Comparing the Top 32 College Football Coaches to Their NFL Counterparts

David Luther@@davidrlutherFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2011

Comparing the Top 32 College Football Coaches to Their NFL Counterparts

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    There's always been a debate about what type of personalities or situations make the best coaches, both at the college level and in the NFL.

    As both the college and pro seasons reach their end, it's time for that annual ride on the coaching carousel, which inevitably will see some college coaches departing for the greener bankrolls of the NFL.

    But what are pro organizations looking for in a future head coach? One clue can be found in the personalities of current NFL coaches.

    It stands to reason that the next crop of great NFL coaches will share similar personalities to the current group of leaders in the league, so we decided to compare the 32 current NFL coaches to some of the top coaches in college football, based on personality and situations.

    Here's what we came up with.

Howard Schnellenberger, Florida Atlantic

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    When it comes to coaching guile, none in the NFL can hold a candle to Bill Belichick.

    Whether its his meticulous game-planning or even the allegations of spying on other teams, Belichick is one of those rare breeds that always seems to be able to out-coach the opposition and has become a legend in his own day in Boston.

    Outgoing FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger is also a legend destined for the college football hall of fame.

    In his prime, Schnellenberger could out-coach any of his counterparts, and he was instrumental in leading the resurgence of Miami before taking coaching positions at Louisville, Oklahoma and finally Florida Atlantic (after taking several years off).

    Schnellenberger was the consummate preparer and always had a game plan ready for his team. His college coaching abilities also produced 158 wins over 27 seasons.

June Jones, Southern Methodist

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    It's difficult to summarize Todd Bowles and his career in Miami, mainly because he's only been the head coach about a week.

    That being said, he's 1-0 as head coach and the win against division foe Buffalo could keep the Dolphins out of a last-place finish in the AFC East this season.

    Small steps, right?

    June Jones at SMU is also rebuilding a program through successive small steps.

    This season, the Mustangs beat arch-rival TCU for the first time in quite a while, and SMU is headed to its third-straight bowl game—quite an accomplishment for a program that has suffered greatly since the “death penalty” years in the late 1980s.

    If SMU continues to make these small steps under Jones, it won't be long before teams stop scheduling SMU as the “warm-up” game and start scheduling SMU as a strength-of-schedule booster.

Gene Chizik, Auburn

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    Can you really blame Jim Caldwell if he doesn't seem to be putting his whole heart and soul into the 2011 season?

    It's clear that Peyton Manning is more than a simple leader on the field for the Colts; he's the glue that holds the entire team together. Without Manning taking the snaps, the Colts just aren't very good.

    Gene Chizik at Auburn found out fairly quickly as well that losing a quarterback like Cam Newton can cause your entire foundation of success to need a rebuild.

    Both Chizik and Caldwell are awaiting next season where Caldwell will have Manning back under center and Chizik will be a year further down the road towards the promised rebuild of the Tigers.

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

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    When the 2011 season began, there were some great hopes for the New York Football Giants.

    Those hopes began to fade as the Giants ambled through much of 2011 without much fire or passion. New York is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, and will need an awful lot of help to turn their current 7-7 record into a playoff berth.

    That hasn't stopped Tom Coughlin from being one of the more spirited coaches in the NFL. His energy just hasn't translated to on-field success this season.

    Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech is in much the same boat. His unbridled energy and belief in his team didn't do a whole lot for his Red Raiders, and Texas Tech finished just 5-7.

Gary Patterson, Texas Christian

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    It didn't take long for Romeo Crennel to find a signature win.

    The Kansas City Chiefs, who have been hapless at times this season, snapped the 19-game win-streak of the Green Bay Packers this past weekend, not to mention ruined the Packers' chances at a perfect season.

    Crennel is no stranger to the head coaching position, having spent four seasons with the headset in Cleveland (24-40-0 record)

    While there have been a number of coaches in the college game who had signature wins this season, perhaps none was more impressive than Gary Patterson leading TCU to a rare victory over Boise State in Boise.

    Both Crennel and Patterson led their teams to improbable wins over fantastic teams in less-than-ideal circumstances, and both coaches now have a win they'll likely remember vividly for the rest of their lives.

