Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/new-uniforms-coming-mississippi-state-2014
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Mississippi State has updated its uniform and helmet combination a couple of times under coach Dan Mullen, and it appears the Bulldogs will make a few tweaks for 2014.

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

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

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



 

 

Teaser:
New Uniforms Coming for Mississippi State in 2014
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 18:12
Path: /college-football/penn-state-or-michigan-who-finishes-higher-big-ten-east-division-2014
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Michigan and Penn State are two of the premier programs in the Big Ten, but neither the Wolverines or Nittany Lions have won more than eight games in a season over the last two years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Teaser:
Penn State or Michigan: Who Finishes Higher in the Big Ten East Division in 2014?
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-128-college-football-coaches-2014
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Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2014

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

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


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

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


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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

107. Bob Diaco, Connecticut
Career Record: First Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

121. Charlie Partridge, FAU
Career Record: First Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaser:
Ranking All 128 College Football Head Coaches for 2014
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Missouri Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/missouri-wr-dorial-green-beckham-suspended-indefinitely
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Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham is expected to be one of the top receivers in the nation in 2014. However, Green-Beckham’s status with the team is up in the air, as the junior receiver has been suspended indefinitely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a look at the new logo:


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

Teaser:
LSU Updates Helmet Logo for 2014
Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-college-football-coaches-2014
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Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

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

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

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

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

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

Ranking the Big 12's College Football Coaches for 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ranking the ACC's College Football Coaches for 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC's College Football Coaches for 2014
Post date: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Akron Zips, College Football, MAC, News
Path: /college-football/akron-unveils-shiny-gold-helmets-2014
Body:

New helmets and jerseys are a big part of every college football season, and Akron appears to have unveiled a new gold (and rather shiny) helmet for 2014. The Zips have made considerable progress in Terry Bowden’s first two years and improved to 5-7 last year.

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

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

 

Teaser:
Akron Unveils New Gold Helmets for 2014
Post date: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-coaches-2014
Body:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ranking the SEC’s College Football Coaches for 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ranking the Big Ten’s College Football Coaches for 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Receivers to Watch in 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Warm?

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

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

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

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

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

Teaser:
College Football's Coaches on the Hot Seat: 2014 Spring Practice Edition
Post date: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-2014-spring-football-preview
Body:

Injuries and a struggling defense derailed Georgia’s East Division title hopes last season. But with a full offseason to recover from last year’s ailments, combined with the addition of Jeremy Pruitt as the team’s defensive coordinator, two of the biggest question marks facing the Bulldogs have been answered.

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

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

Georgia Bulldogs 2014 Spring Preview

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

Spring Practice Opens: March 18

Spring Game: April 12

Returning Starters

Offense: 5

Defense: 10

Three Things to Watch in Georgia’s 2014 Spring Practice

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

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

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

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

2014 Early Projected Win Range: 9-11

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

Teaser:
Georgia Bulldogs 2014 Spring Football Preview
Post date: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-2014-spring-preview
Body:

Florida State closed out the BCS era with a dominant 14-0 final record and a victory over Auburn in the national championship game. Not only was the win over the Tigers the Seminoles’ first title since 2000, it finally put to rest whether this program was truly back or not.

As the Seminoles open spring practice for 2014, the quest to become only the second team to earn back-to-back national titles since the BCS era began in 1998 is officially underway. Make no mistake: Repeating as college football’s national champion is challenging. But if there’s a team capable of winning back-to-back titles, the Seminoles would be a safe selection in 2014.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has signed five recruiting classes that ranked among the top 15 nationally and has assembled one of the nation’s best rosters. Quarterback Jameis Winston is back for another run at the Heisman, and in a scary thought for the rest of the ACC, he will only get better as a sophomore.

The Seminoles only have a few concerns on the depth chart for 2014, but the biggest issue might be something that doesn’t relate to a roster or replacing a starter. Complacency is always something national championship teams have to battle the next year. Expect Fisher and his staff to work hard on keeping the player’s focus on what is ahead in 2014 – not what transpired in 2013.

Florida State Seminoles 2014 Spring Preview

2013 Record: 14-0 (8-0 ACC)

Spring Practice Opens: March 19

Spring Game: April 12

Returning Starters

Offense: 7

Defense: 6

2014 Schedule 
DateOpponent
Aug. 30 (Arlington)
Sept. 6The Citadel
Sept. 20
Sept. 27at 
Oct. 4
Oct. 11at 
Oct. 18
Oct. 30at 
Nov. 8
Nov. 15at 
Nov. 22
Nov. 29

Four Things to Watch in Florida State's 2014 Spring Practice

1. New Weapons for Jameis Winston: History suggests Jameis Winston won’t repeat as the Heisman winner, but even if the sophomore doesn’t hoist the trophy again, he is still poised to have a monster season. Winston’s supporting cast is going through an overhaul this spring, as wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and running backs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. left early for the NFL. Wide receiver Kenny Shaw also expired his eligibility, which leaves Rashad Greene as the top returning option in the passing game, followed by a cast of unproven, but talented receivers. Seniors Christian Green and Jarred Haggins will be counted on to fill the voids from Benjamin and Shaw, while Kermit Whitfield, Jesus Wilson and Isaiah Jones are three promising sophomores to watch. Florida State also reeled in one of the nation’s top freshman classes at receiver, headlined by Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph. Lost in the transition at receiver is one of the nation’s top tight ends in Nick O’Leary. Talent certainly isn’t an issue here, but it may take Winston some time to find his rhythm with a new group of receivers. However, by the end of September, the Florida State passing attack should be hitting on all cylinders. This spring is all about determining a pecking order, while Green and Haggins try to lock down a job before Lane and Rudolph arrive on campus.

2. Austin Barron steps in at center: With four starters back, Florida State should have one of the nation’s top offensive lines in 2014. Left tackle Cameron Erving and guard Tre Jackson both earned first-team All-ACC honors last year, while guard Josue Matias was a third-team all-conference selection. Bryan Stork won the Rimington Trophy for the nation’s best center last season, but he expired his eligibility after the national championship. While Stork was a key piece in Florida State’s line, the drop-off in production at center should be very minimal. Austin Barron has five career starts and is slated to replace Stork at center. If there’s a concern on Florida State’s line, it has to be the depth behind the starters. The Seminoles avoided any significant injuries last season, which was a good thing considering the lack of proven options behind the starters. Fisher took steps to address the lack of depth by adding seven linemen in the 2014 signing class.

