Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.
While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.
Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.
A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?
Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?
Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.
Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2014
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 79-15 (7 years)
Career Record: 170-57-1 (18 years)
Alabama’s Program Rank: (No. 2 in the SEC, No. 3 nationally)
Ranking coaches in any conference or nationally is a tough assignment, but there’s little doubt about which one ranks as the best in college football. Saban is at the top of his game and is easily the No. 1 coach in the nation. In seven years at Alabama, Saban is 79-15 and has claimed three national championships. The Crimson Tide has finished in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in each of the last six years and only one of Saban’s seasons resulted in less than 10 victories. And as many around the SEC already know, Saban’s success isn’t limited to just Alabama. He recorded a 48-16 mark in five years at LSU, a 34-24-1 record in five seasons at Michigan State and a 9-2 mark in one year at Toledo. Saban is one of the nation’s top defensive minds, an excellent recruiter and also one of the best - if not the No. 1 coach - in college football at developing talent. As long as Saban is on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will be factor every season in the national championship picture.
Listen to our staff discuss the criteria and break down the debate in this year’s coach rankings in the the Cover 2 podcast.
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 24-2 (2 years)
Career Record: 128-22 (12 years)
Ohio State’s Program Rank: (No. 1 in Big Ten, No. 5 nationally)
Meyer has been a head coach at four different jobs and has won at a high level at each program. A hallmark of Meyer’s tenures has been a quick turnaround or immediate improvement in the first season. Bowling Green went 2-9 in the year prior to Meyer’s arrival, and the Falcons recorded a 17-6 mark under his watch. At Utah, Meyer inherited a team that won five games in 2002. However, the Utes went 22-2 under Meyer and finished No. 4 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2004. Meyer was hired at Florida prior to the 2005 season and guided the Gators to a 65-15 record. Florida won two BCS titles under Meyer and finished No. 3 nationally in 2009. After stepping away in 2011, Meyer returned to the sidelines at Ohio State in 2012 and won the first 24 games in his tenure. The Buckeyes closed 2013 on a two-game losing streak but have won all 16 regular season Big Ten games under Meyer’s watch. With elite recruiting, combined with a top-five program like Ohio State, it’s only a matter of time before the Buckeyes win the national title under Meyer.
3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 77-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 219-79-2 (24 years)
South Carolina’s Program Rank: (No. 8 in the SEC, No. 19 nationally)
Spurrier needed a few years to build the talent level at South Carolina, but heading into his 10th season in Columbia, the Gamecocks are a consistent East Division title contender. Through his first five years at South Carolina, Spurrier posted a 35-28 record with zero appearances in the final Associated Press poll. But since 2010, the Gamecocks are 42-11 and finished No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll last year. Spurrier was successful at Florida from 1990-2001 using the pass-first Fun ‘n’ Gun offense. However, the veteran coach has adapted at South Carolina and has been winning with a strong defense and a balanced offense. With successful stops at Florida and South Carolina in the SEC, along with a 20-13-1 three-year stint at Duke, Spurrier is without question one of the top coaches in college football. And even though Spurrier will be 69 years old when the season starts, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Record at Oklahoma: 160-39 (15 years)
Career Record: 160-39 (15 years)
Oklahoma’s Program Rank: No. 2 in the Big 12, No. 6 nationally
Stoops quickly proved he was an elite coach with a national championship in his second season, and the Ohio native continues to keep Oklahoma among the nation’s best every year. After a 7-5 debut in 1999, Stoops guided the Sooners to a 13-0 record with an upset win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title. Success has been plentiful for Oklahoma since 2000 as well, as Stoops has recorded 11 seasons of at least 10 victories, and the Sooners have claimed at least a share of the conference title eight times. Maintaining success at a high level is challenging, but Stoops hasn’t missed a beat. Sure, Oklahoma had an 8-5 season in 2009 and finished No. 15 nationally in 2012. However, it’s hard to beat Stoops’ consistency, as well as his ability to beat the Sooners’ rivals. Stoops is 9-6 against Texas and 12-3 against Oklahoma State. As long as Stoops is at Oklahoma, expect the Sooners to be a consistent top 10-15 program nationally.
5. Art Briles, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 44-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 78-60 (10 years)
Baylor’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the Big 12, No. 34 nationally
Briles has quickly emerged as one of the top coaches in college football, transforming a struggling program into ha contender on the national level. Baylor failed to record a winning record from 1996-2007, and Briles went 4-8 in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09. But since 2009, the Bears have been a factor among the top half of the Big 12, finishing 7-6 in 2010, which included their first bowl appearance since 1994. From 2011-13, Baylor is 29-10 and claimed their first outright conference title since 1980 last year. Briles’ success isn’t just limited to Baylor, as he went 34-28 in five seasons at Houston. With a new stadium, improved recruiting and a contract extension until 2023, the Bears appear poised to take another step forward under Briles’ watch. Much like Bill Snyder did at Kansas State, Briles has transformed Baylor from a struggling program into a conference title contender.
6. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Record at Kansas State: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Career Record: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Kansas State’s Program Rank:No. 8 in the Big 12, No. 61 nationally
Prior to Snyder’s arrival, there was no track record of consistent success at Kansas State. But since Snyder was hired in 1989, the fortunes have changed for the Wildcats. Snyder won only six games during his first two years, but Kansas State had only one losing season from 1992-2003. Snyder guided the Wildcats to 11 consecutive bowl games from 1993-2003 and had six finishes in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in that span. After a 9-13 mark from 2004-05, Snyder decided to step aside. But his retirement was short, as Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009 and promptly guided the Wildcats to a 6-6 mark. Over the last five years, Kansas State is 42-27 and claimed the Big 12 title in 2012. Winning in Manhattan is no easy task, and Snyder continues to get the most out of a roster that is consistently rated near the bottom of the conference according to recruiting rankings. As long as Snyder is on the sidelines, don’t count out Kansas State in the Big 12 title picture each year.
7. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Record at Florida State: 45-10 (4 years)
Career Record: 45-10 (4 years)
Florida State’s Program Rank:No. 1 in the ACC, No. 11 nationally
In four years in Tallahassee, Fisher has returned Florida State to national prominence. The Seminoles slipped at the end of the Bobby Bowden era, but Fisher has three seasons of at least 10 wins and has claimed back-to-back ACC titles. Florida State is 26-2 over the last two years and won the national championship last year, defeating Auburn in the final title game of the BCS era. Another factor working in Fisher’s ranking is his record against Florida State’s rivals. Fisher is 4-0 against Miami and 3-1 against Florida. Fisher’s success isn’t just limited to the on-field results, as he’s an excellent recruiter and talent evaluator and has a good eye for finding assistant coaches. With Fisher at the helm, there’s no more debate: Florida State is back and will be a factor in college football’s national championship picture for the foreseeable future.
8. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 64-29 (7 years)
Career Record: 82-46 (10 years)
Michigan State’s Program Rank: (No. 6 in Big Ten, No. 26 nationally)
Under Dantonio’s watch, Michigan State has emerged as one of the top programs in the Big Ten. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in three out of the last four years and went 25-7 in Big Ten play during that span. Dantonio guided Michigan State to a 13-1 finish last season, including a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. The Spartans also finished No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll, which was the highest finish in program history since 1966. Prior to taking over at Michigan State, Dantonio went 18-17 in three years at Cincinnati. Dantonio recruited only one top-25 recruiting class from 2010-13, yet the Spartans rank No. 2 in the Big Ten during that span in conference victories. And with a hefty contract extension, Dantonio is poised to continue his success at Michigan State for the foreseeable future.
9. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Career Record: 208-72-2 (23 years)
Notre Dame's Program Rank:No. 7 nationally
Kelly is a proven winner at four different programs and has one national championship appearance on his resume after guiding Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season in 2012. In 23 years as a head coach, Kelly is 208-72-2 and has only one losing record during that span (2004, Central Michigan). At Grand Valley State, Kelly went 118-35-2 and won two Division II titles. In three seasons at Central Michigan, the Chippewas were 19-16 under Kelly’s direction. And at Cincinnati, Kelly guided the Bearcats to back-to-back BCS bowl appearances and three consecutive double-digit win seasons. With Everett Golson back at quarterback, Notre Dame could reach at least 10 victories for the second time in Kelly’s tenure.
10. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 12-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 21-5 (3 years)
Auburn’s Program Rank: (No. 6 in the SEC, No. 15 nationally)
Malzahn has only been a head coach for two years on the FBS level, but he is already ranks near the top of coaches in the SEC. The Texas native was a successful high school coach before making the jump to coordinate Arkansas’ offense in 2006. Malzahn left the Razorbacks to be the offensive coordinator at Tulsa from 2007-08, before returning to the SEC as Gene Chizik’s play-caller from 2009-11. Malzahn was one of the key pieces in Auburn’s national championship season in 2010 and landed his first chance to be a head coach in 2012 at Arkansas State. The Red Wolves went 9-3 in his only year, as Malzahn was hired by Auburn to replace Chizik at the end of the 2012 season. The Tigers went 3-9 in 2012, but Malzahn provided a quick fix, leading Auburn to a 12-2 final record with an appearance in the national championship. Prior to last season, Malzahn was already regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. And after guiding the Tigers to a No. 2 finish in the final Associated Press poll, Malzahn deserves to be ranked among the top 10-15 coaches nationally.
11. James Franklin, Penn State
Record at Penn State: First Season
Career Record: 24-15 (3 years)
Penn State’s Program Rank: (No. 3 in Big Ten, No. 14 nationally)
Franklin comes to Penn State after a successful three-year stint at Vanderbilt. The Pennsylvania native is one of the top coaching hires for 2014 and should win big with the Nittany Lions. Franklin won 24 games with the Commodores, which tied the best three-year stretch in program history. Vanderbilt also recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons, finished in the Associated Press poll twice and claimed two bowl victories under Franklin. Prior to taking over with the Commodores, Franklin worked as the offensive coordinator at Kansas State and Maryland and served as an assistant with the Packers in 2005. After winning at one of the toughest programs in the BCS, Franklin is now at a job where he can consistently compete for titles. Franklin is also regarded as an excellent recruiter. With the resources available at Penn State, Franklin will have the Nittany Lions in contention for Big Ten titles and a spot in college football’s playoff in the near future.
