College football is a game where coaching makes all the difference in the world. At this level of competition a coach not only has to be the decision-maker on the field, but a leader in locker room and on the practice field.
The head coach is the shepherd and the players are his flock. OK, that's a corny way to put it, but you follow the drift.
It's rare that a poorly coached football team has any sustained success in the standings.
So with that note, here are the 2010 power rankings for top 100 head coaches in college football.
Parrish took over a team that was the best in the MAC in 2008, despite a loss in the title game to Buffalo.
Things didn't go so well for Ball State last season and while Parrish has been looked at as a stopgap after Brady Hoke left for San Diego State, he needs to start winning some games or he'll be out of a job.
Sonny Dykes came to Arizona in 2007 as the new offensive coordinator and brought with him the spread-offense that transformed the Wildcats from a team stuck in the mud, to one that could actually move the ball.
He helped the team set sing-season records for passing yards, passing yards per game, completions, touchdown passes, and completion percentage. His work was good enough to get him his first head coaching job at Louisiana Tech.
Todd Berry takes over as the head coach at ULM after previously holding the position at Army and Illinois Sate.
While he's been a success as an assistant coach at Miami and UNLV, Berry's previous record 29-62 as a head coach doesn't spark too much confidence in his abilities to do much better this time around.
The former Western Kentucky standout left Stanford after three seasons as their running backs coach to take his first head coaching job with his alma mater.
Taggart had previously served as Western Kentucky's offensive coordinator and has proven himself to be an effective and proficient coach on that side of the field; especially in the running game.
Paul Wulff had a very successful run as the head coach at Eastern Washington, a place that's traditionally been nearly impossible to win at.
But in his two years at Washington State he's managed to put together a record of just 2-22, with the teams only two wins coming in overtime.
San Jose State chose former Duke defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre to be its head coach in 2010. It will be MacIntyre's first stint has a head coach after 19 years serving as an assistant.
Besides serving as the defensive coordinator of Duke, MacIntyre has previously held the same title with Davidson, Tennessee-Martin, and Temple, as well as serving as the defensive backs coach for the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, and Ole Miss.
Doc Holiday has been around the college game since his days as a linebacker with West Virginia beginning in 1976 .
He served as an assistant coach with the Mountaineers for 20 years before accepting similar positions at NC State, Florida, and then again at West Virginia. He becomes the new head coach at Marshall, his first gig at the helm.
Robbie Caldwell was one of the surprise hires at head coach this offseason when he took over at Vanderbilt after over 30 years of assistant coaching experience.
There's really no telling how this situation will play out or even how to judge Caldwell, but it seems like he's in for a rough ride.
The longtime running backs coach and former Memphis running back, Larry Porter gets his first shot at being a head coach in 2010 with his Alma mater.
Porter was most recently the running backs coach at LSU after previously holding the same position at Oklahoma State and Arkansas State.
Gary Anderson became Utah State's 26th head coach in late 2008 after previously serving as the head coach at Souther Utah and the defensive coordinator at Utah.
He was the Utes defensive coordinator during their 2008 undefeated season and postseason No. 2 ranking, but the success wasn't there in his first year at Utah State, where Anderson's team went 4-8.
Bill Lynch had many fans believing that he could actually turn things around at Indiana, leading the team to a 7-6 record and the school's first bowl game since 1993 in 2007.
In his last two years on the job, it's been a different story though. The Hoosiers have gone 3-9 and 4-8 in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and it looks like Lynch might be looking for a new job soon.
Doug Maroone returned to the college game in 2009 after previously serving as the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints and as a positional coach for the New York Jets, Tennessee, and Georgia among others.
It's too early to really judge his work yet, as he's had only one season to get things going for the Orange and came into a situation with very little talent, but 4-8 overall and 1-6 in the conference wasn't good.
Toledo kind of takes some unfair criticism at Tulane considering he was given almost nothing at all to work with and was expected to find unprecedented success with it.
So far he's been able to put together three losing seasons and a 9-27 overall record since taking over the head coaching job. But considering he was able to win at UCLA, there might still be hope here.
Friedgen was once considered one of the top coaches in the nation. Remember the days when Maryland was a consistent 10-win team?
Most fans don't, because things haven't been too pretty the last six years and last season Friedgen's team managed just two wins. He's burning on the hotseat.
Ron Zook pulled off a miracle in 2008 when it took Illinois to the Rose Bowl in just his third season with the team since coming over from Florida.
