The problem with most “rankings” in sports is that there’s a large degree of knee jerk thinking in the thought process. Somebody wins, they deserve a stature. Somebody loses, they’re road kill. A coach wins a BCS title, he’s a sudden visionary.
But The Sporting News just ranked 124 FBS (Division I) coaches in college football and in my view the publication pretty much nailed it. Not so much because Nick Saban of Alabama is No. 1 or Charley Molnar of Massachusetts is No. 124 (UMass has a football team?) but because of the placement of so many others. A few examples:
– Boise State’s Chris Peterson (No. 2) and Texas Christian’s Gary Patterson (No. 7) both received lofty rankings for their success in actual games, not on national signing day. Winning games really is what coaching is all about, is it not?
– Auburn’s Gene Chizik was ranked only 36th nationally and seventh among 14 SEC coaches, despite winning a national championship two years ago. The reason: He has yet to prove he can accomplish something without Cam Newton.
– High rankings were given to often overlooked coaches in the SEC and ACC, specifically Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (fifth in the SEC, 25th overall) and Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe (fourth in the ACC, 31st overall).
As for Georgia’s Mark Richt and Tech’s Paul Johnson, both fared well. Richt ranked fourth among SEC coaches — behind only Saban, Les Miles and Steve Spurrier, all of whom have won BCS titles — and 14th in the nation.
Here’s The Sporting News on Richt:
A crossroads season at Georgia resulted in 10 wins—but nothing the ‘Dawgs weren’t supposed to do. In fact, all four losses were against the four best teams on the schedule, and left everyone wanting more despite another double-digit win season (his seventh in 11 years). Richt signed a contract extension after last season through 2016—hard to argue 4-0 vs. your rivals (Florida, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Auburn)—so UGA is committed to his process.
Johnson ranked second in the SEC behind only Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer and 19th overall.
Here’s The Sporting News on Johnson:
The best way to describe Johnson’s triple-option offense in the ACC: It works. The Yellow Jackets have led the conference—and ranked in the top four nationally—in rushing in all four of Johnson’s seasons in Atlanta, and in each of the past two years have topped 300 yards per game on the ground. The 2009 league title still looks good, as does Johnson’s 6-0 record vs. Army when he was at Navy.
Among those getting pounded: Florida’s Will Muschamp was ranked only 59th nationally (10th among SEC coaches) and Tennessee’s Derek Dooley finished 99th overall (worst in the SEC, even behind No. 90 Joker Phillips of Kentucky).
Also noteworthy: Among former Falcons head coaches June Jones, now of SMU, ranked 22nd overall and far ahead of Jim Mora, now of UCLA, at 68th.
TSN on Mora:
Mora, who led the Atlanta Falcons to 11 wins and a berth in the NFC championship game, is back at the college level for the first time since 1984, when he was a graduate assistant at Washington. He’s off to a pretty good start at UCLA, having signed a well-regarded initial recruiting class. But we don’t have the sense that he’s suddenly on the road to glory. He could struggle with the adjustment from the pro game.
One flaw in the article: The Sporting News states that Big 12 coaches have the best average ranking (27.2), far ahead of No. 2 SEC (43.3). The problem with that statistic, which TSN admits, is the Big 12 goes only 10 teams deep and the SEC now goes 14 deep.
But here’s a breakdown of SEC and ACC coaches and the overall top 10:
•Top 10 1. Nick Saban (Alabama) 2. Chris Peterson (Boise State) 3. Urban Meyer (Ohio State) 4. Les Miles (LSU) 5. Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) 6. Chip Kelly (Oregon) 7. Gary Patterson (TCU) 8. Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) 9. Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) 10. Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) •
So what are your thoughts on the list?
By Jeff Schultz