Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.
Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 125 college football coaches rank nationally.
Ranking the coaches in any college football conference or nationally is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches for all 125 programs. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank nationally.
Coach Rankings for 2013: ACC| Big East| Big 12| Big Ten| Pac-12| SEC
Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 68-13 (2007-present)
Record at LSU: 48-16 (2000-04)
Record at Michigan State: 34-24-1 (1995-99)
Record at Toledo: 9-2 (1990)
Overall Record: 159-55-1 (17 years)
Saban is without question the best coach in college football. He started his career as a head coach in 1990 with Toledo, then spent the next four seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns. In 1995, Saban was hired as Michigan State’s head coach and guided the Spartans to a 34-24-1 record under his watch. Saban left East Lansing for Baton Rouge and LSU in 2000 and led the Tigers to a 48-16 record in five years, including a national championship in 2003. Saban had a two-year stint with the Dolphins but jumped at the opportunity to lead Alabama in 2007. After a 7-6 record in his first season, Saban is 61-7 in his last five years with the Crimson Tide, which includes three national championships. At 61 years old, Saban is still at the top of his game and should have Alabama in the mix for a SEC and national title every year he is on the sidelines.
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 12-0 (2012-present)
Record at Florida: 65-15 (2005-2010)
Record at Utah: 22-2 (2003-04)
Record at Bowling Green: 17-6 (2001-02)
Overall Record: 116-23 (11 years)
Really the only thing left on Meyer’s resume is to defeat an SEC school in the national championship. In his first year at Ohio State, he took a 6-7 Buckeyes team and turned them into a perfect 12-0 program, proving his past successes were no fluke. He already claims two BCS National Championships, four conference titles (would have been five had OSU been eligible last year), three conference Coach of the Year awards, one Heisman winner and one national Coach of the Year honor. In each stop along the way, Meyer has proven to have an immediate impact on the program be it at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida or Ohio State. He is an elite recruiter and an elite talent developer. No, he isn’t the nicest or most honest guy in the business, but his teams are extremely well coached and they win big.
3. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Overall Record at Kansas State: 170-85-1 (1989-2005, 2009-present, 21 years)
Snyder doesn’t get the national credit like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, but there’s no denying he is one of the best coaches in college football. Prior to his arrival at Kansas State, the Wildcats had just one bowl appearance and recorded only one winning season from 1971-88. After Snyder’s arrival, Kansas State immediately went from a laughingstock to a consistent winner. The Wildcats won six games in Snyder’s first two seasons but recorded 10 years of nine victories or more from 1993-2003. Snyder retired after the 2005 season, but a failed three-year stint under Ron Prince brought him back to the sidelines. And just as Kansas State did in Snyder’s first stint, the program quickly emerged as a conference title contender and was in the mix to play for the national title last season. Snyder isn’t flashy, but his teams are always well-coached and prepared. As long as Snyder roams the sidelines in Manhattan, regardless of how many starters Kansas State loses, never count out the Wildcats from the Big 12 title discussion.
4. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Record at Notre Dame: 28-11 (2010-present)
Record at Cincinnati: 34-6 (2007-09)
Record at Central Michigan: 19-16 (2004-06)
Record at Grand Valley State: 118-35-2 (1991-2003)
Overall Record: 199-68-2 (23 years)
Not many coaches in college football can rival Kelly’s resume in four stops as a head coach. Kelly’s first head coaching gig came in 1991 at Grand Valley State, and he stayed in that capacity until 2003. During 13 years with Grand Valley State, Kelly went 118-35-2 and won two Division II titles. After his success with the Lakers, Kelly went 19-16 with Central Michigan, which included a MAC Championship in 2006. Kelly moved on to Cincinnati at the end of the 2006 season and guided the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East titles in 2008 and 2009. After back to-back 8-5 seasons with Notre Dame, Kelly led the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the BCS National Championship game at the end of the 2012 season. Despite the blowout loss to Alabama in the title game, Kelly clearly has the program back on track to be an annual top 10-15 team.
5. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 66-37 (2005-present)
Record at Florida: 122-27-1 (1990-2001)
Record at Duke: 20-13-1 1987-89)
Overall Record: 208-77-2 (22 years)
After six consecutive seasons with at least five losses, Spurrier has delivered two (if not three) of the best seasons in South Carolina football history. It clearly took some time to build the Gamecocks into a consistent winner for the first time in program history. But there is no doubt the Gamecocks have become one of the league's top contenders. Not only is Spurrier extremely relevant in the league heading into the 2013 season at age 68 (April 20), but he has achieved at a high level over time as well. in a conference known for its ability to devour quality coaches, few have proven to be as adaptable and as consistent as Spurrier. He has an incredible 122-41 record in SEC play over his 20-year career in the league for an average of more than six conference wins per season (6.1). With one national championship under his belt from his time at Florida, should he bring a conference crown to Columbia, his name would belong with those two guys from Alabama as the SEC's greatest of all-time. The only problem is Carolina has gone from first to second to third in the East the last three seasons despite appearing to get better on the field.
6. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Overall Record at Boise State: 84-8 (2006-present)
There are few coaches in college football with a more impressive resume than Petersen. In seven years with the Broncos, Petersen has recorded at least 10 wins in every season. He has also never lost more than three games in a single season during his tenure in Boise. Also, Boise State has played in two BCS bowl games and has four finishes inside of the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll. Despites overtures from BCS programs, Petersen hasn’t showed any interest in leaving Boise State. Under his watch, the Broncos have upgraded their facilities and landed a favorable deal to stay in the Mountain West, instead of joining the American Athletic Conference (formerly known as the Big East). Even though college football’s postseason format will change, expect Boise State to remain a player on the national scene as long as Petersen is on the sidelines. And BCS programs will keep calling the California native, but Petersen seems pretty comfortable in Boise.
7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Overall Record: 149-37 (1999-present, 14 years)
Stoops has been the picture of consistency and success during his Oklahoma tenure. The Sooners have won at least 10 games in 11 of Stoops’ 14 seasons in Norman and claimed the national title after the 2000 season. Under his guidance, Oklahoma has emerged as a national powerhouse once again. The Sooners have claimed at least a share of the Big 12 title nine times under Stoops and have eight BCS bowl appearances. And after a 10-3 record in 2012, which would be considered a successful year for most programs, Stoops didn’t sit idle. Oklahoma will have three new assistant coaches for 2013, which should inject some fresh energy into the program. Even though some may criticize Stoops for his 1-5 record in the last six BCS bowls, the Ohio native is still one of the nation’s premier coaches.
8. Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
Record at Western Kentucky: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Arkansas: 34-17 (2008-2011)
Record at Louisville: 41-9 (2003-06)
Overall Record: 75-26 (8 years)
Petrino’s tenure at Arkansas ended in disastrous fashion thanks to one motorcycle ride in April. After sitting out 2012, Petrino is back on the sidelines – with a job that’s a lot less high-profile than Arkansas: Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers made significant progress under former coach Willie Taggart, and Petrino should be able to build on that in 2013. At each of his stops as a collegiate head coach, Petrino built an instant winner. In his first season at Louisville, the Cardinals went 9-4 and finished 12-1 in 2006 with a Big East title and Orange Bowl victory over Wake Forest. Petrino had a failed stint in the NFL with the Falcons, but he returned to the sidelines at Arkansas and led the Razorbacks to a 34-17 record in four seasons. Make no mistake: Petrino isn’t going to be on the sidelines for very long in Bowling Green. However, until a BCS program decides to hire him, Petrino will be very successful at Western Kentucky
9. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 216-104-2 (1987-present)
Record at Murray State: 42-23-2 (1981-1986)
Overall Record: 258-127-4 (31 years)
First as a player and now as the head coach, Beamer has been a part of Virginia Tech football for four decades, and his success has made “Beamerball” a recognized commodity both within and outside of the state. After a slow start to his coaching career at Tech, Beamer has led the Hokies to 20 straight bowl games dating back to 1993. During this time he won three Big East championships — including one memorable run at the national title with Michael Vick in 1999 — four ACC titles and five conference Coach of the Year Awards. In eight years of playing in the Coastal, Beamer has won the division five times. His seven-win 2012 campaign ended an eight-year run with at least 10 wins and it forced him to make some coaching changes. That said, he is still the longest tenured and winningest active coach in college football.
10. Gary Patterson, TCU
Overall Record at TCU: 116-36 (2000-present, 13 years)
Since 2000, TCU has played in the WAC, Conference USA, Mountain West and Big 12. The one constant and driving force behind the conference changes and rise of TCU as one of college football’s top-25 programs of the BCS era: Gary Patterson. The Kansas native had no FBS head coaching experience when he was promoted at TCU in 2000 but has eight seasons of 10 or more wins, including a 13-0 mark in 2010. The Horned Frogs dominated the Mountain West from 2005-2011, losing only seven conference games during that stretch. Moving to the Big 12 is a step up in competition for TCU. But the program has a lucrative recruiting base, and Patterson is clearly one of the top-15 coaches in the nation. As long as the Horned Frogs continue to recruit well, competing in the Big 12 won’t be a problem.
11. Mark Richt, Georgia
Overall Record at Georgia: 118-40 (2001-present, 12 years)
Yes, Spurrier has been around longer than the Georgia coach, but along with Gary Pinkel of Missouri, Richt is your longest tenured coach in the nation's toughest league. And he added his sixth SEC East title and fifth SEC title game appearance to his resume in 2012. A model of consistency, Richt has won at least eight games in all but one of his 12 SEC campaigns and has never finished a regular season under .500 and never missed a postseason. Fans were restless following the low point of the tenure — a loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl following the 2010 season, but he made quality staff adjustments and has rebounded with back-to-back SEC championship game appearances. Richt returned the Dawgs to prominence with two SEC titles in 2002 and 2005, but after three straight losses in Atlanta, Georgia faithful are eagerly waiting to cap a season a with a win in the Georgia Dome rather than a loss. A win would likely earn Richt his third SEC Coach of the Year award.
