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20 Best College Football Coaching Hires of the BCS Era

Carl StineCorrespondent IJune 7, 2012

20 Best College Football Coaching Hires of the BCS Era

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    The BCS system has been around, tormenting us in some form or another since 1998.

    That means this season will be the 15th season it has been in place.

    During that time, we have seen 11 different programs win national titles, four of them more than one, and a huge number of coaches come and go.

    The men on this list were the cream of that crop.

    Each was or has been hired since the beginning of the BCS, and each one has had an impact on not only their program, but in many cases, on the face of college football.

    The 20 guys on this list were the best decisions athletic directors in the BCS era ever made.

20. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

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    This one could have been Kelly at Cincinnati or Kelly at Notre Dame.

    The reason I stuck with Notre Dame is because of the incredible success, Kelly has had recruiting (via South Bend Tribune).

    Even with all their foibles last season, the Irish still have the talent and potential to vie for a BCS berth in 2012, and if Kelly continues recruiting the way he has been, this team is going to be a force in coming seasons.

    He's the only coach on this list that has not taken his current team to a BCS game, but the prophet in me wants to predict it won't be long.

19. Brady Hoke, Michigan

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    Yeah, it's only been one year.

    And yeah, Michigan's win over Va. Tech last year in the Sugar Bowl was a squeaker.

    However, Hoke's team won a BCS game last season, and that's more than 115 other FBS head coaches can claim for themselves.

    In one year at Michigan, Hoke has had a definite impact on the fortunes of the program and, I think, will continue to see his squad in BCS games on a pretty regular basis.

18. Dana Holgorsen, West Viriginia

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    The late Bill Stewart certainly laid the groundwork for last season's success, but Holgorsen took advantage, building an offense filled with playmakers.

    Just ask Clemson, who lost to the Mountaineers, 70-33, in last season's Orange Bowl.

    Holgorsen's offense is potent, and the 'Eers have a shot at winning the Big 12 this season in just his second year at the helm.

17. Kyle Wittingham, Utah

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    After the departure of Urban Meyer, the Utes wasted no time in picking up this guy.

    Because he gets co-credit with Urban Meyer for the Utes' 2005 Fiesta Bowl victory, Whittingham has two BCS victories to his credit.

    That's more than Gene Chizik, Bret Bielema and Frank Beamer combined have between them.

16. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

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    It's not just the great offense and first conference title Gundy has led this program to, nor is it solely the winning of their first BCS game last season.

    It's because, since the start of his time as head coach in 2007, the Cowboys have shown steady, measurable improvement.

    First, a four-win season, then back-to-back seven-win seasons, followed by two nine-win seasons and capped off by consecutive double-digit win campaigns.

    Gundy has proved he can lead a program to the promised land.

15. Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia

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    So the Mountaineer fans have reason to hate RichRod (via The Buckeye Battle Cry), but the man did some good things for the program during his time there.

    That includes a 2005 Sugar Bowl victory, and leading the team to three consecutive double-digit win seasons before departing for Michigan.

    You may take his poster and use it in unmentionable ways, but there is no denying the fact that he was a success at WVU.

14. Jim Harbaugh, Stanford

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    You may not like his intensity, but Harbaugh made it work during his time as head man at Stanford.

    He took a team that was 4-8 in his first season in 2007 and led them to a 12-1 season in his final year, 2010.

    He led the team to two bowl games in three seasons, which was as many as the program had played in the previous 11 years.

    He has since departed for the "greener pastures" of the NFL, but he left his mark on Stanford and the Pac-12.

13. Chris Petersen, Boise State

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    Two BCS bowl wins, a 73-6 record and only one season with more than one loss.

    That's what Chris Petersen has brought to the table for the Broncos since taking over in '06.

    Before that, he was offensive coordinator for the team starting in '01.

    That's the entire span of time over which we have been arguing the merits of non-automatic qualifying teams in BCS games, and this man has been at the center of it.

    His skills and record will be tested this season, with several key players departed, but there is no questioning the impact Petersen has had on Boise State football, and in turn, the rest of the country.

12. Chip Kelly, Oregon

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    Three bowl appearances and three conference titles in three years, that's all Chip Kelly has done during his time at Oregon.

    There was some question, at least in my mind, about Kelly's offense and its ability to beat a great team from another conference on the big stage.

    Those questions were answered in last season's Rose Bowl, where the Ducks defeated Wisconsin.

    That's roughly the time span I spent in the ninth grade.