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

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    If ever there was a fan base disappointed in their head coach and their team's performance, it has to be the folks up in Minnesota.

    When it comes to football, there's not much to cheer about in the Minneapolis area as both the Vikings and Gophers are in the midst of downturns.

    Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is in the midst of a 2-12 season, where futility has been the name of the game. The 2-12 record for the Vikings is the worst in franchise history over 14 games.

    New Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez also had his share of disappointments while coaching one of the proudest college football programs in the nation.

    In his first season at Michigan in 2008, Rodriguez led the Wolverines to a program-worst 3-9 record, notable given Michigan's 132-year football history.

    Rodriguez moves on to Arizona now where he will attempt to bring back some pride to a Wildcats program that has seen some down years.

Gary Pinkel, Missouri

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    There was a time when the Buffalo Bills were the toast of the AFC. Those days are long gone, and the Bills are struggling through 2011 with an AFC-East-worst 5-9 record.

    Still, the Bills did manage a few impressive wins this season, including beating the Patriots and Eagles. Those wins would have seemed impossible just a few seasons ago, and there's cause for hope in future years.

    Gary Pinkel at Missouri is also finding himself encouraged about the future of his program.

    Not only are the Tigers headed for the SEC, but there's a young, talented core of players at Mizzou that should be able to put the Tigers is a decent position to at least compete in the SEC next season.

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

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    Sooner or later, you just have to throw your hands up, admit defeat and try to figure out what needs to be changed.

    Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys is certainly wondering where his Cowboys went wrong in the early part of 2011.

    Sure, America's Team might be leading the NFC-East with an 8-6 record, but was 8-6 really the 14-game goal for Dallas? Garrett will undoubtedly say that he's content with where his team is right now, but you know he has to be doing the offseason calculations in his head already.

    Jimbo Fisher at Florida State is probably doing the exact same thing

    After beginning the season as a top 10 team, the Seminoles didn't quite live up to expectations (or the crazy hype) this season, and finished 8-4 (5-3 in the ACC).

    That's not particularly bad, but it's certainly not where the Seminoles were hoping they'd be right about now.

Brady Hoke, Michigan

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    There's a lot to get excited about if you're a 49ers fan. First off, your team is 10-3 and has clinched the NFC-West for the first time in what seems like forever.

    Secondly, your first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh seems to be about as excited as anyone else about the Niners' success.

    But that doesn't mean he's immune to a faux pas or two.

    Earlier this season, Harbaugh got plenty of attention for nearly tearing his own shirt off as he skipped across the field to slap (not shake) Jim Schwartz's hand after the 49ers defeated the Detroit Lions. The exchange started an argument which led to the two teams facing off after the game.

    There's certainly nothing wrong with getting excited about your team, but Jim Harbaugh could take a lesson in excitement from a man who took a job Harbaugh once scoffed at: Michigan's Brady Hoke.

    It's plainly apparent that Hoke is really worked up about the future of Michigan football, from refusing to refer to Ohio State by name to guiding the Wolverines to their best record since 2006 (11-2 under Hoke's mentor, Lloyd Carr).

    We doubt (and hope) that we won't see Hoke pulling his shirt off as he runs across the field, but there's no doubt there's some Harbaugh-like excitement in the Michigan front office this season.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

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    Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.

    Right now, John Fox probably feels like Jesus is smiling upon him, or at least his new starting quarterback, Tim Tebow.

    A few weeks into the season, if someone had said that Denver would be leading the AFC West after 14 games, there would be a lot of snickering.

    But then a modern football miracle happened: Tim Tebow took over as starting quarterback, and the man simply found improbable ways to pull out improbable victories at the last minute.

    Fox isn't making excuses and he's not looking to second-guess anyone right now, but you wonder if he's saying a silent prayer on the sidelines to thank the big man upstairs. We know his quarterback does.

    In all of the Tebow-mania that's swept the nation, it's easy to overlook Fox. Maybe he could find a friend in Michigan State's Mark Dantonio.

    Dantonio also had a quarterback that, while not stupendous, found ways to win games.

    Kirk Cousins may not be the next Tim Tebow, but he's been the on-field reason for much of MSU's success these past two seasons. And just as many look past Fox, Dantonio is also finding the attention in East Lansing focused in other directions.