Related Content: Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013
12. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Overall Record at Northwestern: 50-39 (2006-present, 7 years)
Fitzgerald is the perfect fit at Northwestern, and he continues to take the program to new heights. The Illinois native starred at linebacker for the Wildcats from 1993-96 and was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Fitzgerald had no coordinator experience when he was promoted to the top spot at Northwestern and took over the program in a difficult time, replacing Randy Walker after his unexpected death in 2006. Despite his inexperience on the sidelines, Fitzgerald has been a home-run hire for Northwestern. The Wildcats are 50-39 under his watch and have played in five consecutive bowl games. Northwestern earned its first bowl victory since the 1949 Rose Bowl by beating Mississippi State 34-20 in last season's Gator Bowl. Fitzgerald is never going to reel in top-25 recruiting classes, but he has done a good job of finding and developing plenty of talent during his tenure. As long as Fitzgerald stays on the sidelines in Evanston, expect the Wildcats to remain a consistent contender in the Big Ten Legends Division, and they could start 2013 in the preseason top 25.
13. Art Briles, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 33-30 (2008-present)
Record at Houston: 34-28 (2003-07)
Overall Record: 67-58 (10 years)
From 1997-2007, Baylor was one of the Big 12’s worst programs. The Bears compiled a 31-94 mark and did not record a bowl appearance during that stretch. Enter Art Briles. Since Briles’ arrival, the Bears have been much more competitive in the Big 12. Baylor has 25 victories over the last three seasons and has played in three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history. Briles’ success isn’t contained just to Baylor, as he took over Houston and went 34-28 in five years with the Cougars. Two different programs, two challenging and different reclamation efforts. Considering what Briles has done on the high school level, at Houston and now at Baylor, he’s easily one of college football’s top-20 coaches going into the 2013 season.
Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013
14. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 19-7 (2011-present)
Record at San Diego State: 13-12 (2009-10)
Record at Ball State: 34-38 (2003-08)
Overall Record: 66-57 (10 years)
After turning around Ball State and San Diego State, Hoke was Michigan’s pick to lead the program back to national prominence. So far, so good. The Wolverines are 19-7 under Hoke’s watch and have back-to-back 6-2 records in conference play. Michigan also won the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech to cap its first season under Hoke’s watch and has finished each of the past two seasons ranked in the Associated Press top 25. Although Hoke posted an overall losing mark at Ball State (34-38), the program didn’t have a winning record in the six seasons prior to his arrival. He was able to guide the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, including a 12-1 regular season record in 2008. San Diego State was considered an annual underachiever prior to Hoke, but he led the Aztecs to the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl – their first postseason appearance since 1998. As a Michigan man, Hoke is a perfect fit in Ann Arbor. And after two seasons, Hoke has the Wolverines poised once again to be a threat to win the Big Ten title every year.
Related Content: Ranking the Big Ten Coaches for 2013
15. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Overall Record at Oklahoma State: 67-35 (2005-present, 8 years)
Even though Gundy ranks No. 5 in Athlon’s Big 12 coach rankings for 2013, there’s not much separating the former Oklahoma State quarterback from the rest of the coaches in the conference. And it’s also hard to find a coach in the nation that’s a better fit at their current program. Considering Gundy played at Oklahoma State and served as an assistant prior to being elevated to head coach, he’s the perfect leader for a program that has made significant gains over the last 10 years. After going 18-19 in his first three seasons, Gundy has led the Cowboys to five consecutive seasons of at least eight victories. Oklahoma State recorded a 23-3 mark from 2010-11, which included an outright Big 12 title in 2011 and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. Having a booster like T. Boone Pickens certainly doesn’t hurt Oklahoma State, especially when it comes to building new facilities. However, Gundy has elevated the Cowboys from battling just for bowl berths to conference titles in just a few seasons.
16. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 11-2 (2012-present)
Record at Houston: 35-17 (2008-2011)
Overall Record: 46-19 (5 years)
Sumlin’s debut at Texas A&M was a rousing success. In the Aggies’ first season in the SEC, Sumlin guided Texas A&M to an 11-2 record, helped to propel quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Heisman, and had the Aggies on the doorstep of playing in a BCS bowl. Sumlin came to Texas A&M after a 35-17 record in four seasons at Houston, which included a 12-1 mark in 2011. The Alabama native built a strong resume as an assistant, making stops at Wyoming, Minnesota, Purdue, Texas A&M and at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. One of the underrated aspects of Sumlin’s hire was a top-notch coaching staff, which included Kliff Kingsbury and Brian Polian, who both departed for head coaching jobs in the offseason. However, Sumlin restocked his staff, and with Texas A&M reeling in a top-10 recruiting class, the future looks bright in College Station. Sumlin’s next priority? Cut into Texas’ hold on the state and elevate Texas A&M into a consistent contender in the SEC.
17. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Overall Record at Vanderbilt: 15-11 (2011-present, 2 years)
Vanderbilt had never been to back-to-back bowl games in program history, but in just two short years, that is exactly what Franklin has done for the Commodores. It really is the only statistic that matters as Vandy has achieved at a higher level than ever before in the 117-year history of the program. With the only exception of attendance — which is still very strong compared to pre-Franklin standards — everything about this program screams S-E-C. Franklin has the Dores recruiting at an all-time rate, the offense is scoring at unprecedented levels and the program as a whole has a swagger never before seen on West End. Franklin is meticulous in his holistic and forward-thinking approach to selling a program and its exactly what a program like Vanderbilt has to have if it wants to continue to grow and contend with much more powerful SEC programs.
18. Charlie Strong, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 25-14 (2010-present)
Record at Florida: 0-1 (2004 Peach Bowl)
Overall Record: 25-15 (3 full years)
Strong had to wait a while for his first head coaching gig, but the Arkansas native has shown in just three full seasons he is one of the top 25 coaches in the nation. After stops as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina, Strong was hired as Louisville’s head coach in 2010. He didn’t inherit a full cupboard from the previous coaching staff, so it was no surprise Strong went 7-6 in each of his first two years in Louisville. However, the Cardinals took flight in 2012, winning 11 games (including an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over Florida). Strong turned down overtures from other BCS programs and will be tough to pry away from Louisville. If the Cardinals finish in the top 10 as most expect in 2013, expect to see Strong’s name move even higher on the list of the nation’s best coaches.
19. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 13-11 (2011-present)
Record at Temple: 27-34 (2006-2010)
Overall Record: 40-45 (6 years)
Golden earned the Miami job after building bottom feeder Temple into a MAC contender. He didn’t have a losing league record in his final four seasons in Philly and earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2009. A massive NCAA scandal involving super booster Nevin Shapiro didn’t slow Golden’s recruiting efforts and his team showed improvement last fall by winning the ACC's Coastal Division. Yet, for a second straight year, Miami missed a bowl game due to self-imposed postseason sanctions. His tribute to Howard Schnellenberger — a dress shirt, tie, slacks and jacket gameday attire — has once again become an iconic symbol on the Hurricanes’ sideline. After more than 10 freshmen saw starting time in ’12, Miami could be the front-runner in the Coastal this fall. Golden still has much to prove in Coral Gables, but his resurrection job at Temple shows he's capable of elevating Miami back into ACC title contention - provided the program can dodge major NCAA sanctions from the ongoing investigation.
20. David Shaw, Stanford
Overall Record at Stanford: 23-4 (2011-present)
Even after two years of winning at an 85-percent clip, there is still somewhat of an unknown factor with Shaw. He has finished tied for first in the Pac-12 North Division both seasons on the Farm, claimed a conference championship and won the school’s first Rose Bowl since 1972. Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck built the Cardinal program back to respectability, and, now that expectations have been elevated significantly, it will be no small feat to maintain this level of success. Shaw is steeped in Stanford tradition as a player and is one of the most well-liked men in the business. If he keeps recruiting at a high level, the Cardinal will remain a factor in the Pac-12 North for years to come. However, the bar has been set high after the last few years, and it’s easy to see just how valuable of a coach Harbaugh was after taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second year in the NFL.
21. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Overall Record at Oregon State: 81-67 (1997-98, 2003-present)
Riley has one of the most unique career paths in all of football. He won big in the CFL before his first stint in Corvallis (8-14) led to an NFL job in San Diego. He returned to Oregon State in 2003 and posted six winning campaigns in his next seven seasons, including the school’s first 10-win season (2006) and a Pac-10 Coach of the Year award (2008). Yet, after two losing seasons in 2010-11, Riley started to feel some pressure to win entering 2012, and he delivered in a big way. Riley turned the league’s worst rushing defense into one of the Pac-12’s best in one offseason and returned the Beavers to a bowl game. There are few people more liked in the industry than Riley and he consistently gets more out of less than most of his coaching peers. There is a reason he is the winningest coach in Oregon State history. It can be tough to sustain success at a program like Oregon State, but Riley is the right man to keep the Beavers in contention for a winning record every year.
22. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Michigan: 15-22 (2008-10)
Record at West Virginia: 60-26 (2001-07)
Record at Glenville State: 43-28-2 (1990-96)
Record at Salem: 2-8 (1988)
Overall Record: 134-93-2 (19 years)
Although his lack of success at Michigan is an eyesore on an otherwise stellar resume, Rodriguez is still one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. And if there was any doubt about his coaching prowess, he answered those questions with an 8-5 debut at Arizona in 2012. The Wildcats’ eight victories were a four-game improvement from 2011 and three of their losses were by seven points or less, including an overtime defeat to Stanford. Rodriguez should win big at Arizona, as he is a much better fit in the desert than in the Big Ten with Michigan. In seven years with West Virginia from 2001-07, Rodriguez led the Mountaineers to 60 wins, including a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia in 2005. West Virginia also claimed at least a share of the conference title in four years under Rodriguez’s watch. Arizona must replace quarterback Matt Scott in 2013, but the Wildcats could be pushing for a spot every year in the top 25 as long as Rodriguez is on the sideline.
23. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Overall Record at Mississippi State: 29-22 (2009-present, 5 years)
Each BCS conference seems to have one coach that cannot be judged strictly on his record. Mullen fits that profile for the SEC, as he is coming off his fifth year in Starkville and has a 29-22 overall record. Although Mullen’s overall record isn’t overly impressive, Mississippi State is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. The Bulldogs have played in three consecutive bowl games under Mullen and are coming off a 4-4 conference record in the always loaded SEC. Mullen is 3-1 against rival Ole Miss and has won seven or more games in each of the last three seasons. Prior to taking the top spot at Mississippi State, Mullen worked as an assistant under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. There’s no question Mullen needs to consistently beat some of the top teams in the SEC West to climb higher in the coach rankings. However, it’s not easy to win the division right now, especially as Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M could all be top-15 teams in 2013. If Mullen was at one of the top jobs in the conference – Florida, Alabama, LSU or Georgia – he would easily win at a higher level.
Related Content: Ranking the SEC Coaches for 2013
24. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 84-21 (2005-present)
Record at Oklahoma State: 28-21 (2001-04)
Overall Record: 113-42 (12 years)
Needless to say, Miles’ interesting personality sometimes distracts from his coaching ability. The Ohio native got his chance to be a head coach in 2001, as he was hired to lead Oklahoma State. The Cowboys went 4-7 in his first year but recorded at least seven victories in each of the next three seasons. Miles parlayed his success with Oklahoma State into the top spot at LSU, which he has held since 2005. Under Miles, the Tigers have had plenty of success – 84 victories and seven finishes in the Associated Press top 25 poll. LSU is 34-6 over the last three years and played for the national championship after the 2011 season. Although the Tigers have experienced plenty of success under Miles, there’s also a sense of disappointment. LSU went 10-3 with a team that was picked among the top two by most preseason polls last season. The Tigers also had a disappointing 8-5 2008 campaign and are 1-3 in their last four bowl games. There’s no question Miles is a solid coach, but he has plenty of talent at his disposal, and the Tigers have slightly underachieved.
25. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Wisconsin: 68-24 (2006-2012)
Overall Record: 68-24 (7 years)
Bielema’s decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas came as a surprise, but the lure of coaching in the SEC was tough to turn down. In seven years with the Badgers, Bielema had a 68-24 record, and led Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. Bielema led the Badgers to five finishes in the Associated Press' top 25 and had four seasons of 10 or more victories. Although Bielema was a good coach in the Big Ten, the road is much tougher in the SEC. Arkansas is in for a transition year in 2013, and the team will have to contend with improving programs at Texas A&M and Ole Miss in the West. While Bielema isn’t likely to lead the Razorbacks to a 10-win season in 2013 or '14, he is a good pick for a program that should be a consistent bowl team. Bielema will need some time to adjust to the SEC, but he should be a good fit at Arkansas.
26. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 51-28 (2007-present)
Record at Cincinnati: 18-17 (2004-06)
Overall Record: 51-28 (9 years)
The Spartans underachieved in 2012, but Dantonio’s overall record in six years in East Lansing is a rock-solid 51-28. The Texas native has guided Michigan State to six consecutive bowl berths and recorded back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2010-11. Dantonio’s 2011 team played for the Big Ten Championship, and the 2012 squad tied for the conference title. Prior to his tenure with Michigan State, Dantonio recorded an 18-17 record in three years with Cincinnati, which included two bowl appearances. Michigan State has the resources to be a consistent top-25 program but was considered an underachiever before Dantonio’s arrival. Despite slipping to 7-6 in 2012, Dantonio will have Michigan State back in the mix for the Big Ten Legends Division.
27. Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Overall Record at Penn State: 8-4 (Penn State, 2012-present)
Bill Belichick assistants haven’t exactly gone on to do big things as head coaches, but in one short year, O’Brien might be on his way to being the best of the Patriots' coach’s offspring. There is little viable evidence in favor of or against O’Brien as a head coach other than the job he did in his first year in Happy Valley. In the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history, he won eight games with an offense that was more creative and innovative than fans at Penn State had seen in nearly a decade. He also recruited extremely well considering the circumstances. The sample size is extraordinarily small and the situation is still difficult to quantify. That said, it's pretty clear that O’Brien has won most of Nittany Nation over in one quick season. And if his growing interest from NFL executives is any indication, Penn State has found a good one in the Brown University graduate.
28. Mack Brown, Texas
Record at Texas: 150-43 (1998-present)
Record at North Carolina: 69-46-1 (1988-97)
Record at Tulane: 11-23 (1985-87)
Record at Appalachian State: 6-5 (1983)
Overall Record: 236-117-1 (29 years)
Is 2013 a make-or-break year for Brown at Texas? It’s certainly a possibility. The Longhorns 11-15 mark in conference play over the last three years is unacceptable for one of college football’s premier programs. Brown transformed Texas into a national title contender, but it’s clear his best days as a head coach are probably behind him. Prior to coming to Austin, Brown worked as a head coach for one season at Appalachian State, three years at Tulane and for 10 years at North Carolina. In some regard, Brown is a victim of his own success at Texas. In his first 12 seasons in Austin, the Longhorns won at least nine games in every year and beat USC to win the 2005 national championship. However, since losing to Alabama in the 2009 BCS title, Texas hasn’t been the same program. The Longhorns have the talent to win the Big 12 title in 2013. If Texas fails to surpass its 2012 win total (nine), there will be plenty of calls for a coaching change in Austin.
Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013
29. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-6 (2011)
Record at Tulsa: 36-17 (2007-10)
Record at Rice: 7-6 (2006)
Overall Record: 57-34 (7 years)
With four head coaching jobs in seven years, it’s fair to poke fun at Graham’s job-hopping skills. However, what’s lost in his movement is the Texas native is a very good coach. In his only season at Rice, Graham improved the Owls’ win total by six games from the previous year. At Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane won at least 10 games in three of his four seasons. And at Pittsburgh, Graham led the Panthers to a 6-6 regular-season record and an invite to the BBVA Compass Bowl. Arizona State finished with an 8-5 record last season, the program's first winning mark since 2007. The Sun Devils were close to winning the Pac-12 South Division, as they lost to UCLA by just two points in late October. Under Graham, Arizona State also cut out the boneheaded mistakes and penalties that seemed to plague this program in recent years. The Sun Devils have the personnel to win the division in 2013, and Graham could have this team in the mix for a spot in most preseason top-25 polls.
Related Content: Ranking the Pac-12 Coaches for 2013
30. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 7-6 (2012-present)
Record at Arkansas State: 10-2 (2011)
Record at Lambuth: 20-5 (2008-09)
Overall Record: 37-13 (4 years)
After a successful debut in Oxford, a case could be made Freeze should be ranked higher on this list. The Mississippi native inherited an Ole Miss team that went 2-10 in the year prior to his arrival and guided the Rebels to a 7-6 finish with a victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. After finishing 2011 as the SEC’s worst team, Ole Miss was one of college football’s top 40 teams last year. Success and improvement hasn’t just been limited to one stop for Freeze, as Lambuth was 20-5 from 2008-09 under his watch, and Arkansas State went 4-8 prior to his arrival, only to win 10 games in Freeze’s only season in Jonesboro. Freeze is bringing in a top-five recruiting class to Oxford, and the program is clearly headed in the right direction. The Mississippi native has never been a head coach at one stop long enough to show he can sustain success for five or more seasons. However, considering his recruiting haul and track record so far, there’s little to doubt Freeze will continue to climb on this list in the coming years.
31. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 3-9 (2012-present)
Record at Texas Tech: 84-43 (2000-09)
Overall Record: 87-52 (11 years)
Leach is an evaluation anomaly. He has more than a decade of elite-level coaching prowess loaded with some of the most prolific passing statistics in the history of college football. His quarterbacks litter the NCAA passing record books, but his off-the-field headlines have dominated his resume in recent years. A strange and bizarre ousting from Texas Tech led to a brief hiatus from coaching and a short radio career with SiriusXM. Leach took the Washington State job and immediately dealt with locker room upheaval as well as on-the-field deficiencies. His team lost its best player (Marquess Wilson) late in the season, and the rushing offense was the worst in FBS football. Yet somehow, he was still able to finish his first year with a monumental comeback against arch-rival Washington in the Apple Cup. However, more than three wins is needed to keep Leach in the good graces of the Cougars brass this fall.
32. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 41-26 (2008-present)
Record at Navy: 45-29 (2002-07)
Record at Georgia Southern: 62-10 (1997-2001)
Overall Record: 148-65 (15 years)
After two I-AA National Championships at Georgia Southern, Johnson completely reinvented the Naval Academy before bringing his patented triple-option attack to the big leagues. Since showing up at Georgia Tech, Johnson has never posted a losing ACC record, has played in three ACC championship games and never missed the postseason. The Sun Bowl win over USC a year ago was his first at Tech and the school’s first bowl win since 2004. Needless to say, the long-time head coach has proven his option system is fully capable of winning at a high level.
33. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Utah State: 26-24 (2009-2012)
Record at Southern Utah: 4-7 (2003)
Overall Record: 30-31 (5 years)
Don’t be fooled by Andersen’s 30-31 career record. The Utah native is an excellent coach who should win big in Madison. Prior to his first head coaching job at Southern Utah in 2003, Andersen worked as an assistant at Northern Arizona and Utah. And after a one-year stint as the Thunderbirds head coach, he rejoined the Utes’ coaching staff and stayed in Salt Lake City until 2009, when he was picked to lead Utah State. Andersen turned the Aggies from WAC bottom feeder to a title contender, leading Utah State to an 11-2 record in 2012 with a top-20 finish in the Associated Press' poll. Andersen doesn’t have experience coaching in the Big Ten, but he is familiar with Urban Meyer since he served as his defensive line coach with the Utes in 2004. Despite his lack of familiarity with the Big Ten, Andersen has been successful at each of his coaching stops, and Utah State showed big improvement in each of his four seasons. With Meyer leading Ohio State, the Badgers may not match its recent run of three straight Big Ten titles in the near future. However, Wisconsin should be a consistent top-25 team under Andersen’s watch.
Related Content: Ranking the Big Ten Coaches for 2013
34. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
Record at Louisiana-Lafayette: 18-8 (2011-present)
Record at North Alabama: 66-21 (2002-08)
Overall Record: 84-29 (9 years)
If you are looking for college football’s next rising star in the non-BCS ranks, look no further than Lafayette, La. Hudspeth has recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons and has two bowl victories since taking over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Before coming to Louisiana-Lafayette, Hudspeth went 66-21 and made five playoff appearances in seven years at North Alabama, a Division II member school. Hudspeth served as an assistant on Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State from 2009-10 and spent one year as Navy’s offensive coordinator in 2001. As each of his two head coaching stops have shown, Hudspeth is a proven winner and is ready to jump to a BCS school in the next few years.
35. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Overall Record at Nebraska: 49-20 (Nebraska, 2003, 2008-present)
Pelini is one of the most intriguing coaches to evaluate among all the BCS conferences, if not the entire FBS pool. He leads one of the most powerful and historic programs in the nation and has resources at his disposal that most schools only dream of. He has led the Cornhuskers to three conference championship games in six seasons in two different leagues and has never won fewer than nine games. He also posted his best conference record with a 7-1 mark a year ago. However, he has also had many uncomfortable (and possibly inappropriate) moments with his players on national television and has never lost fewer than four games in any season. Nebraska is back competing for league championships for the first time since the '90s, but is Pelini treading water at 9-4 each season or was 2012 a glimpse of more to come?
36. Will Muschamp, Florida
Overall Record at Florida: 18-8 (2011-present, 2 years)
The fiery Florida coach proved a lot in his crucial second season at the helm in Gainesville. His team was one lost fumble at the goal line away from playing for a national championship in the SEC title game. His teams play with fierce physicality and his side of the ball, the defense, has been a major strength. His track record of big-time success — two national championship game appearances as a defensive coordinator — under Nick Saban, Mack Brown and Tommy Tuberville points to his ability to grind it out in a brutal conference. Yet, at times, his teams tend to play out of control — much like his coaching style — and its the only thing keeping him from being one of the league's elite field generals. So with a reworked defense and third(-ish) year starter under center, Gators fans are anxiously awaiting Muschamp's third season. Finishing a game against Georgia would go a long way to proving Muschamp is the long-term answer.
37. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Overall Record at Florida State: 31-10 (2010-present, 3 years)
Under Fisher’s direction, Florida State has once again emerged as a top-10 program. The Seminoles slipped in the final years under Bobby Bowden but have won at least nine games in each of Fisher’s three seasons. Florida State also has three bowl wins under Fisher and is 1-1 in the ACC Championship game under his watch. Despite Fisher’s success, the Seminoles have yet to climb back into the national title discussion and have finished just once in the Associated Press' poll final top 10. So while Florida State has made strides under Fisher, it’s not back among the nation’s elite – at least right now. The Seminoles continue to recruit well, and there’s plenty of young talent to fill the voids by the departing players. Fisher has a revamped coaching staff and a new indoor facility is on the way. All of the pieces are in place for Florida State to win big once again. If Fisher can elevate the Seminoles into a consistent top-five team once again, he will move into the top three of the ACC coaching ranks. However, Florida State also has a few head-scratching losses under Fisher, including a 17-16 road loss to NC State in 2012 and a 14-13 home defeat to Virginia in '11. If Fisher wants to be considered elite, it’s time for the puzzling losses to end.
Related Content: Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2013
38. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Overall Record at Iowa State: 24-27 (2009-present, 4 years)
Rhoads is the textbook example of why coaches shouldn’t always be judged just by the wins and losses on their resume. Iowa State is arguably the most difficult job in the Big 12 and one of the toughest from a BCS conference. So while Rhoads 24-27 record isn’t going to wow anyone, it’s impressive what he’s been able to do during his time in Ames. The Cyclones have played in three bowl games under Rhoads, with a victory in the 2009 Insight Bowl against Minnesota. Iowa State has won two in a row over rival Iowa and under Rhoads’ watch, the Cyclones have scored upset victories against Texas and Oklahoma State. As a native of Iowa, it would take a lot of Rhoads to leave Iowa State for another program. However, as long as the Cyclones in contention for a bowl every year, Rhoads’ name will keep coming up in coaching searches for top BCS programs.
39. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 8-4 (2012-present)
Record at Southern Miss: 34-19 (2008-11)
Overall Record: 42-23 (5 years)
Fedora cut his coaching chops at Baylor, Air Force, Middle Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma State. After a four-year run at Southern Miss that culminated with a C-USA Championship in 2011, Fedora landed at a North Carolina program still reeling from the aftermath of the Butch Davis era. He led the Heels to a co-Coastal Division title last season, but bowl sanctions didn’t allow North Carolina to play in the postseason. His offensive scheme is a proven commodity, but can he rebuild a roster hurt heavily by NFL defections and scholarship limitations?
40. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Overall Record at Clemson: 40-21 (2008-present, 5 years)
Swinney is one of the toughest coaches to rank in the ACC. He may not be the best X’s and O’s coach, but Clemson is 40-21 with two appearances in the ACC Championship under his watch. The Tigers seem to have turned a corner under Swinney’s direction and are the favorite to win the ACC in 2013. While Swinney deserves credit for the Tigers’ rise in recent years, having two of college football’s highest-paid coordinators hurts his case to be ranked higher on this list. Since Chad Morris arrived at Clemson, the Tigers are 21-6. Prior to his arrival, Swinney was just 19-15. Credit Clemson for giving Swinney the money to spend on quality assistants, which has clearly paid dividends for the program in recent years. Is Swinney an elite coach? Probably not. However, as long as he continues to recruit at a high level and hire good coordinators when Morris and Brent Venables leave for head coaching jobs, Clemson should remain one of the top programs in the ACC.
41. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: First Season
Record at Cincinnati: 23-14 (2010-2012)
Record at Central Michigan: 27-13 (2007-2009)
Overall Record: 50-27 (6 years)
The book on Jones is fairly straight forward. His teams have won at least a share of a league championship in four of his six seasons as a head coach. Two of them were outright while at Central Michigan and two of them were co-championships in the always murky Big East with the Bearcats. He has an excellent win-loss record and has taken a forward-thinking approach in his short tenure at Tennessee and it has made for big waves on the recruiting trail. However, he took over programs built up by Brian Kelly at his previous two stops and it remains to be seen if he can compete with the likes of Spurrier, Richt and Saban every single season. There is some renewed energy in Knoxville but fans can't be in anything but wait and see mode with Jones, the Vols' fourth head coach since 2008.
Related Content: Ranking the SEC Coaches for 2013
42. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 90-61 (2001-present)
Record at Toledo: 73-37-3 (1991-2000)
Overall Record: 163-98-3 (21 years)
Pinkel has a long and storied career on the sidelines at both Toledo and Mizzou with at least 70 wins at both. He built the Tigers football program to never before seen levels of success, both in the win column and in the box score. He is essentially responsible for Missouri being an attractive option for the SEC and needs to be given a lion's share of credit for the three-letter patch currently on their shoulder pads. He is No. 3 all-time in wins and is just 11 wins from becoming Missouri's winningest coach in history. That said, he never broke through in the Big 12 with a conference championship and watched his team post its worst finish in Pinkel's second season (2002). He has been around a long time and gets a lot of credit for building Mizzou football into what it is today, but now he is facing the biggest and best the game has to offer.
43. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Record at Cincinnati: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Texas Tech: 20-17 (2010-2012)
Record at Auburn: 85-40 (1999-2008)
Record at Ole Miss: 25-20 (1995-98)
Overall Record: 130-77 (17 years)
First, Tuberville has coached at three power conference jobs and has a winning record at all three. Second, he has an undefeated season in the SEC to his credit and is 50 games over .500 in the country’s toughest league. Third, he has a bizarre off-the-field resume that includes traffic accidents, ponzi schemes and questionable recruiting tactics as well as two strange departures from quality jobs. He was never a clean fit at Texas Tech and the program’s first losing season since 1992 led to an unsettling relationship with the fans. He improved the Red Raiders' atrocious 2011 defense enough to return to a bowl game last fall but could see the handwriting on the wall and bolted for the Bearcats. If the Cincy fans can handle the good with the bad, Tuberville should be able to keep the Bearcats competing for league championships.
Related Content: Want to know more (stats, history, records) about coaches? Check out CoachingRoots.com.
44. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at San Jose State: 16-21 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-21 (3 years)
MacIntyre has a tough job ahead of him at Colorado, but his previous stint at San Jose State shows he is up for the task. In three years with the Spartans, MacIntyre recorded a 16-21 overall mark and led the program to a top-25 finish in the Associated Press poll at the conclusion of 2012. San Jose State was not in great shape when MacIntyre arrived in 2010, as the program went 8-16 in Dick Tomey’s last two years and had just one winning season from 2001-09. After a 1-12 record in 2010, MacIntyre’s team showed steady improvement by winning five games in '11 and 11 last fall. The Spartans' only losses in 2012 came to Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Stanford and a very good Utah State team in mid-October. The Buffaloes are in need of major repair after seven consecutive losing seasons. It may take some time for MacIntyre to get Colorado in contention for a bowl game, but expect the Buffaloes to show marked improvement in 2013.
Related Content: Ranking the Pac-12 Coaches for 2013
45. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
Overall Record at Washington: 26-25 (2009-present, 4 years)
Coach Sark has proven that he is adaptable during his four years in Seattle. Prior to his arrival in 2009, Washington hadn’t had a winning record since 2002. Sarkisian changed that with a 7-6 campaign in 2010, which included an unexpected win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. However, three straight 7-6/5-4 records have a stagnant feel to them. That said, he has shown the ability to make adjustments when one of the worst defenses in the nation became one of the best overnight when he hired Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi last season. Washington is moving back into a brand new Husky Stadium and the U of W brand is hotter than ever on the recruiting trail, so Sarkisian gets credit for rebuilding the program. However, he needs to take the next step and show that his team can compete for Pac-12 North Division titles.
46. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Overall Record at BYU: 74-29 (2005-present, 8 years)
Mendenhall has quietly amassed 74 victories in eight years in Provo, and BYU has won four consecutive bowl games under his watch. In addition to his success on the field, Mendenhall has guided BYU through its transition from the Mountain West Conference to football independence, which has resulted in an 18-8 mark for the Cougars the past two seasons. Mendenhall’s teams have produced plenty of firepower on offense, but the defense is usually a strength in Provo. BYU ranked third nationally in points allowed and in total defense last season and could have one of the nation’s top linebackers with Kyle Van Noy returning for his senior year. The only blemish on Mendenhall’s resume would be a 3-5 mark against rival Utah, as the Cougars have lost three straight to the Utes.
47. Willie Taggart, South Florida
Record at South Florida: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Western Kentucky: 16-20 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-20 (3 years)
After a three-year stint as Western Kentucky’s head coach, Taggart essentially returns home to take over the top spot at South Florida. Taggart went 16-20 during his three years with the Hilltoppers, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. The 14 victories during that stretch was the best two-year stint for Western Kentucky since 2004-05. Taggart played his high school ball at Manatee in Bradenton, Fla., which is just an hour outside of USF. The 36-year-old coach is clearly one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks and should help the Bulls be one of the most-improved teams in the conference in 2013.
Related Content: Ranking the Big East Coaches for 2013
48. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: 73-74 (2001-present)
Record at Ohio: 33-33-1 (1995-2000, 6 years)
Overall Record: 106-107-1 (18 years)
Grobe has done a lot of good things at Wake Forest, which includes leading the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship and a BCS bowl in 2006. The West Virginia native isn’t the flashiest coach, but he turned around Ohio during his six-year stint from 1995-2000 and has a 73-74 mark during his Wake Forest tenure. While a 73-74 record isn’t overly impressive, winning in Winston-Salem is no easy task, and Grobe needs just five victories to become the school’s all-time winningest coach. Despite making Wake Forest into a more competitive team within the ACC, there’s some concern Grobe may have slipped in recent years. The Demon Deacons have four consecutive losing seasons and won only one conference game in 2010. It's not easy to sustain success at Wake Forest. But considering Grobe's track record and the youth on this team last season, he should have the Demon Deacons back in the mix for a bowl game in 2013.
49. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 21-40 (2008-present)
Record at Ole Miss: 44-29 (1998-2004)
Overall Record: 65-69 (11 years)
Cutcliffe has been an incredibly effective offensive coach — when he has a Manning under center. After coaching Peyton in Knoxville, he posted five winning seasons in six years at Ole Miss (three of which Eli quarterbacked) but was fired before his seventh season. After four years of coordinating at Notre Dame and Tennessee, he returned as a head coach at Duke. The Blue Devils haven’t posted a winning record in his five years and are 9-31 in ACC play under Cutcliffe. That said, his offenses have always been excellent, the team is much more competitive than it was prior to his arrival, and Duke finally returned to the postseason in 2012 for the first time since 1994.
50. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Overall Record at West Virginia: 17-9 (2011-present, 2 years)
Holgorsen is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football, but his two-year stint as West Virginia’s coach has been a mixed bag of results. In his first season, the Mountaineers went 10-3 and claimed the Big East title. West Virginia capped off the 2011 season in style, gashing Clemson for 70 points in a 70-33 Orange Bowl rout. And the Mountaineers managed to ride that momentum early in 2013, starting 5-0 with exciting shootout victories against Baylor and Texas. However, the season took a nosedive with a road trip to Lubbock. West Virginia lost five consecutive games, before rallying to win the final two regular season contests of 2012. The Mountaineers played in the Pinstripe Bowl but were dominated 38-14 by former Big East rival Syracuse. So after two seasons, it’s hard to judge just how effective Holgorsen is as a head coach. He proved his mettle as an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State and helped to guide West Virginia to an average of 502 yards per game last year. However, the Mountaineers’ defense was a disaster, and the talent level on both sides of the ball needs to be upgraded to win in the Big 12. Holgorsen still has much to prove, but the 2011 season showed he is capable of elevating the program. With the transition to a tougher conference, some patience will be required in Morgantown.
Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013
51. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 6-18 (2011-present)
Record at Connecticut: 74-70 (1999-2010)
Overall Record: 80-88 (14 years)
After a disastrous debut with Maryland in 2011, Edsall appears to have the Terrapins headed back in the right direction. Maryland went 2-10 in Edsall’s first season and navigated four season-ending injuries to quarterbacks in 2012 to finish with a 4-8 mark. Prior to taking the job at Maryland, Edsall spent 12 years as the head coach at Connecticut. Under his watch, the Huskies recorded a 74-70 mark and played in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. Before Edsall was picked as Connecticut’s head coach in 1999, he worked at Syracuse (1980-90), spent three seasons with Boston College (1991-93), served four years in the NFL with the Jaguars (1994-97) and one season as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator ('98). Edsall is just under .500 for his head coaching career, but he had to bring Connecticut from the FCS level to the Big East, which was no easy task. And Edsall’s job is only going to get tougher in the coming years, especially after Maryland joins the Big Ten in 2014.
52. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-7 (2012-present)
Overall Record: 6-7 (1 year)
The former Wisconsin quarterback has coached all over North America in the NFL (San Diego), CFL (Ottawa, Saskatchewan) and at numerous college programs. However, he blossomed as an elite offensive mind at his alma mater in Madison. For seven seasons, Chryst led arguably the greatest era of offensive football in Badgers history, culminating in a near national title berth in 2011. This led to his first head coaching job at Pitt in 2012. His first season leading the Panthers — a team faced with its fourth different head coach in as many years — began slowly but his team showed marked improvement over the course of the season and all signs point to being competitive in their new league.
53. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Arkansas State: 9-3 (2012)
Overall Record: 9-3 (1 year)
Although Gene Chizik was the head coach for Auburn’s national title team in 2010, it’s pretty evident much of the credit for the team’s success was due to quarterback Cam Newton and Malzahn. And after spending one year at Arkansas State, Malzahn is back at Auburn as the head coach. In his one season with the Red Wolves, Malzahn led the team to a 9-3 record. There’s no question Malzahn is one of college football’s top offensive minds, and his one year of experience at Arkansas State should have him better prepared for coaching in the SEC. However, Malzahn still needs to prove he can be a successful head coach at the SEC level. With more head coaching experience, Malzahn should rank higher on this list. And with his familiarity with the team in 2013, Auburn could be the most-improved team in the SEC.
54. Jim Mora, UCLA
Overall Record at UCLA: 9-5 (2012-present)
Mora wasn’t the most popular hire when he was picked to replace Rick Neuheisel at UCLA. After all, a 31-33 career record in the NFL isn’t anything special. However, the Bruins improved their win total by three games in Mora’s first season and lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game by just three points. Mora still has much to prove in the next few seasons, as he inherited a lot of talent from the previous coaching staff, and despite winning the division, UCLA lost its final three games of 2012. Mora has surrounded himself with a good staff, and the Bruins have recruited well in each of the last two years. If UCLA wins the South Division once again in 2013, Mora will more than likely rise in these coach rankings next season.
55. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Overall Record at Utah: 71-32 (8 years)
As expected, the move from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 has made life a little more difficult for Utah. Whittingham has been a solid coach in his tenure, but can he elevate the program into Pac-12 title contention? It’s clear it’s going to take some time for the Utes to be an annual factor in the South Division, especially with UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State all showing progress last year. Whittingham led Utah to a 58-20 mark in six years (plus one Fiesta Bowl win in 2004) in the Mountain West. But the Utes are just 13-12 in two seasons in the Pac-12 and missed out on a bowl appearance in 2012 for the first time since 2002. There’s no question Whittingham was a key reason why Utah was successful in the Mountain West and is guiding the program through a tough conference transition. However, Utah took a step back in 2012, and Whittingham is just 7-11 in two years in Pac-12 games.
56. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Louisiana Tech: 22-15 (2010-2012)
Overall Record: 22-15 (3 years)
Dykes has a legacy synonymous with coaching as the son of Texas Tech’s legendary head coach Spike Dykes. He worked his way from up the high school and small college ranks before jobs at Kentucky, Texas Tech and Arizona, which led to his first head coaching gig at Louisiana Tech. Learning from his father and fellow Pac-12 North offensive guru Mike Leach, Dykes’ powerful offenses have been his signature. He won the WAC Championship and conference Coach of the Year honors in 2011 and then finished with the nation’s No. 1-rated total and scoring offense in ’12. He walks into a much better situation at Cal than when predecessor Jeff Tedford arrived, as facilities and stadium upgrades make the Bears job much more competitive.
