Connecticut, is a good fit in the Northeast. Boston College doesn’t have to be an ACC title contender in every season for Addazio to be successful. But the Eagles need to get back to contending for bowl games in the near future. Addazio looks like a good hire for Boston College, but the lack of head coaching experience and building a program keeps him from being ranked higher in the ACC coach rankings.
 

14. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse: 0-0 (First Season)

Doug Marrone left Syracuse’s football program in much better shape than what he inherited in 2009. When Marrone was hired as the head coach for the Buffalo Bills in early January, Syracuse decided to stay in house and promote Shafer to the top spot. Shafer has never been a head coach before, so there’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding his ability to lead a program. Combine the coaching change, the loss of some key personnel and the shift to the ACC from the Big East, and Syracuse is clearly a program in transition. However, promoting Shafer to replace Marrone makes a lot of sense for the Orange, especially since the timing of Marrone’s departure wasn’t ideal for hiring a new head coach. Shafer has served as an assistant in the college ranks since 1991, making stops at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Ilinois, Western Michigan, Stanford and Michigan. He has been a defensive coordinator for five different programs, including the last four years at Syracuse. Shafer was nominated for the 2006 Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant coach and his '10 defense at Syracuse ranked seventh nationally in yards allowed. Shafer was a popular hire among the players, but he still has much to prove as a head coach in 2013.
 

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
 

Related College Football Content

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College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

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College Football's Top Assistant Coach Hires for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Jobs for 2013

College Football's Top Transfers to Watch for 2013

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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the ACC's College Football Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 07:19
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-college-football-coaches-2013
Body:

Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how each conference stacks up with head coach rankings for 2013.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference. 

Ranking the Big 12's College Football Coaches for 2013

1. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Overall Record at Kansas State:
170-85-1 (1989-2005, 2009-present, 21 years)

Snyder doesn’t get the national credit like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, but there’s no denying he is one of the best coaches in college football. Prior to his arrival at Kansas State, the Wildcats had just one bowl appearance and recorded only one winning season from 1971-88. After Snyder’s arrival, Kansas State immediately went from a laughingstock to a consistent winner. The Wildcats won six games in Snyder’s first two seasons but recorded 10 years of nine victories or more from 1993-2003. Snyder retired after the 2005 season, but a failed three-year stint under Ron Prince brought him back to the sidelines. And just as Kansas State did in Snyder’s first stint, the program quickly emerged as a conference title contender and was in the mix to play for the national title last season. Snyder isn’t flashy, but his teams are always well-coached and prepared. As long as Snyder roams the sidelines in Manhattan, regardless of how many starters Kansas State loses, never count out the Wildcats from the Big 12 title discussion.
 

2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Overall Record: 149-37 (1999-present, 14 years)

Stoops has been the picture of consistency and success during his Oklahoma tenure. The Sooners have won at least 10 games in 11 of Stoops’ 14 seasons in Norman and claimed the national title after the 2000 season. Under his guidance, Oklahoma has emerged as a national powerhouse once again. The Sooners have claimed at least a share of the Big 12 title nine times under Stoops and have eight BCS bowl appearances. And after a 10-3 record in 2012, which would be considered a successful year for most programs, Stoops didn’t sit idle. Oklahoma will have three new assistant coaches for 2013, which should inject some fresh energy into the program. Even though some may criticize Stoops for his 1-5 record in the last six BCS bowls, the Ohio native is still one of the nation’s premier coaches.
 

3. Gary Patterson, TCU
Overall Record at TCU: 116-36 (2000-present, 13 years)

Since 2000, TCU has played in the WAC, Conference USA, Mountain West and Big 12. The one constant and driving force behind the conference changes and rise of TCU as one of college football’s top-25 programs of the BCS era: Gary Patterson. The Kansas native had no FBS head coaching experience when he was promoted at TCU in 2000 but has eight seasons of 10 or more wins, including a 13-0 mark in 2010. The Horned Frogs dominated the Mountain West from 2005-2011, losing only seven conference games during that stretch. Moving to the Big 12 is a step up in competition for TCU. But the program has a lucrative recruiting base, and Patterson is clearly one of the top-15 coaches in the nation. As long as the Horned Frogs continue to recruit well, competing in the Big 12 won’t be a problem.
 

4. Art Briles, Baylor 
Record at Baylor: 33-30 (2008-present)
Record at Houston: 34-28 (2003-07)
Overall Record: 67-58 (10 years) 

From 1997-2007, Baylor was one of the Big 12’s worst programs. The Bears compiled a 31-94 mark and did not record a bowl appearance during that stretch. Enter Art Briles. Since Briles’ arrival, the Bears have been much more competitive in the Big 12. Baylor has 25 victories over the last three seasons and has played in three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history. Briles’ success isn’t contained just to Baylor, as he took over Houston and went 34-28 in five years with the Cougars. Two different programs, two challenging and different reclamation efforts. Considering what Briles has done on the high school level, at Houston and now at Baylor, he’s easily one of college football’s top-20 coaches going into the 2013 season.   


5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Overall Record at Oklahoma State: 67-35 (2005-present, 8 years)

Even though Gundy ranks No. 5 in Athlon’s Big 12 coach rankings for 2013, there’s not much separating the former Oklahoma State quarterback from the rest of the coaches in the conference. And it’s also hard to find a coach in the nation that’s a better fit at their current program. Considering Gundy played at Oklahoma State and served as an assistant prior to being elevated to head coach, he’s the perfect leader for a program that has made significant gains over the last 10 years. After going 18-19 in his first three seasons, Gundy has led the Cowboys to five consecutive seasons of at least eight victories. Oklahoma State recorded a 23-3 mark from 2010-11, which included an outright Big 12 title in 2011 and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. Having a booster like T. Boone Pickens certainly doesn’t hurt Oklahoma State, especially when it comes to building new facilities. However, Gundy has elevated the Cowboys from battling just for bowl berths to conference titles in just a few seasons.   
 

6. Mack Brown, Texas
Record at Texas: 150-43 (1998-present)
Record at North Carolina: 69-46-1 (1988-97)
Record at Tulane: 11-23 (1985-87)
Record at Appalachian State: 6-5 (1983)
Overall Record: 236-117-1 (29 years)

Is 2013 a make-or-break year for Brown at Texas? It’s certainly a possibility. The Longhorns 11-15 mark in conference play over the last three years is unacceptable for one of college football’s premier programs. Brown transformed Texas into a national title contender, but it’s clear his best days as a head coach are probably behind him. Prior to coming to Austin, Brown worked as a head coach for one season at Appalachian State, three years at Tulane and for 10 years at North Carolina. In some regard, Brown is a victim of his own success at Texas. In his first 12 seasons in Austin, the Longhorns won at least nine games in every year and beat USC to win the 2005 national championship. However, since losing to Alabama in the 2009 BCS title, Texas hasn’t been the same program. The Longhorns have the talent to win the Big 12 title in 2013. If Texas fails to surpass its 2012 win total (nine), there will be plenty of calls for a coaching change in Austin.


7. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Overall Record at Iowa State: 24-27 (2009-present, 4 years)

Rhoads is the textbook example of why coaches shouldn’t always be judged just by the wins and losses on their resume. Iowa State is arguably the most difficult job in the Big 12 and one of the toughest from a BCS conference. So while Rhoads 24-27 record isn’t going to wow anyone, it’s impressive what he’s been able to do during his time in Ames. The Cyclones have played in three bowl games under Rhoads, with a victory in the 2009 Insight Bowl against Minnesota. Iowa State has won two in a row over rival Iowa and under Rhoads’ watch, the Cyclones have scored upset victories against Texas and Oklahoma State. As a native of Iowa, it would take a lot of Rhoads to leave Iowa State for another program. However, as long as the Cyclones in contention for a bowl every year, Rhoads’ name will keep coming up in coaching searches for top BCS programs. 
 

8. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia 
Overall Record at West Virginia: 17-9 (2011-present, 2 years)

Holgorsen is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football, but his two-year stint as West Virginia’s coach has been a mixed bag of results. In his first season, the Mountaineers went 10-3 and claimed the Big East title. West Virginia capped off the 2011 season in style, gashing Clemson for 70 points in a 70-33 Orange Bowl rout. And the Mountaineers managed to ride that momentum early in 2013, starting 5-0 with exciting shootout victories against Baylor and Texas. However, the season took a nosedive with a road trip to Lubbock. West Virginia lost five consecutive games, before rallying to win the final two regular season contests of 2012. The Mountaineers played in the Pinstripe Bowl but were dominated 38-14 by former Big East rival Syracuse. So after two seasons, it’s hard to judge just how effective Holgorsen is as a head coach. He proved his mettle as an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State and helped to guide West Virginia to an average of 502 yards per game last year. However, the Mountaineers’ defense was a disaster, and the talent level on both sides of the ball needs to be upgraded to win in the Big 12. Holgorsen still has much to prove, but the 2011 season showed he is capable of elevating the program. With the transition to a tougher conference, some patience will be required in Morgantown. 


9. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Overall Record at Texas Tech: 0-0 (First Season)

Kingsbury has been on a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and lands his first head coaching job at his alma mater. The San Antonio native had a prolific career as a starting quarterback under Mike Leach from 2000-02, finishing his career with just under 12,000 passing yards. Following his collegiate career in Lubbock, Kingsbury had a short professional stint, playing for five different teams in five seasons. Kingsbury joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Houston in 2008 and worked his way through the ranks, before becoming the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and guiding quarterback Case Keenum to nearly 20,000 career passing yards. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and produced a successful one-year stint as the offensive coordinator, which resulted in a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel). Kingsbury is young and unproven as a head coach, but he is the perfect fit at Texas Tech. For a program that never really embraced Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are in good hands with one of college football’s rising stars at head coach.


10. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 1-11 (2012-present)
Record at Notre Dame: 35-27 (2005-09)
Overall Record: 36-38 (6 years)

Weis was considered by most to be a bad hire at Kansas. So far, he’s done nothing to dispel those thoughts. Weis didn’t inherit the best roster, but the Jayhawks recorded only one victory last year and ranked near the bottom nationally in scoring offense and defense. If there was any bright spot, it was the fact Kansas was more competitive at times last year, and Weis is bringing in a handful of transfers and junior college prospects that should help this team. Prior to coming to Kansas, Weis had an extensive resume as an assistant coach, making stops in the NFL with the Patriots, Chiefs and Jets and one season as Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2011. While Weis was regarded for his work as an assistant, his five-year stint as Notre Dame’s head coach was a failure. He went 19-6 with two BCS bowls from 2005-06 but recorded a 16-21 mark in the final three seasons. Kansas could be more competitive in 2013, but Weis is not the answer to elevate the program into the Big 12 title contention.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big 12's College Football Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The start of the 2013 college football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about preseason predictions and some of the top games to watch in each conference.