12. David Shaw, Stanford
Record at Stanford: 34-7 (3 years)
Career Record: 34-7 (3 years)
Stanford’s Program Rank:No. 5 in the Pac-12, No. 33 nationally
Life without Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines and Andrew Luck at quarterback was supposed to be tough at Stanford. But that hasn’t been the case for the Cardinal, as Shaw as kept Stanford among the best in the nation. The Cardinal is 34-7 over the last three years and has lost only four conference games during that span. Shaw has guided the program to three consecutive BCS bowls and two top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Stanford signed a small recruiting class in 2013, which finished No. 51 nationally by 247Sports Composite. However, in 2012 and 2014, Shaw inked classes that ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Stanford has claimed at least a share of the North Division title in each of the last three years, but that run could be tested in 2014 with the departure of a talented senior class and defensive coordinator Derek Mason. Despite the personnel losses, expect Shaw to have Stanford back in the Pac-12 title hunt once again.
13. Chris Petersen, Washington
Record at Washington: First Year
Career Record: 92-12 (8 years)
Washington’s Program Rank: No. 4 in the Pac-12, No. 23 nationally
Petersen is a tough coach to rank among his Pac-12 peers. Winning big outside of a BCS conference is a good sign, but the week-to-week grind in the Pac-12 or any of the other BCS leagues is another matter. In eight years at Boise State, Petersen elevated the program to new heights. The Broncos went 92-12 and recorded four top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Also, Boise State claimed two BCS bowl victories and claimed at least a share of five conference titles. Another notch in Petersen’s resume was the Broncos’ track record against BCS teams. Boise State defeated Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia in non-conference or bowl games during Petersen’s tenure. The California native is a good fit at Washington and inherits a solid core of talent to work with in 2014. If there’s any concern about Petersen, it has to be the track record of former Boise State coaches leaving to take BCS jobs. Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins struggled at their next stop after leaving Boise State. Despite the lack of success by Hawkins and Koetter, all signs point to Petersen being a home-run hire for Washington.
14. Mark Richt, Georgia
Record at Georgia: 126-45 (13 years)
Career Record: 126-45 (13 years)
Georgia’s Program Rank: (No. 3 in the SEC, No. 8 nationally)
Richt has experienced his share of ups and downs in Athens, but he has been one of the nation’s most consistent coaches since his hire in 2001. Over the last 13 years, Georgia has averaged 9.7 wins a season under Richt. Additionally, the Bulldogs have recorded three top-five finishes in the final Associated Press poll and claimed at least a share of the East Division title six times. The only thing missing on Richt’s resume is a national championship. The Bulldogs have not played in a BCS bowl since the 2007 season, but the new playoff format should help this team, especially with more spots in elite bowls open to the SEC. Also, the addition of former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is an upgrade over previous defensive play-caller Todd Grantham, which should bolster Richt's chances of winning a SEC title in the next few years.
15. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 31-44 (6 years)
Career Record: 75-73 (12 years)
Duke’s Program Rank: No. 14 in the ACC, No. 72 nationally
Cutcliffe’s career mark with the Blue Devils is only 31-44, but as we mentioned in the introduction, not all coaches can be judged solely on wins and losses. Duke is one of the toughest coaching jobs in a BCS conference. From 2000-07, the Blue Devils won only 10 games and had six seasons of at least 10 losses. Cutcliffe needed some time to establish a foundation, but Duke has turned a corner under his watch. The Blue Devils went 15-33 in Cutcliffe’s first four years. However, Duke is 16-11 over the last seasons and claimed the Coastal Division title in 2013. And in terms of recruiting, the Blue Devils have the No. 13 roster in the ACC, which only adds credit to the job Cutcliffe has done in Durham. Prior to his stint at Duke, Cutcliffe went 44-29 at Ole Miss, including a 10-3 record in 2003. Sustaining success with the Blue Devils won’t be easy. However, Cutcliffe is a sharp offensive mind and the program has made steady progress under his watch. Expect Duke to consistently be in the mix for bowl games under Cutcliffe in future seasons.
16. Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 41-9 (4 years, 2003-06)
Career Record: 83-30 (9 years)
Louisville’s Program Rank:No. 6 in the ACC, No. 29 nationally
Petrino is a polarizing figure in college football. There’s no doubt he’s made mistakes, but he’s also an outstanding coach – and likely one of the best in the nation. After stops at Arkansas, Western Kentucky and in the NFL with the Falcons, Petrino has returned to Louisville. From 2003-06, the Cardinals went 41-9 under Petrino’s direction and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll in 2006. Petrino transformed Arkansas from a 5-7 program in 2008 to an 11-2 team in 2011. However, his tenure ended with the Razorbacks after he lied to athletic director Jeff Long following a motorcycle crash in 2012. After sitting on the sidelines for a year, Petrino was hired by Western Kentucky to replace Willie Taggart, and the Hilltoppers finished 8-4 in Petrino’s only season. Again, there’s no question Petrino comes with baggage. But the Montana native is a proven winner – 83 wins in nine years – and one of the top offensive minds in college football.
17. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 95-24 (9 years)
Career Record: 123-45 (13 years)
LSU’s Program Rank: (No. 4 in the SEC, No. 9 nationally)
The Mad Hatter is a bit of a gambler when it comes to making on-the-field decisions, and is always a good sound byte for the media, but let’s not overlook the Ohio native’s on-field success in recent years. In nine years at LSU, Miles is 95-24 and has won at least 10 games in each of the last four years. The Tigers had a slight dip in wins from 2008-09, finishing just 17-9 during that span. However, Miles returned LSU back to SEC and national prominence, and the Tigers finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. Miles’ success isn’t just limited to LSU, as he recorded a 28-21 mark in four years at Oklahoma State from 2001-04. There’s no doubt regarding Miles’ ability to recruit (four top-10 classes over the last five years), and he has one of the SEC’s top staffs with proven coordinators in John Chavis and Cam Cameron, along with regarded assistants in Jeff Grimes, Frank Wilson and Brick Haley.
18. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Record at Northwestern: 55-46 (8 years)
Career Record: 55-46 (8 years)
Northwestern’s Program Rank: (No. 13 in Big Ten, No. 59 nationally)
Fitzgerald’s career record doesn’t compare to Urban Meyer or Mark Dantonio, but let’s keep in mind he’s also coaching at one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs. One way to look at Fitzgerald’s ranking is this: If he was at a program at the top of college football’s food chain with more resources, we think he would win at a higher level. In eight years at Northwestern, Fitzgerald has been outstanding. The Wildcats are 55-46 under his watch and played in five consecutive bowl games from 2008-12. Northwestern also won the 2013 Gator Bowl, which was the program’s first postseason win since 1949. The 1-7 mark in Big Ten play last season was Northwestern’s worst conference record under Fitzgerald, but the Wildcats were hit hard by injuries. Under Fitzgerald, Northwestern will always be a factor in the bowl picture and should be a tough out for the rest of the Big Ten.
19. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 18-9 (2 years)
Career Record: 67-38 (8 years)
Arizona State’s Program Rank:No. 6 in the Pac-12, No. 38 nationally
Graham gets a bad rap from his job-hopping in recent years, but there’s no question he’s one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. At Rice, Graham inherited a team that went 1-10 in the season prior to his arrival, and the Owls improved by six games in his first season and finished 7-6 overall. Graham was hired at Tulsa after one season at Rice and went 36-17 in four seasons. The Golden Hurricane had three years of at least 10 wins and a No. 24 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2010. Graham took over at Pittsburgh in 2011 and went 6-6, but his stay in the Steel City lasted only one year. Arizona State picked Graham to replace Dennis Erickson, and the program has been on the upswing over the last two years. The Sun Devils are 18-9 under Graham’s watch and claimed the Pac-12 South title last season. Arizona State has started facility renovations to Sun Devil Stadium and inked extensions with Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. With Graham at the helm, combined with a commitment to keeping good assistants and improved facilities, Arizona State is poised to become a consistent challenger for the South Division title.
20. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Record at Oklahoma State: 77-38 (9 years)
Career Record: 77-38 (9 years)
Oklahoma State’s Program Rank:No. 3 in the Big 12, No. 22 nationally
Gundy has raised the bar during his tenure in Stillwater, winning 77 games over the last nine years and one Big 12 Championship in 2011. The Cowboys’ 2011 Big 12 title was the program’s first outright conference championship since 1948, and Gundy’s 77 wins rank first among coaches in Oklahoma State history. Since recording back-to-back seven-win seasons from 2006-07, the Cowboys have not won fewer than eight games. With a good chunk of talent leaving the roster heading into 2014, Oklahoma State appears to be set for a rebuilding year. However, Gundy has proved there’s plenty of staying power in Stillwater, and even if 2014 is a rebuilding effort, the Cowboys won’t be down for long.
21. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 9-4 (1 year)
Career Record: 39-35 (5 years)
Wisconsin’s Program Rank: (No. 5 in Big Ten, No. 24 nationally)
Andersen isn’t as experienced in the Big Ten as Ferentz, Kill, Hoke or Pelini, but he has a strong resume in just six years as a head coach. Andersen’s first head coaching job came at Southern Utah in 2003. The Thunderbirds went 4-7 Andersen's debut, which represented a three-game improvement from 2002. After one season at Southern Utah, Andersen worked at Utah from 2004-08 as an assistant, including the final three years as the defensive coordinator. In 2009, he was hired as Utah State’s head coach. Andersen went 8-16 in the first two years but recorded an 18-8 mark over the final two seasons. Utah State’s 11-win campaign in 2012 was the most victories in school history. Andersen went 9-4 in his Wisconsin debut and all four losses were by 10 points or less.
22. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 102-63 (13 years)
Career Record: 175-100-3 (23 years)
Missouri’s Program Rank: (No. 11 in the SEC, No. 31 nationally)
Much like Mark Richt at Georgia, Pinkel has been a consistent winner during his career at Missouri. The Tigers slipped to 5-7 in their SEC debut in 2012, but injuries – especially to quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey – were the driving factors behind the disappointing season. However, one year later, Missouri won the East Division and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll. Under Pinkel, the Tigers have winning records in eight out of the last nine years, with four double-digit win totals since 2007. Prior to Missouri, Pinkel was a successful coach at Toledo, recording a 73-37-3 record in 10 years with the Rockets. It was easy for some in the SEC to write off Pinkel after the 5-7 record in 2012. But heading into 2014, Missouri looks like a contender for the East Division title once again, and Pinkel has the program on stable ground entering its third year in the SEC.
