last week, I wanted to do a "best coaches" column. Only rather than going with the obvious choices, the ones we all know, I thought we'd think outside the box a little."> last week, I wanted to do a "best coaches" column. Only rather than going with the obvious choices, the ones we all know, I thought we'd think outside the box a little.">

Mark's Malarkey

Well, the season has officially started, and none too soon. After finishing breaking down the SEC <a href="http://georgia.theinsiders.com/2/14090.html">last week</a>, I wanted to do a "best coaches" column. Only rather than going with the obvious choices, the ones we all know, I thought we'd think outside the box a little.

When I think of great coaches in the game, I tend to de-value obvious factors like inheritance of great resources, taking over a great system already in place, and yes, even wins (somewhat). Instead, I think the mark of great coaches is doing a lot with a little. So with that being said, let's look at a class of guys not always immediately recognized...

Watson Brown - All right, don't snicker, without a doubt Watson Brown is the wildcard on this list. But I've really been impressed with what he was done at tiny UAB. And talk about inheriting nothing - he really did, as they didn't even play football before he came. Now I'll grant you, he didn't impress in his previous head job at Vanderbilt. But come on, who does? In five years at UAB (again remember they started from scratch) they have made steady improvement, in a state where he has to recruit against (gulp) Alabama and Auburn. Mark it down, if that keeps up for a few more years a major program will come a' callin...

Mike Bellotti - If you can get past the UGLIEST uniforms in all of college football, and that... aaah..."adult entertainment industry" mustache, you'll come to see that Mike Bellotti has been a miracle worker in Eugene, Oregon. Now granted the program was on the rise when he landed the head job, but he didn't let it skip a beat, leading his team to more wins than any other team in the conference over his first six seasons. And did I mention he's doing it in Eugene, Oregon?

George O'Leary - The North Avenue Trade School likes to think of itself as a great program, but truth be told they hadn't done much since Atlanta was a sleepy southern town and coca-cola was a "regional" soft drink. That is until they got the luck of the Irish in landing George O'Leary. O'Leary has done wonders at this downtrodden urban campus, taking over a program that had gone 1-10 prior to his arrival. With only New Jersey's finest to work with, O'Leary immediately installed a sense of discipline, and beat everyone he was supposed to. Now, alas, he has in-state recruiting on track, and even though he is hampered by an "engineering-only" curriculum, he is beginning to bring in the studs. As long as he is there, Tech will continue to be a thorn in the side of the real southeastern programs surrounding them...

Frank Beamer - Of this list, Beamer definitely comes closest to being recognized for his worth. Still, I get the feeling that most don't know exactly what type of team (for lack of a better term) he inherited at Virginia Tech -- another Trade School. Not only was he coming back to the metropolis of Blacksburg, Virginia, in 1987 when he started, but they were also under NCAA sanctions to boot. Wins came slowly at first, which was to be expected. But over the last eight seasons, you ask? Oh they've only averaged about NINE wins a year. And besides, Beamer deserves credit regardless -- for being the only head coach in the game to truly value Special Teams.

Dennis Franchione - Yeah, that's right, no apologies, this guy is number one on my list. And other than Brown, he probably gets less respect than anyone here. Listen, he is 13th in wins among active coaches. Meaning only 12 people have more wins. Now go look at those 12. You think any of them have worked with such loaded programs as New Mexico, and TCU?? The typical argument goes something like: "well he didn't have to play anyone at those schools." Ummm, ok, I can live with that. But when he was at those places his team wasn't "anyone" either. Get it? I shudder to think what he'll accomplish now that he's at a real program...

So there you have it, if I had talked about JoePa, Bobby, Steve, Phil, and Lou I would've just insulted your intelligence. So I mixed it up a little. What do you think?


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