Zook had inherited an ugly situation when he took over and quickly turned things around. But it's been nothing but downhill since, with last season's 3-9 record proof enough. Zook has an overall record of 21-39 at Illinois and is on the hot seat in 2010.
Locksley's first year with New Mexico was awful, we all know that. Going 1-11 is embarrassing, for everyone involved.
But he's still an excellent recruiter and might yet prove he can actually coach up the talent he brings on board. 2010 will be the year to prove if he can show improvement or is in over his head.
After four straight winning seasons at Washington State and UTEP, things have gone downhill for coach Mike Price; he's led his team to an 18-30 record over the last four seasons.
It's not just that this team isn't winning though, it's that there's been no signs of improvement after six years and if anything the situation is only getting worse.
Dan Hawkins was great at Boise State, compiling a 53-11 record in five seasons as the Broncos head coach, but the going has been tough at Colorado ever since.
In his four seasons with the Buffaloes, Hawkins has gone just 16-33, failing to put together a winning season and proving himself pretty ineffective as a head coach to this point.
London is a first year head coach at this level after putting up some solid performances with Richmond the last two seasons.
There's not a whole lot of talent to work with at Virginia right now so it will be hard to judge him in his first season with the team, but give him a couple years or so and he might have something here.
Phillips was the heir-apparent at Kentucky for the past two years and now finally has his chance to show what he can do in 2010.
He's been with this program as a player and coach for more than 20 years, so there's no denying he understands the culture. But he's completely unproven at a team that hasn't had much success.
Mario Cristobal hasn't been around for too long and it seems there's always a massive rebuilding project to be done at FIU, but he was expected to do more since taking over the program in 2007.
So far he's recruited decently, but not great, and hasn't led this team to much success on the field. But he's young and has shown talent as a coach; at a better team he might actually have done something.
Turner Gill will be the new head coach at Kansas in 2010, replacing Mark Mangino. There isn't much talent on the team, but the expectations of the fanbase are high nonetheless.
Considering Gill put together a subpar record of 20-30 in his four years as the head coach at Buffalo, you'd think such expectations would be unfounded.
Neuheisel hasn't done much at UCLA in his first two seasons as the team's head coach. While he's been at the helm the school has gone from nationally relevant and a conference powerhouse to a basement dweller.
Neuheisel is just 6-12 in the Pac-10 and his history of leading programs into decline is starting to show yet again.
Wyoming's Dave Christensen has been a head coach for just one season , but the former offensive coordinator at Missouri did a very nice job leading the Cowboys to a 7-6 record.
He led the way with defense and special teams, helping to get Wyoming to its first bowl game since 2004 despite having one of the worst offenses in college football; the future looks bright here.
Dooley takes over a bit of mess in Tennessee after Lane Kiffin bolted for USC after just one season. There isn't too much reason to believe he's going to turn things around either.
Posting a 17-20 career coaching record playing in the WAC doesn't inspire too much confidence, but Dooley has a good reputation and he did serve under Nick Saban for a few years so we'll reserve judgment.
The legend who turned Miami from a nobody into a national powerhouse just doesn't seem to have his edge any more. After leading Miami, Louisville, and Oklahoma for one season, the results have been mixed at Florida Atlantic.
Schnellenberger has a record of 53-55, with only two winning seasons in the last five years. After winning a conference title in 2007, his record dropped to 7-6 in 2008 and 5-7 in 2009.
It's difficult to judge Danny Hope after his first season at Purdue. He led the Boilermakers to a respectable 5-7 record, including an unexpected upset win over Ohio State; one of only two losses for the Buckeyes.
But things aren't going to get any easier in Big East play and Hope will have to prove that he can build off of the success of last season and get this team above .500.
After serving as an offensive coordinator at Florida and Oklahoma State, Larry Fedora has led Southern Miss to back to back 7-6 seasons in his first two years as the head coach.
That might have been good enough for third place in Conference USA each year, but entering the 2010 season, the expectations are higher and the fans want to see better than a bronze.
After serving as the head coach at Richmond from 2004 to 2007, Dave Clawson left to become the offensive coordinator at Tennessee for one season, before taking over the head coaching job at Bowling Green.
In his first season at the helm, Clawson led the Falcons to a 7-6 record; not a bad start for the first-time Division I head coach.
Rick Stockstill served as a longtime assistant coach, with over a decade spent at Clemson, before taking over as the head coach at Middle Tennessee in 2006.