The Pac-12 and the Big 12 are the only two conferences that play a nine-game schedule. In the Big 12, a nine-game slate works perfectly, as the conference has a round-robin format. In the Pac-12, things work a little differently. All 12 teams will play nine games, but some programs have to hit the road five times during conference play. While the unbalanced schedule creates some problems, playing more conference opponents is always a good thing.

Oregon and Stanford are the clear frontrunners to win the Pac-12 North title. But the South is expected to be a four-way battle between Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC. The Bruins have the inside track since they are the defending division champs. However, USC has a favorable schedule, and the Sun Devils are a team on the rise in Todd Graham’s second year.  

2013 Pac-12 Schedule Analysis

North Division

California

Aug. 31 Northwestern
Sept. 7 Portland State
Sept. 14 Ohio State
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at Oregon
Oct. 5 Washington State
Oct. 12 at UCLA
Oct. 19 Oregon State
Oct. 26 at Washington
Nov. 2 Arizona
Nov. 9 USC
Nov. 16 at Colorado
Nov. 23 at Stanford
Nov. 30 Bye Week

* Welcoming two Big Ten teams to town in the first three weeks wouldn’t normally instill fear in the Golden Bears. However, those two programs combined for 22 wins a season ago. And both expect to compete for a Big Ten title this year as well. This is an extremely difficult way to start a coaching tenure for Sonny Dykes.

* The first bye week is perfectly positioned, but the second is completed wasted. The first off week is positioned between two preseason top-five national title contenders (Ohio State and Oregon) and should give Cal time to lick its wounds and prepare for the Pac-12 opener. The second off weekend comes in the season finale, and unless Dykes miraculously leads his team to a North Division title, it will go to waste.

* The Bears will play all nine Pac-12 games on consecutive weekends with no rest. And other than possibly Washington State at home and a road trip to Colorado, it will face seven bowl teams from a year ago. With a tough non-conference slate, Dykes will need to pull a few stunners in league play, most likely at home, to reach the postseason. More on that…

* Cal will play five road conference games and four home tilts. And needless to say, it gets no favors on the road. Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Stanford all come away from home as well as Colorado. It puts more importance on home wins in swing games against Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona and USC. Having guaranteed losses on the road isn’t always a bad thing if it means a few upsets at home.

 

Oregon

Aug. 31 Nicholls State
Sept. 7 at Virginia
Sept. 14 Tennessee
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 California
Oct. 5 at Colorado
Oct. 12 at Washington
Oct. 19 Washington State
Oct. 26 UCLA
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Stanford
Nov. 16 Utah
Nov. 23 at Arizona
Nov. 29 Oregon State (Fri.)

* Throughout history, playing non-conference games against programs like Virginia and Tennessee would be considered marquee intersectional tilts - especially, all the way across the country in Charlottesville. However, both programs are achieving at all-time lows and neither should be able to compete with the Ducks.

* The crossover schedule from the South Division is extremely generous. Games against Utah and Colorado shouldn’t be tests and UCLA comes to Eugene. The Ducks should be heavily favored to sweep the South in those three this fall.

* The first off weekend comes following the non-conference slate and will give the Ducks a chance to breathe before beginning conference play in what should be a manageable early Pac-12 slate. A trip to Washington might be the only close game of the bunch before UCLA comes to town.

* The second off weekend is placed perfectly, following a tricky home game with UCLA and a huge road test at Stanford. The trip to Palo Alto might easily be the toughest game on the Ducks schedule this fall and getting two weeks to prepare will help in a big way. And it will come on primetime TV on a Thursday night. Count us in.

* Oregon should be on upset alert late in November in the desert. Weird things happen when teams visit Arizona late in the year, and Rich Rodriguez’ team will be much better in Week 13 than they will be in Week 4 or 5. A look ahead to rival Oregon State may only further the trap game theory against the Wildcats.

* Oregon will play five home Pac-12 games.



Oregon State

Aug. 31 Eastern Washington
Sept. 7 Hawaii
Sept. 14 at Utah
Sept. 21 at San Diego State
Sept. 28 Colorado
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 at Washington State
Oct. 19 at California
Oct. 26 Stanford
Nov. 1 USC (Fri.)
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Arizona State
Nov. 23 Washington
Nov. 29 at Oregon (Fri.)

* Mike Riley’s non-conference slate this year is very manageable. While Eastern Washington and San Diego State have won a lot of games in recent years, neither should be able to compete with the Beavers. A 3-0 mark out of the league is a must way to start for Riley (but more on that in a second).

* The beginning of Pac-12 play couldn’t be easier as crossover games with Colorado and Utah are also must-wins for Oregon State. Those two are penciled in as fifth and sixth in the South Division. Following the bye week, the Beavers get Washington State and Cal. This team could easily be 7-0 to start the year — and really must start that way  — if it wants to contend because…

* The second half of the season is absolutely brutal for Oregon State. Stanford, USC, at Arizona State, Washington and at Oregon is about as tough a five-game slate as there is in the league. The only comfort is the bye week situated before USC and the road trip South to Arizona State. A 2-3 mark in this span would be considered successful. Two of those (USC and Oregon) will take place on Friday night.

* Oregon State will play five road Pac-12 games.
 

Stanford

Aug. 31 Bye Week
Sept. 7 San Jose State
Sept. 14 at Army
Sept. 21 Arizona State
Sept. 28 at Washington State
Oct. 5 Washington
Oct. 12 at Utah
Oct. 19 UCLA
Oct. 26 at Oregon State
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 7 Oregon (Thur.)
Nov. 16 at USC
Nov. 23 Cal
Nov. 30 Notre Dame

* Not playing in the first weekend has to drive David Shaw nuts. Not only does it delay the hype of a season opener, but it wastes an opportunity to rest his team late in the year between games. The non-conference slate early in the season is perfect for Stanford to break-in his new lineup. Don’t expect Army or San Jose State should press the Cardinal.

* The first five Pac-12 games of the year are nicely positioned with the tougher ones —Arizona State, Washington and UCLA — all coming at home. If one or two of those are Pac-12 title game previews, the Cardinal are lucky they will come at home. Getting one of the South Division contenders Arizona State to start league play isn’t ideal but at least its in Palo Alto.

* While the first off weekend is horribly placed, the second bye is perfectly situated in the toughest three-game stretch of the schedule. Following a tough road trip to Oregon State, Stanford gets the extra week to prepare for the most important game of the year when Oregon comes to town on Thursday night. A trip South to USC one week later has Letdown Alert written all over it.

* Finishing the year with California and Notre Dame at home should be fun for Cardinal fans. The two biggest rivals of the year will cap a tough final month in which three out of four will take place at home.
 

Washington

Aug. 31 Boise State
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 at Illinois
Sept. 21 Idaho State
Sept. 28 Arizona
Oct. 5 at Stanford
Oct. 12 Oregon
Oct. 19 at Arizona State
Oct. 26 California
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 Colorado
Nov. 15 at UCLA (Fri.)
Nov. 23 at Oregon State
Nov. 29 Washington State (Fri.)

* The 2012 season ended with a tough but thrilling two-point loss to Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. These two will play back-to-back games as the Broncos come to town to open the season in must-see action involving the opening of new Husky Stadium.

* The first off weekend will allow Washington time to reflect on the tough first weekend and prepare for another tricky non-conference game across the country in the Big Ten against Illinois.

* Last year, Washington struggled through a nasty early season Pac-12 slate. The 2013 season won’t be any different. Arizona, at Stanford, Oregon and at Arizona State is as tough a four-game swing as there will be in the league and a 2-2 record would be considered excellent.

* While the early slate is tough, the close to the season is relatively easy. Games with California, Colorado and Washington State at home are must-wins. The off weekend will help as well. Road trips to UCLA and Oregon State are tough but winnable.

* Washington will get five home Pac-12 games this fall.
 

Washington State

Aug. 31 at Auburn
Sept. 7 at USC
Sept. 14 Southern Utah
Sept. 21 Idaho
Sept. 28 Stanford
Oct. 5 at California
Oct. 12 Oregon State
Oct. 19 at Oregon
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Oct. 31 Arizona State (Thur.)
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Arizona
Nov. 23 Utah
Nov. 29 at Washington (Fri.)

* While Auburn and USC underachieved in 2012, playing back-to-back road games against two of college football’s top programs is a tough way to start for anyone — much less an embattled coach entering his second, but very important season. At least, Southern Utah and Idaho offer some chances at success in the first month because the Pac-12 slate begins in brutal fashion.

* To start Pac-12 play, Wazzu will play the best three teams in the division and will have to visit Cal over a four-week span. A 1-3 mark to start league play would be positive for Mike Leach.

* The first bye week comes after eight consecutive game weekends including five brutal opponents. Having two weeks to prepare for one of the South Division’s top contenders in Arizona State might allow Leach to gameplan for the huge upset. Don’t be shocked if Wazzu plays well against the Sun Devils.

* The second bye week comes oddly after just the one game with Arizona State. But with winnable games in the final three weekend, it comes at a good time. Arizona, Utah and Washington are better teams but getting an extra week to prepare for the home stretch could bode well for Leach and Company.

* Washington State will play five road Pac-12 games.

 

South Division

Arizona

Aug. 30 Northern Arizona
Sept. 7 at UNLV
Sept. 14 UTSA
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at Washington
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 10 at USC
Oct. 19 Utah
Oct. 26 at Colorado
Nov. 2 at California
Nov. 9 UCLA
Nov. 16 Washington State
Nov. 23 Oregon
Nov. 30 at Arizona State

* With Arizona breaking in a new quarterback, the non-conference schedule is a perfect way to start the season. The Wildcats open with Northern Arizona, UNLV and UTSA, which should be three easy victories. And with Arizona heavily favored, it should allow coach Rich Rodriguez to work in a couple of quarterbacks to get snaps in game action.