3. Who steps up at defensive tackle?: This position is easily the biggest concern for the Seminoles in 2014. New coordinator Charles Kelly has to replace standout tackle Timmy Jernigan, as well Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister – two players who were crucial to the depth up front. The situation is better at end, as Mario Edwards Jr. is one of the best in the nation, and the Seminoles return Chris Casher and DeMarcus Walker.  Thanks to some of the nation’s top recruiting classes, there is talent available for Kelly at tackle. Nile Lawrence-Stample returns after starting six games and recording 15 tackles last season. Eddie Goldman is expected to anchor the tackle position after recording 19 stops in 13 games. Goldman can play at end or tackle, which is a product of Florida State’s multiple looks up front. Lawrence-Stample and Goldman are a solid combination, but the depth at tackle is largely unproven. Redshirt freshman Keith Bryant and senior Desmond Hollin need to step up this spring, while incoming freshmen Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas could push for time in the fall. Florida State probably won’t have a difference maker like Jernigan this season. However, assuming names like Lawrence-Stample, Bryant and Hollin emerge, the run defense shouldn’t suffer too much. This spring is the first chance for Kelly to put his stamp on the defense, while finding answers on the interior of the line.

4. Shuffling in the secondary: With Jeremy Pruitt taking the defensive coordinator position at Georgia, new play-caller Charles Kelly will shift from coaching the linebackers to the defensive backs. Much of the focus for Florida State’s defense is finding new faces in the trenches this spring, but don’t overlook the secondary. Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks depart after standout 2013 campaigns. However, the cupboard is far from bare. Jalen Ramsey was one of the nation’s top freshmen last year and should be in the mix for All-American honors in 2014. P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby didn’t get much national recognition last season, but both players are shutdown corners. Safety Nate Andrews was overshadowed by Ramsey, and he returns looking to build off a freshman season that earned him third-team All-ACC honors. This unit will receive a boost with the return of Tyler Hunter, who missed nearly all of 2013 due to a neck injury. Even though Joyner and Brooks were outstanding, Kelly has to be confident in his defensive backfield for 2014. But how will the Seminoles mix and match the personnel to replace those two players? This spring should give us the first indication of who fills the spots left behind by Joyner and Brooks, along with any tweaks Kelly makes with the secondary.

2014 Early Projected Win Range: 11-12

Keep in mind this projection is just for the regular season. Florida State could stumble once during the regular season, but there’s not much on the schedule to suggest a loss is likely. Oklahoma State is rebuilding, and Clemson visits Tallahassee in early September. Notre Dame should be a top-25 team, but will the Fighting Irish find enough answers on the defensive line by then? At Miami could be Florida State’s toughest road game, and Florida should be improved, adding some spice to both rivalry contests. Barring any major injuries, the Seminoles appear to be a lock for one of the four spots in college football’s playoff.

Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles 2014 Spring Preview
Post date: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:07
Path: /college-football/navy-coach-ken-niumatalolo-displays-commander-chiefs-trophy-ring
Body:

Navy started its spring practice on March 17 looking to earn its 10th Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in 12 years.

To help the team with motivation and showcase some of the past success, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo tweeted out a picture of a ring for winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.

Also, Navy recently released its hype video for 2014, which showcases some of the program’s top players for the upcoming year.

Check out the ring (which looks awesome) tweeted by Niumatalolo and the video promoting the Midshipmen’s upcoming season:
 

Teaser:
Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo Displays Commander-in-Chief's Trophy Ring
Post date: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/florida-state-unveils-national-championship-rings
Body:

Florida State closed out the BCS era with an impressive run to the national title. The Seminoles finished 14-0 and rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat Auburn in the championship game.

Not only did Florida State take home the crystal ball trophy, the players, coaches and support staff will receive three rings for their successful 2013 season.

The picture below tweeted by assistant coach Tim Brewster showcases the rings, which includes one from winning the ACC title and one from the BCS to celebrate the team’s national title.

Check out Florida State’s national championship rings:
 

Teaser:
Florida State Reveals Rings for National Championship
Post date: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, FAU Owls, Conference USA, News
Path: /college-football/fau-unveils-new-red-helmet-2014
Body:

FAU will be under the direction of a new coach in 2014, as former Arkansas assistant Charlie Partridge takes control in Boca Raton this year.

The Owls have unveiled a couple of different jersey and helmet tweaks in recent years, and it appears they will have a new red helmet in 2014.

This photo was tweeted by @UniformSwag, showing FAU’s new red design:

Teaser:
FAU Unveils New Red Helmet for 2014
Post date: Monday, March 17, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/texas-am-and-ucla-schedule-two-game-series
Body:

College football’s new playoff format has encouraged better scheduling among BCS teams, and Texas A&M and UCLA continued that trend with an announcement of a two-game series.

The Aggies and Bruins will play in 2016 at Kyle Field and 2017 at the Rose Bowl.

Assuming both teams continue on their recent trajectory, this should be one of the top non-conference games during those two seasons.

However, let’s also hope this leads to more Pac-12-SEC matchups – especially in the bowl season.

Heading into the new playoff format, there’s no Pac-12-SEC bowl matchup scheduled. Shouldn’t the top two conferences in the nation play each other in a bowl? Even if the postseason matchups don't transpire for a while, it's good to see high-profile teams like Texas A&M and UCLA playing non-conference games.

 

Teaser:
Texas A&M-UCLA Agree to Two-Game Series
Post date: Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 13:41
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-15-spring-quarterback-battles-2014
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Spring practice is underway, and all 128 college football teams have started to sort through the solutions for the question marks surrounding the roster.

Quarterback battles are the most intriguing element to watch in spring practice, even if there is little clarity on the depth chart until the fall.

This spring is full of quarterback battles that have national title implications. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama is searching for a replacement for AJ McCarron. Blake Sims has the edge in experience, but Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is the early favorite. Coker won’t arrive in Tuscaloosa until the summer, which means Sims and the other Alabama quarterbacks have a chance to stake their claim for the starting job this spring.

Outside of Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Clemson, Miami and Texas are just a handful of teams looking for a No. 1 quarterback.

Texas is another intriguing battle, as David Ash returns after missing nearly all of last season due to a concussion. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes is intriguing, and the coaching staff is pursuing USC transfer Max Wittek as another option.

