College football can be a very fickle game from year to year. One bad bounce of the ball and a team's conference and national title opportunities can vanish. Yet, despite that risk, coaches lead their respective teams into new seasons with new hopes and many with eyes on the BCS National Championship prize.
However, college football is also a game that caters to the elite coaches in the elite programs with the elite players. Many coaches only get so close but yet at the same time are so far.
Which brings us to these 10 college football coaches. These 10 are all of varying experience, but all have won at a high level at some point in their careers. Nevertheless, they are 10 coaches who despite past success will not get to enjoy the sweet success of a conference and/or a national championship.
After a year away from the game spent in the television studio, Tuberville takes over a Texas Tech program that is looking to distance itself from the embattled exit of previous coach Mike Leach.
Tuberville enjoyed a very successful tenure at Auburn where he went 85-40, won five SEC West division titles and the 2004 SEC Championship with his 14-0 Tigers.
However, Tuberville's winning ways regressed in his last few seasons with Auburn. Now he takes over the Red Raiders where he command an offense that will be like fitting a round peg in a square hole given Tuberville's style.
Additionally, Tuberville will have to compete for recruits alongside Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State in the biggest recruiting hot bed in the country. The chips are very much stacked against Tuberville.
Erickson is famous for continuing the Miami Hurricanes dynasty of the 1980s and early 1990s by winning two titles in Miami and four conference titles. He also had very positive results at Oregon State where he led the Beavers to a Fiesta Bowl victory in the 2000 season.
He started his tenure at Arizona State on a high note by sharing the Pac-10 title in 2007. However, the Sun Devils have gone 9-15 over the last two seasons.And with schools like Washington and Stanford on the rise, competing with perennial conference powers USC, Oregon, and Cal, getting out of the bottom half of the Pac-10 is going to be difficult enough for Erickson. Don't count on him becoming a player on the national stage.
The father of the Kansas State football program has never won a national championship, but among his 142 career wins at KSU are four Big 12 North titles and the 2004 Big 12 championship. The Wildcats won 10-plus games seven times between 1995 and 2003, but Snyder was just 6-6 last season after returning to Manhattan following a three-year hiatus.
Snyder's Wildcats will catch a break in the near future as Nebraska departs for the Big Ten, but Kansas State is still far behind the eight ball with the Big 12 South powers to be a contender.
Steve Spurrier arrived in Columbia with the promise the Gamecocks would become an SEC power and contenders on the national stage. Five seasons later and Spurrier has seen his team win no more than eight games in any season while enduring an almost annual second-half swoon.
Spurrier's teams are 1-3 in bowl games and have made one New Year's Day bowl game during his tenure.
Spurrier has yet to show the dynamic offense that tore apart the SEC in the 1990s and led the Gators to great success. In fact, the Gamecocks have looked anything but explosive in his five seasons and that pattern does not appear ready to change.
Penn State showed true loyalty to Paterno by keeping him on board following a 7-16 record in 2003 and 2004. Paterno rewarded the university by leading his Nittany Lions to a 55-13 and three Big Ten titles and a 4-1 bowl record since then.
However, 2010 is a whole new ballgame at Penn State with a great amount of turnover on both sides of the ball. The Lions will break in a new quarterback at a time where they will likely take a step back in the conference.
Only Paterno knows how much longer his 83-year-old self will remain on the Penn State sidelines, but what is likely to be a rebuilding year or two isn't a great proposition for a coach seeking his first title in 24 years.
Miles has already delivered during his time at LSU by winning the 2008 BCS National Championship. However, that was before Mr. Saban's neighborhood was re-established. Miles has worked around the loss Ryan Perrilloux who was dismissed from the team and has since gone 17-9.
Miles still has a strong program and one that should compete in the SEC on an annual basis, but LSU is now competing heavily with Alabama for not only games, but recruits. This competition is going to make it very hard for "The Hat" to get earn his second national title.
No head coach in America has been as publicly scrutinized and embattled as the head man at Michigan. Rich Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan, which amounts to an 8-16 record and zero bowl appearances, is disappointing to say the least (unless your an Ohio State fan).
It's somewhat difficult to say what this year's Michigan team will look like or how it will finish, but we are sure of one thing: If the Maize and Blue miss a bowl game for a third straight season, it's likely curtains for Rodriguez in Ann Arbor.
Who knows where that leaves him if he is fired at the end of the season. It will not be easy to recover from a disastrous tenure at Michigan or to land a job that will allow him to compete for national titles from the get-go.
Now, that is all speculative, advanced thinking but Rodriguez is on a track headed in the opposite direction of a national title-or even a conference title where his biggest rival rules the roost.
Brian Kelly has won every place he's coached. Now he's being asked to win at a place where he cannot go any higher. Kelly is expected to bring his high-octane offense to South Bend and turn the Fighting Irish back into title contenders and pronto.
Kelly's track record says he will find success with the Golden Domers, but will he find the right amount of top recruits to put him over the top of the SEC powers, Texas, Ohio State, and so on down the line?
Let's not forget Kelly still needs to build a defense which is something he did not do with Cincinnati which was exposed as a fraudulent act in last year's Sugar Bowl.
I simply cannot buy into Kelly and a Notre Dame title until he proves it.
The natives in Athens are already getting restless after Georgia's 8-5 record a season ago. The big question is whether or not Richt can survive another season. Richt's teams have always been right there in the SEC, but he is also 2-7 against Florida and he will not surpass the Gators until he gets that trend headed in the other direction.
Richt remains long for the game of college football,but unless he has a significant turnaround season in 2010 things do not look good for the Bulldogs on a national stage.
Beamer's Hokies have won 10-plus games every season since joining the ACC in 2004, claimed three conference titles and three BCS game appearances.
However, Virginia Tech just perennially has that feel of a team that is short of reaching the next level. Lacking a quarterback is certainly a strong reason for those shortcomings, but Hokies appear just one step behind the rest of college football's powers.