* The first bye week of the season comes at a good time for Arizona. After playing three non-conference opponents, the Wildcats will have a chance to use the bye week to regroup and sort out the quarterback situation before playing at Washington. Arizona hasn’t had much success recently in Seattle, as it has lost its last two matchups on the road against the Huskies.

* While a bye week before Pac-12 play starts is ideal, Arizona’s second off date has some awful timing. The Wildcats won’t play on Oct. 5, which comes one week after their first bye. With eight Pac-12 games still ahead, the early bye weeks could hurt Arizona later in the season, especially if it suffers any significant injuries.

* Even though Arizona has to play Oregon, it has a favorable crossover schedule with games against Washington State, Washington and California. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies last season and California and Washington State are picked near the bottom of the conference.

* Arizona must play three of its first four conference games on the road, including a trip to USC. The Wildcats are just 1-4 in their last five games at USC.

* After playing most of their early Pac-12 games on the road, the Wildcats play three out of the final four at home. The November homestand should help Arizona close out the season on a high note, as it has winnable games against UCLA and Washington State.

* An interesting trend has developed in the Arizona-Arizona State rivalry in recent years. The Wildcats have won two in a row at Tempe but lost its last two matchups in Tucson? So does home cooking mean anything in this series? 2013 will be an interesting case study.


Arizona State

Aug. 31 Bye Week
Sept. 5 Sacramento State
Sept. 14 Wisconsin
Sept. 21 at Stanford
Sept. 28 USC
Oct. 5 Notre Dame (Arlington)
Oct. 12 Colorado
Oct. 19 Washington
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Oct. 31 at Washington State
Nov. 9 at Utah
Nov. 16 Oregon State
Nov. 23 at UCLA
Nov. 30 Arizona

* Although there are some other ill-timed byes in the Pac-12, Arizona State might earn the award for the worst with its opening week off date. The Sun Devils can use the extra week to prepare for early season games against Wisconsin, Stanford and USC, but an off date in the first week of the year certainly isn’t ideal for Todd Graham’s team.

* After an early bye week, Arizona State finally takes the field for its opener on Sept. 5 against Sacramento State. Playing the Hornets on Thursday night is a plus, especially since the Sun Devils welcome Wisconsin to Tempe on Sept. 14.

* Arizona State and Wisconsin will meet for only the fourth time on Sept. 14. The Sun Devils own a 2-1 edge, but the Badgers won the last meeting 20-19 in Madison in 2010. Arizona State’s run defense is a huge focus for Todd Graham and his defensive staff this spring, and playing a team like Wisconsin with two potential All-Big Ten backs should give the defense a gauge of where it stands heading into Pac-12 play.

* Arizona State opens Pac-12 play with two huge contests: at Stanford and USC. The Sun Devils have lost their last two matchups against the Cardinal, including a 33-14 defeat at Stanford in 2009.

* If Arizona State wants to win the South Division, it has to breakthrough against USC. The Sun Devils are just 1-12 in their last 13 games against the Trojans, with the last victory coming in 2011. Arizona State lost 38-17 at USC in 2012.

* While Arizona State catches Stanford in crossover play, the rest of its games with the North are favorable. The Sun Devils host Oregon State and Washington, along with a road date against Washington State in crossover play – three games they should be favored to win.

* Could the Nov. 23 showdown between Arizona State and UCLA decide the South Division champ? The Bruins have won back-to-back division titles, but the Sun Devils weren’t too far behind last season. Arizona State has lost three out of its last four games to UCLA. However, the last two losses in the series have come by a combined three points.

* Here’s an interesting stat to consider in the Arizona-Arizona State rivalry: The home team has not won since 2008. The Sun Devils won 41-34 in Tucson last season. 


Colorado

Aug. 31 Colorado State (Denver)
Sept. 7 Central Arkansas
Sept. 14 Fresno State
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at Oregon State
Oct. 5 Oregon
Oct. 12 at Arizona State
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 Arizona
Nov. 2 at UCLA
Nov. 9 at Washington
Nov. 16 California
Nov. 23 USC
Nov. 30 at Utah

* Mike MacIntyre should be a good fit at Colorado, but the Buffaloes could have a hard time finding victories in 2013. Since there are few guaranteed wins, getting the season started off with a victory against Colorado State is a must. The Buffaloes have won two out of the last three against their in-state rival. But the Rams won 22-17 last season.

* Central Arkansas is one of the few breaks on the schedule, but Fresno State in Week 3 is no easy matchup for Colorado. The Bulldogs destroyed the Buffaloes 69-14 last season and should be a heavy favorite in this matchup.

* The first bye week of the season comes at a good time for Colorado. After getting non-conference play finished, MacIntyre and his staff will have an opportunity to evaluate his team before opening Pac-12 action at Oregon State.

* The Sept. 28 meeting visit at Oregon State will be Colorado’s first trip to Corvallis. The Buffaloes and Beavers have not played since 1988 and interestingly enough, no matchup has taken place in Corvallis.

* While the Buffaloes will be better in 2013, they are likely to be a double-digit underdog in most of their Pac-12 games. So where are the opportunities to earn a victory? How about Nov. 16 against a rebuilding California team? Or Nov. 30 on the road at Utah? Again, opportunities are limited for Colorado. But it should be more competitive than it was last season in conference games.
 

UCLA

Aug. 31 Nevada
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 at Nebraska
Sept. 21 New Mexico State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 3 at Utah
Oct. 12 California
Oct. 19 at Stanford
Oct. 26 at Oregon
Nov. 2 Colorado
Nov. 9 at Arizona
Nov. 15 Washington
Nov. 23 Arizona State
Nov. 30 at USC

* The defending Pac-12 South champions open the year with a wildcard matchup. Chris Ault retired at Nevada at the end of last season, and the school hired Texas A&M assistant Brian Polian as its new head coach. While the Wolf Pack return quarterback Cody Fajardo and some solid pieces on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to know what to expect with a new coaching staff.

* After a bye in the second week of the season, UCLA hits the road for the final time in non-conference play to take on Nebraska. The Bruins won 36-30 in Pasadena last season, and the overall series between these two teams is separated by just one contest (5-6). However, UCLA has lost its last four trips to Lincoln. With two explosive offenses, expect plenty of points when these two teams meet on Sept. 14.

* With both of their bye weeks before October, UCLA will have to navigate a difficult conference slate with no off date until after the Nov. 30 game against USC. And that’s assuming the Bruins don’t win the division and play in the conference title game.

* UCLA’s first two games of conference play should be victories – at Utah and California – but after is where the competition kicks up a notch. The Bruins have arguably the toughest crossover schedule in the South Division, playing at Stanford and Oregon, while hosting Washington. If there’s a reason to pick against UCLA to repeat as Pac-12 South champions, the schedule might be the biggest obstacle.

* UCLA has lost its last four matchups against Oregon. The Ducks won 60-13 in Eugene during the last regular season game between these two schools.

* UCLA has lost five in a row to in-state rival Stanford. The last victory for the Bruins on the Farm was on Sept. 1, 2007.

* Regardless of what happens in the crossover games against Oregon and Stanford, UCLA’s division title hopes could rest on a November stretch that starts with a road trip to Arizona on Nov. 9, then a home date against Washington, which is followed by a home matchup against Arizona State and a short trip across town to play USC on Nov. 30. Even if the Bruins lose to Oregon and Stanford, they can likely win the division by beating both Arizona State and USC.
 

USC

Aug. 29 at Hawaii
Sept. 7 Washington State
Sept. 14 Boston College
Sept. 21 Utah State
Sept. 28 at Arizona State
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 10 Arizona
Oct. 19 at Notre Dame
Oct. 26 Utah
Nov. 1 at Oregon State
Nov. 9 at California
Nov. 16 Stanford
Nov. 23 at Colorado
Nov. 30 UCLA

* Due to a road trip against Hawaii to open the season, USC will play 13 games in 2013. With the team still on scholarship limitations, is the extra game a bad thing? It’s hard to say, but USC shouldn’t have much trouble with Hawaii or Boston College in non-conference action. Assuming USC doesn’t suffer a rash of injuries before the heart of Pac-12 play, it shouldn’t hurt too much by playing an extra game.

* Outside of the road trip to Notre Dame, USC’s toughest non-conference game will be against Utah State. The Aggies went 11-2 last year and return much of their core, including quarterback Chuckie Keeton.

* Although Washington State should be improved, the Trojans should get a good barometer test of where they stack up in the Pac-12 with a Sept. 28 game at Arizona State. The Sun Devils handled USC 43-22 in Tempe in 2011 but lost 38-17 to the Trojans last year. Arizona State and UCLA are the early favorites to win the South Division. But if USC can go on the road and win, the Trojans can throw their hat into the conversation as well.

* The first bye week of the season comes at a perfect time for USC. With a key South Division game against Arizona on Oct. 10, along with the annual matchup with Notre Dame, the off date is a good chance for the Trojans to regroup.

* USC has won five matchups in a row at Notre Dame. Interestingly enough, the Fighting Irish have won the last two in Los Angeles. Notre Dame should be favored, but the Trojans played the Fighting Irish tough last season, despite losing quarterback Matt Barkley to a shoulder injury the week before against UCLA.

* The Trojans have a favorable crossover schedule with the North Division. Most importantly, USC does not play Oregon. The Trojans host Stanford and play on the road at Oregon State, but they also miss Washington. For a team that underachieved last season, USC has the schedule to make a quick rebound in the conference standings.

* Will USC establish control in the rivalry with UCLA once again? The Bruins snapped a five-game losing streak to the Trojans last year. However, USC has won seven in a row at home.


Utah

Aug. 29 Utah State
Sept. 7 Weber State
Sept. 14 Oregon State
Sept. 21 at BYU
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 3 UCLA
Oct. 12 Stanford
Oct. 19 at Arizona
Oct. 26 at USC
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 Arizona State
Nov. 16 at Oregon
Nov. 23 at Washington State
Nov. 30 Colorado

* Utah opens its 2013 campaign with back-to-back games against in-state foes. The first matchup is against Utah State, a team breaking in a new coach in Matt Wells. However, the bigger storyline in this game should be revenge. The Aggies snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Utes last year, and with a challenging Pac-12 slate ahead, Utah needs this game to get bowl eligible.

* With only nine returning starters, the Sept. 14 game against Oregon State should give Utah a good barometer test of where it stands in relation to the rest of the Pac-12. The Beavers won nine games last season and are expected to be picked in the top four of the Pac-12 North. Are the Utes going in the right direction? We should have a better idea after the Sept. 14 game against Oregon State.