23. Gary Patterson, TCU
Record at TCU: 120-44 (12 years)
Career Record: 120-44 (12 years)
TCU’s Program Rank:No. 7 in the Big 12, No. 42 nationally
Moving to the Big 12 has been a challenge for Patterson and TCU, as the Horned Frogs are just 11-14 overall and 6-12 in Big 12 play over the last two seasons. But prior to joining the Big 12, TCU was a consistent top-25 team. The Horned Frogs recorded three top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2008-10, and this program has only two losing records in Patterson’s 12 years. It’s one thing to win in the Mountain West, but it’s a huge challenge to elevate a program into Big 12 title contention on a consistent basis. The coaching staff needs time to upgrade the overall program depth and talent to compete with Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State, but that shouldn’t be an issue when you look at TCU’s track record of success under Patterson. Also, the Kansas native is one of the top defensive minds in the conference – as evidenced by allowing just 4.8 yards per play last season. The Horned Frogs have stumbled a bit in their new conference, which isn’t really a surprise when you consider the struggles of West Virginia and Utah during their conference transition period. However, the future in Fort Worth still appears to be very bright for Patterson.
24. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 20-6 (2 years)
Career Record: 55-23 (6 years)
Texas A&M’s Program Rank: (No. 5 in the SEC, No. 13 nationally)
Armed with the SEC logo, facility renovations and Sumlin’s coaching, Texas A&M is poised to be a factor on the national scene for the foreseeable future. The Aggies went 11-2 and finished No. 5 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2012 but slipped to 9-4 and just .500 (4-4) in SEC play last year. Prior to his stint at Texas A&M, Sumlin went 35-17 in four years at Houston. Building a program into a consistent national title contender will take time. And sometimes it's necessary to take a step back before moving forward. Through two years in College Station, Sumlin guided Texas A&M through a difficult conference transition, produced a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel) and has recruited back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes. Without Manziel and standout receiver Mike Evans, the Aggies may take a step back in 2014. However, with all of the young talent on the roster, the future looks bright in Aggieland.
25. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 224-109-2 (27 years)
Career Record: 266-132-4 (33 years)
Virginia Tech’s Program Rank:No. 4 in the ACC, No. 27 nationally
Beamer is the dean of college football coaches with 33 consecutive years of head coach experience. The North Carolina native worked as an assistant at Citadel and Murray State from 1973-80 and was promoted to the top spot with the Racers in 1981. In six seasons as Murray State’s head coach, Beamer went 42-23-2 and finished his tenure with four consecutive winning records. Beamer started his tenure at Virginia Tech with losing records in four out of the first six years. However, the Hokies have been one of the nation’s most consistent teams since 1993. Virginia Tech has played in 21 straight bowl games and has won at least 10 games in eight out of the last 10 years. While the program has been remarkably consistent, the Hokies are 15-11 in the last two seasons. Even though that record marks a slight drop from the early 2000s, there’s no reason to hit the panic button in Blacksburg going into 2014.
26. Charlie Strong, Texas
Record at Texas: First Year
Career Record: 37-16 (4 years)
Texas’ Program Rank: No. 1 in the Big 12, No. 1 nationally
Strong was somewhat of a surprising hire at Texas, but all signs point to this paying huge dividends for the Longhorns. In four years as Louisville’s head coach, Strong went 37-15 and earned four bowl appearances. The Cardinals won 23 games over the final two seasons and claimed back-to-back top-15 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2012-13. Prior to taking over at Louisville, Strong accumulated a wealth of experience as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina. There’s no secret Strong is a sharp defensive mind, a good recruiter, and someone who focuses on fundamentals and physical play. Considering Texas has struggled to develop its elite talent over the last few years, Strong and his coaching staff should fix that problem. Additionally, the consistent problems on the offensive line seem to be addressed with the addition of Joe Wickline. Coaching at Texas will require a few changes for Strong, especially when it comes to the booster glad-handing and Longhorn Network. But there's little reason to believe Strong won't win big at Texas.
27. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Record at Oregon State: 88-73 (13 years)
Career Record: 88-73 (13 years)
Oregon State’s Program Rank:No. 10 in the Pac-12, No. 54 nationally
Riley is in his second stint at Oregon State, and the Beavers have been one of the Pac-12’s most consistent programs under his watch. From 1971-98, Oregon State failed to earn a winning record. But since 2003, the Beavers have eight winning seasons out of the last 11 years. Riley has guided Oregon State to six years of at least eight wins during that span. The Beavers also have 15 bowl appearances in school history – eight of them are under Riley’s watch. So while Oregon State is still looking for a Pac-12 title under Riley, he has clearly elevated a program that struggled mightily prior to his arrival. And if you needed any additional data on Riley’s impact, take a look at recruiting rankings. The Beavers own the No. 10 roster in the Pac-12, yet rank sixth in the conference in conference wins over the last four years.
28. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 9-16 (2 years)
Career Record: 93-59 (12 years)
Washington State’s Program Rank: No. 12 in the Pac-12, No. 63 nationally
Washington State is the toughest job in the Pac-12. But the Cougars have the right coach to keep this program competitive on a consistent basis. Leach was forced out at Texas Tech after 10 successful years in Lubbock. The Red Raiders never missed a bowl game under Leach and finished five times in the final Associated Press poll. Leach is only 9-16 in two years at Washington State. However, the Cougars improved their win total by three games from 2012 to 2013. Additionally, Washington State went to a bowl game for the first time since 2003 last year. Leach is one of the top offensive minds in college football and will help Washington State move a little closer to contending with the Pac-12 North’s top teams over the next few years.
29. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 45-18 (5 years)
Ole Miss’ Program Rank: (No. 10 in the SEC, No. 30 nationally)
Freeze still has plenty to prove within the SEC, but there’s also a lot of potential. The Mississippi native has brought instant success to each of his three college coaching jobs, starting at Lambuth in 2008. The Eagles won seven games in the two seasons prior to Freeze’s arrival, but he went 8-4 in 2008 and 12-1 in 2009. Freeze served as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2010 and was promoted to head coach in 2011. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt title in Freeze’s only season, finishing 10-2 with a trip to the GoDaddy Bowl. In two years at Ole Miss, Freeze is 15-11 and 6-10 in SEC play. Those totals aren’t particularly overwhelming, but the Rebels finished 6-18 in the two years prior to his arrival. With two top-15 recruiting classes, the talent level is on the rise in Oxford. Freeze needs time to match the depth at Alabama, Auburn and LSU, but the gap is slowly starting to close.
30. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 16-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 136-94-2 (20 years)
Arizona’s Program Rank:No. 7 in the Pac-12, No. 39 nationally
A three-year stint at Michigan is really the only blemish on Rodriguez’s 20 years on the sidelines. The West Virginia native started his coaching career at Salem in 1988 and had his second opportunity as a head coach at Glenville State in 1990. In seven years with the Pioneers, he went 43-28-2 and was hired at Tulane to coordinate the offense after the 1996 season. After two years with the Green Wave, Rodriguez was hired as Clemson’s offensive coordinator (1999-00) and then took over the top spot at West Virginia in 2001. The Mountaineers were 60-26 under Rodriguez and were one win away from playing for the national title in 2007. Rodriguez left his home state for the opportunity to coach at Michigan, but his three years with the Wolverines resulted in a disappointing 15-22 record. And after sitting out a year, Rodriguez jumped back into the coaching game at Arizona. So far, so good in Tucson. The Wildcats have recorded back-to-back 8-5 seasons and two bowl victories under his watch.
31. Jim Mora, UCLA
Record at UCLA: 19-8 (2 years)
Career Record: 19-8 (2 years)
UCLA’s Program Rank:No. 3 in the Pac-12, No. 18 nationally
Mora has only been at UCLA for two seasons, but the former NFL head coach is making a difference. The Bruins are 19-8 under Mora, including a 12-6 mark during the regular season in Pac-12 play. UCLA finished No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which was the program’s first appearance in the last ranking since a No. 16 mark in 2005. Recruiting under Mora is also stable, as the Bruins have signed three consecutive top-20 classes. UCLA also made a big commitment to Mora by signing him to a six-year extension at the end of the 2013 season. With Brett Hundley returning for his junior year, the Bruins will have a chance to take the next step under Mora in 2014.
32. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Record at Mississippi State: 36-28 (5 years)
Career Record: 36-28 (5 years)
Mississippi State’s Program Rank: (No. 13 in the SEC, No. 48 nationally)
Winning at Mississippi State is no easy task. Just how difficult? Counting Mullen, the last seven coaches in Starkville had a losing record in SEC play. Jackie Sherrill guided the Bulldogs to an appearance in the SEC Championship, but his final record in SEC contests was just 43-59-1. Considering how difficult it is to win at a high level at Mississippi State, it’s unrealistic for Mullen to compete for SEC titles every year. In five years with the Bulldogs, Mullen is 36-28 and has guided the program to four consecutive bowl appearances. Additionally, Mullen is 4-1 against rival Ole Miss. Closing the gap on the rest of the West Division will be challenging, but Mullen clearly has the program going on the right direction. Considering the challenge of winning at Mississippi State, a strong case could be made Mullen needs to rank higher on this list of SEC coaches.
33. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 22-15 (3 years)
Career Record: 49-49 (8 years)
Miami’s Program Rank: No. 3 in the ACC, No. 21 nationally
Golden is a tough coach to rank among his ACC peers. On the positive side: Miami has increased its win total in each of the last two seasons after winning six games in Golden’s debut. The Hurricanes are also seeing an uptick in recruiting, bringing in the No. 12 (2014), No. 14 (2013) and No. 10 (2012) classes after signing the No. 33 group in 2011. But here’s the bad news: This is Miami – the No. 3 coaching job in the ACC. The Hurricanes are still looking for their first appearance in the conference championship, and Golden has yet to produce a ranked team in the final Associated Press poll. With the No. 2 roster in the ACC, Miami needs to win at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Coral Gables, Golden took Temple from a 1-11 record in 2006 to a program with back-to-back winning seasons in 2009-10. Some of the Owls’ success under Golden was due to the transition to the MAC, but Golden helped to mold Temple from one of the worst programs back to respectability. 2014 should be a telling year for Golden and his overall leadership at Miami, as the Hurricanes have the talent to win the Coastal. However, enough questions remain that Miami could finish third in the division.
34. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Record at Clemson: 51-23 (6 years)
Career Record: 51-23 (6 years)
Clemson’s Program Rank:No. 2 in the ACC, No. 20 nationally
Swinney has helped Clemson shake the underachieving label recently, recording a school-record 32 victories over the last three years. The Tigers are 14-2 in the last two seasons of ACC play and have two BCS bowl appearances in three years. Clemson finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which is the best final ranking for the program since Danny Ford guided the Tigers to a No. 8 ranking in 1982. Swinney is at his best in the program CEO role. Coordinators Chad Morris and Brent Venables are two of the nation’s highest-paid assistants, and Morris’ arrival in 2011 sparked instant improvement on offense. Prior to hiring Morris, Swinney was just 19-15. One trouble spot for Swinney is his record against rival South Carolina and Florida State. The Gamecocks have won five in a row over Clemson, while the Tigers are 2-4 under Swinney against the Seminoles. In order for Swinney to take the next step as a head coach, he has to consistently beat Florida State and South Carolina.
35. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 108-79 (15 years)
Career Record: 120-100 (18 years)
Iowa’s Program Rank: (No. 7 in Big Ten, No. 32 nationally)
Ferentz may not be the flashiest coach, but he is easily one of the top-six coaches in the Big Ten. Iowa is a solid job, but it also has its drawbacks. There’s not a ton of in-state talent to build a team, but the Hawkeyes are 15-17 in conference play over the last four years, which is almost equal to Michigan during that span (18-14). Ferentz went 4-19 in his first two years at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes recorded six consecutive bowl appearances from 2001-06, including an Orange Bowl trip after the 2002 season. After missing out on a bowl in 2007, Iowa earned four straight postseason trips from 2008-11, and Ferentz got the program back on track after a 4-8 mark in 2012. With a favorable schedule and 12 starters back, Ferentz should have Iowa in contention for the West Division title in 2014.
36. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 17-21 (3 years)
Career Record: 144-94 (20 years)
Minnesota’s Program Rank: (No. 11 in Big Ten, No. 56 nationally)
Kill was a successful coach prior to taking over at Minnesota and has guided the Golden Gophers to back-to-back bowl games for the first time sine 2008-09. In five years at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98), Kill went 38-14 and followed that stint with a two-year stop at Emporia State (11-11). From 2001-07, Kill recorded a 55-32 mark at Southern Illinois, which included five consecutive appearances in the FCS playoffs. And in three years at Northern Illinois, Kill went 23-16 with three bowl trips. After a 3-9 mark at Minnesota in 2011, Kill is 14-12 and clearly has the program on the right track. Also, last year’s 4-4 Big Ten mark is the first record of .500 or better in Big Ten play by Minnesota since 2005.
37. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: 5-7 (1 year)
Career Record: 55-34 (7 years)
Tennessee’s Program Rank: (No. 7 in the SEC, No. 16 nationally)
In his first year at Tennessee, Jones had a similar overall record to his predecessor (Derek Dooley), but the Volunteers appeared to take a step forward in 2013. Tennessee lost to Georgia by three points in overtime and fell to Vanderbilt 14-10 in late November. The signs of progress were small, but Jones is recruiting at a high level and has a track record of success. From 2007-09 at Central Michigan, Jones went 27-13 and won two MAC titles. At Cincinnati, Jones recorded a 23-14 mark and finished with a 10-4 mark in the Big East over the final two years. Jones is unproven in the SEC, but all signs point to progress on Rocky Top heading into 2014.
38. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 26-13 (3 years)
Career Record: 73-63 (11 years)
Michigan’s Program Rank: (No. 2 in Big Ten, No. 10 nationally)
A few years ago, Hoke would have ranked higher on this list. However, Hoke’s stock has been on the decline after finishing 8-5 in 2012 and 7-6 in 2013. Prior to taking over at Michigan, Hoke recorded a 34-38 record in six seasons at Ball State, which included a 12-1 mark in 2008. He went 13-12 in two years at San Diego State and helped the program break an 11-year bowl drought with an appearance in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. Hoke went 11-2 in his Michigan debut in 2011 and led the Wolverines to a victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. However, despite back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes, the Wolverines are just 15-11 from 2012-13. Considering the expectations at Michigan, Hoke needs to show the program is headed in the right direction in 2014 to avoid the hot seat.
39. Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette
Career Record: 93-33 (10 years)
Hudspeth is a rising star in the coaching ranks and should have his pick of BCS jobs if he’s interested in leaving UL Lafayette after 2014. In three years with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth is 27-12 overall and 17-6 in Sun Belt play. UL Lafayette claimed a share of the Sun Belt title in 2013, and the program has three consecutive bowl victories. Prior to his stint with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth went 66-21 in seven years with North Alabama. He also has stops in his career at Mississippi State (2009-10), Delta State and Navy. If a SEC job opens this offseason, keep an eye on Hudspeth as a potential replacement.
40. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Career Record: 139-81 (18 years)
It’s a close call for the top spot among the coaches in the American Athletic Conference. Tuberville and O’Leary are both worthy of the No. 1 spot, but a slight edge goes to Tuberville. The Arkansas native is a proven winner at four stops in his coaching career, starting with a 25-20 stint at Ole Miss. From 1998-2008, Tuberville went 85-40 at Auburn and recorded a 20-17 mark in three years at Texas Tech. Cincinnati went 9-4 in Tuberville’s debut and could be the favorite to win the conference in 2014.
41. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Career Record: 82-34 (9 years)
Whether BYU has been an Independent or in the Mountain West, success hasn’t been a problem for Mendenhall. The Cougars won at least six games in each season under Mendenhall in the Mountain West, including back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2006-07. BYU joined the Independent ranks prior to the 2011 season, and Mendenhall has led the Cougars to at least eight victories in each of the last three years. Mendenhall isn’t flashy, but he’s a proven winner and has guided the program through a transition to the Independent ranks. And look at the schedule for 2014. Could BYU make a run at an unbeaten record?
42. George O’Leary, UCF
Career Record: 124-89 (17 years)
O’Leary quietly continues to build an impressive resume at UCF. The Knights won the American Athletic title in 2013 and finished No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll after beating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. UCF has back-to-back double-digit win seasons and has three bowl appearances in four years. Sure, the Knights have three losing records under O’Leary, but this program is never down for long and is among the best in the American Athletic Conference. O’Leary also went 52-33 during eight seasons at Georgia Tech.
43. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Record at Nebraska: 58-24 (6 years)
Career Record: 58-24 (6 years)
Nebraska’s Program Rank: (No. 4 in Big Ten, No. 17 nationally)
Pelini is still looking for his first conference title or an appearance in a BCS bowl, but he has won at least nine games in each of his six seasons at Nebraska. While nine or ten victories a year works at most programs, is that an acceptable benchmark in Lincoln? Winning at Nebraska in 2014 is probably more challenging than it was in 1995, but according to recruiting rankings, the Cornhuskers have the No. 3 roster in the Big Ten. Although Pelini’s win total has been consistent and has five consecutive finishes in the final Associated Press poll, the expectations are huge at Nebraska. Would a 7-5 or 8-4 record in 2014 force athletic director Shawn Eichorst to rethink the direction of the program?
44. Steve Sarkisian, USC
Record at USC: First Year
Career Record: 34-29 (5 years)
USC’s Program Rank:No. 1 in the Pac-12, No. 4 nationally
Taking over at USC is essentially a homecoming for Sarkisian. The California native was a successful quarterback at BYU and had a short stint in the CFL. Sarkisian’s first college coaching job was at El Camino in 2000, and he landed at USC in 2001-03 and again from 2005-08 under Pete Carroll. In 2009, Sarkisian was hired at Washington, where he inherited a team that finished 0-12 in the season prior to his arrival. Sarkisian brought immediate improvement to Seattle, guiding the Huskies to a 5-7 mark in 2009 and a 34-29 mark in his tenure. Washington played in four consecutive bowl games under Sarkisian, but never finished higher than third in the Pac-12 North. Elevating the Huskies back to Pac-12 respectability was a good sign. However, Sarkisian needs to win at a higher level at USC. With a solid coaching staff and the No. 11 signing class from 2014, it seems Sarkisian is on the right path. And it certainly won’t hurt Sarkisian’s prospects when the sanctions end and USC has a full allotment of scholarships.
45. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 4-8 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-29 (4 years)
Colorado’s Program Rank:No. 9 in the Pac-12, No. 53 nationally
The arrow is clearly pointing up on MacIntyre’s tenure at Colorado. The Buffaloes were only 4-8 overall and won just one contest in Pac-12 play, but the program took a step forward last year after struggling under Jon Embree. Prior to taking over in Boulder, MacIntyre spent three years at San Jose State, transforming the Spartans from a 1-11 team in 2010 to a 10-2 squad in 2012. According to the recruiting ranks, Colorado’s roster ranks No. 12 in the Pac-12, and standout receiver Paul Richardson must be replaced in 2014. MacIntyre needs time to successfully rebuild Colorado, but with a few breaks this season, the Buffaloes could make a bowl. After all, that isn't impossible considering MacIntyre’s second team at San Jose State made a four-game jump in the win column.
46. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 47-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 154-71 (17 years)
Georgia Tech’s Program Rank:No. 9 in the ACC, No. 46 nationally
Johnson has been a successful coach at three different jobs, starting with Georgia Southern in the FCS ranks in 1997. The Eagles went 62-10 under Johnson, which included back-to-back FCS Championships. At Navy, Johnson went 2-10 in his first year (2002) but finished his tenure with a 45-29 record and a No. 24 final ranking in the 2004 Associated Press poll. Johnson was hired at Georgia Tech in 2008 and is 47-32 in six years. Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have not finished under .500 in conference play under Johnson’s watch and won the ACC title in 2009. Despite his success, there seems to be unrest at Georgia Tech. But here's something to keep in perspective: Georgia Tech ranks as the No. 9 job in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have 19 wins in conference play over the last four years – only Virginia Tech has more during that span in the Coastal Division. Johnson is also regarded as one of the ACC’s top X’s and O’s coaches. Sure, the option might not be the most exciting offense to run at a BCS program, and the recruiting at Georgia Tech isn’t getting any better. However, Johnson has finished first or second (outright or shared) in the Coastal in five out of the last six years.
47. Steve Addazio, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-17 (3 years)
Boston College’s Program Rank:No. 12 in the ACC, No. 60 nationally
Addazio brought instant improvement in his first season at Boston College. The Eagles went 6-18 from 2011-12 under Frank Spaziani, but Addazio guided Boston College to a 7-6 record in 2013. Addazio had plenty of talent in the upperclassmen ranks to help his transition, and his work on the recruiting trail should ensure the Eagles continue to be a factor in the bowl picture. Before taking over at Boston College, Addazio went 13-11 in two years with Temple. The Owls went 9-4 in the MAC in 2011 but slipped to 4-7 in the tougher Big East Conference. As a Connecticut native, Addazio is familiar with the recruiting scene in the Northeast and what it takes to win at Boston College. The Eagles lose several key players from last year’s seven-win team, so some regression in the win total should be expected. However, Addazio has this program trending in the right direction for 2015 and beyond.
48. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Career Record: 104-49 (13 years)
It’s pretty easy to sum up Lembo’s coaching career in this simple statement: Three different head coach jobs, three very successful tenures. Lembo’s first head coaching gig was in 2001 at Lehigh. He guided the Mountain Hawks to a 44-14 record and two playoff appearances in five years. Lembo went to Elon in 2006 and won 35 games in five seasons. Lembo was hired at Ball State in 2011, and the Cardinals have yet to record a losing record under his watch. Ball State is 19-7 over the last two years and has played in back-to-back bowls. There’s no question Lembo is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks and could be poised for a jump to a BCS program in the next few years.
49. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Record at Iowa State: 27-36 (5 years)
Career Record: 27-36 (5 years)
Iowa State’s Program Rank:No. 9 in the Big 12, No. 64 nationally
Rhoads is a good example why records are often deceiving when ranking coaches. On the surface, 27 wins isn’t impressive. However, Iowa State is one of the toughest jobs among BCS programs and ranks No. 9 in the Big 12. Winning big is tough in Ames, and Rhoads has three bowl appearances in five years. Additionally, the Cyclones have only one season of fewer than five wins. Just how difficult is it to win at Iowa State? The program has only two seasons of more than eight wins and only four of the Cyclones’ bowl appearances came before 2000. So while Rhoads may not have the best winning total, he’s keeping Iowa State competitive and in the mix for bowl games. And at a job like Iowa State, some would consider that overachieving.
50. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 13-24 (3 years)
Career Record: 87-94 (15 years)
Maryland’s Program Rank: (No. 8 in Big Ten, No. 40 nationally)
Maryland has made steady progress in each of Edsall’s first three seasons and are in good position to make a bowl in 2014. Edsall was hired at Maryland in 2011 after 12 seasons at Connecticut. Under Edsall’s direction, the Huskies went 74-70 and claimed the Big East title in 2010. Edsall never recorded more than nine wins in a season at Connecticut, but he overachieved considering the program hierarchy in the Big East at the time. The Terrapins finished 2-10 in Edsall’s debut but improved their win total to four in 2012 and then seven in 2013. Maryland needs time to transition to the Big Ten, but Edsall is making gains in the right direction.
51. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Record at Utah: 76-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 76-39 (9 years)
Utah’s Program Rank: No. 11 in the Pac-12, No. 55 nationally
It’s pretty easy to see how deep the Pac-12 is with good coaches when Whittingham ranks No. 10. The former BYU linebacker is 76-39 in nine years in Salt Lake City, which includes a 13-0 record with a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in the 2008 season. In their final three years in the Mountain West (2008-10), Utah went 33-6 and lost only three conference games. However, as expected, the transition to the Pac-12 has been a challenge. The Utes went 8-5 in their Pac-12 debut but have posted back-to-back 5-7 records. Additionally, Utah is just 5-13 in conference play from 2012-13. Considering Whittingham’s wins in the Pac-12 have declined in back-to-back years, 2014 will be an important season to show the Utes are back on track. The addition of Dave Christensen as Utah’s offensive coordinator, combined with a little luck on health at quarterback could be enough for the Utes to get back to a bowl.
52. Will Muschamp, Florida
Record at Florida: 22-16 (3 years)
Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)
Florida’s Program Rank: (No. 1 in the SEC, No. 2 nationally)
What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, Muschamp could have ranked in the top half of the coach rankings in the SEC. After 2013, he deserves to be ranked in the bottom four. In his debut with the Gators in 2011, Muschamp went 7-6 and defeated Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. Florida went 11-2 in Muschamp’s second year and finished No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. The Gators may have caught a few lucky breaks in 2012, especially with a turnover margin that was a +15 and an offense that averaged only 334 yards per game. Even if Florida was a tad lucky in 2012, it’s hard to understand why this team went 4-8 in 2013. Yes, there were injuries and the offense had its share of struggles. However, the Gators recruit at a high level and own one of college football’s best rosters. Simply, going 4-8 at Florida should not happen. But Muschamp has another chance to guide the program back in the right direction, and staff changes to the offense should help. Muschamp is still a bit of a mystery heading into his fourth season, and it’s clear he needs a winning season to avoid hot seat talk in November.
53. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 71-33 (8 years)
Arkansas’ Program Rank: (No. 9 in the SEC, No. 25 nationally)
Bielema’s debut at Arkansas did not go well. The Razorbacks finished 3-9 and winless in SEC play. However, there were signs of improvement late in the year. Arkansas seemed to play better over the final three games of the season, taking Mississippi State to overtime and losing to LSU by just four points in Baton Rouge. While the final record was ugly, the late-season improvement is a good sign for 2014. Also, Bielema deserves some time to build the program, as he inherited a team that went 4-8 in 2012 and played that year with an interim coach. Bielema was a successful coach at Wisconsin, winning 68 games in seven years and leading the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. It’s easy to panic after one bad year of a coaching tenure. However, Bielema has a solid track record and should help Arkansas take a step forward in 2014.
54. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 15-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 49-29 (6 years)
North Carolina’s Program Rank:No. 5 in the ACC, No. 28 nationally
Fedora could be a spot or two higher on this list, but there’s not much separating the middle of the pack when it comes to ACC coaches. The Texas native has North Carolina on the right track, and the Tar Heels should be in contention for the Coastal Division title in 2014. Fedora’s record at North Carolina is 15-10, with a 9-7 mark in ACC play. The Tar Heels were ineligible to play for the Coastal Division title in 2012 or play in a bowl, but Fedora guided North Carolina to a 5-3 conference record – the first for the program since a 5-3 mark in 2004. Prior to his stint at North Carolina, Fedora coached at Southern Miss and recorded a 34-19 mark with a No. 20 rank in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. If the Tar Heels take a step forward as expected in 2014, Fedora will rank higher on this list next season.
55. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 13-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 13-13 (2 years)
Pittsburgh’s Program Rank:No. 7 in the ACC, No. 37 nationally
Coaching uncertainty surrounded Pittsburgh from 2010-12. The Panthers went through three head coaches – Dave Wannstedt, Mike Haywood and Todd Graham – in two seasons. However, Pittsburgh got it right went they hired Chryst. Yes, his record is only 13-13, but this program is on the right track. Chryst went 6-7 in his debut but guided the Panthers to a 7-6 mark in his second year and Pittsburgh’s ACC debut. Prior to taking the top spot with the Panthers, Chryst was a successful offensive coordinator at Oregon State and Wisconsin and spent some time in the NFL with the Chargers. The talent level in the Steel City is promising. Quarterback Chad Voytik, running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd are three potential standout sophomores, and the offensive line seems to be on the right track after struggling over the last few years. Chryst needs more time to build the roster, but all signs suggest Pittsburgh is trending in the right direction going into 2014.
56. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Record at Texas Tech: 8-5 (1 year)
Career Record: 8-5 (1 year)
Texas Tech’s Program Rank: No. 6 in Big 12, No. 41 nationally
Kingsbury is a perfect fit at Texas Tech, and the future looks bright for this program with the former Red Raider quarterback at the helm. In his first season as Texas Tech’s coach, Kingsbury led the Red Raiders to an 8-5 record, including a bowl victory over Arizona State. Prior to taking over in Lubbock, Kingsbury worked as an assistant at Texas A&M and Houston under Kevin Sumlin. Despite his lack of experience as a head coach, there’s little doubt Kingsbury has Texas Tech on the right track. And considering Kingsbury’s background on offense, he will have no trouble attracting top quarterbacks and receivers to Lubbock. While the 34-year-old coach ranks No. 8 among his Big 12 peers, the guess here is he climbs this list over the next few seasons.
57. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Record at Indiana: 10-26 (3 years)
Career Record: 10-26 (3 years)
Indiana’s Program Rank: (No. 14 in Big Ten, No. 69 nationally)
Wilson was a highly regarded assistant prior to his hire at Indiana, and he has made a difference in three years with the Hoosiers. After a 1-11 mark in 2011, Wilson won four games in 2012 and five last season. Indiana was just a couple of plays away from a bowl, as it lost to Minnesota by three points and Navy by six last year. There’s no question Wilson is one of the Big Ten’s top offensive coaches, but the Hoosiers have struggled mightily on defense. Indiana has ranked last in the Big Ten for three consecutive years in yards allowed, and Wilson hired former Wake Forest coordinator Brian Knorr to call the plays in 2014. If Knorr can fix the defense, Indiana has plenty of firepower on offense to reach six wins. However, the Hoosiers drew a tough schedule in realignment, as they will play Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State every season.
58. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Record at Oregon: 11-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 11-2 (1 year)
Oregon’s Program Rank:No. 2 in the Pac-12, No. 12 nationally
Helfrich had a tough assignment replacing offensive mastermind Chip Kelly in 2013. The Ducks were picked by many as a threat to win the national title, but a late-season injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota hindered the offense in November. Oregon finished 11-2 in Helfrich’s debut and No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. Despite not getting to the national championship, 2014 was a solid debut for Helfrich in his first season on the sidelines in Eugene. Helfrich needs a little time to put his stamp on the program, and with Mariota returning in 2014, Oregon should in the hunt to win college football’s playoff.
59. Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Career Record: 104-32 (11 years)
It’s not often a coach jumps from the FCS to FBS ranks and takes the top spot in a conference. However, that’s the case with Bohl, as he ranks as Athlon’s top coach in the Mountain West. In 11 years at North Dakota State, Bohl guided the Bison to 104 victories, including three consecutive FCS Championships.
60. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 23-26 (4 years)
California’s Program Rank:No. 8 in the Pac-12, No. 43 nationally
It seems unfair to rank Dykes at the bottom of the Pac-12, but there’s not a bad coach in the conference. Dykes’ debut at California did not go well, as the Golden Bears finished 1-11 and winless in conference play for the first time since 2001. While the final record was not pretty, California had a handful of injuries to key players on defense, and Jared Goff was a true freshman getting his first snaps at quarterback. Dykes took steps this offseason to ensure last year’s 1-11 won’t be repeated. The defensive staff got a major overhaul and a solid recruiting class will help with the overall depth. Prior to his one season at California, Dykes went 22-15 at Louisiana Tech, including a 17-8 mark over the final two years.
61. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Record at Kentucky: 2-10 (1 year)
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)
Kentucky’s Program Rank: (No. 12 in the SEC, No. 47 nationally)
Considering Stoops inherited a Kentucky team that had just four SEC wins in the three years prior to his arrival, it’s tough to judge him based on 2013. The Wildcats went 2-10 and winless in conference play in Stoops’ first season, but there were signs of progress. Kentucky lost two conference games by seven points or less, and Stoops signed another signing class filled with talent. The Wildcats ranked No. 34 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings in 2013, but Stoops inked the No. 22 class in 2014. Prior to taking over at Kentucky, Stoops was a successful defensive coordinator at Florida State, and he also had prior stops at Arizona, Miami, Houston and Wyoming. It’s going to take Stoops some time to get the program on track. However, recruiting is going well, and the Wildcats showed signs of improvement last season. If Kentucky takes another step forward in 2014, it’s a good sign for Stoops’ long-term outlook in Lexington.
62. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt: First Season
Career Record: First Season
Vanderbilt’s Program Rank: (No. 14 in the SEC, No. 49 nationally)
Mason takes over for James Franklin after a successful stint as Stanford’s defensive coordinator. The Arizona native has been on a steady climb through the ranks as an assistant, spending time at Weber State, Idaho State, Bucknell, Utah, New Mexico State and Ohio. In 2007, Mason joined the Vikings staff and spent three years as a defensive backs assistant in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh hired Mason at Stanford in 2010, and he was promoted to the co-defensive coordinator role in 2011, before taking over the sole play-calling abilities in 2012. Under Mason, the Cardinal finished first in the Pac-12 in total defense in 2012 and second in 2013. Additionally, Stanford’s defenses allowed less than five yards per play from 2012-13. As evidenced by his work under Harbaugh and David Shaw, Mason is a rising star in the coaching ranks and one of the top defensive minds in the nation. However, without any experience as a head coach, it’s hard to place Mason higher in the SEC coach ranks.
63. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: First Year
Career Record: 90-80 (14 years)
Wake Forest’s Program Rank: No. 13 in the ACC, No. 71 nationally
After successful tenures at three previous stops, Clawson finally gets his chance to run a BCS program. From 1999-2003, he recorded a 29-29 mark at Fordham. The Rams went 0-11 in his debut and made steady improvement over the next five years, including a 10-3 record with an appearance in the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson was hired at Richmond in 2004 and guided the Spiders to a 29-20 record with two playoff appearances. After a one-year stint as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2008, Clawson was hired at Bowling Green and led the Falcons to a bowl game in his debut. Under Clawson’s watch, Bowling Green won 32 games, claimed the MAC title in 2013, and made three bowl trips. Considering his history of improving programs that were struggling prior to his arrival, Clawson is the right pick to take over at Wake Forest.
64. Dan McCarney, North Texas
Career Record: 74-104 (15 years)
McCarney is one of the top coaches from outside the five BCS leagues. The Iowa native went 56-85 at a difficult job (Iowa State) from 1995-2006. The Cyclones went to five bowl games under McCarney and claimed a share of the Big 12 North title in 2004. The Mean Green made steady progress in McCarney’s three seasons and finished 9-4 with a Heart of Dallas Bowl victory in 2013.
65. Terry Bowden, Akron
Career Record: 146-80-2 (20 years)
After a successful stint as Auburn’s coach from 1993-98, it was puzzling to see Bowden not resurface on the FBS level until 2012 when he was hired by Akron. Although he was away from the FBS ranks for 13 seasons, Bowden certainly hasn’t forgotten how to coach. At North Alabama, Bowden recorded a 29-9 record in three years and is 6-18 in two seasons with the Zips. Akron’s win total improved by four games in Bowden’s second year, and the Zips should be in bowl contention in 2014. Could Bowden land at a BCS job in the near future?
66. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
Career Record: 20-6 (2 years)
Fresno State is one of the premier programs in the Mountain West, and DeRuyter has continued to add to the foundation Pat Hill built from 1997-2011. In two years with the Bulldogs, DeRuyter is 20-6 and claimed the Mountain West title in 2013. The Bulldogs have to reload in 2014 without quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams. However, DeRuyter is the right coach to keep Fresno State among the top programs in the Mountain West.
67. Larry Coker, UTSA
Career Record: 79-30 (9 years)
Coker went 60-15 in six years with Miami, including a national championship in 2001 season. However, that might not be his most-impressive accomplishment. Coker built the UTSA program from scratch, going 4-6 in 2011 and 8-4 in its FBS debut in 2012. The Roadrunners just missed the C-USA West Division title last season with a 7-5 overall record. While Miami dropped off at the end of Coker’s tenure, he’s clearly found a home in San Antonio, and UTSA is poised to be a major factor in Conference USA.
68. Frank Solich, Ohio
Career Record: 124-69 (15 years)
Solich is the longest-tenured coach in the MAC. He has held the top spot at Ohio since 2005 and has earned five consecutive bowl appearances. The Bobcats played for the MAC title in 2006 and 2009 and won 10 games in 2011. Solich may not be flashy, but he certainly knows how to coach. And prior to taking over at Ohio, Solich went 58-19 at Nebraska with three top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll.
69. June Jones, SMU
Career Record: 112-82 (15 years)
Progress at SMU has been slower than some may have expected from Jones, but the Mustangs have improved since the Oregon native took over in 2008. Jones transformed Hawaii’s program into a consistent winner in the WAC from 1999-2007, recording a 76-41 record with a Sugar Bowl appearance after the 2007 season. Jones went 1-11 in his debut at SMU, but the Mustangs had four winning seasons from 2009-12. And that’s no small feat considering SMU’s last stretch of four winning years occurred from 1983-86.
70. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
Career Record: 30-22 (4 years)
East Carolina heads into the American Athletic Conference with plenty of momentum, as McNeill has the Pirates on the right track after an 11-14 start to his tenure. McNeill is 18-8 over the last two seasons and is a former defensive back with the Pirates, so there’s no question he knows what it takes to win in Greenville. And prior to taking over at East Carolina, McNeill went 1-0 as Texas Tech’s interim coach for the 2009 Alamo Bowl.
71. Willie Taggart, South Florida
Career Record: 18-30 (4 years)
Taggart was one of last season’s top hires and a 2-10 record in his debut shouldn’t diminish the potential of USF in the next few years. At Western Kentucky, Taggart went 16-20 with back-to-back winning seasons after a 2-10 debut. With two solid recruiting classes under his belt, Taggart has the Bulls poised to make big improvement this year.
72. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Record at West Virginia: 21-17 (3 years)
Career Record: 21-17 (3 years)
West Virginia’s Program Rank:No. 5 in Big 12, No. 35 nationally
Holgorsen was regarded as one of the nation’s top offensive minds prior to his promotion to the top spot in Morgantown. The Iowa native worked as an assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, coordinated Houston’s offense from 2008-09 under Kevin Sumlin and spent 2010 as the play-caller at Oklahoma State. Holgorsen’s first season at West Virginia (2011) resulted in a 10-3 record and a Big East title. Transitioning to the Big 12 was a challenge for the program, but the Mountaineers started 5-0 in their first season in the new conference. However, West Virginia finished 2-6 over the final eight games in 2012. Transition was a big part of the 2013 season, as the Mountaineers had to replace quarterback Geno Smith and standout receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Although the 4-8 mark was a disappointment, Holgorsen’s team showed some progress at the end of 2013 by losing two out of their last three games in overtime. Moving to the Big 12 is a challenge for West Virginia, and the Mountaineers need time to recruit at a higher level to compete with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. With just six Big 12 wins over the last two years, 2014 will be an important year for Holgorsen to show this program is heading in the right direction.
73. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Career Record: 49-30 (6 years)
Niumatalolo has picked up where Paul Johnson left off in Annapolis, guiding Navy to 49 wins over the last six years, including a 10-4 mark in 2008. The Midshipmen average 8.2 wins a season under Niumatalolo and has recorded only one losing record in his tenure. Navy will transition to the American Athletic Conference in 2015, and there’s no doubt Niumatalolo is the right coach to guide this program into a new league.
74. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Career Record: 90-83 (14 years)
After a successful stint as New Mexico’s coach from 1998-2008, Long decided to step aside and returned to the coordinator ranks for two years at San Diego State. However, once Brady Hoke left for Michigan, Long was promoted to the head coach role, and the Aztecs have three seasons of at least eight wins since 2011. Long certainly isn’t flashy, but San Diego State has emerged as a consistent winner under his direction.
75. Jim McElwain, Colorado State
Career Record: 12-14 (2 years)
Looking for a coach that could move to a BCS job at the end of the 2014 season? McElwain is a name to remember. In two years with the Rams, McElwain has made significant strides in Fort Collins, guiding Colorado State to an 8-6 finish and a bowl victory over Washington State last season. The Rams lose some key pieces from last year’s team, but McElwain should have Colorado State back in the mix for a bowl.
76. Matt Wells, Utah State
Career Record: 9-5 (1 year)
Gary Andersen left behind plenty of talent in Logan, but Wells deserves a lot of credit for getting Utah State to a 9-5 mark last year. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton was lost in the first half of the season with a knee injury, and the Aggies still managed to win the Mountain Division and play for the conference title. The real challenge for Wells starts in 2014, as Utah State returns only seven starters.
77. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 17-21 (3 years)
Purdue’s Program Rank: (No. 12 in Big Ten, No. 57 nationally)
Hazell’s debut at Purdue was a disappointment. The Boilermakers finished 1-11 and were largely uncompetitive in Big Ten games. However, Hazell’s long-term outlook is positive after a successful two-year stint at Kent State from 2011-12. The Golden Flashes won 16 games in Hazell’s two years, which was the most by a Kent State coach since Don James won 16 from 1973-74. And in a good sign for the Boilermakers in 2014, Hazell’s second team at Kent State improved by six victories. There’s not much that separates the bottom three coaches in the Big Ten, but Hazell’s success at a tough job (Kent State) is enough to give him somewhat of a pass on what transpired in 2013.
78. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 26-13 (3 years)
NC State’s Program Rank: No. 8 in the ACC, No. 44 nationally
Doeren’s first season was disappointing, but there’s no reason to panic at NC State. The Wolfpack had only eight returning starters last year, and the offense had its share of quarterback injuries. With Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett eligible at quarterback, combined with another year for the players to adapt to the coaching staff, NC State could be the most improved team in the ACC. Prior to taking over at NC State, Doeren went 23-4 at Northern Illinois and led the Huskies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl during the 2012 season. Sure, Doeren has plenty to prove in the ACC. And going winless in conference play in your debut isn’t exactly a strong introduction to the rest of the ACC. However, he has a track record of success as a head coach and was a regarded assistant during his tenure at Wisconsin and Kansas.