In College Station, the race to replace Johnny Manziel is already underway. Can true freshman Kyle Allen beat Kenny Hill or Matt Joeckel for the top spot?

College Football’s Top 15 Spring Quarterback Battles for 2014

Alabama

The Candidates: David Cornwell (FR), Cooper Bateman (RS-FR), Blake Sims (SR), Parker McLeod (RS-FR), Alec Morris (SO), Jacob Coker (JR-TR)

What to Watch: There’s plenty of intrigue around the quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa this spring. Not only are there five candidates pushing for time, new coordinator Lane Kiffin is easily one of the most polarizing hires of the offseason. But don’t expect anything to be settled in spring practice for Alabama. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is considered the frontrunner and is not slated to arrive until this summer. Sims has the most experience of any quarterback on the roster, completing 18 of 29 throws for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Cornwell enrolled early and is likely Alabama’s quarterback of the future. However, he is recovering from a knee injury, and it’s uncertain how much the coaching staff will push him this spring.

Projected Winner: Coker. Alabama doesn’t bring in transfers to sit on the bench. Sims may have the most experience in a Crimson Tide uniform, but Coker has more talent. Although he has yet to make a start in college, Coker has all of the attributes you want in a quarterback. Of course, he has yet to take a snap in the SEC, which is why Sims, Cornwell and Morris need to take advantage of the opportunities this spring.

Arizona

The Candidates: Connor Brewer (SO-TR), Nick Isham (JR), Jerrard Randall (JR), Jesse Scroggins (SR), Anu Solomon (RS-FR)

What to Watch: Rich Rodriguez knows how to develop quarterbacks, so the winner of this job should have a big statistical season. But as spring practice opens, it’s anyone’s guess who takes the first snap for Arizona in 2014. There’s an interesting cast of candidates vying for time, starting with Texas transfer Connor Brewer and redshirt freshman Anu Solomon. Brewer did not play in his only season with the Longhorns, while Solomon spent last season learning behind B.J. Denker. Jerrard Randall started his career at LSU before transferring into the junior college ranks. Jesse Scroggins also started at a FBS school (USC) before a stop in junior college.

Projected Winner: Solomon. Projecting a winner here is nearly impossible. And this could be a situation where a couple of quarterbacks see time this year. Solomon has the most upside, and it’s only a matter of time before he claims the No. 1 spot.

Clemson

The Candidates: Cole Stoudt (SR), Deshaun Watson (FR), Chad Kelly (SO)

What to Watch: Tajh Boyd will be missed, but Clemson’s offense will continue to perform at a high level with Chad Morris calling the plays. Morris has three talented quarterbacks to work with this spring, starting with incoming freshman Deshaun Watson. The Georgia native was the No. 41 national recruit in the 247Sports Composite and enrolled early to compete in spring practice. Stoudt has served as Boyd’s backup for the last three seasons and threw for 742 yards and eight touchdowns in that span. Kelly redshirted in 2012 and finished last season with 58 passing yards on 10 completions.

Projected Winner: Watson. Whether it’s Stoudt, Kelly or Watson at the top of the depth chart, Clemson is going to be explosive on offense. Watson is too talented to sit, but it wouldn’t be a total shock if Stoudt starts the opener against Georgia before giving way to the freshman later in the year.

LSU

The Candidates: Anthony Jennings (SO), Brandon Harris (FR), Hayden Rettig (RS-FR)

What to Watch: Breaking in a quarterback in the brutal SEC West is no easy assignment. But the good news for Les Miles and coordinator Cam Cameron is the new quarterback has a solid supporting cast at his disposal. Running backs Leonard Fournette and Terrence Magee will push for All-SEC honors, while the offensive line should be among the best in the nation. Sure, the receiving corps needs work, but LSU can push for 10 wins just on its rushing attack and defense. Cameron proved to be the right hire for the Tigers’ offense, as he developed Zach Mettenberger and brought improvement to the passing game. LSU may shift more to a run philosophy in 2014, especially if Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris wins the job. Jennings guided the Tigers to a comeback win over Arkansas in the regular season finale but didn’t play particularly well in the bowl (7 of 19 for 82 yards and one interception). Harris ranked as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports in the 2014 recruiting class, and he enrolled early to compete this spring. Rettig is a pro-style passer and ranked as the No. 10 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2013 signing class.

Projected Winner: Jennings. The bowl game performance is concerning, but let’s not overrate one outing. Harris has the most upside of any quarterback on the roster. How quickly he gets acclimated to the offense will determine how long Jennings stays as the starter.

Miami

The Candidates: Ryan Williams (SR), Brad Kaaya (QB), Kevin Olsen (RS-FR), Gray Crow (SO)

What to Watch: Is this the year Miami finally wins the Coastal Division? If a quarterback emerges, the Hurricanes should be picked as the favorite in the division. Ryan Williams has the edge in experience, starting 10 games at Memphis in 2010 and throwing for 2,075 yards and 13 touchdowns. He transferred at the end of his freshman season and has played in nine games over the last two years with the Hurricanes. Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen (No. 6 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2013 signing class) and true freshman Brad Kaaya (four-star prospect by 247Sports) will get every opportunity to push Williams for the starting job this offseason. Even though Williams might not be the most-talented quarterback on the roster, he has a good grasp on the offense and already has a year of experience starting at a FBS school.

Projected Winner: Williams. Again, this isn’t the flashiest choice, but Williams is capable of leading this offense. The battle between Olsen and Kaaya for the No. 2 spot will be intriguing, especially if Williams struggles or as both players position themselves for 2015.

Nebraska

The Candidates: Tommy Armstrong (SO), Johnny Stanton (RS-FR), Jamal Turner (SR), Zack Darlington (FR)

What to Watch: Armstrong was pressed into duty when Taylor Martinez suffered a foot injury last season. He started eight games and finished with 966 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 202 yards and two scores on the ground. Considering it was first taste of action, Armstrong acquitted himself well for a redshirt freshman. He opens spring practice as the No. 1 option, but the job won’t be handed to him. Redshirt freshman Johnny Stanton is an intriguing option, while the coaching staff wants to get a look at receiver Jamal Turner under center. Turner is a wildcard to watch, and he may play just as a change-of-pace option.

