The Pac-12 is generally considered the top all-sports conference in college athletics.
Stanford alone has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup every year since 1994-95. The top three schools in the 2014-15 Directors’ Cup all came from the Pac-12 (Stanford, UCLA, USC).
That is one heck of a bragging right, but we’re not concerned with fencing, rowing, water polo or rifle.
The top football and men’s basketball coaching tandems in the Pac-12 come from two of the schools not recently associated with the Directors’ Cup.
As we start our college football-college basketball tandem rankings, it’s important to note that we are attempting to value balance — i.e., which schools have an above-average coach at both position? That’s why some programs with an elite football coach and a new (or struggling) basketball coach will be ranked lower than one might expect.
Football: Rich Rodriguez
Basketball: Sean Miller
After Arizona football went 10–4, won the Pac-12 South and reached the Fiesta Bowl in 2014, last year’s 7–6 campaign, the worst under Rodriguez, was a major let down. It was an injury-plagued year, and Rodriguez still managed to reach a bowl game in each of his four seasons at Arizona. Miller has restored Arizona to national power status with three Pac-10/12 championships, three Elite Eight appearances and one Sweet 16 in his first six seasons.
Football: Kyle Whittingham
Basketball: Larry Krystkowiak
When Utah joined the Pac-12, few expected the Utes to be one of the league’s best football/basketball programs. Instead, Whittingham and Krystkowiak have navigated various challenges to produce top-25 programs in both sports. Krystkowiak took Utah to its first Sweet 16 since 2005 and could deliver a Pac-12 title for the Utes. Whittingham’s team never matched the 62-20 rout at Oregon, but they finished with 10 wins for the fourth time under Whittingham and the first time as a Pac-12 member.
Football: Mark Helfrich
Basketball: Dana Altman
With all the success Altman has had at Oregon, it’s hard to believe that the Ducks’ coaching search in 2010 was a comedy of errors. After bigger names passed, Altman turned out to be the right guy. He has topped 20 wins in all six of his seasons in Eugene. All other Oregon coaches have 11 20-win seasons. He’s also heading for a fifth consecutive top-three finish in the league. Helfrich proved a perfect steward of the football program in 2014, taking the Ducks to the national championship game in his second season. In 2015, Oregon slipped back to 9-4, the Ducks’ worst record since 2007, but there’s reason to believe the season would have been different if Vernon Adams had been healthy all year.
Football: Jim Mora
Basketball: Steve Alford
Mora has lifted UCLA out of a funk, winning 37 games in his first four seasons. No other Bruins coach has won more than 29 in his first four years. At 23-13 in the Pac-12 (and never better than 6-3), however, the Bruins haven’t become the conference elite. Alford hasn’t proven he’s an upgrade over predecessor Ben Howland, but back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances (buoyed by three wins over double-digit seeds and a controversial finish against No. 6 SMU) still count for something.
Football: David Shaw
Basketball: Johnny Dawkins
Shaw has been the coach at Stanford five years, and only one of those ended without 11 or more wins and a major bowl game. NFL suitors will continue to pursue him, but it’s starting to seem like he’ll be a campus institution at Stanford for a long time. One of the few highlights of Dawkins’ eight-year tenure was an upset of No. 2 seed Kansas and a trip to the Sweet 16 in his only Tournament appearance in 2014.
Football: Sonny Dykes
Basketball: Cuonzo Martin
Dykes has led a quick turnaround at two different programs. Cal went 1-11 in his first season (and 3-9 the year before he arrived) and 8-5 in this third season. He also went 17-8 in his final two seasons at Louisiana Tech. The only question is how long he wants to stay at Cal. The hopes for a Pac-12 basketball title this season never panned out for Martin, but he should head to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons at two schools.
Football: Chris Petersen
Basketball: Lorenzo Romar
Petersen has lost as many games in his first two seasons at Washington (12) as he did in his eight years at Boise State, but there’s clear momentum here. His team will be in contention in the Pac-12 North in 2016. Romar has 286 wins and three Sweet 16 appearances at Washington, but he hasn’t reached the Tournament since 2011.
8. Oregon State
Football: Gary Andersen
Basketball: Wayne Tinkle
Given his track record at Utah State and Wisconsin, Gary Andersen’s 2-10 debut at Oregon State should be viewed as an aberration and an indication of the lack of talent in Corvallis. In just two seasons, Tinkle has brought life to one of the Pac-12’s worst programs. If the Beavers get to the NCAA Tournament, it will be their first trip since 1990.
9. Arizona State
Football: Todd Graham
Basketball: Bobby Hurley
Arizona State was one of the most disappointing teams in the country last season, falling to 6-7 after back-to-back 10-win seasons. Graham’s fifth season at Arizona State in 2016 will be the longest he has stayed at any school. Hurley needed only two seasons to take Buffalo to its first NCAA Tournament, but it’s been a rough first season at Arizona State.
Football: Clay Helton
Basketball: Andy Enfield
USC twice went with young and flashy for its head coach, and it didn’t work out. Helton is young-ish (43) and solid. USC was better under his watch last year (5-4), but the Trojans will have to be even better if he’s going to be the answer in Los Angeles. Rare is the basketball coach who makes the leap from the Atlantic Sun to a Power 5 job, but Enfield is starting to look like the real deal with a team that’s solidly in the NCAA Tournament field after going 5-31 in the Pac-12 in his first two years.
11. Washington State
Football: Mike Leach
Basketball: Ernie Kent
In 2015, Leach led Washington State to its best season since 2003. And if it’s possible, his teams are even more pass-oriented than they were at Texas Tech. Basketball’s questionable hire of the veteran Kent isn’t looking any better as the Cougars are headed to a last-place finish in the Pac-12.
Football: Mike MacIntyre
Basketball: Tad Boyle
Colorado is better under MacIntyre but still a non-factor in the Pac-12 (10-27 overall). On the basketball side, Boyle led Colorado to an unprecedented three consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 2012-14, but last year’s losing season sapped a ton of momentum from the program.