He's put together a record of 27-23 over his four years at the helm with two bowl appearance and one Sun Belt title. A solid recruiter and great offensive coach, he could be moving to greener pastures soon.
Art Briles has had a rough couple of years at Baylor after a successful career as the head coach at Houston, where he put together a record of 34-28.
Even though he's gone 4-8 in each of his two years at Baylor, it's tough to win when you lose a player of Robert Griffin's caliber. Now that Griffin is healthy, there's no excuses this year.
Cutcliffe won't have an easy time at Duke, but this is a better than advertised team and he's actually a pretty good coach.
This team has done well in two years with him at the helm and the improvements are clearly noticeable. Expectations aren't high and there isn't a whole lot of pressure, but that's not Cutcliffe's fault.
Rhoads seemed like a great fit at Iowa State in his first season as the team's head coach. He put together a 7-6 record and managed to pull off an upset over Nebraska in Lincoln.
This year should give us a much better idea what he's actually capable off with Iowa, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas on the schedule. Win some of those games and we'll talk about moving up the list.
In eight seasons with Cal Poly, Rich Ellerson compiled a 56-34 record and to be fair, while the victories didn't stack up in his first year at Army, it wasn't all bad either.
No, Ellerson didn't beat Navy, and no, he didn't lead them to a .500 record, but 5-7 in his first year with a team that had little talent wasn't a total disappointment.
Here's the assessment of Mike Sherman, the former head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Solid offense, terrible defense. He's yet to put together a winning season in his two years with the team and his 10-15 record doesn't inspire too much hope going forward. If they don't win some big games, he'll be out.
After taking over the head coaching job at Minnesota in 2007, Brewster's team put up an embarrassing 1-11 record and a last-place finish in the Big 10.
He's gotten them to 7-6 and 6-7 the last two years though and while expectations where for more than that, it wasn't a complete disappointment either. This team is far from a championship-caliber program though.
After serving as the head coach at Nebraska from 1998 to 2003, where he put up a record of 58-19, things have been up and down at Ohio in Frank Solich's five years at the helm.
Though he only has two winning seasons, he's coming off an impressive nine-win season that has some people thinking Ohio can actually do some serious damage in 2010.
After some good years with Tommy Bowden at the helm, Clemson switched over to Swinney and the results have been pretty similar, but it's too early to judge him just yet.
He led the Tigers to a 9-5 record last season and nearly won the ACC, but without his two best offensive weapons, expectations have been limited for Swinney's boys in 2010.
Rich Rodriguez was one of the premiere college football coaches in his days with West Virginia and looked like the guy capable of taking Michigan back to the top.
But that obviously hasn't worked out and now Rodriguez is sitting on the hot seat big-time. His record of 8-16 is bad enough, but added with the fact that he's not recruiting that great either and it might be time for a divorce in Ann Arbor.
Pat Fitzgerald was only 31 when he was selected to be the head coach at Northwestern following the tragic death of former head coach Randy Walker.
He might not have delivered overwhelming success, but a 27-23 record over four years and only one losing season isn't bad considering the circumstances.
Al Golden has got a lot of people looking Temple's way in 2010 as they're probably one of the hottest non-BCS programs in the country heading into 2010.
He led the Owls to a 9-4 mark in 2009, the school's best record since 1979. The big-name schools have come calling and it looks like this might be his last year before heading for a bigger stage.
Mullen didn't have a very successful first season at Mississippi State, posting a 5-7 record and failing to reach a bowl game.
But the record isn't totally reflective of the product on the field. Mullen has restored a sense of confidence to the program and kept this team competitive throughout the season in 2009; let's see what he does in 2010.
Todd Graham is one of the highest-paid non-BCS coaches in the country, and with good reason too.
In his first two seasons with Tulsa he's put together a 26-14 record, with two Conference USA West titles and two bowl appearances.
Jerry Kill took over Northern Illinois in 2008 after leading Southern Illinois to three consecutive Gateway titles.
He hasn't had too much success record-wise, going 13-12 in his first too seasons and earning bowl bids each year, but this was a team that had gone 2-10 the year before his arrival and was totally talent-starved.
Strong comes to Louisville from Florida, where he served as the team's defensive coordinator from 2002 to 2009. He comes with a strong resume of assistant coaching experience from Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, and Ole Miss.