57. Lane Kiffin, USC
Record at USC: 25-13 (2010-present)
Record at Tennessee: 7-6 (2009)
Overall Record: 32-19 (4 years)
There’s no question Kiffin is the toughest coach in the Pac-12 to rank. Kiffin has shown flashes of promise at each of his collegiate coaching stops, starting with a 7-6 record at Tennessee in 2009. The Volunteers were one of the SEC’s worst offensive teams in 2008, yet Kiffin turned Jonathan Crompton into a solid quarterback, and the offense averaged 29.3 points a game. Despite NCAA sanctions hanging over the program, Kiffin guided USC to an 18-7 record during his first two years, including a 2011 Pac-12 South Division title. However, the Trojans were banned from postseason play, so USC could not participate in the conference championship game. While those are the positives, the negatives for Kiffin largely center on the 2012 season. The Trojans were widely picked as a national title favorite but finished with a disappointing 7-6 record and were defeated by a 6-7 Georgia Tech team in the Sun Bowl. Kiffin has had his share of drama at each stop, including recruiting violations at Tennessee, and the deflated football scandal and jersey switch controversy in 2012. Can Kiffin succeed at USC? Absolutely. However, the Minnesota native should worry less about the media, injuries and off-the-field nonsense and concentrate more on the X’s and O’s. The Trojans have the talent to win the Pac-12 South Division. But if this team stumbles once again, Kiffin will likely be out of a job at the end of the year.
58. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Overall Record at Air Force: 47-31 (6 years)
Regardless of personnel losses, it always seems Air Force finds a way to win seven or eight games every year. And that’s a big credit to the coaching of Calhoun, who has served as Air Force’s head coach since 2007. The Falcons have won 47 games under Calhoun and have made six consecutive bowl appearances. Prior to coming to Air Force, Calhoun coached in the NFL with the Broncos and Texans and worked in college with Jim Grobe at Ohio and Wake Forest. As a former Air Force quarterback, Calhoun isn’t going to be in a hurry to leave the service academy. And as long as Calhoun is on the sidelines, the Falcons will be a tough out in the Mountain West every year.
59. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-4 (2011-12)
Overall Record: 23-4 (2 years)
NC State made one of the offseason’s top coaching moves by hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois. Although Tom O’Brien led the Wolfpack to four bowl games in five seasons, a 22-26 record in conference play wasn’t good enough. It’s tough to envision NC State consistently beating Clemson and Florida State, but the program can win more than it has the last few years. Doeren looks like the right coach to take NC State to the next level, as he comes to Raleigh after a 23-4 mark in two seasons with Northern Illinois. Although he inherited a good team from Jerry Kill, Doeren took the Huskies to new heights, including a berth in last season's Orange Bowl against Florida State. Prior to his two-year stint as Northern Illinois’ head coach, he served as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Kansas and also spent time as a graduate assistant at USC. Doeren doesn’t have any experience in the ACC, so it may take some time to build connections on the recruiting trail. However, all signs point to Doeren’s hire being a home run for NC State.
60. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 100-74 (1999-present)
Record at Maine: 12-21 (1990-92)
Overall Record: 112-95 (17 years)
A few seasons ago, Ferentz would have ranked much higher on this list. However, Iowa has been going in the wrong direction over the last three years. After going 11-22 including an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech in 2009, the Hawkeyes have watched their win total decrease in each of the last three years. This steady decline resulted in a 4-8 mark in 2012, which was Ferentz’s fewest wins since 2000 (3-9). While Ferentz has led Iowa to 10 bowl games and two BCS bowls, the program seems to have gone stale in recent years, and he certainly didn’t make anyone in Iowa City happy when he hired Greg Davis as his offensive coordinator in 2012. Are the Hawkeyes capable of getting back on track under Ferentz? Absolutely. However, with Ohio State and Michigan coming back to national prominence, along with a challenging division (at least for now), Iowa has a tough road to contend in the Big Ten. Ferentz has done a lot of good things for the program, but if the Hawkeyes have a few losing seasons in a row, it might be time for a fresh start for both parties.
61. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 9-16 (2011-present)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-16 (2008-10)
Record at Southern Illinois: 55-32 (2001-07)
Record at Emporia State: 11-11 (1999-2000)
Record at Saginaw Valley State: 38-14 (1994-98)
Overall Record: 136-89 (19 years)
Kill isn’t flashy or exciting, but he enters 2013 with the most wins during his head coaching career among his Big Ten peers. The Kansas native started his career with Saginaw Valley State in 1994 and recorded a winning record in each of his five seasons. Kill took over at Emporia State in 1999 and left for Southern Illinois in 2001. He went 55-32 with the Salukis, which included five consecutive playoff appearances from 2003-07. After that, Kill led Northern Illinois to three straight bowl trips from 2008-10 and recruited many of the players who played in the Huskies’ Orange Bowl appearance last season. Minnesota went 3-9 in Kill’s first season but improved to 6-7 and earned a bowl berth in 2012. Kill knows how to develop talent and can uncover hidden gems on the recruiting trail. Minnesota isn’t an easy job, but Kill’s track record shows he can consistently produce a winner. Expect the Golden Gophers to only get better with Kill on the sidelines the next few seasons.
62. Frank Solich, Ohio
Record at Ohio: 59-44 (2005-present)
Record at Nebraska: 58-19 (1998-2003)
Overall Record: 117-63 (14 years)
Solich had a tough assignment in his first head coaching gig, as he had to take over for legendary coach Tom Osborne at Nebraska. Although Solich went 58-19 in six years with the Cornhuskers, he was canned following the 2003 season. After sitting out the 2004 season, Solich returned to the coaching ranks at Ohio. He led the Bobcats to a bowl game in his second year (2006) and has a winning record in each of the last four years. Solich isn’t flashy, but he’s clearly one of the top coaches outside of the BCS conferences.
63. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Record at Ball State: 15-10 (2011-present)
Record at Elon: 35-22 (2006-2010)
Record at Lehigh: 44-14 (2001-05)
Overall Record: 94-46 (12 years)
After producing winning records at three different programs, Lembo is one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks. In five years at Lehigh, Lembo won 44 games and led the Mountain Hawks to two playoff appearances. At his next stop, Lembo won 35 games at Elon and made one postseason appearance. Ball State showed big improvement in Lembo’s first season in 2011 and won nine games in '12. Lembo should have the Cardinals in the mix for the MAC title in 2013 and could be on the short list for any BCS openings this offseason.
64. June Jones, SMU
Record at SMU: 31-34 (2008-present)
Record at Hawaii: 76-41 (1999-2007
Overall Record: 107-75 (14 years)
Jones inherited two programs that were in need of major repair prior to his arrival. And despite his losing record at SMU, it’s clear the Oregon native has made the Mustangs a better team. Jones began his coaching career in 1983 as an assistant at Hawaii, before spending the next 14 seasons at the professional level, which included a 22-36 record as an NFL head coach. In Jones’ first season at Hawaii in 1999, the Warriors made a nine-game improvement in the win column. Hawaii played in a BCS bowl in the 2007 season and recorded three seasons of 10 or more victories during Jones’ tenure. He took over SMU in 2008, and the Mustangs went 1-11 in his first year. However, SMU has at least seven victories in each of the last four years, which is the best stretch in school history since the Mustangs won 10 games every season from 1981-84. Considering Jones has elevated two struggling programs to new heights, SMU has to be encouraged about competing in its new conference home in 2013 and beyond.
65. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 16-21 (2010-present)
Record at Richmond: 24-5 (2008-2009)
Overall Record: 40-26 (5 years)
London is somewhat of a mystery at Virginia. He was one year removed from an FCS National Championship at Richmond when the Cavaliers hired him in 2010. He took an underachiever and turned them into an eight-win team in just one season on the job and has totally reinvigorated the Virginia brand on the in-state recruiting trail. However, his Wahoos took a major step back in 2012, finishing 2-6 in the ACC and 4-8 overall. Needless to say, London’s 2013 campaign will be carefully scrutinized.
66. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Overall Record at Texas Tech: 0-0 (First Season)
Kingsbury has been on a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and lands his first head coaching job at his alma mater. The San Antonio native had a prolific career as a starting quarterback under Mike Leach from 2000-02, finishing his career with just under 12,000 passing yards. Following his collegiate career in Lubbock, Kingsbury had a short professional stint, playing for five different teams in five seasons. Kingsbury joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Houston in 2008 and worked his way through the ranks, before becoming the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and guiding quarterback Case Keenum to nearly 20,000 career passing yards. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and produced a successful one-year stint as the offensive coordinator, which resulted in a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel). Kingsbury is young and unproven as a head coach, but he is the perfect fit at Texas Tech. For a program that never really embraced Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are in good hands with one of college football’s rising stars at head coach.
67. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Kent State: 16-10 (2011-2012)
Overall Record: 16-10 (2 years)
No one can accuse Hazell of not paying his dues. Born in Cinnaminson, N.J., and playing his college ball at Muskingum University (New Concord, Ohio), Hazell spent 25 years as an assistant before getting his first head coaching gig at Kent State. Doug Martin posted nary a winning season with the Flashes in seven seasons prior to Hazell’s arrival. In just two years, Hazell built KSU into a division champion and set a school record with 11 wins. With heavy coaching ties to the Midwest and Northeast, Hazell should be able to recruit the Big Ten footprint well and clearly has the coaching chops to be successful at Purdue.