    Now that we think about it, Mark Dantonio probably likes it that way.

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

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    When the season began, no one was really paying attention to the Tennessee Titans. Now that 14 games have been played, a few have taken notice of the better-than-expected 7-7 Titans and their strong core of talent.

    One person who is likely pleasantly surprised has to be head coach Mike Munchak. While there is definitely room for improvement, the 2011 will provide the Titans with a solid jumping-off point.

    Jim Grobe at Wake Forest also has to be pleasantly surprised with the way his Demon Deacons have performed throughout 2011.

    Now in his 11th season at Wake Forest, Munchak has improved his team from a 3-9 finish in 2010 to 6-6 (5-3 in the ACC) in 2011, which is surprisingly tied for second place in the ACC's Atlantic Division.

    The Deacons are a ways off from returning to their 2006 BCS season form, but earning the program's first bowl berth since 2008 is a good first step.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

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    Finally, it seems to be the year for a football team in Houston. Well, make that two football teams in Houston.

    Both the Texans and the Cougars have put together successful seasons, and that's just one of the reasons we're matching up Gary Kubiak and now former Houston Cougars coach Kevin Sumlin.

    Both Kubiak and Sumlin have similar methods and are the patient types, slowly building their respective programs into the successes we all witnessed in 2011.

    The Texans are headed for the postseason, and the Cougars earned a trip to the TicketCity Bowl after a 12-1 performance.

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

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    With Oakland's collapse against the Detroit Lions this past Sunday, the Raiders' playoff chances took a serious blow.

    That doesn't mean head coach Hue Jackson hasn't reinvigorated the franchise with his old-style Raiders attitude. The Raiders are again becoming one of the feared teams of the AFC West, and Jackson's ability to play on this trait will likely mean good things for the Raiders in the future.

    A college coach who is equally good at playing up his team's personality is Frank Beamer.

    Virginia Tech has long been known as a team that will score any way possible under Beamer, and every opponent spends their entire prep time trying to figure out an adequate defense against Beamerball.

    Sometimes, there's no reason to pretend to be anyone other than who you really are deep down inside.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

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    Loyalty counts for a lot these days, and in the NFL there's perhaps no head coach more loyal to his team than Baltimore's John Harbaugh.

    Beyond his dedication to his own team, Harbaugh is proof that blood is thicker than water. When asked about his brother's infamous run-in with Jim Schwartz, John said, “I think I know who was right, but whoever was right or wrong, I know whose side I'm on. I'm definitely taking sides.”

    Regardless of who he thought was in the right (from his comments, one could infer that John didn't think it was his brother), John was more than ready to back up his brother.

    Oklahoma State's Mike “I'm a Man” Gundy is also fiercely loyal, as anyone who has ever seen his press conference tirade knows.

    While it may have been supremely embarrassing for the player involved, you can't fault Gundy for going after a reporter who he thought had unfairly reported on one of “his kids.”

Bill Snyder, Kansas State

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    The Cincinnati Bengals haven't always been a decent team in terms of wins and losses. In fact, the Bengals rarely have been a good team, but that doesn't mean the future isn't bright under Marvin Lewis.

    The Bengals are 8-6 so far in 2011, and Marvin Lewis's upbeat personality is understandable. It's not every day you can lead a team out of the long tunnel and into the light.

    Bill Snyder at Kansas State also led his team out of the darkness this season—and the Wildcats became one of the great Cinderella stories of the 2011 college football season.

    While Snyder isn't a stranger to success, once he left KSU, it seemed as if the dark days had returned. Snyder was persuaded to come back for a second stint at K-State, and this season he guided his team to an impressive 10-2 (7-2 in the Big 12) record and No. 8 ranking in the BCS.

    It's hard not to be upbeat about those numbers in Manhattan.

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of those programs that doesn't seem to be able to put everything together all at once in order to have that magical season.

    That hasn't stopped Raheem Morris from constantly preaching that tomorrow is a new day, and the league's historically worst team (with a win percentage of just .397 since beginning play in 1976) can become the next great franchise—just not this season.

    Even though there were some glimmers of hope early on, Tampa Bay has struggled mightily this year, ensuring a decent draft slot with a 4-10 record.