* Can Utah continue its recent run of success against BYU? The Utes have won four out of the last five meetings, including a 54-10 blowout victory in Provo. Expect the Cougars to have revenge on their mind this season.

* The first bye week comes at a good time for Utah, as the upcoming stretch against UCLA, Stanford, Arizona and USC will be challenging. And considering the schedule, it’s very possible Utah enters November with a 2-6 record.

* In 2013, Utah will play Stanford for the first time since 1996. The Cardinal won the last meeting on Sept. 7, 1996, but these two programs have met only five teams in school history.

* This will be the first meeting between Utah and Oregon as Pac-12 foes. The Utes and Ducks last met 2009 in Eugene but have played 26 times in school history.

* Wins in Pac-12 play are difficult to find for Utah, and the season finale against Colorado could be the only guaranteed victory. The Utes lost to the Buffaloes in Salt Lake City in 2011 but defeated Colorado 42-35 in Boulder last year. 

 

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


Related College Football Content

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 07:22
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-assistant-coach-hires-2013
Body:

Barring any late movement, college football’s coaching carousel for 2013 has ended.

As with any offseason, there were plenty of changes nationally. Over 100 coordinator jobs have changed hands from 2012 and there were numerous moves among the assistant ranks.

It’s too early to tell which hire is the best but give Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and NC State’s Dave Doeren credit for building excellent staffs at their new jobs.

Another name to watch is Don Brown, moving from Connecticut to Boston College. He helped to coordinate a top-10 defense in Storrs last season and should be a huge asset to a program that has dropped off in recent years.

Which coaching hires will have the most impact for 2013? Keep an eye on these names:

College Football's Top Coordinator Hires for 2013

Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator, Wisconsin
Aranda has been on a fast track through the coaching ranks since serving as a co-defensive coordinator at Delta State in 2007. The California native joined the Hawaii coaching staff as a defensive line coach in 2008 and served in that capacity until the start of the 2010 season when he was promoted to coordinator. In Aranda’s first season as a coordinator, the Warriors led the nation in forced turnovers (38) and scored five defensive touchdowns. In 2011, Hawaii was once again one of the top defenses in the WAC, recording 35 sacks and finishing third in the conference against the run. Aranda joined Utah State for one season and led the Aggies a finish of 14th nationally in yards allowed and seventh in points allowed. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen will help mold the defense, but Aranda is clearly a coordinator on the rise after his stints at Utah State and Hawaii.

Related Content: 2013 Wisconsin Spring Preview
 

Chris Ash, Defensive Coordinator, Arkansas
Ash followed Bret Bielema from Wisconsin to Arkansas and will coordinate the Razorbacks’ defense in 2013. In two years as a coordinator in Madison, the Badgers ranked 15th nationally in total defense in back-to-back seasons. Before coming to Wisconsin, Ash worked at Iowa State from 2002-06 and made a short stop at San Diego State (2007-08), before coming back to Ames in 2009. Ash is considered a good secondary coach, which should help Arkansas improve a pass defense that ranked 113th nationally in 2012.

Related Content: SEC's All-Underrated Spring Team
 

Mike Bajakian, Offensive Coordinator, Tennessee
Bajakian has quietly developed into one of the nation’s most underrated coordinators. The New Jersey native has followed Butch Jones at each of his coaching stops, starting with Central Michigan in 2007. Under Bajakian’s watch, the Chippewas were one of the MAC’s top offenses, as he helped tutor record-setting quarterback Dan LeFevour. After three seasons in Mount Pleasant, Bajakian joined Jones for three years in Cincinnati, and the Bearcats finished first or second in scoring in the Big East during his tenure. Tennessee’s offense is in need of repair after quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson left for the NFL. The competition is tougher in the SEC, but Bajakian should ease the transition at quarterback and with the new receiving corps.

Related Content: 2013 Tennessee Volunteers Spring Preview


Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator, Boston College
New Boston College coach Steve Addazio seems to be a good fit in Chestnut Hill, and he made one of the top moves of the offseason by hiring Brown from Connecticut. The Massachusetts native has a wealth of experience in the Northeast, including stops at Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, UMass, Northeastern and Maryland. Brown is known as an aggressive coordinator, and he guided the Huskies to a top-10 finish nationally in fewest yards allowed in 2012. Boston College doesn’t have as much talent as Connecticut had on defense in 2012, but the Eagles should improve under Brown’s watch in 2013.


Neal Brown, Offensive Coordinator, Kentucky
Kentucky is one of the toughest jobs in the SEC, but new coach Mark Stoops has pieced together an excellent coaching staff to turn things around in Lexington. Brown is a perfect fit to direct the Wildcats’ offense, as he played for Kentucky from 1998-2000 and is a native of Danville. Brown has five years of coordinator experience, including the last three at Texas Tech. During his tenure in Lubbock, the Red Raiders averaged 475.7 yards and 34.8 points a game. Life in the SEC will be tougher, but Brown is going to improve Kentucky’s offense.
 

Matt Canada, Offensive Coordinator, NC State
Canada is on his third job in three years and reunites with Dave Doeren after one season at Wisconsin. He started his career as a grad assistant at Indiana and worked his way up the ranks to coordinate Northern Illinois’ offense in 2003. After one season as the Huskies’ coordinator, Canada left for Indiana and stayed in Bloomington until 2010, when he joined Doeren at Northern Illinois. In 2011, the Huskies averaged 38.3 points a game, and under Canada’s direction in 2012, Wisconsin averaged 393.3 yards per game and ranked 13th nationally in rush offense. Canada needs to develop a quarterback, but his track record suggests NC State should make a smooth transition to its new offense for 2013.
 

Jim Chaney, Offensive Coordinator, Arkansas
After Derek Dooley was canned at Tennessee, Chaney didn’t have to look far for his next job. The Missouri native stays in the SEC, moving from Knoxville to Fayetteville to coordinate the offense for Bret Bielema. Chaney joined Tennessee in 2009 after a three-year stint in the NFL, leading the Volunteers to an average of 475.9 yards per game in 2012. In addition to his successful stint with Tennessee, Chaney helped tutor Drew Brees at Purdue and also spent time in the NFL as an assistant with the Rams. Bielema was a run-first coach at Wisconsin, and it’s likely Arkansas will keep a similar offensive approach. However, Chaney’s background on offense allows the Razorbacks to implement some spread principles to blend with a pro-style attack.


Bill Cubit, Offensive Coordinator, Illinois
The Fighting Illini’s offense was a disaster last season, ranking 119th nationally with 296.7 yards per game. Coach Tim Beckman canned co-coordinators Chris Beatty and Billy Gonzales, which opened the door for Cubit to come to Champaign. The Pennsylvania native was Western Michigan’s head coach from 2005-12 and made stops as an offensive coordinator at Missouri, Rutgers and Stanford. The Fighting Illini’s offense has a lot of question marks, but Cubit’s veteran presence should help this unit escape the Big Ten’s cellar in 2013.


D.J. Durkin, Defensive Coordinator, Florida
Durkin isn’t a name known to most college football fans, but he is highly regarded among coaches around the nation. He started his career at Bowling Green as a graduate assistant in 2001 and served in a similar role at Notre Dame from 2003-04. He returned to Bowling Green as a defensive assistant in 2005-06 and was hired at Stanford by Jim Harbaugh in 2007. After three years with the Cardinal, Durkin joined Urban Meyer at Florida in 2010 and remained on staff after Will Muschamp was hired. Durkin won’t have to coordinate the defense alone, as Muschamp will have a large say in the game plan. But the Ohio native’s quick rise through the coaching ranks shows just how much confidence Muschamp has in him to lead the defense.

Related Content: 2013 Florida Gators Spring Preview
 

D.J. Eliot, Defensive Coordinator, Kentucky
Eliot was Mark Stoops’ right-hand man at Florida State, as he helped to develop some of the Seminoles’ defensive linemen into NFL talent. Eliot has paid his dues in the coaching ranks, spending time as an assistant at Wyoming, Houston, Miami, Texas State, Tulsa and Rice. This will be Eliot’s first time holding the defensive coordinator title, and Stoops will likely have a large role in the defense each week. However, Eliot is a rising star in the coaching ranks and should help Kentucky’s defensive line develop into an SEC-ready unit in 2013. 
 

Steve Fairchild, Offensive Coordinator, Virginia
Virginia’s staff got a major overhaul in the offseason, as Mike London hired former NC State coach Tom O’Brien as an assistant, Jon Tenuta replaced Jim Reid as defensive coordinator, and Fairchild was hired after Bill Lazor left for the NFL. Fairchild has a solid resume, spending time as an assistant with San Diego State, New Mexico and Colorado State, before spending seven years in the NFL with the Bills and Rams. He also served as Colorado State’s head coach from 2008-11. Fairchild isn’t going to turn Virginia’s offense into the ACC’s most-prolific unit, but his experience in the NFL should help the Cavaliers find a spark in 2013.
 

Tony Franklin, Offensive Coordinator, California
Franklin is highly regarded for his work with spread offenses and has been successful at most of his stops, with the exception of a failed stint at Auburn. The Kentucky native spent the last three years working under Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech and is following Dykes to California. In a wide-open conference like the Pac-12, Franklin’s spread offense should have no trouble getting on track. Give Dykes and Franklin some time and the Bear Raid offense should rank near the top of the Pac-12.
 

Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon
The playcalling duties in Eugene will fall on the shoulders of new coach Mark Helfrich, but Frost was promoted to offensive coordinator after Chip Kelly’s departure. The former Nebraska quarterback is a rising star in the coaching ranks and could have a shot to run his own program in the near future.


Dave Huxtable, Defensive Coordinator, NC State
Huxtable is another well-traveled assistant to make this list of top coordinator hires for 2013. The Illinois native made stops as a coordinator at Georgia Tech, North Carolina and UCF, before joining Bret Bielema’s staff at Wisconsin in 2011. After one year with the Badgers, he followed Paul Chryst to Pittsburgh and led a Panther defense that allowed just 21.1 points a game in 2012. Huxtable’s job won’t be easy in 2013, especially since NC State has to rebuild its linebacking corps and secondary this offseason. However, this looks like a good hire for new coach Dave Doeren.
 