This may be his first official head coaching position, but he served as an interim head coach with the Gators during Urban Meyer's brief absence and has been an assistant head coach a couple of times in the past.
After serving a decade as the head coach at Georgia Tech, where he put together a 53-32 record, George O'Leary has had an up and down career at UCF.
After going 0-11 in his first year, he's had three seasons of at least eight wins and two more seasons of four wins. But the Knights are coming off of an 8-5 season and look to be a good team in 2010.
Fisher enters his first year as the head coach of FSU after the long-awaited retirement of the legendary Bobby Bowden.
While expectations are high and there should be a good amount of success to back it up on the field, Fisher has no head coaching experience so there's really no sample to judge him from.
In his first year with the Eagles, Spaziani posted a 9-5 record and things are looking up for the 2010 season.
He was a long time assistant for Boston College so he knows the culture and knows this team. You have to give it to the athletic brass for this hire; he should be a great success for the program. .
O'Brien was a great coach at Boston College, leading the Eagles to bowl games in eight straight years and proving he can be a winner.
But things haven't panned out at NC State, with the team failing to reach the .500 mark in his first three seasons. O'Brien is a talented coach that will eventually get things going in the right direction though.
Another new addition to the Big East will be Butch Jones at Cincinnati. Jones will be replacing Brian Kelly, now with Notre Dame, and has his work cut out for him with the team's best offensive weapons from a year ago now gone.
Jones dominated the Mid-American Conference in 2009 while with Central Michigan, going 8-0 in conference play and 11-2 overall. Don't expect those same totals with Cincinnati though, at least not in 2010.
Troy Calhoun followed the legendary Fisher DeBerry as the head coach at Air Force and so far he's been pretty successful in DeBerry's place.
He's led the team to three straight winning seasons with an overall record of 25-14. He's been so successful that you have to wonder how long it will be until he moves onto a better position.
The legend and former two-time national champion finds himself in very unfamiliar territory near the bottom of the list. But like other coaches who inherited talented rosters, Erickson often isn't given credit.
He might have gone 10-3 in his first year with the Sun Devils, but a 5-7 record in 2008 and a 4-8 record in 2009 is a troubling pattern. Things don't look to be getting much better in 2010 either.
Kiffin could turn out to be one of the top coaches in college football, but there might not be a tougher position in the game than the one he's in.
With sanctions and no hope for the posteason for the next year or two, Kiffin will have to keep his troops in line. There's hope he'll be a great coach, but after going 7-6 at Tennessee last season, expectations must be limited.
Mark Dantonio hasn't been great at Michigan State, with a 22-17 record over the last three seasons, he's still gotten this team to a bowl game every year and they're always competitive.
It seems like the Spartans are always a darkhorse team in the Big Ten and are good for a an upset every once in awhile against tough opponents. This has to be the year he gets this team over the hump though.
Skip Holts looks like a great hire for South Florida after back to back conference titles with East Carolina in 2008 and 2009.
There's a lot of work to be done with this team and some serious holes to fill, but he's proven capable in the past and should be a success; though it's too early to judge how he'll do against tougher competition.
Mike Stoops was nearly fired a couple of years ago, but he's done a good job with this team in the last couple years when it comes to conference play.
Arizona went 5-4 in Pac-10 play in 2008 and 6-3 in 2009. Add in the fact that he's led this team to back-to-back 8-5 records and things are looking pretty good from here.
The longtime assistant at West Virginia has done a good job in his two years as the team's head coach, but there's concern that Steward has been riding the wave of talent leftover from Rich Rodriquez.
Steward might have led this team to a 9-4 record each of the last two seasons, but they used to dominate the Big East and have been good, but not great ever since Rodriguez left.
Gary Pinkel has turned Missouri into a relevant team since taking over in 2001 and while there's been a bit of a slip since their 12-2 season of 2007, this is still a good team.
Pinkel is 67-46 in his nine years with the team and has only had thee losing seasons over that time and none since 2004. Coming off an 8-5 season, consider Missouri a darkhorse.
In his second year with Arkansas, Petrino got the ball rolling with an eight-win season and has the country talking about the potential for big things in 2010.
The offensive-minded Petrino has Ryan Mallet poised to compete for the Heisman, but for as much as he's given the offense, Petrino has neglected the defensive side of the ball.
Shannon has been under the gun since taking over as the head coach at Miami, but he's actually done a good job getting this team back into relevance.
From five to seven to nine wins, Shannon has the Canes poised for their best year yet in 2010 and this might be the time to bet on them winning their first ACC championship.