    Arkansas has had much the same experience as Tampa Bay since joining the SEC in the early 1990s. The Razorbacks have earned a trip to the SEC Championship Game just twice, and despite putting together some great teams, the Hogs just can't seem to get past SEC behemoths like Alabama and LSU.

    But Petrino has been able to rebuild the Razorbacks' program into something of which Arkansas fans can be proud, and that elusive SEC title may not be far off.

Mark Richt, Georgia

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    So the Green Bay Packers won't go undefeated this season. That doesn't mean the franchise isn't the odds-on Super Bowl favorite as we approach the playoffs, does it?

    A 13-1 record is still pretty good, and Green Bay is still the only NFL team to have clinched a first-round bye so far (although that's likely to change next weekend).

    The NFC North Division Champions are led by Mike McCarthy, who has been able to weather all sorts of fan reactions, from jubilation following last season's Super Bowl victory to utter discontent after 2008's 6-10 season.

    The seemingly calm seriousness with which he approaches coaching and his ability to drown out the cacophony of nonsense going on around him is eerily similar to the personality of Georgia's Mark Richt.

    Richt also dealt with fan discontent after last season's 6-7 record—Georgia's first losing season in nearly two decades.

    How did Richt respond? By guiding his team to an SEC East title and an Outback Bowl berth.

Charlie Weis, Kansas

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    Sean Payton is one of the rare coaches who found himself in need of medical attention during a game.

    Payton injured his leg earlier in the season when a player was tackled into him during a game. Finding himself on crutches and making play calls from the press box is not something any coach wants to do, especially when you're as excitable as Payton. Luckily, the recovery went smoothly.

    New Kansas coach Charlie Weis knows all about sideline injuries. While head coach at Notre Dame, Weis was infamously run into during a play and tore his ACL.

    It remains to be seen if Weis can turn the Jayhawks around the way Payton has instilled success in New Orleans, but if Payton needs any leg physical therapy advice, Weis may be just the guy to call.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

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    When the 2011 season got underway, there were plenty of people—not all of whom live in Philadelphia—who believed the Eagles would be a top-caliber team in the NFC East this season.

    After posting a 6-8 record through this past Sunday, the Eagles are out of the playoffs, and there will be a lot of fans pondering exactly what happened.

    Fans in Norman, Oklahoma are in much the same boat.

    After beginning the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, Oklahoma tripped up against Texas Tech, Baylor and finally Oklahoma State, not only missing the goal of a BCS Championship berth, but finding any BCS game invite to be a fantasy.

    Bob Stoops is used to success, and failures on this level (which would be considered minor by other programs) have got to be frustrating. Both coaches are probably looking for answers, but it's clear that neither team lived up to expectations this season.

Mike Price, Texas-El Paso

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    After being dealt some crushing defeats this season, you have to wonder how much energy Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera has left.

    Cam Newton has been a bright spot, surely, but when your team is 5-9, getting up in the morning for work has to be a grind.

    Mike Price at UTEP has to be similarly tired of losing game after game without much prospect of postseason appearances.

Larry Blakeney, Troy

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    Ken Whisenhunt and the Arizona Cardinals are only a few years removed from the franchise's first Super Bowl, but at 7-7 this season, the playoffs are a long shot.

    For the time being, Whisenhunt will be keeping a low profile and attempting to get out of the 2011 with as little carnage as possible. No sense in drawing attention to failures, right?

    At Troy, Larry Blakeney has led the Trojans to five straight Sun Belt championships (two outright) and in his 21 seasons at Troy, he's led them from being a Division II program to  becoming an FBS outfit competing for bowl game berths each season.

    While he's clearly had success at Troy, Blakeney probably won't want to draw much attention to this season's 3-9 embarrassment.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah

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    It's been a while since we've seen any real sustained success from the St. Louis Rams, and there are inklings that Steve Spagnuolo's seat may soon grow very hot.

    After improving from 1-15 to 7-9, the Rams have fallen back to 2-12 so far in 2011.

    Kyle Whittingham at Utah may very will find himself in the same boat as Spagnuolo.

    After leading the Utes to a 13-0 record complete with Sugar Bowl win in 2008, the Utes have fallen on hard times, in relative terms.

