Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Top 10 Coaches in College Football (Hint, Nick Saban Is Not #1)

10.  Urban Meyer, Ohio State
If this list were three years ago, Meyer would be #1 or #2.  I still think Meyer is a very good coach, but he has had life changing events in the last two years and we just don't know he will react when the next big game or the next loss comes.

9.  Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
The Sooners coach has won seven Big 12 titles, never going more than two years without winning one.  This run is in the same time period as a BCS Champion Texas and a rising Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.  Yes, he has suffered in big games which knocks him down in my rankings but no school would turn down that many BCS bowl appearances.

8. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
The guy looks like your grandfather and coaches in the middle of nowhere.  Yet he turned Kansas State, the worst program historically in the Big 12 into a consistent winner and Fiesta Bowl participant.  When he retired, the Wildcats took a nose dive.  When he returned, they were back winning 10 games last season.  How many other coaches could do this in Manhattan (Kansas)?  Maybe only seven others.   

7.  Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
It is not easy following a school legend.  Most fail pretty miserably.  You could argue Bielema has raised the Badgers program even higher than where Barry Alvarez took them. Outside of offensive lineman, Wisconsin has to dip into enemy territory for every other recruit yet here they are again favored for another B1G title.

6.  Les Miles, LSU
He's quirky, but don't let the facade fool you.  Les Miles can coach.  He can recruit and his players LOVE to play for him because of his disposition.  The Tigers head man just happens to have followed a guy named Nick Saban and just happens to play in the same division now.

5. Chip Kelly, Oregon
Phil Knight has made it a lot easier to recruit to Eugene, Oregon (as has Willie Lyles) but it is still not a USC or Texas in the recruiting world.  Like Bielema, Kelly followed a school legend and has actually raised the program to even greater heights.  The Ducks offense has been called a "gimmic", but no one has consistently figured it out like many predicted.  Unless the NCAA comes calling it looks like Oregon will be a player on the national stage for years to come.

4. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Beamer is the winningest active coach in FBS with 251 victories.  Yes, the state of Virginia has talent but the Hampton Roads area and Blacksburg could not be different.  His Hokies have played in 19 straight bowl games and won 10 games or more in eight straight seasons, the longest streak in the country.  Before his arrival, Va Tech had been to just six bowl games in its history. 

3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
The Ol' Ball Coach (or Head Ball Coach) revolutionized football in the SEC and awoke a sleeping giant at Florida.  Before going to Gainesville, Spurrier won an ACC title at Duke.  (Let that sink in before continuing to read).  The Gators won six SEC titles before he left in 2001.  When he returned to the confernce, he took over the most underachieving program in the league, won a division title and had back to back double-digit win seasons. 

2. Nick Saban, Alabama
The only coach with three BCS Championships, the only one to win at two different schools. He recruits the best players AND he keeps his players out of the police blotter (don't underestimate how tough this is).  He can come off like a jerk. Most really, really good coaches are.

The greatest form of flattery is imitation.  You see Saban's former Def. Coordinator as the head coach at Florida, his former recruiting coordinator at Tennessee two of Alabama's biggest rivals.  His former OC pushed out the winningest coach in FBS history at FSU.  If you can't beat'em, join'em.    

1. Chris Petersen, Boise State
(My email address is on the right for hate mail).  Nick Saban is a great, great coach but there is no precedent for what Chris Petersen has done in potato country.  He does not play in a tough conference, I get it.  Now go look up how many FBS prospects Idaho produces each year.  Then go look up how many players on Boise State's roster were recruited by Georgia or Virginia Tech or Oregon (whom Petersen beat twice).  Yes, he had all off season to prep.  So did the other coaches with a lot better talent. 

Petersen took over the Bronco program that had won 73 games in the previous seven seasons and like others on this list, elevated the program to even greater heights. 

Boise State has 25 players in the NFL, all who were coached in some way (either HC or OC) by Petersen.   

If I am hiring the next football coach at a program, Chris Petersen is the first call I make. 

These coaches just missed my list...
Mark Dantonio
Mike Gundy
Gary Patterson

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