BCS National Championship Game: Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU
Orange Bowl: UCONN vs. Virginia Tech
Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska vs. Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State
Alright, it’s gut-check time.
Plenty of appetizer bowls will take shape shortly, but this is the BCS.
It takes a lot to get into the most prestigious of bowl games and even more to win a national championship.
Ten head coaches will get the opportunity to shine in the spotlight this January.
Which are on the rise?
Which are starting to slip?
Can anyone stop the best coach in the BCS?
Overall Coaching Record: 73-69 (12th year)
Bowl Record: 3-1
Edsall has seen the Connecticut Huskies make the transition from the Atlantic 10 Conference to FBS Independent before finally settling in the Big East.
He holds the title of UConn’s all-time winningest football coach.
Edsall's been successful at lower levels of competition when compared to his BCS-mates. The question lies in whether or not he could duplicate his efforts in a more powerful conference.
One of his more notable wins is a 20-7 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2009 PapaJohns.com Bowl.
While he is early on this list, that’s not to say that big things aren't in Edsall's future.
He’s shown he knows how to win.
Perhaps we’ll find out if he can swim with the sharks in the Big Ten.
Overall Coaching Record: 64-23 (seventh year; one year w/ NFL’s Atlanta Falcons)
Bowl Record: 3-2
Petrino's head coaching career began at Louisville before he spent a year as the head man with the Atlanta Falcons.
Following a dismal 3-10 year in Atlanta, Petrino was brought on by the Razorbacks. He took Arkansas from a 5-7 record in 2008 to their current 10-2 mark and probable BCS appearance this season.
Petrino's fantastic 2010 campaign has been won and lost largely behind the arm of quarterback Ryan Mallett.
The Razorbacks posted a 6-2 record in the SEC this season after going 2-6 in conference just two years ago.
While Petrino’s career has been rocky at times, he is starting to have the same levels of success as he experienced while at Louisville.
Should recruiting continue to prove fruitful for Arkansas, Bobby Petrino could find himself in the SEC Championship Game within a season or two.
Overall Coaching Record: 57-27 (seventh year)
Bowl Record: 0-1
Is Harbaugh a Michigan man yet again?
There are rumors about him potentially wearing a different school’s colors in the Big Ten conference come 2011.
Considering current Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez’s unpopular status amongst the team's fanbase, Harbaugh's presence in Ann Arbor would be a welcome sight.
He has turned a once-putrid Stanford squad into a national power, taking the Cardinal from a 4-8 record in 2007 to this year’s 11-1 mark and BCS appearance. He also oversaw the development of Heisman Trophy candidate and current Minnesota Viking Toby Gerhart.
While he doesn’t currently have a conference title or bowl victory to his credit, Harbaugh’s stock is clearly on the rise.
Overall Coaching Record: 30-10 (third year; Interim HC in 2003 for Alamo Bowl)
Bowl Record: 3-0
People wake up on the other side of the globe thanks to Bo Pelini. Nebraska’s head coach takes a very vocal approach to his craft, sometimes to a fault.
Still, his charges have responded brilliantly following the tenure of Bill Callahan. Nebraska has taken the Big 12 North division every year of Pelini’s tenure and won at least nine games per season.
The Youngstown, Ohio, native takes pride in his defenses.
He holds the distinction of having tutored the most decorated player in Nebraska Cornhusker history: current Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh.
Pelini has overseen one of the most stifling secondaries in the nation this year.
His team also has a shot to win the final Big 12 championship before moving on to the Big Ten conference in 2011.
While new to life as a head coach, Pelini has spent time studying in the NFL with San Francisco, Green Bay and New England. He then held the title of defensive coordinator at Nebraska, Oklahoma and LSU before returning to the Cornhuskers in 2008.
Assuming he can keep his temper in check, Nebraska looks to pound its way into the Big 10 on the back of its blue-collar, no-nonsense leader.
Overall Coaching Record: 236-119-4 (30th year)
Bowl Record: 8-9
Tournament Record (FCS): 0-1
The Baron of BeamerBall is about as blue-collar as a coach can be.
In fact, he literally brought a lunch-pail approach to the game at Virginia Tech. Each week, the hardest-working player earns possession of an actual lunch pail.
Beamer’s focus on the special teams area of Virginia Tech football has lead to one of the sharpest units in the nation. A specific unit doesn’t just get a nickname for the heck of it, after all.
A model of consistency, Beamer’s teams have won at least 10 games every season since 2004.
This year looked to be horrendous for the Hokies after suffering a nationally televised defeat to Boise State. Things only got worse when Tech fell to lowly James Madison in Blacksburg.
But Beamer was able to rally the troops and now the Hokies are in the ACC Championship Game.
With a win, Virginia Tech would claim their third conference title in four years.