Tommy Tuberville has a very tough situation on his hands at Texas Tech. Most fans believe former head coach Mike Leach never should have been fired so the pressure is on for the former Auburn coach to make something happen.
He'll bring a defensive mentality to this offensively-minded program and after posting a career coaching record of 110-60, there should be a decent amount of faith that he can get it done.
2009 was a bit of a disappointment for Oklahoma State and head coach Mike Gundy despite the fact that they put up their second consecutive record of 9-4.
But the expectations are for more than nibbling at the feet of Texas and Oklahoma, the fans want victories over the powerhouses and more than just good seasons.
Larry Blakeney is entering his 20th season as the head coach of Troy. Only Penn State's Joe Paterno and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer can claim a longer seat at the helm than he can.
Blakeney has led his team to four consecutive Sun Belt Conference titles and has brought in a ton of under the radar talent and somehow consistently made it work for years.
Steve Sarkisian is the driving force behind the rejuvenation effort at Washington and while he only led them to a 5-7 record in his first year on the job, the expectations are very high going forward.
He's got the local recruits staying home again and has made fans believe that the Huskies can climb out of the cellar in the Pac-10 and do some damage.
Bill Snyder came out of retirement and proved a lot of his doubter wrong in 2009. Though he only posted a record of 6-6, there's no comparison between the talent he coached and others around the Big 12.
With 18 years at the helm of Kansas State, Snyder had his team playing disciplined, smart football and nearly captured the Big 12 North title; which would have been a huge upset.
June Jones has done wonders for SMU since taking over in 208 after serving as the head coach at Hawaii for nine seasons.
There were doubters after a 1-11 season his first year at bat, but Jones put led this team to an 8-5 record last year and their first bowl appearance since 1984.
Chizik needed only one season to get Auburn to an eight-win season and then put together one of the best recruiting classes in the country in 2009.
That's got the Tigers back into the preseason top 25 and expectations flowing for the 2010 season. Now if Chizik can prove last season was no fluke, we can really start talking.
Bronco Mendenhall has led BYU to at least 10 wins in each of the last four years as well as getting the Cougars ranked in the final BCS standings throughout that time.
This team has gone 43-9 under his leadership and while you can question the level of competition, you can't question the results.
Grobe has a very tough job at Wake Forest considering the school's high admission standards and the fact that he has to compete for recruits with three other in-state ACC programs.
He gets the most out of his teams though and has a disciplined group of football players that just might turn some heads thanks to him.
Chris Ault is a coach you don't really hear much about, but he's one of three active coaches along with Joe Paterno and John Gagliardi to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
He's the creator of the "Pistol" offense and has tallied 206 career victories. He's also posted a record of 38-26 over the last five years.
After serving as the offensive line coach for Navy from 2002 to 2007, Ken Niumatalolo got his chance to be the head coach a couple years ago and hasn't looked back since.
He led this team to eight wins in 2008 and 10 wins in 2009, only the second 10-win season in school history. Navy is one of the most underrated teams in the country and it can thank Niumatalolo for its success.
Kevin Sumlin just got an extension through the 2015 season to assure he remains with Houston for a few more years, unless someone grabs up the man who's become one of the hottest coaches in the country.
He led the Cougars to a 10-4 record with arguably the most potent passing offense in the country. He's on the fast track to a big-time school and it won't be long until he's there.
Houston Nutt had a down-year in 2009, but before that he'd posted back-to-back nine-win seasons, so he gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his coaching skills.
He's lost a ton of players in the offseason and will have to do some serious rebuilding, namely at quarterback where he'll have to deal with the controversial Jeremiah Masoli; if Nutt can pull this off he'll be higher on the list next year.
Spurrier might not sit on top of the perch he once did when he was unanimously considered amongst the top coaches in the game, but he's actually not too far removed from that.
The Gamecocks haven't had the type of success Spurrier's Florida teams used to, but this team looks ready for a solid season and could challenge Spurrier's old team for the SEC East.
Ok, maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves with Jim Harbaugh, but he's really done an amazing job at Stanford in his three years with the team. He's got this team winning, he's bringing in recruits, and the offense is rolling.
There were growing pains in his first couple of years, with sub-.500 records, but in 2009 Harbaugh led the Cardinal to an 8-5 mark with a couple of big upsets. Expect a lot more in 2010.