Jeff Jagodzinski, Offensive Coordinator, Georgia State
Remember him? Jagodzinski has been nearly invisible since he was fired from Boston College for interviewing for an NFL job in 2008. After the bizarre end to his tenure at Chestnut Hill, Jagodzinski served as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator but was fired before the first game and worked for one year as the head coach for the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks. He also spent 2012 working as the wide receivers coach at Ave Maria University. Jagodzinski is a proven coach and has an NFL background. This is a hire that should pay big dividends for FBS newcomer Georgia State.
 

Ellis Johnson, Defensive Coordinator, Auburn
As evidenced by his horrendous 0-12 record at Southern Miss last season, Johnson just isn’t cut out to be a head coach. However, the 61-year-old coach is one of the offseason’s top assistant hires, as Gus Malzahn brings the veteran coordinator aboard to coordinate the Tigers’ defense. Johnson is no stranger to life in the SEC, as he coached at Alabama from 1990-93 and then again from 1997-2000. He coordinated the defense at Mississippi State from 2004-07 and at South Carolina from 2008-2011. Johnson should help improve an Auburn defense that allowed 420.5 yards and 28.3 points a game last season.
 

Brian Lindgren, Offensive Coordinator, Colorado
At 32 years old, Lindgren is a name to watch in future head coaching searches. He started his coaching career at the University of Redlands in 2005 and moved to Northern Arizona in 2006. Lindgren spent six seasons with the Lumberjacks, before joining Mike MacIntyre at San Jose State in 2012. The Spartans averaged 34.7 points and 446.2 yards per game with Lindgren at the controls last year. Expect Colorado to show marked improvement on offense this year, which only figures to raise Lindgren’s profile even more going into the offseason.
 

Clancy Pendergast, Defensive Coordinator, USC
Pendergast should be an improvement over Monte Kiffin, who never seemed to figure out an answer for slowing down spread offenses. In two out of his three seasons coordinating the California defense, the Golden Bears ranked No. 1 in fewest yards allowed. Pendergast is changing USC’s scheme, which has been referred to as a 5-2 scheme in spring reports. With the returning talent, the Trojans should have one of the most-improved defenses in the nation.
 

Jeremy Pruitt, Defensive Coordinator, Florida State
Pruitt is an interesting choice to replace Mark Stoops as the Seminoles' defensive mastermind. The Alabama native has only been an assistant on the FBS level since 2010 and served under Nick Saban as a secondary coach. While his resume is thin on collegiate experience, Pruitt did work at prep powerhouse Hoover High School in Alabama for three years, including the final two seasons as defensive coordinator. Pruitt doesn’t have much experience, but he is regarded as an excellent recruiter and learned from one of the best at Alabama.

Related Content: 2013 Florida State Spring Preview
 

Mike Smith/Matt Wallerstedt, Co-Defensive Coordinators, Texas Tech
The Smith-Wallerstedt combination should work out well for Texas Tech’s defense. The Red Raiders showed improvement on that side of the ball last year and return eight starters for 2013. Smith joins his alma mater after working as an assistant with the Jets, while Wallerstedt comes to Lubbock after one season with Texas A&M. Wallerstedt also has experience as a defensive coordinator from 2010-11 at Air Force and during the 2000-02 seasons at Wyoming. With Smith’s NFL background and Wallerstedt’s experience in defending spread offenses from the Mountain West, this pairing should continue to get Texas Tech’s defense moving in the right direction.
 

Jon Tenuta, Defensive Coordinator, Virginia
Tenuta is a well-traveled assistant and is returning to his alma mater after a three-year stint at NC State. He is no stranger to the ACC, as he also has stops at Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia Tech on his resume. Under Tenuta’s watch in 2012, the Wolfpack recorded 2.5 sacks a game and forced 24 turnovers in 13 games. He is known for his aggressiveness, which should help a Virginia defense that managed only 1.4 sacks a game and forced 12 turnovers in 2012.
 

Mike Yurcich, Offensive Coordinator, Oklahoma State
Yurcich was an off-the-radar hire by Mike Gundy, but all signs point to this being a home-run pick. The Ohio native has spent only one season on the FBS level (graduate assistant at Indiana), but he was a successful coordinator at Shippensburg, coordinating an offense that averaged 529.2 yards per game in 2012. Yurcich won’t be asked to make many changes, as Oklahoma State plans on keeping the same offense that Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken have built over the last few years. Even though his experience on the FBS level is virtually nothing, Yurcich’s performance on the lower levels suggest Oklahoma State’s offense won’t miss a beat.

Related Content: 2013 Oklahoma State Spring Preview

 

Six Wait and See Hires for 2013

Cam Cameron, Offensive Coordinator, LSU
Is Cameron the answer for LSU’s sluggish offense? The veteran NFL assistant has to help the Tigers’ passing attack, which has lacked in recent years. Cameron was fired from the Ravens after Week 14 of the 2013 NFL season and has not coached in college since 2001.

Related Content: 2013 LSU Tigers Spring Preview
 

James Coley, Offensive Coordinator, Miami
Coley is regarded as an excellent recruiter in South Florida but lacks experience as a playcaller. Although Coley held the offensive coordinator designation at Florida State, Jimbo Fisher called the plays for the Seminoles. Coley served as FIU’s playcaller in 2007 – a season in which the Golden Panthers averaged 15.1 points a game.
 

Dennis Erickson, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Utah
Erickson was brought in to tutor Utah offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, but he will also have the final say on the headsets in 2013. Erickson was out of coaching in 2012, after spending 2007-11 as the head coach at Arizona State. Having a veteran presence like Erickson will help, but Utah has a young quarterback and must replace running back John White.
 

Scot Loeffler, Offensive Coordinator, Virginia Tech
Loeffler was not impressive during his one-year stint at Auburn, as the Tigers ranked 115th nationally in total offense. However, he was regarded for his work at Michigan from 2002-07 and spent one year in the NFL with the Lions. Loeffler is tasked with getting Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas back on track.
 

Ron Prince, Offensive Coordinator, Rutgers
Prince had a mediocre 17-20 stint as Kansas State’s head coach from 2006-08. Since then, he’s served as an assistant in the NFL and worked for one year as Virginia’s special teams coach in 2009. From 2003-05, Prince was the Cavaliers’ offensive coordinator under Al Groh, and he directed an attack that averaged at least 26 points a game each year during that span.
 

Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator, Georgia Tech
Roof returns to his alma mater looking to turn around a defense that has struggled to improve in recent years. However, he has a shaky resume, as his defenses at Auburn were nothing special, and his one season at Minnesota resulted in a defense that ranked 10th in the Big Ten in yards allowed. While Roof’s defenses have turned in some suspect performances, he did coordinate a Penn State defense that ranked second in the Big Ten in fewest points allowed in 2012.


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Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top Assistant Coach Hires for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-players-rise-2013
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With spring practice underway for most college football teams, the countdown to the 2013 season has officially started. With preseason predictions right around the corner, it’s never too early to start thinking about which players might be the next breakout stars. 

As with every college football season, a handful of players will emerge from being a virtual unknown in August to a household name in January. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel is a perfect example from last year. He wasn't guaranteed to be the starter after spring practice but won the starting job and had one of the most prolific seasons by a quarterback in SEC history. Could there be another year by a quarterback that results in a Heisman? It's unlikely, but it can happen.

Looking for college football's next breakout star at quarterback? Look no further than Lubbock, Texas. With Seth Doege expiring his eligibility, Michael Brewer is set to take control of new coach Kliff Kingsbury's high-powered offense. Considering what Kingsbury did with Manziel at Texas A&M, Brewer could have a monster statistical season in his first year as the starter. 

College Football's Top 10 Players on the Rise for 2013

1. Michael Brewer, QB, Texas Tech
With Kliff Kingsbury returning to Lubbock, the Red Raiders will be one of college football’s most intriguing teams in 2013. The former Texas Tech quarterback coordinated one of the nation’s top offenses in 2012 at Texas A&M and helped to engineer a similar attack at Houston with record-setting quarterback Case Keenum. With Seth Doege expiring his eligibility, Brewer is expected to become Texas Tech’s next prolific quarterback. As a backup to Doege in 2012, he threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns on 48 attempts. And the sophomore has been well-versed in spread offenses, playing under Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris when he was the head coach at Lake Travis (Texas) High School. Even though the Red Raiders lose Doege and receiver Darrin Moore, Brewer’s emergence and Kingsbury’s offense should keep Texas Tech in the hunt to match last season’s win total (eight).


2. Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
The Bulldogs are a slight favorite over South Carolina to represent the East in Atlanta, but winning a third consecutive division championship will rest on a revamped defense. Only three starters return for Todd Grantham’s defense in 2013, and each level of the unit suffered some heavy losses. Defensive lineman John Jenkins and three starters in the secondary won’t be easy to replace, but the linebacking corps was hit hardest by departures, as both Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones chose to enter the NFL Draft. Losing Ogletree and Jones certainly stings, but Georgia has to be excited about Jenkins and the promise he showed last season. In 14 games as a true freshman, he recorded 31 tackles and five sacks, while forcing one fumble. If Jenkins can maintain Georgia’s pass rush off of the edge, the defense may not be in as bad of shape as some may have believed this offseason.

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3. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Gardner is a familiar name to most in the Big Ten, but he is poised to be a household name by the end of 2013. In three seasons in Ann Arbor, Gardner has thrown for 1,480 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also rushing for 175 yards and catching 17 passes for 268 yards. With Denard Robinson entrenched as the starter going into 2012, the Detroit native was slated to play receiver. However, Gardner shifted back to quarterback once Robinson suffered an elbow injury and started four out of the final five games under center. The junior had a strong showing in the last weeks of the season, throwing for 314 yards and recording six overall touchdowns in a 42-17 win over Iowa. Gardner completed 18 of 36 throws for 214 yards and three scores against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and never threw more than one interception during his five-game stint at quarterback. Michigan will miss Robinson’s playmaking ability, but Gardner is plenty capable of leading the Wolverines to a Legends Division title. With left tackle Taylor Lewan returning to Ann Arbor, along with the arrival of touted true freshman running back Derrick Green, there figures to be plenty of help for Gardner in his first full season as the starter.