Projected Winner: Armstrong. There’s no question Armstrong needs to play better, but with a full offseason to work as the No. 1 option, he should show significant improvement. If he doesn’t, Nebraska has capable options in Stanton and Darlington, while Turner’s progress will be interesting to watch.

Oklahoma State

The Candidates: Mason Rudolph (FR), J.W. Walsh (JR)

What to Watch: Developing quarterbacks has always been a strength for Oklahoma State under Mike Gundy, so it's possible the winner of this battle could be in the mix for all-conference honors in 2014. Walsh played extensively in 2013, throwing for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns. He also added 294 yards and three scores on the ground. Walsh has room to grow as a passer, but the edge in experience is clearly in his favor. Rudolph ranked as the No. 16 pro-style quarterback in the 2014 signing class by 247Sports and enrolled to compete this spring.

Projected Winner: Walsh. Take a look at the schedule for Oklahoma State. With Florida State in the opener, would the Cowboys let Rudolph start against one of the top defenses in college football? It’s certainly not out of the question for Rudolph to earn the starting job, but Walsh’s experience should allow him to at least open the year as the No. 1 option.

TCU

The Candidates: Trevone Boykin (JR), Foster Sawyer (FR), Grayson Muehlstein (FR), Zach Allen (RS-FR), Tyler Matthews (SO)

What to Watch: After finishing ninth in the Big 12 in total offense last season, TCU coach Gary Patterson made significant changes to his offensive staff. Doug Meacham was hired from Houston to call the plays, while former Texas Tech quarterback and assistant Sonny Cumbie also joined the staff as co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Boykin is TCU’s most experienced option, throwing for 3,252 yards and 22 touchdowns over the last two years. But will he stay at quarterback? Boykin is an excellent athlete, and if another quarterback emerges, Meacham could move him to receiver. Muehlstein and Sawyer won’t arrive until the summer but will be a factor in this quarterback derby.

Projected Winner: Boykin. This job won’t be settled in the spring, as the coaching staff needs to get an extended look at Sawyer and Muehlstein. For now, we will guess Boykin’s experience will pay off, and he wins the starting job this preseason.

Tennessee

The Candidates: Justin Worley (JR), Riley Ferguson (RS-FR), Joshua Dobbs (SO), Nathan Peterman (SO)

What to Watch: Butch Jones seems to have Tennessee back on track, but the Volunteers have a handful of glaring needs heading into 2014. Quarterback is one of those areas of concern, as four candidates will battle for the No. 1 spot. Worley has the most experience, but he completed only 55.6 percent of his throws in eight games last year. Joshua Dobbs played in five contests as a true freshman last season and threw for 695 yards and two touchdowns. He also recorded 189 yards and one score on the ground. Ferguson was dealing with a stress fracture in his leg and used a redshirt season in 2013.

Projected Winner: Dobbs. Keep a close eye on Ferguson this spring. The North Carolina native is healthy and ready to compete with Dobbs, Worley and Peterman for the starting spot. Dobbs didn’t play particularly well last season, but he was thrown into a difficult situation as a true freshman in the SEC. The winner of this job will be playing behind a line that has to replace all five starters.

Texas

The Candidates: David Ash (SR), Tyrone Swoopes (SO), Jerrod Heard (FR)

What to Watch: Charlie Strong is one of the top defensive minds in the nation, but he might spend a little extra time with the offense this spring. The Longhorns have an unsettled quarterback situation, and there could be an additional name in the mix if Max Wittek transfers from USC to Austin. Ash played in only three games last season, throwing for 760 yards and seven touchdowns. He was sidelined due to a concussion for 10 games, but he will participate in spring practice. Swoopes was the No. 12 quarterback in the 2013 signing class and played in six contests last year. Heard ranked as the No. 2 quarterback by 247Sports Composite in the 2014 signing class and is the future for Texas’ offense.

Projected Winner: Ash. This is a tough one to call. Are Swoopes and Heard ready to be a Big 12 quarterback? If Wittek lands in Austin, can he factor into the mix? Considering Ash has the most experience of anyone on the roster, he’s the safest pick to win the job.

Texas A&M

The Candidates: Kyle Allen (FR), Kenny Hill (SO), Matt Joeckel (SR)

What to Watch: Johnny Manziel’s two-year playing career in College Station easily ranks among the best by a quarterback in the SEC during the BCS era. How will Texas A&M replace him? Well, you can’t exactly replicate Manziel’s production and leadership, but there are three intriguing candidates vying for time. Joeckel has the edge in experience, throwing 48 passes over the last two years in relief duty. Hill completed 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards in limited action last season. Allen – the No. 10 prospect in the 247Sports Composite – enrolled early to compete this spring.

Projected Winner: Hill. Flip a coin between Hill and Joeckel. Allen will eventually take the starting job, but it seems unlikely Texas A&M will start him on the road at South Carolina for his first start. Regardless of the winner, the Aggies have three solid options to run their high-powered offense.

UCF

The Candidates: Justin Holman (SO), Pete DiNovo (RS-FR), Tyler Harris (FR)

What to Watch: Blake Bortles could be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Needless to say, the trio of candidates vying to be UCF’s starting quarterback will have big shoes to fill. Tyler Harris enrolled early to compete this spring with sophomore Justin Holman and redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo. Holman played in three games last year and completed 9 of 14 passes for 75 yards and one score. Although the winner of this battle won’t equal Bortles’ production, UCF’s offense should still be among the best in the American Athletic Conference in 2014.

Projected Winner: Holman. This one is a coin flip. A slight edge should go to Holman since he has an edge in experience, but DiNovo will be tough to keep off the field.

Virginia Tech

The Candidates: Mark Leal (SR), Bucky Hodges (RS-FR), Chris Durkin (FR), Andrew Ford (FR), Michael Brewer (JR)

What to Watch: Logan Thomas is gone, and second-year coordinator Scot Loeffler enters spring looking for answers for an offense that averaged just 5.3 yards per play in ACC contests last season. Mark Leal is the frontrunner to replace Thomas, and he has played sparingly in his career. Leal completed 12 of 25 passes for 130 yards against UCLA in the Sun Bowl, which was his first extended chance at snaps for the Hokies. Hodges is another name to watch after he ranked as the No. 20 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2013 signing class. But perhaps the name with the most intrigue is Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer. He won’t arrive until the summer, but Brewer was solid in limited action with the Red Raiders (440 yards, five touchdowns).