    With weapons such as Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas still hanging around the program, expect Kelly to lead the Ducks to a position near the top of the Pac-12 yet again.

11. Gene Chizik, Auburn

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    He got Cam Newton to Auburn.

    He, in turn, had one of the best seasons in the history of college football.

    This led to a national title for the Tigers.

    Chizik has since been busy stocking his sidelines with great young talent that should begin to show some returns on their potential this season.

    On top of all that, he makes that windbreaker look good, something that even Sean Connery might not have been able to pull off in his prime.

10. Larry Coker, Miami

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    Coker's success at Miami may have been partially due to the players he was handed by Butch Davis.

    That said, he was an obvious force for success at Miami, especially in his first three seasons at the program.

    In that time, from 2001 to 2003, the Hurricanes played in three BCS bowl games, winning two including the 2002 Orange Bowl that gave them the national title.

    His only BCS loss during those three years was in the controversial 2003 Fiesta Bowl, which featured the infamous "late flag" giving Ohio State new life and a fresh set of downs in double overtime.

    Coker was shuffled out of Miami in 2006, and the program has yet to return to the prominence it enjoyed during his tenure.

9. Mack Brown, Texas

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    That's right, Brown was hired in 1998, which just happens to be the year the BCS was first instituted.

    Among his accomplishments during that time: a span of nine seasons winning 10 or more games, nine bowl wins and a national title.

    The Longhorns may not be enjoying the same level of success right now, but with Brown at the helm, as soon as another good quarterback hits the field, a la Vince Young or Colt McCoy, they will be back near the top.

8. Nick Saban, LSU

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    Saban was hired by the Tigers in 2000 and left in 2005 with two BCS bowl game victories, including the 2003 BCS title.

    While under his leadership, the Tigers were 48-16, and never won fewer than eight games in a season.

    Of course, this all seems to be forgotten by LSU fans now that Saban has defected to the enemy.

7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma hired Bob Stoops back in 1999.

    Since then, they have appeared in eight BCS games, won the Big 12 seven times and won a national title.

    His record speaks for itself.

6. Les Miles, LSU

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    Les Miles took over the Tigers back in '05.

    LSU has enjoyed a spectacular run of success since that time, and it's no coincidence.

    Miles led this team to a BCS title in his third season and has a bowl record of 5-2 while with the Tigers.

    His eccentric style and flair for defense keeps this team near the top of the SEC on a pretty routine basis, and they are loaded again for 2012.

    Good move, LSU.

5. Jim Tressel, Ohio State

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    He wound up being a little bit of a jerk, but Tressel was an incredible success during his time with Ohio State.

    Tressel burst onto the scene for the Buckeyes...wait, that's too animated for him...Tressel ambled onto the scene in 2001 and led Ohio State to an unprecedented eight BCS games.

    Of course they lost three and vacated another, but that's a story for another day.

    He left the Buckeyes after leading them to a national title and six Big Ten titles in 10 years.

4. Urban Meyer, Florida

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    The man who brought you Tim Tebow, two Florida national titles and a huge number of arrested players (via Orlando Sentinel).

    Strike that last part.

    Meyer's success at Florida was huge, galvanizing the original "Tebowmania" while leading the Gators from '05 to '10.

    His tenure included their surprising BCS title over the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes following the 2006 season and a perfect 3-0 record in BCS games.

3. Urban Meyer, Utah

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    ...but it didn't start there.

    Meyer coached at Utah for two years, '03 and '04.

    The 2004 Utes were the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to win a BCS game, ambushing Pitt, 35-7, and capping off his only perfect season as a head coach.

    Meyer is the second Utes coach on this list.

2. Nick Saban, Alabama

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    This one is really obvious.

    Saban deserves to be near the top of this list, for sure.

    Since his first season at Alabama in 2007, the Tide have not won fewer than 10 games.

    He has led them to two BCS titles and appears to have the recruits in place to win a few more.

    Forgive me, LSU fans, but this man deserves to be near the top of any list of great coaches.

1. Pete Carroll, USC

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    You may think he's the scum of the earth.

    You may worship him.

    Either way, Carroll shaped the USC program and impacted the rest of the country for his entire tenure at USC from '01 to '09.

    His seven BCS bowl appearances and six wins place him near the top of the list of successful coaches during the BCS era.

    That includes a ridiculous 4-1 record in the Rose Bowl, seven consecutive BCS bowl appearances and two national titles, one of which was later vacated.

    Beat that.

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