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4. Noah Spence, DE, Ohio State
If there’s one area that will keep coach Urban Meyer and co-defensive coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers awake at night – it’s the defense. The Buckeyes return only four starters on that side of the ball and must replace four key players from the defensive line. Thanks to Meyer’s relentless recruiting efforts, talent isn’t an issue with the new defensive linemen. Spence was one of the most sought-after defenders in last year’s class, ranking No. 4 in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100. In 11 games as a true freshman, the Pennsylvania native recorded 12 tackles and one sack. As with any first-year starter, expect a few ups and downs. However, Spence and fellow sophomore Adolphus Washington also will wreck havoc on opposing offensive lines.

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5. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
No matter what season it is, LSU always seems to have an All-SEC-caliber defensive lineman ready to step up to replace a departing senior or early entrant into the NFL. This year is no different, as Johnson is expected to ease the blow from losing Bennie Logan and Josh Downs. As a sophomore in 2012, Johnson recorded 30 tackles and 10 tackles for a loss. He also registered three sacks and two quarterback hurries. With LSU losing six key linemen from last season, it’s up to Johnson to keep the Tigers’ defensive line among the best in the SEC.

Related Content: 2013 LSU Tigers Spring Preview


6. Rushel Shell, RB, Pittsburgh
With Ray Graham coming back from a torn ACL last season, the Panthers expected and needed a big contribution from Shell. And considering he ranked as the No. 5 running back in the 2012 signing class, it was no surprise Shell was one of the Big East’s top freshmen last year. In 12 games, the Pennsylvania native recorded 641 yards and four scores, while catching nine passes for 103 yards. Shell’s best game came against Virginia Tech, posting 157 yards on 23 attempts. With Graham expiring his eligibility, the job is Shell’s to lose for 2013. The sophomore will be running behind an offensive line that returns three starters but loses All-Big East center Ryan Turnley and guard Chris Jacobson. Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst molded some of the nation’s top rushing attacks at Wisconsin, and with Shell leading the way in 2013, look for the Panthers to feature a ground and pound approach.

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7. Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
With the departure of three of the nation’s best blockers and a new coach, the line is a major area of focus for Nick Saban this spring. Considering the recruiting classes Saban has been able to reel in, there’s no shortage of talent waiting to step into the starting lineup. However, the Crimson Tide has to get all five starters on the same page, along with developing depth in case of injury to one of the new linemen. Kelly is expected to replace Barrett Jones at center this year, and the Ohio native has big shoes to fill. Not only was Jones an excellent player, but he also played a key role in terms of leadership on the offensive side. Kelly was impressive in a backup role last year, as he recorded playing time in 10 games. There will be a drop off from Jones to Kelly. However, if Kelly’s performance last season was any indication, the Crimson Tide’s offensive line isn’t going to take too much of a step back in 2013.

Related Content: 2013 Alabama Spring Preview
 

8. Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State
With the departure of ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine, along with tackles Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud, there will be a lot of new faces on Florida State’s defensive line in 2013. The Seminoles have recruited well, so there is talent waiting in the wings. Edwards is the most likely candidate to emerge as a star in 2013, as he was the No. 2 overall recruit in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100 and played in 11 games and recorded 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a true freshman last year. With another offseason to work in the weight room and learn from new defensive coaches Jeremy Pruitt and Sal Sunseri, Edwards is poised to have a breakout season and challenge for All-ACC honors.

Related Content: 2013 Florida State Seminoles Spring Preview
 

9. Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Despite being a potential dynamic playmaker for California and posting an eye-popping 9.8 yards per carry, Bigelow was limited to just 44 rushing attempts and seven receptions last year. The Fresno native did play a key role on special teams, averaging 23 yards per kickoff return in 2012. With a new coaching staff taking over in Berkeley, along with C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele expiring their eligibility, Bigelow will get an opportunity to secure the No. 1 spot in the backfield this preseason. New coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin built an offense at Louisiana Tech that averaged 227.2 rushing yards and 51.5 points per game in 2012, and both coaches should better utilize Bigelow’s talents. The junior will likely miss spring practice due to knee surgery, but if he’s healthy this fall, Bigelow is due for a breakout season.


10. Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma
While it’s unfair to compare Bell to Tim Tebow, he is following a similar career path to the former Heisman Trophy winner. Tebow was used mostly as a running threat during his first year, which is the same role Bell has fulfilled for Oklahoma in the last two years. After spending the last two seasons as a change of pace player, Bell will make the transition to starting quarterback this spring. The junior has recorded 372 rushing yards and 24 scores on 104 career carries but has only thrown 20 passes. Bell isn’t guaranteed the starting job, as Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight will get a chance to push him for the No. 1 spot in the spring. If Bell shows he can move the offense through the air, his dual-threat ability would provide a different dimension for Oklahoma’s offense, which ranked fifth in the Big 12 last season with an average of 38.2 points a game.

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Post date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 09:35
Path: /college-football/big-ten-football-2013-schedule-analysis
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The start of the 2013 college football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about preseason predictions and some of the top games to watch in each conference.

Scheduling has been a hot topic in the Big Ten recently, as the conference is expected to move to a nine-game slate in the future. Maryland and Rutgers are slated to join the Big Ten in 2014, and an increased conference schedule is coming (likely) in 2016.

But for 2013, the Big Ten is at 12 teams and the usual eight-game slate. Ohio State is a heavy favorite to win the conference title, but Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Michigan State could all be top-25 teams in most preseason polls.

Athlon continues its spring coverage with Big Ten schedule analysis for 2013:

Leaders Division

Illinois

Aug. 31 Southern Illinois
Sept. 7 Cincinnati
Sept. 14 Washington
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 5 at Nebraska
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Wisconsin
Oct. 26 Michigan State
Nov. 2 at Penn State
Nov. 9 at Indiana
Nov. 16 Ohio State
Nov. 23 at Purdue
Nov. 30 Northwestern

* While all four non-conference games will be at home for Illinois, three of the four won’t be easy. Cincinnati and Washington might both be favored over the struggling Illini while Miami (Ohio) is always a tricky out for Big Ten teams. Two non-conference losses to start the year could doom Tim Beckman’s second year.

* Big Ten play starts for Illinois with arguably four of the top six teams in the league. The consistency of powerhouse divisional rivals like Wisconsin and Penn State is what Illinois aspires to and these two outscored the Illini 66-21 a year ago. Playing Michigan State and Nebraska (as well as Northwestern) in crossover play is about as brutal as it gets.

* Illinois will play six of its first seven games at home and three of its last five on the road.

* Despite a home game with Ohio State mixed in, the final month of the season is where Beckman’s team can make some headway. Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern could be competitive games and will be huge barometer tests for a coach finishing his second season on the job.
 

Indiana

Aug. 29 Indiana State (Thur.)
Sept. 7 Navy
Sept. 14 Bowling Green
Sept. 21 Missouri
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Penn State
Oct. 12 at Michigan State
Oct. 19 at Michigan
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Minnesota
Nov. 9 Illinois
Nov. 16 at Wisconsin
Nov. 23 at Ohio State
Nov. 30 Purdue

* Making headway early in the year will be key for Kevin Wilson and his growing Hoosiers. A non-conference slate could feature three straight wins to start and will build up to the key swing game with Missouri. A home win over an SEC team would be a landmark victory for IU and it could mean a bowl game.

* Indiana has a nasty month of October to navigate between off weekends. The three-game stretch features Penn State and two road trips North to Michigan sandwiched between the two bye weeks — which is the only welcome sight during the second month of the year.

* The final month offers some intriguing opportunities — Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue — and two huge "prove it" games with Wisconsin and Ohio State. If Wilson can beat the bad teams, Indiana could easily earn a postseason berth.

* Forget about buying road tickets to support your Hoosiers in 2013. It might be the toughest road schedule in the history of the Big Ten, as Indiana will visit Michigan and Michigan State in crossover play as well as Ohio State and Wisconsin in the division. Best of luck to Mr. Wilson and company.
 

Ohio State

Aug. 31 Buffalo
Sept. 7 San Diego State
Sept. 14 at Cal
Sept. 21 Florida A&M
Sept. 28 Wisconsin
Oct. 5 at Northwestern
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Iowa
Oct. 26 Penn State
Nov. 2 at Purdue
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Illinois
Nov. 23 Indiana
Nov. 30 at Michigan

* The non-conference slate should offer little to challenge Ohio State other than a long road trip to Cal. The Bears' new coaching staff and stadium will likely be fired up for Ohio State but do they have the players to compete with the Buckeyes? Doubtful.

* There is no break early in the year, however, as Ohio State will play six straight to start including two key Big Ten matchups to begin conference play. Wisconsin at home and at Northwestern will set the tone for the Big Ten season prior to the first off week.

* Located between the bye weeks in October is an intriguing three-game stretch. Iowa at home doesn’t figure to be too difficult but hosting Penn State will be exciting. And visiting Ross-Ade Stadium in Purdue likely causes nightmares for Bucknuts everywhere. Ohio State has lost two in a row in West Lafeyette, Ind.

* The final month of the season figures to be warm up for the best rivalry in college football. Despite the history with Purdue, Ohio State will be a heavy favorite in its first three November games before having to travel North to take on Michigan.

* For a team that figures to be among the top five in the preseason polls, this is a very manageable schedule.


Penn State

Aug. 31 Syracuse
Sept. 7 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 14 UCF
Sept. 21 Kent State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Indiana
Oct. 12 Michigan
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Ohio State
Nov. 2 Illinois
Nov. 9 at Minnesota
Nov. 16 Purdue
Nov. 23 Nebraska
Nov. 30 at Wisconsin

* Four fairly easy non-conference games will help Bill O’Brien break in a new quarterback and new linebacking corps. Yes, Syracuse has been tricky of late but it also is replacing its star quarterback and head coach. A 4-0 start is very possible before the first bye week of the year separates the Big Ten slate from the non-conference tilts.

* The second bye week is perfectly situated between what should be the two toughest games of the year. Following a visit from Michigan in mid-October, Penn State will get two weeks to prepare for a brutal road trip to Ohio State.

* The Nittany Lions will get a breather following their trip to Columbus. Penn State will face Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue in three consecutive weeks, which should allow O’Brien to seal a second straight winning season.

* Any wins in the season’s final two weekends would be an extra bonus. This team will be dramatically better at season’s end than at the beginning and finishing with both Big Red’s will be tough. However, a win in either of those two could give PSU as many as eight or even nine wins.
 