Projected Winner: Leal. Brewer is intriguing, but he is at a disadvantage since he won’t arrive until this summer. With a solid defense in place, the Hokies can contend for a Coastal Division title if a quarterback emerges this preseason.

Washington

The Candidates: Jeff Lindquist (SO), Cyler Miles (SO), Troy Williams (RS-FR), K.J. Carta-Samuels (FR)

What to Watch: At the end of the 2013 season, Cyler Miles appeared to be locked-in as Washington’s starting quarterback. However, he was indefinitely suspended after an off-the-field incident in early February. Considering Miles’ return is uncertain, it’s unlikely the Huskies will have much clarity at quarterback this spring. Lindquist and Williams will battle for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart with Miles out, while Carta-Samuels will arrive in the summer.

Projected Winner: Miles. Assuming he returns, Miles should be Washington’s starting quarterback. He was impressive in limited action last season, completing 37 of 61 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns. Miles ranked as the No. 5 quarterback in the 2012 signing class by Athlon Sports, so there’s no question about his talent. However, if he misses all of spring practice, how quickly can he catch Lindquist and Williams for the No. 1 spot in a new offense?

West Virginia

The Candidates: Skyler Howard (SO), Clint Trickett (SR), Paul Millard (SR), William Crest (FR)

What to Watch: Although coach Dana Holgorsen would like to see some clarity at this position, it’s unlikely the Mountaineers will find many answers in spring practice. Clint Trickett is out due to shoulder surgery, Howard is still learning the offense after one year in the junior college ranks, and Crest won’t arrive on campus until this summer. Considering the uncertainty surrounding the other three candidates, Millard will have a chance to stake his claim for the starting job in spring practice. Howard threw for 3,151 yards and 33 touchdowns in his one season as Riverside City College’s starting quarterback.

Projected Winner: Millard. Junior college recruits are hit or miss, so it’s tough to know what to expect from Howard in his first season in Morgantown. However, if Millard or Trickett struggles early in the year, Howard or Crest should get an extended look this season. For now, the edge here should go to Millard, especially with a full spring to work with the No. 1 offense.

Is there a battle?

Florida
Jeff Driskel returns after missing nine games due to a leg injury. Will new coordinator Kurt Roper help Driskel live up to his lofty recruiting hype? Or will the Gators turn to incoming freshman Will Grier (No. 2 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports)?

Michigan
Devin Gardner failed to have the breakout year most expected in 2013, but his supporting cast didn’t give him much help. Shane Morris started the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and ended 2013 by throwing for 261 yards on 29 completions. Can Gardner pickup where he left off against Ohio State? Or will Morris push Gardner for the job?

North Carolina
Despite Marquise Williams finishing 2013 on a high note, coach Larry Fedora insists the quarterback job is open. Redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky is a talented option, but it would be a surprise if he beats Williams for the starting spot.

Rutgers
Gary Nova started the first 10 games for the Scarlet Knights last season but was benched in favor of Chas Dodd for the final three. Dodd has expired his eligibility, and Nova hopes to use an offseason under new coordinator Ralph Friedgen to hold onto the starting job. Redshirt freshman Chris Laviano, sophomore Blake Rankin and junior Mike Bimonte will push Nova for time this spring.

USC
Cody Kessler seemed to get better with each snap last year, and he finished 2013 on a high note by throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns against Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Although Kessler is a solid option for new coach Steve Sarkisian, redshirt freshman Max Browne will get a chance to unseat him this spring. Browne ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100.

Wisconsin
Joel Stave started all 13 games for the Badgers last season and finished with 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns. But he isn’t guaranteed the starting job this year. Wisconsin needs more from its passing attack, and the coaching staff will take an extended look at Bart Houston, true freshman D.J. Gillins and Tanner McEvoy, who will shift back to quarterback after spending last year at safety. Will Stave hold on once again? Or has McEvoy made enough progress to make a push for the top spot?

Others to Watch

Boston College
Steve Addazio and coordinator Ryan Day are essentially starting from scratch on offense. Quarterback Chase Rettig, running back Andre Williams and receiver Alex Amidon have expired their eligibility. The coaching staff moved Josh Bordner to receiver, and Florida transfer Tyler Murphy arrived to compete in spring practice. Competing with Murphy will be redshirt freshman James Walsh and true freshman Darius Wade. Although the Eagles are replacing a lot of talent on offense, the line returns a solid foundation, and running back Myles Willis played well in a limited role last year.

Fresno State
Derek Carr guided Fresno State to a Mountain West title last season and finished his career with 12,842 passing yards. Needless to say, the next quarterback has big shoes to fill. Brian Burrell, Myles Carr, Zack Greenlee, Colin Kearon and incoming freshman Kilton Anderson are the options to replace Carr, with Greenlee and Burrell having an edge over the rest of the competition.

Illinois
Bill Cubit was one of the top assistant hires last season, providing a spark for an Illinois’ offense that averaged just 16.7 points a game in 2012. Nathan Scheelhaase has expired his eligibility, but the cupboard isn’t bare for Cubit. Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt is considered the favorite, while Aaron Bailey and Reilly O’Toole will compete for time. Although the coaching staff has hinted the job is open, it would be a surprise if Lunt does not take the first snap for the Fighting Illini.

Indiana
Remember that old cliché about quarterbacks? If you have two you don’t have a starter? Well, forget about that when looking at the Hoosiers’ offense. Coach Kevin Wilson should have no trouble using both of his quarterbacks in 2014, as Nate Sudfeld threw for 2,523 yards last year, and Tre Roberson combined for 1,551 total yards. Although a two-quarterback system is never ideal, Sudfeld and Roberson each bring something different to the table. Will one end up with the full-time job? Or will Wilson continue to rotate Sudfeld and Roberson?

Kansas
The Jayhawks have struggled to find answers under center in Charlie Weis’ two years in Lawrence. Jake Heaps ranked as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the 2010 signing class, but he has yet to reach his potential and finished 2013 by completing just 49 percent of his passes and tossing 10 picks on 261 passes. Montell Cozart’s dual-threat ability is intriguing, but his completion percentage also needs some work (36.5). UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard was the No. 19 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports in the 2012 signing class. He has yet to take a snap in a FBS game.