Still, once his teams reach a bowl, it’s a coin flip.
The Hokies have won their past two bowl appearances, but the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Virginia Tech remains.
Overall Coaching Record: 96-28 (10th year; Interim HC in 2000 for Mobile Alabama Bowl)
Bowl Record: 5-3
Four words describe Patterson best: Coach of the Year.
He’s been awarded that honor on 12 separate occasions.
It’s hard to argue with the numbers. Seven of Patterson’s 10 teams have won at least 11 games. His current two-year record stands at 23-1, with the only loss being to then-No. 6 Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.
TCU returns to the BCS picture this year, but they will not be accompanied by Boise State.
While Patterson’s Horned Frogs carry the “BCS Buster” title much like the Broncos, many fans praise his team for what is perceived as a very humble quality.
The Kansas native has accomplished much during his tenure at TCU.
The Horned Frogs may even be considered strongly for a position in a more powerful conference during any future realignment, thanks to Patterson.
Overall Coaching Record: 240-79-2
Bowl Record: 5-4
Tournament Record (FCS): 23-6
Ah, Ol’ Sweatervest.
Jim Tressel is calm, cool and just wins games, but since winning a national title in 2002, the Buckeye head coach seems to be stuck in neutral.
Six consecutive Big Ten titles and no less than eight wins per season since winning it all eight years ago don’t seem so bad.
Still, one can only get by in Columbus by beating Michigan for so long. Tressel certainly earns his keep, but Ohio State fans have to be wondering when he’ll hold another crystal football.
While they ponder that, Tressel’s Buckeyes are BCS-bound yet again.
It seems like a matter of time before Ohio State breaks through and gets back to the national championship game.
Unfortunately, while Tressel keeps producing very good results, others are shifting into second gear and passing the Bucks by.
Overall Coaching Record: 49-15 (fifth year)
Bowl Record: 2-2
It wasn’t long ago that Bret Bielema wore the uniform of an Iowa Hawkeye.
Fourteen years after he began his coaching career as Iowa’s linebackers coach, Bielema took the reins of the Wisconsin Badgers.
His 2008 squad did have a slight slump, going 7-6 and losing to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl 42-16.
Aside from that blip, the Badgers have posted at least nine wins per season under Bielema.
This year, his Badgers defeated a No. 1-ranked team (Ohio State) for the first time since 1981.
They also claimed their first conference title since 1999 and head to the BCS for the first time in Bielema’s tenure.
The Wisconsin coach is a spry 40 years old. With his record of success, he looks to make his mark as one of the all-time greats before his coaching career is over.
Overall Coaching Record: 25-24 (fourth year)
Bowl Record: 1-0
While Chizik’s numbers aren’t particularly impressive as a head coach, a total of five wins in two seasons at Iowa State somewhat skew the numbers a bit.
Upon returning to Auburn after two years in Ames, Chizik led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and a victory over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
This year, he has the best player in the country. The problem is that player may have come with a price tag.
The Cam Newton Saga rages on and small pockets of doubt are popping up around the country regarding the quarterback’s eligibility.
While Newton is a large part of Chizik’s success, he is not the bottom line. Gus Malzahn orchestrates the Auburn offense with deadly efficiency.
With or without Newton, Malzahn makes the Tigers tick when it’s time to put points on the board.
Auburn has had plenty of opportunities to lose this season. Archrival Alabama was even nice enough to provide the perfect headline opportunity by jumping out to a 21-point lead after only one quarter.
But Chizik’s Tigers took advantage and made the Tide look the fool.
He has to be smiling as only South Carolina stands between the Tigers and a national championship bid.
Hopefully everyone is able to attend, including his star quarterback.
Overall Coaching Record: 21–3 (second year)
Bowl Record: 0-1
The Quack Attack’s fearless leader has the college football world reeling.
His “Point-Per-Minute” Offense provides absolutely no chance for the opposition to breathe.
All Kelly’s Ducks need is one half of football to make their opponents look hapless.
Oregon isn’t picky. They’ll face whomever is selected in the national championship game. They’ll likely win, too, and the possibility for the game to be a laugher is there as well.
That sounds like tough talk, but the Ducks dodged the one team that managed to keep up in the marathon that is the Oregon offense.
Regardless of what happens this season, Kelly will only keep winning. He and his staff are shrewd recruiters.
They have the Nike brand in their back pocket—with seemingly a hundred uniform combinations—and the crowds at Autzen Stadium love watching their Ducks demolish the opposition.
The only way to stop Kelly at this point is to hope a more attractive position opens elsewhere.
The bad news is that any seduction would likely be ignored at this point. Kelly runs an offense as if he were a 14-year-old playing a video game, and wins.
Would you leave?
I didn’t think so.
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