Purdue

Aug. 31 at Cincinnati
Sept. 7 Indiana State
Sept. 14 Notre Dame
Sept. 21 at Wisconsin
Sept. 28 Northern Illinois
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Nebraska
Oct. 19 at Michigan State
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Ohio State
Nov. 9 Iowa
Nov. 16 at Penn State
Nov. 23 Illinois
Nov. 30 at Indiana

* No team in the league has a tougher start to the season than Purdue — both in and out of the Big Ten. In non-conference play, the Boilermakers will play two BCS bowl teams in Northern Illinois and Notre Dame while having to visit Big East co-champ Cincinnati in Week 1. A 1-3 non-con record isn’t far-fetched for new coach Darrell Hazell.

* Mixed in with the tough non-conference slate is a road trip to Wisconsin followed by a home game with Nebraska and a road trip to Michigan State. Those are the first seven for Purdue and 1-6 isn’t out of the question. At least this team will get a breather following the first seven with the second bye week of the season. Well, before Ohio State comes to town.

* The second half provides some easier tests but isn’t much better than the first. Ohio State, Iowa and Illinois will visit West Lafayette while Purdue will visit Penn State and Indiana over the final five weeks. Yes, Purdue has been good against OSU at home of late, but it will be a huge underdog this time around. This a nasty schedule, perhaps the league’s toughest, and Purdue will be favored in no more than five games (Indiana State, Northern Illinois, Iowa, Illinois, at Indiana) and more likely just three.
 

Wisconsin

Aug. 31 UMass
Sept. 7 Tennessee Tech
Sept. 14 at Arizona State
Sept. 21 Purdue
Sept. 28 at Ohio State
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Northwestern
Oct. 19 at Illinois
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 at Iowa
Nov. 9 BYU
Nov. 16 Indiana
Nov. 23 at Minnesota
Nov. 30 Penn State

* The early season slate is highlighted by a long road trip to the desert to battle Arizona State. The rebuilt secondary will be put to the test by a deep and talented returning Sun Devils offense led by star quarterback Taylor Kelly and offensive whiz Todd Graham. Expect the Devils to be looking for revenge from their 20-19 loss in Madison in 2010.

* Wisconsin begins Big Ten play in a big way with two divisional games before the end of September. This includes a road trip to Ohio State that will be an early Leaders Division elimination game. The welcomed bye week falls following the first five weeks of the year.

* The heart of the schedule isn’t all that daunting for the Badgers. Northwestern at home and a road trip to Illinois are manageable games located between the bye weeks. A road trip to rival Iowa is always a tough test for UW and fans on both sides are happy to get this contest back on the schedule. Wisconsin will play these five Big Ten games between Week 7 and 13: Northwestern, at Illinois, at Iowa, Indiana and at Minnesota.

* A November 9 visit from BYU is oddly placed for Wisconsin. Traditionally, UW plays its first four games against non-conference play so fans might be thrown for a loop when a non-conference opponent comes to town in Week 11. And BYU is a good one at that.

* The home game against Penn State to end the season will likely determine the Leaders Division pecking order behind Ohio State. It could easily be the difference between a New Year’s Day bowl for new coach Gary Andersen or a third-place trip to San Antonio.

* Wisconsin will miss Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State in crossover play.
 

Legends Division

Iowa

Aug. 31 Northern Illinois
Sept. 7 Missouri State
Sept. 14 at Iowa State
Sept. 21 Western Michigan
Sept. 28 at Minnesota
Oct. 5 Michigan State
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 at Ohio State
Oct. 26 Northwestern
Nov. 2 Wisconsin
Nov. 9 at Purdue
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Michigan
Nov. 29 at Nebraska

* For a team that will be hovering right around the six-win mark, the non-conference schedule isn’t going to be favorable for getting to a bowl game. Iowa opens with Northern Illinois, a team it beat 18-17 in Chicago last season. The Huskies played in the Orange Bowl last season, and despite some losses on defense, could be favored to win in the opener.

* If the Hawkeyes lose the opener against Northern Illinois, it will only add to the pressure facing this team on Sept. 14 at Iowa State. Iowa has lost the last two meetings to the Cyclones, including a 9-6 game in Iowa City last year. The Hawkeyes have not lost three in a row in this series since 2000-02.

* Will Iowa retain the Floyd of Rosedale? The Hawkeyes beat Minnesota 31-13 last season but lost the last two matchups against the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis. With Iowa and Minnesota expected to be picked near the bottom of the conference, this game could decide who avoids the cellar in the Legends Division.

* Iowa didn’t get any breaks from the schedule-makers, as it has a brutal crossover schedule. The Hawkeyes play at Ohio State and host Wisconsin – arguably the top two teams from the Leaders Division. Iowa also has to play on the road against Purdue, which isn’t a guaranteed win.

* Even if Iowa manages to sweep its non-conference schedule, it will need an upset win somewhere along the way to get bowl eligible. Where could that upset come? How about an Oct. 5 matchup against Michigan State? The Hawkeyes knocked off the Spartans 19-16 in overtime at East Lansing last season. Considering the returning personnel for both teams, Michigan State should be favored. However, Iowa usually thrives when it is under the radar. Will that theory hold true after a disappointing 4-8 season? 

 

Michigan

Aug. 31 Central Michigan
Sept. 7 Notre Dame
Sept. 14 Akron
Sept. 21 at Connecticut
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Minnesota
Oct. 12 at Penn State
Oct. 19 Indiana
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 at Michigan State
Nov. 9 Nebraska
Nov. 16 at Northwestern
Nov. 23 at Iowa
Nov. 30 Ohio State

* The Wolverines meet Connecticut for only the second time in school history on Sept. 21. Michigan defeated the Huskies 30-10 in 2010 but travel to Storrs for this matchup. Connecticut will be picked near the bottom of the Big East and has to rebuild a defense that ranked in the top 10 nationally in fewest yards allowed.

* The Michigan-Notre Dame matchup is one of the most intriguing early non-conference games of the 2013 season. The last four games in this series have been decided by a touchdown or less, with the Wolverines owning a 3-1 edge during that span. While Michigan isn’t expected to be a national title contender in 2013, a win over Notre Dame could set up a 7-0 mark for the Wolverines going into the Nov. 2 game at Michigan State.

* Michigan’s Oct. 12 date at Penn State will be the first meeting between these two programs since 2010. After winning nine consecutive matchups, the Wolverines have lost three in a row to the Nittany Lions. Penn State is breaking in a new quarterback and must restock its defensive line and linebacking corps, but it will give Michigan all it can handle in Happy Valley.

* Can Michigan regain control in its in-state rivalry with Michigan State? The Wolverines won 12-10 in Ann Arbor last year, which snapped a four-game losing streak to the Spartans. Prior to Michigan State’s winning streak, Michigan won 10 out of the last 12 meetings from 1996-2007.

* Michigan is facing one of the toughest November schedules of any team in the nation. The Wolverines play their top three challengers in the Legends Division and host rival Ohio State. Needless to say, if Michigan wins the division title – it will have earned it.

* Could the Nov. 23 game against Iowa be a trap game? Michigan has lost its last two meetings in Iowa City and three out of its last four against the Hawkeyes. Coming off a road game against Northwestern and with a home date against Ohio State looming one week later, the Wolverines have to be careful not to overlook Iowa.


Michigan State

Aug. 30 Western Michigan
Sept. 7 South Florida
Sept. 14 Youngstown State
Sept. 21 at Notre Dame
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Iowa
Oct. 12 Indiana
Oct. 19 Purdue
Oct. 26 at Illinois
Nov. 2 Michigan
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Nebraska
Nov. 23 at Northwestern
Nov. 30 Minnesota

* The Spartans couldn’t ask for a better schedule to start the 2013 season. With a offense that struggled mightily in 2010, along with a question mark at quarterback, matchups against Western Michigan, South Florida and Youngstown State should give Michigan State plenty of time to work out the kinks before a road trip to Notre Dame on Sept. 21. Speaking of the early-season road contest in South Bend…

* Michigan State has lost three out of its last four against Notre Dame, with the only win coming in 2010 on a trick play in overtime. The Spartans will be an underdog against the Fighting Irish, but this should be a good test for Michigan State’s offense against the Notre Dame defense.

* Regardless of what happens in the Sept. 21 date against Notre Dame, Michigan State has a favorable road in Big Ten play. The Spartans play Iowa, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois in October – all teams that will likely be picked near the bottom of their division. Although Michigan State lost to Iowa last season, there’s a good chance the Spartans are 7-1 going into November.

* If the Spartans want to be a factor in the Legends Division, they have to beat in-state rival Michigan on Nov. 2. The Wolverines snapped a four-game losing streak in this series last year, but Michigan State has won two in a row in East Lansing.

* Both of Michigan State’s bye weeks just happen to hit at the right time in 2013. The Spartans have an off date on Sept. 28 before the start of Big Ten play and also on Nov. 9 after playing Michigan. The second bye week is crucial, as the Spartans play at Nebraska and Northwestern the following two weekends.

* Even if Michigan State beats Michigan on Nov. 2, the Spartans still have to navigate two road dates late in the year: at Nebraska and at Northwestern. The Cornhuskers have won both matchups between these two teams as Big Ten foes, while the Wildcats knocked off Michigan State 23-20 in East Lansing last year.


Minnesota

Aug. 29 UNLV
Sept. 7 at New Mexico State
Sept. 14 Western Illinois
Sept. 21 San Jose State
Sept. 28 Iowa
Oct. 5 at Michigan
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 at Northwestern
Oct. 26 Nebraska
Nov. 2 at Indiana
Nov. 9 Penn State
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Wisconsin
Nov. 30 at Michigan State

* Jerry Kill’s team showed progress last year, improving from 3-9 to a 6-7 mark with a bowl loss against Texas Tech. Although Minnesota was a better team in 2012 than it was in '11, a favorable non-conference schedule was a huge factor in getting to the postseason. The Golden Gophers have a similar setup in 2013, as UNLV, New Mexico State, Western Illinois and San Jose State are all winnable games. The Spartans are the best team out of that group but will be breaking in a new coach.

* If Minnesota wants to go bowling, it has to start the season 5-0. Big Ten play opens with a favorable home game in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale against Iowa. The Hawkeyes won 31-13 in Iowa City last year, but Minnesota won the two previous games in the series.

* It’s a good thing Minnesota opens with Iowa, as it won’t catch a break the rest of October. The Golden Gophers play arguably the three best teams from the Legends Division in October, starting with Michigan on Oct. 5, Northwestern on Oct. 19 and then Nebraska on Oct. 26. If Minnesota starts 5-0, it’s possible it will be 5-3 by the time they play Indiana on Nov. 2.