Gary Patterson has to be given credit for sticking with TCU when there have been bigger offers on the table, but he's not about to leave his creation.
He's 85-28 in his nine seasons with the Horned Frogs and in 2009 got them to a BCS bowl after a 12-0 regular season. The expectations for Patterson and Co. heading into 2010 are huge.
Urban Meyer made Utah relevant and Kyle Whittingham has kept it that way. He's 47-17 in his five seasons with the Utes and reportedly could have bolted for Tennessee in the offseason.
He turned down the job to remain with the team he's guided to the 24th rank in the preseason coaches' poll and looks poised for another great year at the helm.
Pat Hill has been the head coach at Fresno State since 1997 and has brought a ton of respect to the program with his willingness to consistently play some of the best teams in the country.
With a record of 100-66, Hill has been one of the most successful non-BCS conference coaches in the last decade, and while it's been awhile since the Bulldogs have won their conference, Hill has always made them relevant.
There aren't many coaches who can evaluate talent and bring in the recruits quite like Butch Davis can. Just look at the talent he produced at Miami and the defensive roster at North Carolina if you need prove.
Davis' Tar Heels are a team on the rise and should contend for the ACC championship in 2010. He's more than just a recruiter though; this team wouldn't be here without his guidance.
Les Miles has been widely accused of winning the 2007 national championship with Nick Saban's players and in his years since then as head coach, that argument has picked up steam.
Miles made some terrible coaching decisions last season, especially when it came to clock management against Ole Miss and Penn State. He's on the hot seat big time in 2010.
Johnson has just been a winner throughout his coaching career. He took Georgia Souther to two 1-AA titles, then turned Navy into a consistent winner, and last season won the ACC in his second year with Georgia Tech.
This will be a tough year for Johnson and his team, but if he can get the Yellow Jackets to play better than their critics expect, there will be no denying his coaching ability after 2010.
In 11 years as the head coach of UConn, Randy Edsall as put up a .500 record, but there's no denying the steps of improvement that have been made in the last few years.
The Huskies have won at least eight games in each of the last three seasons and enter the 2010 season as a darkhorse in the Big East; considering the lack of talent on the roster that's no small feat.
Since taking over the head coaching job at Rutgers in 2001, Greg Schiano had some bumps and bruises in his first five years, but has been dolling out the hits the last four.
The Scarlet Knights are 36-16 since 2006 and after a 9-4 season in 2009 are not just a premiere team of the Big East, they're not far from being a legitimate BCS contender; as crazy as it sounds it's true.
The long-time assistant coach finally got his chance in 2009 and didn't disappoint in the slightest. Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks posted a 10-3 record and one the Pac-10, earning him conference coach of the year honors.
So why is he so far removed from the top of the list? Because it's only a one season sample and this team was stacked when he took it over. Do it again and you're in the top 10.
Bret Bielema has lead the Badger to a 38-14 record in his first four seasons as the head coach at Wisconsin, but there is still a lot of criticism handed his way.
A lot of that has to do with the 7-6 season in 2008 and lack of a Big Ten championship. He led this team to 10-3 last season and Wisconsin looks as good as any team in the conference short of OSU heading into 2010.
Dave Wannstedt didn't look like a great hire in his first three years with Pitt, but the school stuck with him and let the team grow and it sure has blossomed.
Wannstedt has been recruiting top-20 classes year-in and year-out and after Pitt's 10-3 finish a year ago, the Panthers are considered the Big East favorites and a championship darkhorse.
Brian Kelly was the hottest name on the market a year ago after leading Cincinnati to a 12-0 season in 2009 and 36-4 record overall while with the Bearcats.
He heads to Notre Dame in 2010 where he'll look to clean up after Charlie Weis' mess and bring his signature spread offense to South Bend. Hopes are high for the Irish, but that was the same case with Weis as well.
Jeff Tedford is coming off his eight season as the head coach of the Golden Bears and while he's coming off a disappointing 8-5 season, fans need to remember what this team was like before he became the head coach.
He's led this team to a bowl in seven straight seasons, has a 67-35 record at the helm, and if not for USC dominating the Pac-10 for so many years, his resume would be even more impressive.
Bo Pelini has brought the winning tradition back to Nebraska and should have this team competing for not just a Big 12 championship, but possibly a national championship as well.
Maybe that's getting ahead of ourselves, but don't forget that Pelini's Cornhuskers were a play away from winning the conference a year ago and enter the 2010 season as one of the 10 best teams in the country.
