College Football: The Best 5 Under the Radar Coaching Jobs
All the talk is about the coaching jobs done by guys at powerhouse schools, in powerhouse conferences. We all know about guys like Nick Saban and Les Miles, but who else is doing solid jobs at their respective institutions?
Here are five guys that have done a solid job coaching up their squads while remaining under the national radar.
Butch Jones, Cincinnati
Why is nobody talking about Cincinnati?
The Bearcats ran the regular season table back in 2009, took a step back last year, but have rebounded to a 7-1 start with a 3-0 conference mark. The man at the helm, Butch Jones.
Jones took over for Brian Kelly twice. Once at Central Michigan, and now at Cincinnati. After a disappointing 2010, the Bearcats have rebounded by being in the nation's Top 20 in both scoring and in points against.
Offensively, Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead have led the charge, while the defense has done enough to win ball games.
Granted the Big East is not what it once was, and Cincinnati has yet to play West Virginia, which happens this weekend, but give Jones credit. Cincinnati was projected to finish near the bottom of the conference, but now has a chance to win it, or at worst, still go bowling next month.
Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky
Less than a decade ago the Hilltoppers were an FCS school winning a National Title. Fast forward to the present and they are now a doormat in FBS's Sun Belt conference.
However, that is not the case anymore.
Former QB, and offensive coordinator Willie Taggart took over the struggling program last year. After a 2-10 season, many felt the 'Toppers were headed towards another losing season. That has not been the case as Western has won five-straight in conference play to get to 5-4.
While 5-4 is not overly impressive, take into consideration that they lost close games to Arkansas State and Kentucky, plus have a 5-1 conference mark with a real chance to win the conference.
Pretty good for a program in its FBS infancy with a second year head coach.
Dave Christensen, Wyoming
Dave Christensen was the offensive coordinator at Missouri for more than a decade before taking the Wyoming coaching job in 2009. That year he guided the Cowboys to a 7-6 mark with a New Mexico Bowl victory.
Now after a rough 2010 campaign, Christensen appears to have Wyoming headed towards another bowl with a 5-3 record. Sure, they were hammered at Utah State, but they did beat San Diego State and UNLV in conference, and played very well for three quarters against TCU this past Saturday.
Christensen has a realistic shot of getting the Cowboys to eight wins before it is all said and done, and if they can pull off the epic upset vs Boise this weekend could make it nine.
Christensen could be a top candidate for other jobs around the nation come season's end.
Pete Lembo, Ball State
A few years ago Ball State came within a MAC title game win of joining the BCS discussion. In the end it was Buffalo who triumphed, and head coach Brady Hoke hiked over to San Diego State, which ultimately began a forgettable era of Stan Parrish football in Muncie.
Then came the news late last year that the Cardinals had hired Pete Lembo. Who?
Lembo had been a fixture in the FCS scene, guiding both Lehigh and Elon to playoff appearances. In heading to Muncie he wanted to install a spread offense, which many thought would be difficult to achieve with the personnel there.
All the Cardinals have done is go 6-4, with a 4-2 MAC mark, and with upset wins over Northern Illinois and Toledo could advance to the MAC title game yet again.
Pretty good for a first year coach, first year offense and a program looking to get back to their 2008 form.
Larry Fedora, Southern Miss
So which university from Mississippi has the best record out of all the FBS schools? Southern Mississippi, of course.
This year the Golden Eagles are off to an 8-1 start with a C-USA title game appearance almost assured. Head coach Larry Fedora has never won the Eastern division, but has guided Southern Miss to three bowl appearances, including a 2008 New Orleans bowl win in his first season.
At 29-18 overall, he should be at the top of the list to replace Houston Nutt at Ole Miss.