Kentucky
The Wildcats certainly aren’t short on options. Maxwell Smith (1,276 passing yards in 2013) and Jalen Whitlow (1,490 total yards) are the top returning passers, but all eyes in Lexington are on true freshman Drew Barker. The Kentucky native ranked as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports and enrolled in time to compete in spring practice. Whitlow and Smith have the edge in experience, but Barker’s upside may win out in the fall.

Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater is gone. However, Bobby Petrino certainly knows how to coordinate an offense and develop quarterback, so there’s not a ton of concern about the options under center for Louisville. Will Gardner is the favorite to replace Bridgewater after completing 8 of 12 passes for 112 yards and two scores. If he struggles, redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin appears to be the next option.

Vanderbilt
Derek Mason’s first assignment as the Commodores’ head coach is to sort out the battle between sophomore Patton Robinette and redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary. Robinette started three games last season and finished 2013 with 642 passing yards and four touchdowns. McCrary was the No. 16 dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports in the 2013 signing class and spent last season as a redshirt behind Robinette and Austyn Carta-Samuels.

Virginia
Improving upon last year’s dismal 2-10 record will largely depend on how much improvement Virginia gets out of its quarterbacks. David Watford finished 2013 with 2,202 yards, eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He enters spring on the hot seat, but backup Greyson Lambert also struggled last season (33 of 75, 340 yards, 2 INTs). Sophomore Matt Johns and incoming freshman Corwin Cutler will push Lambert and Watford for snaps.

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Nebraska has won at least nine games in each of Bo Pelini’s six years in Lincoln. Despite amassing 58 wins during that span, the Cornhuskers have not played in a BCS bowl and are still looking for a conference title under Pelini. None of those statistics or facts is anything new to Nebraska fans. They want more from this program. Can Pelini and his staff turn the corner and get the Cornhuskers back into BCS bowl or Big Ten title contention in 2014?

There’s enough returning talent for Nebraska to be a top 25 team next season. But there’s also plenty of reasons to be concerned heading into offseason practices. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong needs to take the next step in his development, and the offensive line returns only one starter. The defense needs to find depth in the trenches, while the secondary needs to be retooled after losing both starting cornerbacks.

The Big Ten is set to shuffle its divisions with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland. Nebraska will move to the West Division, which is a favorable place to be with Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan in the East.

Considering Wisconsin – the early favorite in the West – has holes to fill, Nebraska should be a factor for the division title.

Nebraska Cornhuskers 2014 Spring Preview

2013 Record: 9-4 (5-3 Big Ten)

Spring Practice Opens: March 8

Spring Game: April 12

Returning Starters

Offense: 5

Defense: 6

Four Things to Watch in Nebraska’s 2014 Spring Practice

2014 Schedule 
DateOpponent
Aug. 30
Sept. 6McNeese State
Sept. 13at 
Sept. 20
Sept. 27
Oct. 4at 
Oct. 18at 
Oct. 25
Nov. 1
Nov. 15at 
Nov. 22
Nov. 28at 

1. Tommy Armstrong’s job to lose at QB?: Taylor Martinez was supposed to have an All-Big Ten type of performance in his final year in Lincoln. Unfortunately for Martinez, he suffered a foot injury early in the season, which limited him to just four games. While it wasn’t easy to replace Martinez’s production, the Nebraska coaching staff got an extended look at Tommy Armstrong Jr. He was the No. 19 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class and redshirted his first year on campus. Armstrong Jr. shared the quarterback duties with Ron Kellogg III last season and finished with 966 yards and nine touchdowns. He also added 202 yards and two scores on the ground. While Armstrong had his share of ups and downs as a redshirt freshman, there was plenty for the coaching staff to build on in 2014. Now, it’s up to Armstrong to take the next step in his development and secure the starting job this spring. Redshirt freshman Johnny Stanton is an intriguing dual-threat option and will have a chance to unseat Armstrong over the next two months. True freshman Zack Darlington enrolled in January and is likely to spend 2014 working as the No. 3 quarterback. Will this spring be about Armstrong’s growth as the starter? Or will Stanton turn this into a battle that continues into the fall?

2. New faces on the offensive line: Outside of the quarterback battle, the offensive line is easily the biggest concern for Nebraska coordinator Tim Beck. This unit was hit hard by departures, including center Cole Pensick, guard Andrew Rodriguez and tackle Jeremiah Sirles. Guard Jake Cotton is only returning starter here, but Mike Moudy and Mark Pelini combined for five starts in 2013 and will battle for open jobs on the interior this spring. Chongo Kondolo is a name to watch after spending 2013 as a redshirt in his first season from the junior college and could start at guard or center. The tackle spots are up for grabs with a handful of candidates in the mix. Junior Matt Finnin and sophomore Zach Sterup worked as the backups at tackle last year and would seem to have an inside track on the starting spots. Colorado transfer Alex Lewis is another name to watch at tackle, as he transferred from Boulder after starting all 12 games for the Buffaloes in 2012. Massive redshirt freshman David Knevel (6-foot-9, 305 pounds) is also expected to factor into the mix at tackle. There’s a lot of uncertainty about this group and plenty of names are looking to earn a spot on the two-deep. Can Nebraska finish spring with some clarity in the starting five? Or will this position battle carry into the fall, allowing true freshmen Nick Gates and Tanner Farmer to battle for a starting spot?

3. New faces on the defensive line: The Cornhuskers are set at one end spot with the return of first-team All-Big Ten performer Randy Gregory. In his first season in Lincoln, Gregory recorded 66 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He will anchor a line that loses three key performers from last season, including honorable mention All-Big Ten end Jason Ankrah. For Gregory to be just as effective as he was in 2013, the rest of the line has to give him some help. The interior appears to be more stable than the depth at end, as Aaron Curry, Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine return. But the situation at end is slightly more concerning for Pelini. Greg McMullen recorded 16 tackles last season and is the only other end with significant experience on the roster. Recent work on the recruiting trail by Pelini may help here, with junior college recruit Joe Keels in the mix, and redshirt freshman A.J. Natter - the No. 329 national recruit in the 247Sports Composite last year - also ready to contribute. This spring is all about getting players like Natter and Keels acclimated to the defense and ready to play in 2014.

