Sean Miller and Rich Rodriguez from Arizona top the list
Recent years have brought an influx of impact football coaches into the Pac-12 — Rich Rodriguez, Todd Graham and Jim L. Mora have all taken their schools to new heights. Mark Helfrich and David Shaw picked up where their predecessors left off.
Now, the league hopes basketball will hold up its end of the bargain. Sean Miller, for example, has returned Arizona to national powerhouse status, giving the Wildcats the best duo in the league. Utah's Larry Krystkowiak and Colorado's Tad Boyle have remade their respective programs, and Wayne Tinkle may be on the way to doing the same at Oregon State.
The moves have given the Pac-12 an impressive lineup of coaching duos at the top while the rest of the league is starting to catch up.
The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.
Football: Rich Rodriguez | Basketball: Sean Miller
Less than a decade ago, Arizona’s basketball and football programs were searching for an identity. The end of the Lute Olson era was a protracted experience with two interim coaches, and football found only limited success with Mike Stoops. Miller and Rodriguez have transformed all that. Miller has led Arizona to two Elite Eights and two regular season conference titles. The football program isn’t going to be USC, but Rodriguez is the right fit for an underdog program. His 10 wins last season was the most for Arizona since the Desert Swarm days, and 26 wins in three seasons in the most for the Wildcats in a three-year period since the 1970s.
2. Oregon State
Football: Gary Andersen | Basketball: Wayne Tinkle
Oregon State pulled off one of the biggest coups of the college football coaching carousel this season when it pulled Andersen from Wisconsin. The former Badgers coach was 19-7 overall and 13-3 in the Big Ten after winning 11 games and a WAC title at Utah State. Just as important, though, was the arrival of Tinkle with the basketball program. He took Montana to the NCAA Tournament and won two Big Sky regular season titles in his final three seasons. His first team at Oregon State is already competitive in the Pac-12. Both of the Oregon State coaching jobs are among the toughest in the Pac-12, but both coaches can win here.
Football: David Shaw | Basketball: Johnny Dawkins
Stanford has a pair of coaches that — at least for now — appear to be trending in opposite directions. Shaw picked up where Jim Harbaugh left off and led Stanford to 34 wins, three major bowl games and two Pac-12 titles in his first three seasons. The 2014 season, though, ended with five losses and a trip to the Foster Farms Bowl. Dawkins seemed to be in trouble entering last season before taking Stanford to the Sweet 16. The Cardinal should head to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament this season.
Football: Kyle Whittingham | Basketball: Larry Krystkowiak
Times were better for Whittingham and Utah football in the Mountain West, when the Utes went 33-6, including an undefeated season in 2008, in their last three seasons in the league. Wittingham delivered Utah’s best season in the Pac-12 last year — 9-4 overall and 5-4 in the league — but coaching staff tumult has put the future in question. Basketball, on the other hand, is surging forward. Krystkowiak went 6-25 with a broken program in his first year, reached 21 wins in his third and has a top-10 team in his fourth. The Utes have arguably their best team since Rick Majerus was the coach.
Football: Mark Helfrich | Basketball: Dana Altman
Helfrich picked up where Chip Kelly left off, reaching the national title game in his second season as head coach and winning 11 games and finishing in the top 10 in his first season. He’s laid-back demeanor is a change for the program, but the most pressing issue is winning without Marcus Mariota. Altman has survived an offseason of controversy to have Oregon in contention for its third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. In his last 17 seasons at Creighton and Oregon, Altman has 16 20-win seasons.
Football: Jim L. Mora | Basketball: Steve Alford
Mora has pulled UCLA out of its funk, leading the Bruins to back-to-back 10 win seasons and top-25 finishes for the first time since 1997-98. With the way he has recruited, more should be on the way. Alford got over his NCAA Tournament bugaboo by reaching the Sweet 16 in his first season at UCLA. If the Bruins even get into the field this season, it will be something of a victory. Alford has been around longer than you might think — he’s taken four teams to the Tournament and should get to 450 career wins next season.
7. Arizona State
Football: Todd Graham | Basketball: Herb Sendek
Will Graham be the coach to fully tap into Arizona State’s potential? Graham is already the first Sun Devils coach to finish in the top-25 in back-to-back years since 1996-97 and the first to win 10 games in back-to-back years since Frank Kush. Next up is a Pac-12 title. Sendek has two NCAA appearances in nine seasons and he’s fresh out of James Hardens.
Football: Mike MacIntyre | Basketball: Tad Boyle
Colorado stepped back from 4-8 to 2-10 in MacIntyre’s second season, but the Buffaloes lost four Pac-12 games by a touchdown or less. Despite a lackluster season this year, Boyle has turned Colorado into a relevant basketball program. He’s the only coach in school history to lead the Buffaloes to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments and four consecutive postseasons.
Football: Chris Petersen | Basketball: Lorenzo Romar
Petersen’s first season in a power conference was forgettable as the Huskies went 8-6 and lost to Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl. Petersen is 16-11 in his last two seasons, an unthinkable mark after his first seven years. Romar’s Washington tenure has seen its share of peaks and valleys, and right now is a valley. The Huskies are about to miss the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season and fail to win 20 games for the third year in a row.
Football: Steven Sarkisian | Basketball: Andy Enfield
Sarkisian went 9-4 in his first season at USC, but with NCAA sanctions finally gone and an elite recruiting class arriving, expectations are about to be sky high. The rebuild of USC hoops is going to take time, but Enfield is still two years removed from taking Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16.
11. Washington State
Football: Mike Leach | Basketball: Ernie Kent
Reaching the postseason is tough for the coach in either sport. Leach has sandwiched a 6-7 season with two 3-9 years. Kent, the former Oregon coach, has already eclipsed last year’s win total but there’s a long way to go.
Football: Sonny Dykes | Basketball: Cuonzo Martin
Dykes oversaw one of the most improved teams in the Pac-12, going from 1-11 to 5-7 in his second season. He led a similar turnaround at Louisiana Tech. Martin will hope to approach 20 wins in his first season at Cal, a place where it’s not easy to win big immediately.