79. Dino Babers, Bowling Green
Career Record: 19-7 (2 years)
Babers has a wealth of experience in the assistant ranks, making stops at a handful of FBS programs, including Purdue, San Diego State, Arizona, UNLV, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, UCLA and Baylor. Eastern Illinois hired Babers prior to the 2012 season, and he proved to be an instant hit for the Panthers. Under Babers’ watch, Eastern Illinois went 19-7 in two years and made the FCS playoffs in both seasons. And with a loaded roster returning for Babers’ debut at Bowling Green, the Falcons could be the favorite to win the MAC in 2014.
80. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 7-6 (1 year)
Syracuse’s Program Rank: No. 11 in the ACC, No. 58 nationally
Shafer picked up where Doug Marrone left off, guiding Syracuse to a 7-6 record with a victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl. After a 3-4 start, Shafer rallied the Orange for a solid second half of the season and won four out of the final six games. Syracuse’s only losses over the final six games were to national champion Florida State and a one-point defeat to Pittsburgh. Prior to his promotion to head coach at Syracuse, Shafer served as the defensive coordinator under Marrone and also has stops in his career as an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois and Northern Illinois. The Orange had some key faces to replace going into 2013, so Shafer deserves a lot of credit for guiding this program back to a bowl in its first season of ACC play. Now the task for Shafer is to sustain success, which seems like a reasonable goal considering he signed the No. 50 recruiting class in 2014 – an improvement on the No. 73 class from 2013. Shafer could be higher on this list, but Doeren’s success at Northern Illinois gave him a slight edge for the No. 12 spot.
81. David Bailiff, Rice
Career Record: 61-63 (10 years)
Winning at a high level on a consistent basis isn’t easy at Rice, but Bailiff has been a solid coach for the Owls. After a 21-15 mark at Texas State from 2004-06, Bailiff was picked to replace Todd Graham and has a 40-48 record in seven seasons. Rice has two 10-win seasons under Bailiff, including a 10-4 mark and a Conference USA title last year.
82. Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern
Career Record: 137-62 (17 years)
Fritz joins the FBS ranks after successful stints at Central Missouri and Sam Houston State. After a 97-47 record at Central Missouri, Fritz recorded a 40-14 mark with the Bearkats, including two appearances in the FCS Championship. Georgia Southern has a strong tradition of success, which Fritz should have no trouble building on as the program transitions to the Sun Belt Conference.
83. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Career Record: 51-49 (8 years)
Stockstill has experienced his share of ups and downs during his tenure at MTSU, but the Ohio native has guided the program to four bowl appearances and four winning seasons. The Blue Raiders are coming off back-to-back winning records for the first time since 2000-01.
84. Matt Campbell, Toledo
Career Record: 17-9 (2 years)
Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches and a rising star in the profession. He won his debut in the 2011 Military Bowl, defeating Air Force 42-41. And the Rockets are 16-9 over the last two years and played in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Toledo should be one of the favorites to win the MAC West in 2014.
85. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Career Record: 27-24 (4 years)
After a 17-20 start to his career at Marshall, Holliday seems to have the program heading in the right direction. The Thundering Herd went 10-4 last season and is regarded as a heavy favorite to win Conference USA in 2014. Prior to taking over at Marshall, Holliday was a noted assistant for his work on the recruiting trail.
86. Tony Levine, Houston
Career Record: 14-12 (2 full years)
Levine had big shoes to fill after Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M prior to the TicketCity Bowl in 2011. Houston won Levine’s debut but slipped to 5-7 in 2012. However, the Cougars rebounded in 2013 (8-5) and have a new stadium opening for 2014. If Levine can build on the progress Houston made last year, the Cougars will be a sleeper to watch in the American Athletic Conference title picture.
87. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)
As a New Orleans native and an assistant with the Saints, there’s not a better fit for a coach at Tulane than Johnson. In two years, the Green Wave has made considerable progress under Johnson. Tulane finished 2-10 in 2012 but improved to 7-6 with a bowl appearance in 2013. Moving to the American Athletic Conference will be an increased challenge for the Green Wave, and this program appears capable of handling that transition with Johnson at the helm.
88. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)
Fuente only has seven victories over the last two years, but there has been considerable progress at Memphis during that span. The Tigers went 3-21 in the two years prior to Fuente’s arrival and won just one conference game in that period. But Memphis went 4-8 in his debut in 2012 and finished 3-9 in 2013 in its American Athletic Conference debut. The Tigers should take another step forward in 2014.
89. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Career Record: 175-104-1 (23 years)
Blakeney has consistently proved he is one of the top coaches in the Sun Belt. Not only did Blakeney guide the program through the FCS to FBS transition, he has five bowl appearances since the Trojans moved to the Sun Belt. Troy has slipped some in recent years, failing to record a winning record since 2010. However, don’t expect this program to stay down for long under Blakeney.
90. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Career Record: 49-41 (7 years)
Calhoun’s stock has slipped just a bit in recent years. After starting his career at Air Force with four seasons of at least eight wins, Calhoun has not won more than seven games in a season and has back-to-back losing records. But despite the recent downturn in record, Calhoun’s track record suggests the program will rebound. However, it may not be in 2014, especially as the Falcons look to rebuild a struggling defense and settle on a quarterback.
91. Bryan Harsin, Boise State
Career Record: 7-5 (1 year)
Harsin returns to Boise State after a three-year stint away from the Broncos. The former Boise State quarterback spent time at Texas under Mack Brown for two seasons and led Arkansas State to a 7-5 record in his only year as the head coach in Jonesboro. Harsin is a great fit at Boise State and should have the Broncos in the mix for a Mountain West title in 2014.
92. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
Career Record: 203-121-2 (28 years)
Texas State is the seventh head coaching position in Franchione’s career, and he boasts a solid 203-121-2 record in 28 years. Franchione has helped guide the Bobcats through a program transition to the FBS ranks and has two 6-6 records over the last three years. There’s no question Franchione knows how to build a program, as evidenced by his wins at New Mexico and TCU. And with a little more time at Texas State, the Bobcats should be near the top of the Sun Belt.
93. Todd Berry, ULM
Career Record: 52-85 (12 years)
Berry’s overall record is only 52-85, but 35 of those losses came at Army – a program that has struggled to have success in recent years. Outside of Berry’s tenure with the Black Knights, he’s been a solid coach at two stops. Illinois State went 24-24 with two playoff appearances under Berry, while ULM is 23-26 in four years. The Warhawks have recorded back-to-back non-losing seasons for the first time since 1992-93.
94. Joey Jones, South Alabama
Career Record: 34-28 (6 years)
Looking for a rising star in the coaching rankings? Keep an eye on Jones. The Alabama native is 31-21 in five years with the Jaguars, which includes a 6-6 record in 2013. Jones built the program from scratch and has South Alabama in contention for the Sun Belt title in 2014.
95. Trent Miles, Georgia State
Career Record: 20-48 (6 years)
As we have mentioned a couple of times in this article, it’s impossible to judge a coach based solely on his record. Miles is the perfect case study for records, as he resurrected a struggling Indiana State program. The Sycamores went 1-22 from 2008-09 but finished with three consecutive winning records from 2010-12. Georgia State went 0-12 in Miles’ first season, but the Panthers made progress and were competitive in Sun Belt play by losing three games by a touchdown or less. Give Miles a couple of years to recruit and Georgia State will move up the ladder in the Sun Belt.
96. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Career Record: 12-3 (1 year)
So far, so good for Carey. Northern Illinois – arguably the top job in the MAC – has won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. Carey picked up where former coach Dave Doeren left off, guiding the Huskies to a 12-2 record with a No. 24 finish in the final Associated Press poll. Although Carey was solid last year, he needs to prove Northern Illinois’ success in 2013 wasn’t solely due to inheriting a solid roster – especially quarterback Jordan Lynch.
97. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Career Record: 93-55 (11 years)
After a 6-32 start to his UNLV tenure, Hauck was squarely on the hot seat entering 2013. But the Rebels were one of the Mountain West’s biggest surprises last year, finishing 7-6 with an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Heading into 2014, Hauck is armed with a contract extension, and UNLV’s program is on stable footing after a few rebuilding seasons.
98. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Record at Illinois: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 27-34 (5 years)
Illinois’ Program Rank: (No. 10 in Big Ten, No. 52 nationally)
Beckman has struggled in two years at Illinois, which comes as a surprise after a successful three-year stint at Toledo. In three seasons with the Rockets, Beckman went 21-16 and lost just two conference games over the last two years. The Fighting Illini went 2-10 in Beckman’s debut and improved to only 4-8 last season. Hiring Bill Cubit paid dividends for Illinois’ offense in 2013, but the defense has been dreadful, allowing at least 5.8 yards per play in back-to-back years. Another reason for concern is recruiting. Illinois ranked 70th nationally in the 247Sports Composite in 2013, which ranked 13th in the Big Ten.
99. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Record at Rutgers: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 15-11 (2 years)
Rutgers’ Program Rank: (No. 9 in Big Ten, No. 50 nationally)
Flood was promoted to head coach after Greg Schiano left for Tampa Bay in 2012. Although he has guided Rutgers to back-to-back bowl games, Flood is still largely unproven. The Scarlet Knights won nine games in 2012, yet lost their final three contests and a chance to win the Big East title. In 2013, Rutgers slipped to 6-7 in a weaker conference (American Athletic) and finished with losses in four out of its last five games. Flood overhauled his coaching staff this offseason, which included the hire of former coach Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen as the team’s offensive coordinator. The week-to-week grind in the Big Ten will be a challenge for Rutgers, but adding Friedgen and changing defensive coordinators should help Flood in 2014.
100. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 18-31 (4 years)
Career Record: 42-36 (6 years)
Virginia’s Program Rank: No. 10 in the ACC, No. 51 nationally
London enters 2014 squarely on the hot seat and in need of a major turnaround to remain Virginia’s head coach in 2015. Considering the Cavaliers have the No. 6 roster according to the recruiting rankings, it’s hard to grasp why Virginia has just two ACC wins over the last two years. Tough non-conference scheduling and inconsistent quarterback play have played a large role in the Cavaliers’ recent struggles, but this program should be winning at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Charlottesville, London went 24-5 in two seasons at Richmond, including a FCS title from the 2008 season. And he went 4-8 in his first year at Virginia but went 8-5 with an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2011. But even with momentum on the recruiting trail and staff changes, London has yet to build on his successful 2011 record.
101. Jeff Monken, Army
Career Record: 38-16 (4 years)
Much like former Army coach Rich Ellerson, Monken appears to be a perfect fit at West Point. The Illinois native runs the option and was hired at Army after a successful four-year stint at Georgia Southern. Although Monken’s resume appears to be a good fit for the Black Knights, this is a tough job. Winning six games on a consistent basis would be a good start for Monken’s tenure.
102. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 39-47 (7 years)
Kansas’ Program Rank: No. 10 in Big 12, No. 68 nationally
Weis was a surprising hire for Kansas after Turner Gill was fired following two seasons in Lawrence. Prior to taking over at Kansas, Weis was just 35-27 in five years at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish started 19-6 under Weis but finished 16-21 over the last three seasons. And Weis has struggled to have success in two years with the Jayhawks, recording a 4-20 record over two seasons. Kansas has finished at the bottom of the Big 12 in back-to-back years, but there was slight progress in 2013 when the Jayhawks snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak with a win over West Virginia. Weis didn’t inherit much talent to work with and has taken steps to improve the overall roster depth over the last two seasons. However, Kansas needs to take a step forward in 2014, which means a couple of wins in Big 12 play.
103. Bob Davie, New Mexico
Career Record: 42-43 (7 years)
Davie is slowly rebuilding at New Mexico, as the Lobos are 7-18 in two years under his direction. The former ESPN commentator also has experience as a head coach from a five-year stint at Notre Dame, recording a 35-25 record with the Fighting Irish. It’s hard to gauge Davie’s progress since he didn’t inherit a full cupboard. However, we should have a better idea of how far this program has come after 2014.
104. Mark Whipple, UMass
Career Record: 121-59 (16 years)
UMass is set to depart the MAC after the 2015 season, so the program is facing an uncertain future at the FBS level. But after two sluggish years under Charley Molnar, bringing Whipple back to the sidelines makes a lot of sense for the Minutemen. Whipple went 49-26 in six years at UMass from 1998-2004, which included a FCS national championship in 1998. The Minutemen need to build overall roster depth to compete for winning seasons, but Whipple is a good hire at a critical time for the program.
105. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Career Record: 18-33 (4 years)
Buffalo isn’t an easy job, and Quinn has slowly transformed the Bulls into a bowl team. Quinn’s first year resulted in a 2-10 mark (2010), but Buffalo’s win total increased in each of the next three seasons. But after going 8-5 last year, can Quinn continue the momentum without standout linebacker Khalil Mack and running back Branden Oliver?
106. Matt Rhule, Temple
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)
Rhule was a good pick by Temple to replace Steve Addazio, as the Pennsylvania native worked as an assistant with the Owls from 2006-11. Temple’s first season under Rhule was a challenge (2-10), but the program had only 10 returning starters and played better as the season progressed. If the Owls pickup where they left off, Rhule could have Temple pushing for a bowl in 2014.
107. Bob Diaco, Connecticut
Career Record: First Year
Diaco takes over at Connecticut after four years as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator. The Fighting Irish were solid on defense under Diaco, including a No. 2 finish nationally in points allowed in 2012. Diaco does not have head coaching experience, but he has a strong resume as an assistant and should be a good fit in Storrs.
108. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Career Record: 22-17 (3 years)
Blankenship started his Tulsa career with a 19-8 record and a Conference USA title in 2012. However, he inherited a good team from Todd Graham, and after several personnel departures, the Golden Hurricane went 3-9 in 2013. Can Blankenship rebuild Tulsa in 2014?
109. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
Career Record: 46-14 (5 years)
Wilder had the tough assignment of building a program from scratch, but Old Dominion has recorded five consecutive winning seasons after not fielding a team from 1941-2008. Under Wilder, the Monarchs are known for their high-scoring offenses, which feature standout senior quarterback Taylor Heinicke in 2014.
110. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Career Record: 19-30 (4 years)
After successful tenures from Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, the Chippewas were hoping to hit another home run with Enos. So far, the results have been mixed. Central Michigan has one winning season (2012) and went .500 last year. However, the Chippewas are just 19-30 overall under Enos and 13-19 in MAC games. 2014 will be an important year for Enos to show Central Michigan is headed in the right direction.
111. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio)
Career Record: 74-7 (6 years)
Miami, Ohio was once one of the top programs in the MAC, but the RedHawks have slipped to the bottom in recent years. Martin looks like the right coach to right the ship in Oxford, as he went 74-7 in seven years at Grand Valley State. Martin also has experience in the FBS level as an assistant with Notre Dame from 2010-13.
112. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Career Record: 50-28 (7 years)
Caragher inherited plenty of talent at San Jose State, but the Spartans took a step back in the win column, regressing from 11 wins under Mike MacIntyre in 2012 to six in 2013. And Caragher’s task of getting San Jose State back to a bowl in 2014 will be tough without quarterback David Fales. Prior to taking over with the Spartans, Caragher went 44-22 in six years at San Diego.
113. Bill Clark, UAB
Career Record: 11-4 (1 year)
Garrick McGee’s departure after two years at UAB was a surprise, but the Blazers made the right hire by picking Clark from Jacksonville State. Clark is an Alabama native and has a wealth of experience as an assistant within the state’s high school ranks. He worked at South Alabama for five years as the team’s defensive coordinator and spent one season as Jacksonville State’s head coach, guiding the Gamecocks to an 11-4 record.
114. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Career Record: 92-79 (15 years)
Holtz has experienced plenty of success in his coaching career, starting with Connecticut from 1994-98, where the Huskies went 34-23. At East Carolina from 2005-09, Holtz recorded a 38-27 mark, which included back-to-back East Division titles. However, Holtz has struggled since an 8-5 record in his debut at South Florida. The Bulls went 8-16 over his final two years, and Louisiana Tech recorded a 4-8 mark in Holtz’s debut last season.
115. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)
Monken inherited a Southern Miss team that went 0-12 the year prior to his arrival, but the Golden Eagles made slight progress, winning their season finale to finish 1-11. The Illinois native has plenty to prove at Southern Miss. However, there’s also a lot to like about Monken. With successful stops in the NFL and as an assistant at Oklahoma State and LSU, Monken looks like the right coach to get the Golden Eagles back on track.
116. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)
Much like Eastern Michigan, Kent State is another program that has struggled to establish success in recent years. The Golden Flashes have not recorded back-to-back winning records since 1976-77. Haynes’ had a disappointing debut, as Kent State regressed by six wins from 2012. But the Kent State alum had the Golden Flashes playing better at the end of 2013 and finished with back-to-back victories.
117. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
Career Record: 139-46 (17 years)
Eastern Michigan is arguably the toughest job in college football. Creighton will have his hands full in Ypsilanti, but he has a strong resume and seems to be the right pick to improve the Eagles’ struggling program. Creighton is 139-46 in his career, including stops at Ottawa, Wabash and Drake. Succeeding at those programs should give Eastern Michigan confidence Creighton can win at a job that has only one bowl appearance in school history.
118. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State
Career Record: First Year
Anderson is Arkansas State’s fifth coach in five seasons, and he is cut in a similar mold from successful hires like Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze and Bryan Harsin. The Texas native has a background on offense, serving as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina from 2012-13 and at Southern Miss from 2010-11. Anderson also had stints as an offensive coordinator at MTSU and UL Lafayette. This will be Anderson’s first chance to be a head coach in the FBS ranks, but this appears to be another solid hire for Arkansas State.
119. Brian Polian, Nevada
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)
Polian is known for his work on the recruiting trail, but he was hired at Nevada without any experience as a coordinator on the FBS level. The Wolf Pack went 4-8 in Polian’s debut, which was complicated due to injuries. With better luck in the injury department, Nevada could challenge for a bowl.
120. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)
Satterfield is a good fit to lead Appalachian State into the FBS ranks, as he’s a former quarterback for the Mountaineers and spent from 1998-2008 as an assistant under Jerry Moore. Appalachian State went 4-8 in Satterfield’s first season and have enough returning talent to be competitive in its first season of FBS play.
121. Charlie Partridge, FAU
Career Record: First Year
Partridge inherits a FAU team that closed 2013 by winning its final four games, so there’s plenty of positive momentum surrounding the program. The Florida native has never been a coordinator on the FBS level, but he’s known as an excellent recruiter. With his connections in Florida, expect FAU to reel in plenty of talent under Partridge, which should help this program contend for Conference USA titles.
122. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky
Career Record: First Year
Brohm was promoted to the top spot with the Hilltoppers after Bobby Petrino returned to Louisville. Brohm doesn’t have any head coaching experience on the FBS level, but in addition to his one-year stint as an assistant with Western Kentucky last year, he has stops at Illinois, FAU, Louisville and UAB. The Hilltoppers have made good hires with their last two selections (Petrino and Willie Taggart), and Brohm appears to be capable of keeping this program in contention for conference titles and bowl games.
123. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)
Fleck is only 33 years old, so there was a learning curve expected during his tenure at Western Michigan. The Broncos went 1-11 in his debut, but Fleck has upgraded the program’s recruiting. Can Fleck turn that talent into wins in 2014?
124. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
Career Record: 31-63 (8 years)
Martin was promoted to head coach after DeWayne Walker left for the NFL in late January and inherited a program was in rebuild mode with a tough Independent schedule. The Aggies went 2-10 in 2013, but Martin is no stranger to winning at struggling programs after recording 29 victories at Kent State from 2004-10.
125. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)
Much like New Mexico State’s Doug Martin last year, Petrino inherited an impossible situation with Idaho playing an Independent schedule. The Vandals went 1-11 last year but should be more competitive in the Sun Belt. Petrino is a Montana native and coached at Idaho as an assistant from 1992-94.
126. Sean Kugler, UTEP
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)
Kugler struggled in his UTEP debut, but he also didn’t have much luck in the injury department, as starting quarterback Jameill Showers played in only seven games due to injury. As a former UTEP lineman, Kugler knows what it takes to win in El Paso. However, with no experience as a coordinator or head coach on the FBS level, it may take him a year or two to adjust to his new role.
127. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Career Record: 4-20 (2 years)
Chow is highly regarded for his time as an assistant at various stops, including time at UCLA, USC, NC State and BYU. But his tenure as a head coach with the Warriors is off to a slow start. Chow is just 4-20 overall, and Hawaii went winless in conference play last season. Transitioning from the wide-open offense run under previous coach Greg McMackin to the pro-style attack Chow prefers will take some time. However, Chow needs to produce more wins.
128. Ron Turner, FIU
Career Record: 43-72 (10 years)
Turner was a curious hire at FIU, and his first season resulted in a 1-11 mark. The California native also has stops as a head coach at San Jose State and Illinois, where he recorded three winning seasons, including a 10-2 record with the Fighting Illini in 2001. 2014 will be an important year for Turner to show progress after a disappointing debut.