4. Rebuilding project in the secondary: Nebraska’s secondary was hit hard by departures this offseason. Gone are starting cornerbacks Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste, and safety Andrew Green also expired his eligibility. The pass defense was a strength for the Cornhuskers last season, allowing just eight touchdown tosses in Big Ten play. Can Nebraska quickly reload in the secondary? Safety Corey Cooper returns after starting all 13 games last season and should be the leader for the defensive backfield in 2014. Josh Mitchell made six starts and recorded 31 stops last year and is expected to finish spring atop the depth chart at one of the cornerback spots. Junior college recruit Byerson Cockrell could be the answer at the other cornerback spot, but junior Jonathan Rose played in nine games last year and will factor into the mix this spring. New defensive backs coach Charlton Warren certainly has his hands full over the next two months. The Cornhuskers have options, but Jean-Baptiste, Green and Evans will be tough to replace.

2014 Early Projected Win Range: 7-9

Nebraska is an intriguing team to watch this spring. Armstrong and Stanton could both be productive options at quarterback, and whoever wins the job will be handing off to one of the top running backs in the nation in Ameer Abdullah. Assuming the line and quarterback play stabilizes, this team should be in the mix to win the Big Ten’s West Division. Even though the defense loses a handful of key players, Pelini should be able to keep this unit in the top half of the Big Ten in yards allowed. But the key to 2014 could be what transpires in road games. Nebraska plays Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa away from Lincoln. For the Cornhuskers to claim the division title, November road tests against the Badgers and Hawkeyes are must-win contests.

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After guiding Northern Illinois to an Orange Bowl appearance during the 2012 season, high expectations followed Dave Doeren to Raleigh. NC State wasn’t stocked with proven talent last year, but the Wolfpack had a favorable schedule and most thought this team would at least make a bowl. Instead, NC State finished 3-9 and went winless in conference play.

Doeren and his staff have a lot of work to do in order to get the Wolfpack back into the postseason, but there are reasons to be optimistic about a turnaround in 2014. For starters, NC State can’t get much worse. The Wolfpack hit rock bottom in conference play by going 0-8, but 12 starters return, and Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett will take over under center.

A favorable schedule should allow NC State to start 4-0. But back-to-back games against Florida State and Clemson will test just how much the Wolfpack has improved in 2014. If Brissett is as good as advertised, NC State could easily improve to 6-6 or 7-5.

NC State Wolfpack 2014 Spring Preview

2013 Record: 3-9 (0-8)

Spring Practice Opens: March 4

Spring Game: April 12

Returning Starters

Offense: 6

Defense: 6

Three Things to Watch in NC State’s 2014 Spring Practice

2014 Schedule 
DateOpponent
Aug. 30
Sept. 6
Sept. 13at 
Sept. 20Presbyterian
Sept. 27
Oct. 4at 
Oct. 11
Oct. 18at 
Nov. 1at 
Nov. 8
Nov. 15
Nov. 29at 

1. Jacoby’s progress: The Wolfpack had a revolving door at quarterback last season, with five quarterbacks attempting passes. Don’t expect a similar outcome for NC State’s passing offense in 2014. Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett is clearly the Wolfpack’s No. 1 quarterback and is an upgrade over last year’s options. Brissett has talent (No. 75 player by Rivals in 2011 signing class) but threw only 74 passes in two seasons at Florida and completed 4 of 10 passes for 59 yards and one touchdown in NC State’s 2013 spring game. Backup Pete Thomas transferred and Bryant Shirreffs is expected to move to running back, leaving very little in the way of experience behind Brissett. If Brissett isn’t the answer, NC State could be looking at another long season. However, considering Brissett’s lofty ranking coming out of high school, combined with a solid supporting cast, the Wolfpack’s passing game should show major progress on the stat sheet. This spring is Brissett’s first chance to have full control of the offense. It’s always tough to gauge progress in preseason practice, but a good showing by Brissett and the offense will help ease Doeren’s concerns about this unit heading into 2014.

2. Finding answers on the offensive line: Considering the lack of experience behind Brissett, it’s important the Wolfpack keep their quarterback out of the grasp of opposing linemen. With Shirreffs moving to running back, Garrett Leatham, Josh Taylor or true freshman Jalan McClendon could serve as the backup. See how important it is to keep Brissett upright? The line allowed 2.9 sacks per game last season and ranked 106th nationally by giving up 35. That’s the bad news. However, the news isn’t all negative for Doeren. Left tackle Rob Crisp was awarded a medical redshirt for 2013 and will return to the team this summer. Crisp should solidify the left tackle spot, while Joe Thuney (12 starts in 2013) will slide to left guard. Quinton Schooley is back after making 12 starts last year, while Alex Barr (10) and Tyson Chandler (11) are also returning starters. Outside of Crisp and Thuney will any of the spots be up for grabs this spring? Considering last year’s performance, this line needs more talent and consistency in 2014.

3. Improving the defense: Where should we start? When taking into account just conference games, NC State ranked last against the run, 12th in the ACC in yards allowed and 13th in scoring defense. The problems run deeper than just the main statistical breakdowns, as the Wolfpack generated only 12 sacks in ACC games and last in red zone defense. Coordinator Dave Huxtable is going to have his hands full this spring as he tries to find answers on this side of the ball. Of course, it will be easier for the defense if the offense shows progress in 2014. With six starters back, it’s reasonable to expect NC State to make some gains on defense. The line has a promising core intact, including tackle Monty Nelson and end Art Norman. Linebacker Robert Caldwell was one of the team’s top defenders last season, but he departs after making 105 stops in 2013. However, there is experience returning at linebacker with seniors Rodman Noel, Brandon Pittman and junior M.J. Salahuddin. The secondary allowed only 13 touchdown passes in eight conference games, and much like the defensive line, there’s a good core to build around. Jack Tocho impressed as a freshman, and Hakim Jones and Juston Burris were key cogs in the secondary last year. As we mentioned earlier in this section, the Wolfpack should be better on defense. But how much more can this unit improve? The answers to fixing the defense might not come for another season as Doeren continues to assemble talent on the recruiting trail.

2014 Early Projected Win Range: 5-7

There’s no doubt Doeren’s first season in Raleigh was a disappointment. But the future looks bright for this program, as the second-year coach seems to have NC State trending in the right direction. When rebuilding a program, it may be necessary to take a step back before going forward. The Wolfpack are following a similar pattern and could be in the mix for a bowl in 2014. A favorable non-conference schedule should allow NC State to start 4-0 before measuring stick games against Florida State and Clemson open ACC play. Assuming the Wolfpack sweep their non-conference games, home tilts against Wake Forest and Boston College could be just enough to get bowl eligible. 