Fans and media have criticized Mark Richt throughout the offseason because the Bulldogs don't look like serious national championship contenders and eight-win seasons just aren't going to cut it anymore.
Since he's taken over in 2001, Richt has averaged 10-win seasons, has collected two SEC championships and has built a strong, lasting program, but they still haven't competed for a title and that's what the fans want.
Mack Brown has been one of the most successful coaches in all of college football in his 12 seasons with Texas, posting a record of 128-27. He's one of the best recruiters in the business and brings as talented a roster to the table as anyone.
But that's exactly why he ranks at the back of the top 10. Because with all that talent, Brown still only has one national championship and two conference titles to show for it. Sure it sounds bad to say only one championship, but tell that to Texas fans.
After losing a ton of weapons in the offseason, Brown has the chance to prove he belongs among the top dogs if he can get the Longhorns back to the big game.
NFL teams have been trying to lure Kirk Ferentz away from Iowa from years, but he's still around and still leading this team to wins.
In 11 years with the Hawkeyes, Ferentz has posted an 81-55 record and while the team had some rough times from 2005 to 2007, he's gotten them back on top the last couple of seasons.
Other coaches have had more success, but only Mike Riley of Oregon State has done more with less. Iowa doesn't draw the big-time recruits like rivals Penn State and Ohio State, but they still compete for the Big 10 title just the same.
There's no denying that Chris Petersen is the top non-BCS conference coach in the country. He's led this team to two BCS victories in four years and has absolutely dominated his competition in his four years at the helm.
With a record of 31-1 over the last four seasons, instead of bolting for bigger name schools like past Boise State coaches, Petersen has stuck around to try and do the impossible.
Lead Boise State to a national championship, something no one outside the Big Six has ever done. With the No. 3 preseason ranking, it's a real possibility.
There might be other coaches who have done more lately, but Joe Paterno is a living legend and he gets a bonus for his career accomplishments.
The winningest college football coach of all time, with 394 career victories, Paterno is embarking on what could very well be his last season in the game.
He's been the head coach of this team since 1966 and without him, the Nittany Lions simply would not be what they are today. It doesn't hurt that he's coming off back-to-back 11-2 seasons either.
Riley is probably the best bargain in all of college football. He comes with a reasonable price tag and consistently does more with less every year.
Before Riley came along, Oregon State was hopeless, but in the past four years the Beavers have finished no worse than third in the Pac-10.
Considering Oregon State has never been a good school for recruiting, that's no small feat. Despite plenty of chances to move on to greener pastures, Riley has stayed true to his hometown team.
Beamer has been the head coach at Virginia Tech since 1987 and there are very few coaches who have had the type of sustained success he's managed for the Hokies over that time.
This team is consistently in the top 25 and while they haven't competed for national championships the way some other schools have, Virginia Tech is always relevant.
"Beamer Ball" is some of the best football in the country, and Frank deserves most of the credit for that.
Bob Stoops has been the head coach at Oklahoma since 1999, with a record of 117-28 over that stretch.
His Sooners are coming off a down year in which they saw Sam Bradford essentially miss the entire season, but expectations are high again in 2010.
For years, Stoops had been considered the top coach in the college game, but he's slipped a bit the last few years and last season's 8-5 record was the first five-loss season Stoops has been a part of in the 21st century.
Jim Tressel has been the most successful Big Ten coach for over a decade and has consistently had his team in the national championship picture.
With a national championship in 2002, six conference championships, 94 wins with OSU, and 229 career victories, there aren't many better in the business than Tressel.
Coming off a huge victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl, Ohio State heads into the season ranked as the No. 2 team in the country and might just be primed for a second national title under Tressel.
Meyer isn't far removed from the No. 1 spot that's been his for the last couple years, but the man who sits above him is the current champ and there's no arguing with that.
But even Saban hasn't enjoyed the level of sustained success that Meyer has at Florida for the last half-decade.
He's had three one-loss seasons, two national championships, and would likely have had a third if not for Alabama getting in the way.
Nick Saban transformed Alabama from a middle of the pack SEC team into powerhouse in just three years. The Crimson Tide have dominated on the field and recruited with the best of them off of it.
Saban hasn't let his team lose a regular season game since November of 2007; that's a nearly impossible feat in the modern game.
From a team that was far removed from the limelight to one that expects to contend for the national championship yearly, Alabama owes its success to Saban.