|This story originally published on CollegeFootballNews.com|
Ranking the 2008 Head Coaches
Let the debates begin ... Ranking 1 to 60
- 2008 Coaching Rankings - 61 to 119
60. Rich Brooks, Kentucky – Kudos to Brooks, who has tuned out the critics and reinvented himself in Lexington after three decades of coaching in college and the NFL. His best days are clearly in the rear view mirror, but he still has enough left to milk eight wins and a Music City Bowl victory in each the last two years.
59. Troy Calhoun, Air Force – Calhoun was an unexpected star in his first season as a head coach, guiding the Falcons to nine wins and a bowl game to earn Mountain West Conference coach of the year honors. Facing massive turnover, it'll be interesting to see what he does for an encore in Year 2.
58. Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville – Good or bad, one season should not define a coach. Sure, he was awful last season, but he didn't elevate Tulsa in four seasons by accident. Given another year or two to clean house in Louisville, he'll be able to restore a reputation that took a big hit in 2007.
57. Art Briles, Baylor – Briles proved his mettle and offensive ingenuity in five years at Houston, winning 34 years and a Conference USA championship in 2006. If he's the first coach in a generation to get something out of Baylor, he'll soar well past this point. History says it'll be a daunting challenge.
56. Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College – Just how good of a head coach is Jagodzinski? Now we'll find out. He won 11 games in his Eagle debut, but that was with a cupboard of talent that Tom O'Brien left fully stocked. The next few seasons will give a much better indication of where he belongs.
55. June Jones, SMU – Plenty of coaches can produce fancy offensive statistics. Jones, however, has had a history of parlaying lots of yards into lots of wins. He won nine games on six different occasions at Hawaii, capped by last year's flirtation with perfection. If he wins on the Hilltop, they'll canonize him in Dallas.
54. Dick Tomey, San Jose State – Even at the age of 70, Tomey is proving he still has it, routinely attracting Pac-10 dissidents and leading the Spartans to nine wins and a bowl victory just two years ago. He's seen it all over the last four decades, and hasn't lost his passion developing young talent.
53. Chris Ault, Nevada – Quick, name the only Hall of Fame coach in the WAC. Yeah, it's Ault, who has 177 career wins and is a wiz at making halftime adjustments. He hasn't skipped a beat following a decade-long layoff from the game, getting the Pack into three consecutive bowl games.
52. Al Groh, Virginia – Groh is never going to be cuddly or a friend of the media, but he's a consummate professional who runs an NFL-style program and is well-respected by players and their parents. Although greatness will continue to escape him, his teams are well-coached and rarely blown out.
51. Frank Solich, Ohio – Solich's three-year stop in Athens has proven that he can still coach and develop talent. He's had a profound impact on the Bobcats, making them competitive in the MAC and getting them to a bowl game in 2006, snapping a 28-year stretch of futility.
50. Ron Zook, Illinois – Everyone knew Zook could recruit, but last year, he showed he can coach a little too, getting the Illini to an improbable Rose Bowl. He may never be a dynamite Xs and Os guy, but that's why good assistants are hired. As a program builder, he's proving to be outstanding.
49. George O'Leary, UCF – O'Leary has dusted himself off following the whole Notre Dame flap, and rebounded nicely in Orlando. Not only does he have the Knights winning league championships, but he's also been a catalyst for major improvements in the program's facilities.
48. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame – Yes, Weis has a sharp offensive mind and can recruit, but last year's 3-9 collapse and a couple of ugly bowl losses have red flags going up all over the place. He needs to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible, or else the scrutiny and pressure will reach unbearable levels.
47. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland – Has Friedgen run out of tricks in College Park? Stunningly good in his first three seasons, he's drifted back to the pack, playing .500 ball over the last four years against ACC competition. Hailed for his offensive game-planning, the Terps have had problems developing quarterbacks.
46. Howard Schnellenberger, Florida Atlantic – What Schnellenberger is doing in Boca Raton at the age of 74 is bordering on incredible. Almost a quarter-century after coaching Miami to a national championship, he has the Owls winning bowl games and on top of the Sun Belt just seven years after playing their first game.
45. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Best known for his role in the development of the Manning brothers, Cutcliffe also has a solid track record as a head coach. He directed Ole Miss to two Top 25 finishes in six years, giving Duke its most accomplished coach since Steve Spurrier was in Durham.
44. Todd Graham, Tulsa – It's been two years on the sidelines and two very successful seasons for Graham in Conference USA. In 2006, he led Rice to its first bowl game in 46 years. In 2007, he guided Tulsa to 10 wins, shrewdly hiring Gus Malzahn away from Arkansas to run his offense.
43. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss – Nutt is set to begin his fourth stint as a head coach, carrying a reputation for getting maximum production from his players. In 10 seasons at Arkansas, he made it to seven bowl games and was a respectable 42-38 in SEC play. He'll be a step in the right direction for Ole Miss.
42. Joe Tiller, Purdue – It's easy to forget just how futile the Boilermakers were before Tiller got on campus. He's had just one losing season in his last 15 years as a head coach, and is a pioneer of sorts for bringing his wide-open passing attack to the traditionally conservative Big Ten.
41. Pat Hill, Fresno State – Hill's "anybody, anytime, anywhere" attitude resonates throughout a program that's had considerable success against larger schools. His teams are always tough, physical, and built on a solid running game. The Bulldogs have been to eight bowl games in nine years, but a WAC title has escaped them since Boise State joined the league.
40. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State – It took Dantonio all of one season to begin changing the culture around Michigan State, a school known for its inconsistency. He's already brought more discipline and toughness to East Lansing. The wins will follow before too long.
39. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa – Will the real Kirk Ferentz please stand up? Is it the one who went 31-7 between 2002-2004 or the one who seems to be losing control of his program, on and off the field? Maybe he's not a superstar, as originally believed, but he's a whole lot better than the Hawkeyes have played the last three years.
38. Bobby Bowden, Florida State – Although Bowden's legacy is already in Fort Knox, it doesn't appear his brilliant career will have a storybook ending. The Seminoles have slipped considerably, and the reins are gradually being handed over to heir apparent Jimbo Fisher. Hard as it is to fathom, Florida State has won 10 games just once in the last seven years.
37. Gary Patterson, TCU – One of the biggest surprises about Patterson is that the Horned Frogs have been able to retain him for so long. He's 62-25 over the last eight years, winning three league titles, playing in seven bowl games, and finishing ranked five times. He's just 48 and poised for a big promotion.
367. Gary Pinkel, Missouri – Pinkel sure has come a long way since being in danger of losing his job just a couple of years ago. Mizzou is being rewarded for its patience, getting a dozen wins last season and being right back in contention for a Big 12 championship.
35. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas – Yeah, yeah, Petrino won't be on your Christmas card list, but his shifty off-field behavior doesn't mean he can't coach. Forget the NFL experiment. It was a terrible fit. Instead, focus on those Louisville years, when the Cards went 41-9 and had one of the top offenses in the country.
34. Tommy Bowden, Clemson – While Bowden has been solid over the last 11 seasons, spectacular has eluded him. Not since the Tulane days has he won a conference championship, and he's yet to deliver a 10-win season at Clemson. If it doesn't happen this fall, the locals will be howling.
33. Phil Fulmer, Tennessee – Whether Fulmer's glass is half full or half empty probably depends on your geography. While there's no denying he's been very successful over the last 16 years, folks in Knoxville point to a 10-year stretch without an SEC title and zero top 10 finishes since 2001.
32. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU – It took a few years, but BYU has found its man to build a bridge back to the program's golden years. In successive seasons, the Cougars have swept the Mountain West and finished ranked in the polls. If Mendenhall keeps this up, his name will replace Lavell Edwards' outside the stadium.
31. Joe Paterno, Penn State – Of course Paterno is a legend, but, like Bowden, this decade has been a weak facsimile of the glory days around Happy Valley. While he was named national Coach of the Year in 2005, he's also had four losing seasons since 2000. Oh, and during that time, the Lions are a pedestrian 32-32 in Big Ten play.
30. Dan Hawkins, Colorado – The Hawk is beginning to get off the ground, comforting news for impatient Colorado fans. Although he has just eight wins in his first two seasons, the Buffs improved dramatically in 2007 and continue to upgrade the talent level. Once he gets his system flowing, look out, Big 12.
29. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA – Say what you will about Neuheisel's off-field shenanigans, but the guy knows how to produce results. At both Colorado and Washington, he won twice as many games as he lost and three times finished in the top 10. How he handles this next gig after a six-year absence will define him as a coach
28. Butch Davis, North Carolina – Davis derailed his own career path when he left Miami for an ill-advised stab at the NFL. Now that he's back at the college level, he's poised to restore his reputation at a school brimming with upside and possibilities. Remember, the ‘Canes don't win the 2001 national championship if Davis didn't fix things years earlier.
27. Jim Leavitt, South Florida – His off-beat style wouldn't sell in Ann Arbor or South Bend, but he's right at home in Tampa. The literal architect of the program, what he's done in just over a decade has been remarkable. Before long, he's going to have the Bulls playing in a BCS bowl game.
26. Randy Edsall, Connecticut – Edsall has been a borderline miracle worker in Storrs, transforming this basketball school into a legitimate threat in the Big East. His teams may not be that sexy, but they're always well coached, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
25. Mike Riley, Oregon State – No one in the Pac-10 gets more overlooked than Riley, who has quietly been outstanding in his second tour of Corvallis. He doesn't get elite recruits to Oregon State, yet his teams are always well-prepared, winning 39 games and four bowl games over the last five seasons. Players love him. So does the administration.
24. Mark Mangino, Kansas – Last year was no fluke for Mangino or the Jayhawks. He's got this program headed in the right direction after busting out with 12 wins and an upset of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. He and his staff overcome a shortage of blue-ribbon recruits by doing a bang-up job of developing the kids they land.
23. Mike Leach, Texas Tech – Leach doesn't get nearly enough credit for what he's doing in Lubbock. Fueled by an offense that no one can stop, the Red Raiders have been to eight consecutive bowl games and haven't won less than eight games since 2001. If he can somehow bump Tech to another level, the top 15 will be calling.
22. Chris Petersen, Boise State – If he wasn't committed to being in Boise at this stage of his life, Petersen would be coaching for more money and in front of much bigger crowds. One of the bright young offensive minds in the game, he's already 23-3 with the Broncos, including the one-for-the-ages upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
21. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin – Bielema has taken the baton from Barry Alvarez and kept the momentum going in Madison. In two seasons, he's already 21-5 with a 12-4 mark in Big Ten games. The scary part? He's only 38 and likely to get even better with more experience on the sidelines.
20. Tom O'Brien, NC State – O'Brien is a rock of a head coach, an old school disciplinarian who preaches fundamentals, a strong running game, and toughness on defense. Give him more time and a couple of recruiting classes, and he'll do for the Pack what he did for Boston College.
19. Greg Schiano, Rutgers – After a century of futility, Rutgers is relevant on a national level. That wouldn't be possible without Schiano. It took a few years to get traction, but now that the Scarlet Knights have been to three straights bowl games, more and more talent is deciding to stay home.
18. Brian Kelly, Cincinnati – Kelly simply wins wherever he goes. At Grand Valley State, he was the undisputed star of the Division II coaching ranks. It took three short years before he turned Central Michigan into a MAC champion. And in just over a year at Cincinnati, he's already 11-3 with two bowl wins. Can the Bearcats keep him for very long?
17. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech – All you need to know about Johnson is that he turned Navy into a perennial winner that bowled five years in-a-row. That's heady stuff. Everyone wants to know if his option attack will flourish in the ACC; if it stalls, he's flexible enough to adapt on the fly, especially with better talent.
16. Jeff Tedford, California – Last year's collapse may have tarnished Tedford's a bit, but he's still one of the top all-around strategists and coaches in America. How soon everyone forgets that Cal was in disrepair before he arrived in 2002. Now the Bears are a first-division Pac-10 team that expects to be ranked every year.
15. Mike Bellotti, Oregon – The dean of Pac-10 coaches, Bellotti begins his 14th season as the head Duck. While Oregon has tapered off since delivering back-to-back top 10 finishes earlier in the decade, it's still good for eight wins and a bowl invite every season. When things started getting stale, he had the foresight to hire Chip Kelly to ignite the offense.
14. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State – Whether he's in Corvallis or Miami, Erickson simply knows how to get the job done. He's nomadic, but he wins wherever he puts up stakes. Getting perennial underachiever Arizona State to 10 wins and a first place Pac-10 tie last year was proof he's getting better with age.
13. Mack Brown, Texas – Although he doesn't belong on the Mt. Rushmore of college coaches, it's hard to argue with his knack for attracting talented personnel or cranking out 10-win seasons. A second conference championship at Texas would help solidify his spot near the top of the rankings.
12. Les Miles, LSU – Miles can be unconventional and a little kooky at times, but what's not to like about the results? He laid a foundation for success at Oklahoma State, shocking Bob Stoops twice, and has gone 34-6 in Baton Rouge with an SEC and national title. In his last three bowl games, his Tigers have whipped Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Miami by an average score of 40-14.
11. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina – Has Spurrier lost his magic? It's a fair question considering he's gone 33-36 in his last five seasons, including the two-year debacle with the Washington Redskins. Although he's yet to get the Gamecocks over the hump, he'll continue hovering around the top 10 unless things really start going south.
10. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – Forget for a moment all of the controversy that surrounded his exit from West Virginia. The guy can coach. Rodriguez built the Mountaineers into a national contender without attracting cream-of-the-crop recruiting classes. Over the last three years, the school won 33 games, including the Sugar, Gator, and Fiesta Bowls, all but the last with Rod on the sidelines.
9. Nick Saban, Alabama – Love him or despise him, Saban is a winner who will out work and out recruit the competition in order to reach his goals. His defenses are always tough and smart, and his record, especially at LSU, speaks for itself. He's college football's version of Bill Belichick, a personal friend of the ‘Bama coach.
8. Tommy Tuberville, Auburn – While he doesn't get the attention of some other SEC coaches, Tuberville has been every bit as good this decade. Playing in the toughest conference, he's gone a sterling 59-18 over the last six years, while winning 5-of-6 bowl games. He's also owned ‘Bama the last eight years.
7. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech – The Hokies will never be able to thank Beamer enough for what he's done in Blacksburg over the last two decades. From humble beginnings, he's created a monster that's strung together 15 consecutive winning seasons. More impressive, his teams have gotten better since joining the ACC, winning two of the last four championships.
6. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest – There's a reason he's been flooded with job offers following each of the last few seasons. Few coaches do more with less than Grobe does at tiny Wake Forest, a program that does a fantastic job in the area of player development.
5. Mark Richt, Georgia – Richt was already one of the nation's premier coaches, but really took off in 2007, guiding a young Bulldog team to 11 wins and a No. 2 ranking in the final AP poll. He's 72-19 with a couple of SEC championships and bowl victories in five of the last six seasons. Oh, and at 48, he's just getting warmed up.
4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma – Yeah, he's had a rough time in January bowl games, losing the last four, but his Sooners have been remarkably consistent otherwise. Since winning the national championship in 2000, Oklahoma has gone 90-17, winning the Big 12 five times, and earning squatter's rights in the top 10. If he can solve the BCS woes, the top overall spot is within reach.
3. Jim Tressel, Ohio State – When the Buckeyes plucked Tressel from Youngstown State seven years ago, few envisioned this much success. Ohio State has won or shared the last three Big Ten championships, leaving the rest of the league in its wake. Although there's fallout from losing the last two BCS title games, about 110 schools could only dream of playing in back-to-back BCS title games.
2. Pete Carroll, USC – Whenever a university hires an NFL coach, it'll point to Carroll as the measuring stick. Modestly successful as a pro coach, he's found his calling in Los Angeles, winning six straight Pac-10 titles, five BCS bowl games, and a pair of national championships. An ace recruiter and player's coach, he hasn't finished lower than No. 4 in the final rankings since his debut in 2001.
1. Urban Meyer, Florida – In many ways, Meyer is the perfect blend of youth, energy, and experience. He can motivate and recruit as well as anyone in the country, and he's emerging as a game-day coach. He's methodically climbed the ladder, using Bowling Green and Utah as stepping stones for his current gig in Gainesville. If he can handle the expectations for perfection, the national championship in 2006 won't be his last.