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For only the second time in school history, Clemson is coming off its third consecutive season of at least 10 victories. The Tigers have won 32 games over the last three years, claimed an Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State and defeated LSU in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl. But a key group of players departed last season, leaving Clemson with just 11 starters returning for 2014.

However, the news isn’t all bad for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers have recruited four consecutive top-20 classes, and true freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson appears to be a future star in the ACC. Swinney also scored a huge offseason victory when offensive coordinator Chad Morris didn’t leave Death Valley for a head coaching gig. So while Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins will be tough to replace, the Tigers have enough returning talent to navigate a favorable schedule to potentially 10 victories.

Figuring out the quarterback battle, as well as sorting out the options at running back and receiver are the biggest priorities for Swinney on offense in spring practice. Clemson doesn’t lose much on defense, but the secondary is thin on proven options at cornerback. The Tigers must also spend a little time this spring preparing for the opener against Georgia. Swinney recently announced four players (offensive linemen Shaq Anthony and David Beasley, cornerback Garry Peters and defensive end Corey Crawford) will be suspended for the matchup against the Bulldogs. It’s early, but the coaching staff wants to see other players step up at those positions.

Clemson Tigers 2014 Spring Preview

2013 Record: 11-2 (7-1 ACC)

Spring Practice Opens: March 5

Spring Game: April 12

Returning Starters

Offense: 5

Defense: 6

Four Things to Watch in Clemson’s 2014 Spring Practice

2014 Schedule 
DateTime
Aug. 30at 
Sept. 6South Carolina State
Sept. 20at 
Sept. 27
Oct. 4
Oct. 11
Oct. 18at 
Oct. 25
Nov. 6at 
Nov. 15at 
Nov. 22
Nov. 29

1. Replacing Tajh Boyd: It’s never easy replacing a starting quarterback, especially one of Boyd’s caliber. However, Clemson does have some intriguing options ready to battle for the starting job. Boyd was a model of consistency during his time with the Tigers, throwing for at least 3,800 yards and 33 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. Senior Cole Stoudt has completed 86 of his 119 career attempts with the Tigers, throwing for 742 yards and eight touchdowns. He enters spring with a slight hold on the No. 1 spot, but sophomore Chad Kelly and incoming freshman Deshaun Watson won’t give away the job without a fight. Kelly ranked as the No. 7 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class and threw for 58 yards on 10 completions last season. Watson is the name generating the most buzz in spring workouts, as he enrolled early to compete with Kelly and Stoudt. Regardless of which quarterback wins the job, expect Clemson’s offense to remain one of the best in the nation. Coordinator Chad Morris returns to Death Valley, and he should have no trouble making the necessary adjustments to compensate for the loss of Boyd. Can Clemson find some clarity at quarterback this spring?

2. The skill positions: Boyd isn’t the only loss on offense. Running back Roderick McDowell expired his eligibility after rushing for 1,025 yards last season, while receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant declared for the NFL Draft. Much like the quarterback position, the cupboard is far from bare. Zac Brooks rushed for 246 yards and caught six passes last season and enters spring practice with a slight edge on D.J. Howard for the starting running back job. C.J. Davidson and redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman are also in the mix, while Tyshon Dye won’t participate in spring workouts due to an offseason Achilles injury. If Brooks doesn’t take a step forward this spring, three incoming freshmen could make an impression in the fall: C.J. Fuller, Adam Choice and Jae’lon Oglesby. A similar battle is set to unfold at receiver with Watkins and Bryant no longer catching passes in Death Valley. Adam Humphries is back after grabbing 41 passes last year, while Charone Peake is expected to be at full strength in the fall after missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury. Mike Williams and Gerome Hopper are also back in the mix after showing flashes of promise as freshmen last year. The depth at receiver was bolstered with the addition of Demarre Kitt, Kyrin Priester and Artavis Scott in time for spring practice. Another touted freshman (Trevion Thompson) will join the team in time for fall workouts. 

3. New faces on the offensive line: Lost in the discussion of Clemson’s offense as it looks to replace Boyd and Watkins is the line. Three starters are back for 2014, but the Tigers lose tackle Brandon Thomas (second-team All-ACC) and guard Tyler Shatley. How will this group look in 2014? Ryan Norton started all 13 games at center last season and should anchor that position once again. However, the questions begin outside of Norton. Can Isaiah Battle and Shaq Anthony win the starting tackle spots this spring? Or will Swinney have to take an extended look at Kalon Davis there? At guard, David Beasley will have to earn his starting spot with Davis and Eric Mac Lain slightly ahead on the depth chart as spring practice starts. Finding the right five on the offensive line could require some different combinations this spring. And establishing a starting five as soon as possible is crucial for Clemson to build cohesion in the trenches.

4. Building depth in the secondary: With Vic Beasley returning at end, Clemson should have one of the top defensive lines in the ACC next year. The linebacking corps is also set despite the loss of Spencer Shuey, as Stephone Anthony returns as a likely All-ACC performer, and Kellen Jones should be 100 percent in the fall after a knee injury limited him to three games in 2013. While the front seven is set, question marks litter the cornerback spot. Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins (out this spring) are the most-experienced options, but redshirt freshman Mackensie Alexander is expected to play a significant role in the pass defense in 2014. Coordinator Brent Venables will likely call on redshirt freshmen Adrian Baker and Marcus Edmond, along with sophomore Cordrea Tankersley to fill out the depth at cornerback. With a matchup against Georgia to open the year, this unit will be tested from the opening snap.

2014 Early Projected Win Range: 8-10

There's no doubt Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins will be missed. However, Clemson’s offense should score plenty of points with Morris calling the plays, while Watson’s improvement will be one of the top spring storylines in the ACC. With road games at Georgia and Florida State in September, the Tigers will be tested early. A 1-2 start is likely, but the schedule lightens up after the first month, with a Nov. 29 showdown against South Carolina perhaps the only other game Clemson won’t be favored to win. The Tigers should be picked No. 2 in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State this year, but Clemson is a top 25 team in 2014.

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