68. George O'Leary, UCF
Record at UCF: 60-55 (2004-present)
Record at Georgia Tech: 52-33 (1994-2001)
Overall Record: 112-88 (17 years)
Like Tuberville, O’Leary has a similarly bizarre resume. He has been a consistent winner at both coaching stops in his career, including three conference championships and four division titles in eight years in C-USA. His teams play well against upper tier competition and he took an 0-11 team and turned them into a division champ in one season. Yet, he also is infamously known for lying on his resume which got him fired from Notre Dame before coaching a game, as well as the death of Ereck Plancher — a player who passed away after being over-worked on the practice field. His teams have lacked consistency from year to year, going from 10 wins to four and back since 2007, but that doesn't change his overall winning percentage (.560) over his 17 years as a head coach.
69. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Overall Record at Indiana: 5-19 (Indiana, 2011-present)
Offense has long been the name of the game for Wilson, both at Oklahoma as a coordinator and now at Indiana. After grooming nearly a decade’s worth of elite passers in Norman, Wilson has quickly turned Indiana’s passing game into one of the Big Ten’s best. His team ranked fifth in the league in passing offense, but managed just one win in his first year in Bloomington. Last season, his team led the league in passing offense and improved to four wins with all signs pointing to even more success — and a possible bowl game — in 2013. There is still much to be accomplished for Wilson to be considered one of the league’s better coaches but more progress in Year 3 at Indiana would go a long way to proving that the Hoosiers made the right choice.
70. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Record at San Diego State: 17-9 (2011-present)
Record at New Mexico: 65-69 (1998-2008)
Overall Record: 82-78 (13 years)
Long doesn’t get much credit on the national scene, but the Utah native has quietly had a solid career on the sidelines. After spending over 20 years as an assistant, Long was hired as the head coach at his alma mater (New Mexico) in 1998. In 11 years with the Lobos, Long won 65 games and led the program to five bowl appearances. His best season came in 2007, as New Mexico won nine games and claimed a bowl victory over Nevada. Long resigned as the Lobos’ head coach after the 2008 season and joined San Diego State’s staff as defensive coordinator. After serving for two years as the defensive playcaller under Brady Hoke, Long was promoted to head coach and has a 17-9 mark in two years. Long played quarterback in college but is known for his unique 3-3-5 scheme on defense. Although San Diego State has been a tough place to win in the past, Long seems to have helped the program turn a corner.
71. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Overall Record at Kentucky: First Season
The newest kid on the SEC block, Stoops' future as a head coach is anyone's guess. What we do know is this: He hails from Youngstown, Ohio and played defensive back for Iowa before he worked his way up through the ranks. Stoops was a defensive coordinator for Houston then Miami then Arizona (with his brother, Mike) and ultimately Florida State in 2010. He took the 108th-ranked defense and turned it into the 42nd-rated unit in one season before finishing fourth and second nationally in total defense in 2011 and '12 respectively. He did a great job finishing the recruiting cycle for the Wildcats, but at one of the toughest power conference jobs in the nation, it takes more than a few recruiting wins to be successful in Lexington.
72. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
Record at Bowling Green: 22-28 (2009-present)
Record at Richmond: 29-20 (2004-07)
Record at Fordham: 29-29 (1999-2003)
Overall Record: 80-77 (13 years)
Clawson’s one-year stint as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator didn’t go so well, but he has been a successful head coach at three different stops. At Fordham, he led the Rams to 19 wins over his final two seasons, while guiding Richmond to the FCS playoffs in two out of his four years on campus. The Falcons won seven games in Clawson’s first season but fell to 2-10 in 2010. However, Bowling Green rebounded quickly, as the Falcons are 13-12 in the last two years and finished second in the MAC East standings in 2012. Don't be surprised if Clawson gets a look from BCS programs after the 2013 season.
73. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Overall Record at Oregon: 0-0 (First Season)
After playing and coaching at small Southern Oregon, Helfrich landed with the Ducks in 1997 under Dirk Koetter. He then followed Koetter to both Boise State and Arizona State, returning to Eugene in 2009 as offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly. After two National Quarterbacks Coach of the Year Awards (2010, '12), Helfrich got his chance when Kelly departed for the NFL. He is the third consecutive offensive coordinator to be elevated to head coach at Oregon as the previous two — Mike Bellotti and Kelly — have proven the method for hiring is extremely effective. With a stacked roster returning on offense, all signs point to immediate success for the new headman in Oregon. However, Helfrich is largely an unknown and has never been a head coach prior to 2013. Even if Helfrich can keep Oregon performing at a high level this year, is he capable of keeping the Ducks in national championship contention in 2014 and '15? Oregon's method of promoting from within has worked well with its last two hires. However, Helfrich still has a lot to prove entering his first season as the head Duck.
74. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Overall Record at Rutgers: 9-4 (2012-present, 1 year)
When Kyle Flood was given the head coaching job at Rutgers, it was his first leadership position since 1994 at St. Francis Prep. The offensive line coach has heavy ties to the Northeast and has proven to be an excellent recruiter for the Scarlet Knights. And all he did in his first season was win a share of the Big East title after being picked fourth in the conference in the preseason. Having said that, Flood’s bunch could have clinched an outright crown had they defeated either Pitt on the road or Louisville at home. Needless to say, the jury is still out on Flood’s long-term future at The Garden State’s state school.
75. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Overall Record at Memphis: 4-8 (2012-present, 1 year)
Fuente inherited a mess when he arrived at Memphis. The Tigers were coming off a disastrous two-year stint under Larry Porter, which resulted in a 3-21 record. And under Fuente’s watch, the Tigers showed big improvement in 2012. Memphis went 4-8 last season, which included a three-game winning streak to finish the campaign. The Tigers lost three games by 10 points or less and got better as the season progressed. Before taking over at Memphis, Fuente spent five years as an assistant at TCU, including the last three as the co-offensive coordinator. With the move to the American Athletic Conference (new name of the former Big East), Fuente’s job will get a little tougher in 2013. Memphis doesn’t quite have the talent to push for a bowl game this year, but the Tigers will continue to take another step forward under Fuente’s watch in 2013.
76. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
The Midshipmen have maintained course under Niumatalolo, winning eight games in four out of his five seasons. After dropping to 5-7 in 2011, Navy finished 8-5 in 2012 and returned to the postseason with a trip to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
77. Steve Addazio, Boston College
After two years at Temple, Addazio takes over a Boston College program that has fallen on hard times after 12 consecutive winning seasons from 1999-2010. Addazio had a solid two-year stint at Temple, which produced the program’s first bowl victory since 1979 and a 9-4 mark in 2011. With the departure of a handful of key players on both sides of the ball, along with the transition to the Big East, Temple took a step back in the win column in 2012. Addazio is a good recruiter and as a native of Connecticut, is a good fit in the Northeast. Boston College doesn’t have to be an ACC title contender in every season for Addazio to be successful. But the Eagles need to get back to contending for bowl games in the near future. Addazio looks like a good hire for Boston College, but the lack of head coaching experience and building a program keeps him from being ranked higher on this list.
78. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
DeRuyter went 9-4 in his Fresno State debut and has the Bulldogs primed to contend for the Mountain West title in 2013. Prior to coming to Fresno State, DeRuyter served as a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Air Force, Nevada and Ohio. All signs point to DeRuyter being a home-run hire for Fresno State.
79. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Blankenship inherited a good team after Todd Graham left for Pittsburgh after the 2010 season. In two years, the Golden Hurricane is 19-8 under Blankenship’s direction. Can Blankenship keep Tulsa on the right track as the program makes the move to the American Athletic Conference in 2014?
80. Tim Beckman, Illinois
All signs were positive for Beckman when he took over for Ron Zook at Illinois last season. He learned under two respected names in Jim Tressel and Mike Gundy before building Toledo into a MAC contender in his three years leading the Rockets. Everyone knew it was going to take time to rebuild the Illini following the Zooker, however, no one expected a 2-10 debut season in Urbana-Champaign. He has his work cut out for him in a tough division loaded with solid coaches and powerful programs to prove he was the right choice for the job.
81. Terry Bowden, Akron
Bowden has a long road ahead to rebuild Akron into one of the MAC’s top programs. However, his track record at Samford, Auburn and North Alabama suggests he will eventually get the Zips into conference title contention. And if Akron continues to improve, Bowden could get another opportunity to lead a BCS team.
82. Dave Christensen, Wyoming
Christensen’s tenure at Wyoming has been marked by two bowl appearances, followed by losing seasons the next year. If that trend holds true, the Cowboys will be bowling in 2013. And getting to a bowl game would be a boost for Christensen, especially after last year’s embarrassing post-game tirade against Air Force’s Troy Calhoun.
83. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Blakeney has guided Troy from the FCS to the FBS ranks, winning 169 games with the Trojans since 1991. However, Troy is coming off its first back-to-back losing seasons in his tenure and have won only five Sun Belt games the last two years.
84. Matt Campbell, Toledo
At 33 years old, Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches. The Ohio native was a solid player during his career at Mount Union and is on the fast track as a head coach. After spending time as an assistant with Mount Union, Bowling Green and at Toledo, Campbell was promoted to the top spot after Tim Beckman left for Illinois. Campbell should be one of the MAC’s top coaches in 2013 and beyond.
85. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
McNeill took over the top spot at his alma mater in 2010, and the Pirates are 19-19 over the last three years. East Carolina is coming off its best record (8-5) under McNeill and will be picked near the top of the C-USA East Division in 2013.
86. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
After a 2-10 record in 2011, Stockstill was on the hot seat entering 2012. However, Stockstill and MTSU rebounded with an 8-4 record, which put his overall mark with the Blue Raiders at 43-44. MTSU has six victories in four out of Stockstill’s seven years in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
87. Dan McCarney, North Texas
McCarney’s career record is 65-100, which is deceiving considering he spent 12 years on the sidelines at a difficult place to maintain success (Iowa State). McCarney is just 9-15 in two seasons with North Texas, but the Mean Green are on the right track as they make the move from the Sun Belt to Conference USA.
88. Paul Pasqualoni, UConn
Pasqualoni has deep ties to the Northeast and is on his third coaching stop in the region. After 11 consecutive winning seasons to start his Syracuse tenure, the program began to erode and the Orange made a move following the 2004 season. Pasqualoni went to work in the NFL as a defensive coordinator for both Dallas and Miami before returning to the college ranks two years ago at UConn. Clearly, he has been around the game for a long time and is in the twilight of his career — as his last winning season as a head coach was in 2001.
89. Bob Davie, New Mexico
After spending 10 years away from the sidelines, Davie left the booth and took over at New Mexico in 2012. The Lobos showed vast improvement in his first season, winning four games and losing five games by a touchdown or less.
90. Jim McElwain, Colorado State
McElwain had a tough first season at Colorado State (4-8), but the Rams showed signs of life at the end of 2012. The Montana native served as an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11 and has NFL experience from one season with the Raiders in '06. Give McElwain some time and Colorado State should be return to being a consistent winner in the Mountain West.
91. Trent Miles, Georgia State
The Panthers quietly made one of the offseason’s best hires by pulling Miles away from Indiana State. The Sycamores were awful prior to Miles' arrival, but he won six games in each of his last three years. If Miles picks up where he left off at Indiana State, he will attract interest from bigger programs.
92. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
Franchione disappeared for a few years after his firing at Texas A&M in 2007 but resurfaced at Texas State in '11. In the last two years with the Bobcats, Franchione has a 10-14 record. However, Franchione is guiding the program through its transition to the FBS level, and he has been a successful coach at previous stops. Expect Franchione to have Texas State in competition for the Sun Belt title in the next few seasons.
93. David Bailiff, Rice
Bailiff has an interesting resume, as six of his nine seasons as a head coach resulted in a losing record. However, he has some high points, as Rice went 10-3 in 2008 and finished 7-6 with a victory over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl last year. It’s not easy to win at Rice, but Bailiff seems to have the Owls poised to contend for the C-USA West Division title in 2013.
94. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
After a 34-23 record at Connecticut and a 38-27 mark at East Carolina, most expected Holtz would be a good fit at USF. Instead, Holtz went 16-21 in three years with the Bulls. Considering his success at two previous stops, Holtz’s record at USF is the outlier. Can he get back on track at Louisiana Tech?
95. Larry Coker, UTSA
Despite a 60-15 record and a national championship in 2001, Coker was canned at Miami after six seasons. The veteran coach was hired by UTSA in 2009 to start its football program, and the Roadrunners have been very competitive in just two seasons on the field (12-10). Coker seems to be a good fit for UTSA as it transitions to Conference USA this year.
96. Todd Berry, ULM
Berry had a disastrous stint at Army (5-35) but led ULM to its first bowl game in program history in 2012. Berry has brought steady improvement to the Warhawks, who should be in the mix for the Sun Belt title in 2013.
97. Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State
Harsin, who served as offensive coordinator at Boise State and Texas, finally landed his first head coaching job with Arkansas State. He is a rising star and should keep the Red Wolves near the top of the Sun Belt. Don’t be surprised if Harsin is at a BCS program in three years.
98. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Caragher was hired at San Jose State after a six-year stint at San Diego, which resulted in a 44-22 record. Caragher is walking into a good situation with the Spartans, as most of their core returns from last year’s 11-2 team.
99. Matt Wells, Utah State
Wells played quarterback at Utah State from 1993-96 and was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach after Gary Andersen left for Wisconsin. There’s a lot to like about Wells, and he should keep Utah State among the best in the Mountain West.
100. Brian Polian, Nevada
Polian, the son of former NFL executive Bill Polian, has cut his teeth as an assistant at UCF, Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M in recent years. Nevada is Polian’s first head-coaching gig, and he has a tough assignment taking over for legendary coach Chris Ault.
101. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Holliday is regarded as an excellent recruiter, but his three-year stint as a head coach still leaves a lot to be desired. Marshall is 17-20 under Holliday’s watch, although the Thundering Her should be picked to finish near the top of C-USA's East Division in 2013.
102. Garrick McGee, UAB
The former Oklahoma quarterback is considered one of the rising stars in the coaching profession and is coming off a 3-9 season in his first year at UAB. While three wins aren’t anything special, the Blazers showed some progress in 2012 and could be a bowl team in 2013.
103. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Monken is a huge upgrade over former coach Ellis Johnson, who proved to be a one-year disaster for Southern Miss. The Illinois native has experience in the NFL and helped oversee one of the nation’s top offenses during his stint at Oklahoma State.
104. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Carey was promoted to the top spot after Dave Doeren left for NC State in early December. The Wisconsin native has no prior head coaching experience and has a tough assignment as he tries to keep Northern Illinois atop the MAC food chain.
105. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Shafer was promoted to head coach following Doug Marrone's departure to the NFL to lead the Bills. Shafer has more than 20 years of experience as an assistant coach, making stops at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Ilinois, Western Michigan, Stanford and Michigan along the way. However, this is his first shot at leading an entire program, and while he was a popular hire among the players, he still has much to prove as a head coach in 2013.
106. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Weis was considered by most to be a bad hire at Kansas. So far, he’s done nothing to dispel those thoughts. Weis didn’t inherit the best roster, but the Jayhawks recorded only one victory last year and ranked near the bottom nationally in scoring offense and defense. Don't forget his five-year stint as Notre Dame's head coach (19-6 the first two years, 16-21 the final three) didn't go exactly as planned either. Kansas could be more competitive in 2013, but Weis is not the answer to elevate the program into the Big 12 title contention.
107. Rich Ellerson, Army
Ellerson was a successful coach at Cal Poly and went 12-13 in his first two years at Army. However, the Black Knights are just 5-19 in the last two seasons. There’s no question Army is a difficult place to sustain success, and Ellerson’s track record suggests he will eventually get the program back on track.
108. Tony Levine, Houston
Levine received a curious promotion to the top spot after Kevin Sumlin departed for Texas A&M. The Minnesota native had no head coaching experience prior to taking over at Houston, as his resume consisted of stops as an assistant at Texas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville and the Cougars. He was a popular pick to be head coach among Houston’s players, but the move didn’t work out well for the Cougars in 2012. Levine still has a lot to prove, especially as Houston makes the move to the conference formally known as the Big East.
109. Matt Rhule, Temple
There is plenty to like about the former Penn State linebacker’s resume. He is from the Northeast, has rich ties to the Temple program and was hired to work for respected coaching names like Tom Coughlin and Al Golden. Yet, he has never been a head coach at any level and is a complete unknown when it comes to leading a program.
110. Joey Jones, South Alabama
Jones is guiding the Jaguars through their transition from FCS to FBS play. The Alabama native went 23-4 in his first three seasons with the Jaguars but was 2-10 last year. South Alabama wasn’t overwhelmed by its first year in the Sun Belt, so the future looks bright for Jones and the Jaguars.
111. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
The Bulls have increased their win total by one game in each of the last two years since going 2-10 in Quinn’s first season (2010). Quinn seems to have Buffalo on the right track, but his overall record as a head coach is just 10-28.
112. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
As a New Orleans native, Johnson is a perfect fit at Tulane. The Green Wave showed some promise in Johnson’s first season and should benefit from the construction of an on-campus stadium as the program moves to the American Athletic Conference.
113. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
The Chippewas were one of the MAC’s top programs under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. Despite a bowl appearance last year, CMU is trending in the wrong direction under Enos.
114. Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio)
Treadwell was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistants when he returned to his alma mater in 2011. However, the RedHawks are just 8-16 in Treadwell’s first two seasons at the helm.
115. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan is arguably the nation’s toughest job. English went 6-6 in 2011 but is 2-10 in each of his two other seasons.
116. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Fleck is college football’s youngest coach (32) and has brought some enthusiasm to the program after a 4-8 season. However, Fleck has no coordinator or head coaching experience.
117. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Hauck had a good run at Montana (80-17) but is just 6-32 in three years at UNLV.
118. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Haynes returns to his alma mater for his first head-coaching gig. And he has big shoes to fill, as former coach Darrell Hazell nearly led the program to a BCS bowl last year.
119. Carl Pelini, FAU
Pelini was a strange hire for FAU, but the Owls won two out of their last five games in 2012.
120. Sean Kugler, UTEP
As a former UTEP player, Kugler should be a good fit at El Paso. However, he was a so-so line coach in the NFL and has no head coaching experience.
121. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
The Aggies were left in a tough spot after DeWayne Walker left for the NFL in January. Martin won 29 games in seven seasons at Kent State (2004-10), and the road will be even tougher at New Mexico State.
122. Charley Molnar, UMass
Molnar has a tough assignment, as UMass is transitioning from FCS to FBS. As expected, the Minutemen were overmatched last season but did show signs of progress towards the end.
123. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Petrino is a good fit at Idaho, as he grew up in Montana and served as an assistant from 1992-94 with the Vandals. Petrino has no head coaching experience, so he has a lot to prove in 2013.
124. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Chow has an extensive career as an assistant, but his first head-coaching gig came at the ripe age of 65. As evidenced by his 3-9 mark in his first season, there’s a reason why Chow had to wait so long to be a head coach.
125. Ron Turner, FIU
FIU made a big mistake in firing Mario Cristobal. Turner had a 35-57 record in eight seasons (1997-2004) at Illinois and certainly isn’t going to inspire much enthusiasm from the fan base.
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