* Assuming Minnesota is 5-3 before the Nov. 2 road date against Indiana, finding one more win in conference play isn’t going to be easy. The Hoosiers are a much-improved team, while the Golden Gophers will be underdogs in games against Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State. It’s certainly not impossible, but Minnesota will have a tough task just getting to six victories.

* Minnesota has not defeated Wisconsin since 2003. The Badgers have won nine in a row against the Golden Gophers, with the last three matchups decided by 15 points or more.


Nebraska

Aug. 31 Wyoming
Sept. 7 Southern Miss
Sept. 14 UCLA
Sept. 21 South Dakota State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Illinois
Oct. 12 at Purdue
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Minnesota
Nov. 2 Northwestern
Nov. 9 at Michigan
Nov. 16 Michigan State
Nov. 23 at Penn State
Nov. 29 Iowa

* Nebraska should score three easy wins in non-conference play with Wyoming, Southern Miss and South Dakota State. The Cowboys will be the toughest matchup from that trio, especially with the return of quarterback Brett Smith. However, Wyoming has to rebuild its offensive line and front seven on defense.

* The Cornhuskers’ toughest non-conference matchup should come against UCLA on Sept. 14. The Bruins defeated Nebraska 36-30 last season, which was the 11th meeting between these two teams in their program history. UCLA returns quarterback Brett Hundley but must replace running back Johnathan Franklin. Even with Franklin leaving, UCLA’s offense will be a difficult matchup for Nebraska’s rebuilt defense.

* If Nebraska can get by UCLA, there’s a good chance the Cornhuskers will be 7-0 heading into the final month of the season. However, there’s also a downside to the scheduling, as Nebraska plays its three toughest challengers in the Legends Division in November and has a road date at Penn State on Nov. 23. Ouch.

* Expect another close game when Northwestern and Nebraska meet on Nov. 2. The only two matchups these two teams have played as Big Ten foes have been decided by three points or less. And with both teams possessing some of the league’s top offensive playmakers, there should be no shortage of points on Nov. 2.

* Is the Nov. 9 matchup at Michigan the biggest game for Nebraska’s 2013 season? With Northwestern and Michigan State visiting Lincoln, there’s a good chance the Cornhuskers sweep both of those games. If Nebraska can win in Ann Arbor – which is no easy task considering the Wolverines beat the Cornhuskers 45-17 at Michigan in 2011 – the division title could be wrapped up, regardless of what happens in the final two games.

* Nebraska has won its only two meetings as a member of the Big Ten against Penn State. The Cornhuskers defeated the Nittany Lions 17-14 in Happy Valley in 2011 and won 32-23 in Lincoln last season.
 

Northwestern

Aug. 31 at California
Sept. 7 Syracuse
Sept. 14 Western Michigan
Sept. 21 Maine
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct.  5 Ohio State
Oct. 12 at Wisconsin
Oct. 19 Minnesota
Oct. 26 at Iowa
Nov. 2 at Nebraska
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 Michigan
Nov. 23 Michigan State
Nov. 30 at Illinois

* Non-conference games against California and Syracuse aren’t guaranteed wins, but Northwestern is catching both teams at the right time. The Wildcats travel to Berkeley for the first game of the season, but the Golden Bears are breaking in a new coaching staff and quarterback. And the same can be said for Syracuse, as it looks to find its footing under new coach Scott Shafer. Neither game will be a blowout victory for the Wildcats, but Northwestern should start the year with a 2-0 mark.

* The first bye week of 2013 comes at a good time for Northwestern. After a likely 4-0 start from non-conference action, Northwestern kicks off Big Ten play with a home date against Ohio State. The Wildcats have lost 28 out of the last 29 matchups to the Buckeyes. The only win came in 2004, with Northwestern pulling out a 33-27 victory in Evanston, Ill. Ohio State is expected to be one of the top five teams in most preseason polls this summer. Can Northwestern open Big Ten play with an upset? It’s certainly not out of the question.

* As if the Big Ten opener against Ohio State wasn’t tough enough, Northwestern travels to Wisconsin for its second conference contest. The Wildcats have not defeated the Badgers in Madison since 2000, but have split with UW in the last four meetings overall.

* After the brutal start to Big Ten play, Northwestern catches a break with Minnesota and Iowa to close out October. The Wildcats can’t afford to overlook anyone, but Iowa and Minnesota will be picked near the bottom of the conference. Expect Northwestern to have a 6-2 record heading into November.

* Even with the difficult start to the conference schedule, Northwestern still has a chance to make some noise in the division. With home games against Michigan and Michigan State, the Wildcats can win both contests and have an opportunity to get back into the division title mix. However, those two games won’t be the only thing that decides Northwestern’s title hopes, as a road game on Nov. 2 at Nebraska will be difficult. Three losses could win the Big Ten Legends Division. However, the Wildcats would feel a lot more comfortable if they finished conference play at 6-2.
 

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

 

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Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/louisville-cardinals-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Everything seemed to bounce Louisville’s way in 2012, as the Cardinals managed to survive two late-season conference losses to win the Big East, and coach Charlie Strong turned down lucrative opportunities in the SEC to stay with the Cardinals. What can Louisville do for an encore? In their final season in the Big East, the Cardinals are on the shortlist of national title contenders. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best in the nation and has the Big East’s top receiving corps at his disposal. The defense returns nine starters from a unit that allowed just 340.3 yards per game last season. Assuming Louisville can plug its losses on the offensive line, the Cardinals have the schedule to make a run at a 12-0 record.  

Louisville Cardinals 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (5-2)

Spring practice dates: March 20-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 9

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Teddy Bridgewater, 287 of 419, 3,718 yards, 27 TDs, 8 INTs
Rushing: Senorise Perry, 136 car., 705 yards, 11 TDs
Receiving: Damian Copeland, 50 rec., 628 yards, 2 TDs
Tackles: Preston Brown, 109
Sacks: Lorenzo Mauldin, 4.5
Interceptions: Terell Floyd, 3

Redshirts to watch: LB Lamar Atkins, OL Sid Anvoots, OL Joe Manley, LB Nick Dawson, CB Devontre Parnell, QB Will Gardner

Early Enrollees to watch: DT Finesse Middleton, QB Brett Nelson

JUCO Transfers to watch: QB Brett Nelson

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Ohio
Sept. 7 Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 14 at Kentucky
Sept. 21 FIU
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Temple
Oct. 10 Rutgers
Oct. 18 UCF
Oct. 26 at South Florida
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 8 at Connecticut
Nov. 16 Houston
Nov. 23 Memphis
Nov. 30 Bye Week
Dec. 5 at Cincinnati

Offensive Strength: The Cardinals are led by one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in junior Teddy Bridgewater, and the receiving corps is deep with options, including first-team All-Big East selection DeVante Parker.

Offensive Weakness: Coordinator Shawn Watson has two big concerns this spring: Offensive line and running back. Louisville must replace its top two linemen from last year, while running back Senorise Perry is coming off a torn ACL.

Defensive Strength: With nearly everyone returning, the Cardinals should have one of the Big East’s top defenses in 2013. The front seven is in great shape, led by linebacker Preston Brown and defensive end Marcus Smith.

Defensive Weakness: The secondary ranked 16th nationally against the pass last season, but cornerback Adrian Bushell expired his eligibility after the Sugar Bowl, which leaves a significant question mark at one corner spot.

Spring Storylines Facing the Cardinals

1. Sorting out the running backs. Even though Jeremy Wright left Louisville after the Sugar Bowl win against Florida, the Cardinals’ backfield is in relatively good shape. Senorise Perry rushed for 705 yards and 11 touchdowns before tearing an ACL, and Dominique Brown redshirted last season after rushing for 533 yards in 2011. There’s not a ton of depth at this position, and Perry is expected to sit out spring practice as he continues to recover from his knee injury. Sophomore Corvin Lamb has played sparingly in his first two years on campus but is expected to get an opportunity to work his way into the rotation this spring. With Perry on the sidelines, this is a big spring for Battle and Lamb to solidify their spots in the rotation.  

2. Finding replacements on the offensive line. Keeping quarterback Teddy Bridgewater away from defensive linemen is the top priority for Louisville in 2013. Bridgewater was banged up at the end of 2012, and any shot the Cardinals have of playing for a national title will depend on the health of their junior signal-caller. Considering the line allowed 2.4 sacks a game last season and must replace its two best players – center Mario Benavides and left tackle Alex Kupper – there’s plenty of concern about this unit going into spring practice. John Miller and Jake Smith should anchor the guard spots, while Kamron Joyer and Mike Romano (out until the fall) will battle to start at center. Junior Jamon Brown returns to right tackle after starting all 13 games last year. Massive sophomore Abraham Garcia (6-foot-6, 345 pounds) is the early frontrunner to replace Kupper at left tackle, and his development will be crucial, especially since he is tasked with protecting Bridgewater’s blindside.

3. Replacing Adrian Bushell at cornerback. The Cardinals have nearly everyone coming back on defense, but cornerback Adrian Bushell expired his eligibility after the Sugar Bowl. The Texas native played only two years at Louisville but made a huge impact on the secondary and was picked as a back-to-back first-team All-Big East selection. The Cardinals have experience returning at the cornerback spot, so there should be a relatively smooth transition for the secondary. Terell Floyd will man one corner spot, after starting 10 games last season and recording three interceptions. Replacing Bushell is expected to be junior Andrew Johnson or redshirt freshman Devontre Parnell. Johnson played in 12 games and recorded 26 tackles for Louisville last season. Losing Bushell is a huge blow, but the Cardinals should be able to withstand his departure, provided Johnson or Parnell emerges as a solid starter. And helping the cornerbacks ease their transition will be All-Big East safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith. 

4. Fixing the special teams. Louisville’s special teams struggled mightily at times last season, so expect this unit to receive plenty of attention in the spring. The Cardinals ranked 119th nationally in net punting (38.1 yards per punt) and finished near the bottom of college football in punt and kickoff returns. Kicker John Wallace made 16 of his 21 attempts last year, so field goals aren’t a concern. However, finding answers for a struggling return game, along with improving their net punting will be a priority for coach Charlie Strong.


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Teaser:
<p> Louisville Cardinals 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 07:00

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