    Utah was one of the big stories this past offseason, leaving the Mountain West for the BCS comfort of the Pac-12. But rather than finding an easier path to BCS glory, the Utes found the competition in their new conference, even in the weak Pac-12-South, to be a bit harsher than expected.

    Even after last season's disappointing 10-3 finish, the Utes expected to put up a good showing in the Pac-12 this year. Instead, Utah was just 7-5, and found themselves finishing in a tie for third in the South Division.

    It may be too early to call it day for either of these coaches, but the pressure to perform is mounting quickly.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

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    New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan isn't shy about sharing his feelings with the media.

    The Jets are 8-6 and eying a playoff spot, and the franchise certainly has been flourishing under Ryan. While his attitude may rub some Patriots fans or Giants fans the wrong way, it's clear that Ryan's personality is a big part of the new swagger of the Jets.

    A colossal personality in his own right is Steve Spurrier.

    The “Ol' Ball Coach” isn't shy about letting his feelings be known, and his media interviews have become legendary. Clemson and Georgia fans probably hate the man, but there's no question he's brought success to South Carolina.

    The fact that he wears his emotions on his sleeve make him every bit as entertaining as Ryan.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

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    Jim Schwartz was hired to do what many thought was impossible: transform the perennial laughing-stock Detroit Lions into a playoff contender.

    So far, Schwartz has been successful; the Lions are 9-5 and appear to be headed towards a playoff berth this season. Schwartz had been leading the Lions with a no-nonsense leadership style that could best be described as gruff.

    A college coach that was hired for much the same reason as Schwartz, and with much the same style of coaching, is Notre Dame's Brian Kelly.

    Kelly was brought to South Bend to rebuild a once-proud program that had fallen on hard times under a few successive coaching failures.

    The Fighting Irish, like the Lions, are a storied program looking to return to glory.

    They both have two no-nonsense coaches not afraid to scream, shout and pretty much ream out anyone that crosses their path.

Dennis Erickson, Arizona State

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    When your division has two 10-win teams, that means someone has to end up with the short end of the stick. This season, like most, the odd team out in the AFC North is the Cleveland Browns.

    The 4-10 Browns have left head coach Pat Shurmur resigned to the fact that his team just isn't very good. There are plenty of reasons for the continued inability of the Browns to win games, but eventually even the fans will inherit the coach's acceptance of the inevitable losses.

    Recently fired Dennis Erickson of Arizona State is finding himself on the unemployment line, probably because of his resignation to the fact that Arizona State was going to lose, and lose often.

    Coming into the 2011 season, there was a lot of hope surrounding the Sun Devils in the Pac-12's South Division. A 6-6 team in 2010, the Devils returned every offensive starter and 10 defensive starters.

    Add in the fact that Arizona State had lost four games in 2010 by a combined nine points, and it became clear that 2011 was a make-or-break year for the Devils and Erickson.

    Well, 2011 broke.

    Erickson's days at Arizona State are over, and it may be only a matter of time before Cleveland goes searching for new leadership as well.

Bret Bielema, Wisconsin

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    At 9-5, the Atlanta Falcons have a lot to be happy about.

    Mike Smith has to be feeling pretty confident about his game plan: Pound the ball until they stop you and then throw it past them. With a talented running back and effective quarterback, it's easy to see why Smith has been pacing the sidelines with a confident gait this season.

    Bret Bielema at Wisconsin has much the same plan as Smith, and has been exhibiting similar confidence.

    The Badgers are headed to the Rose Bowl again this season after narrowly escaping Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

    With Heisman finalist Montee Ball able to run though even the stoutest of defenses and Russell Wilson able to throw the ball downfield with incredible accuracy, there's a lot to like about the 2011 Badgers.

    The program's first national championship remains elusive, but a win in Pasadena against the Oregon Ducks will cure what ails any Wisconsin fan.

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

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    When was the last time we saw Chicago in third place in the NFC North? That's exactly the position the Bears are in now at 7-7, behind both Green Bay and Detroit.

    For Lovie Smith, that has to be a concern. After last season's NFC Championship Game appearance and 12-6 combined record, this season has to be a disappointment.

    Bo Pelini at Nebraska has to have the some of the same concern

    As the Cornhuskers entered the 2011 season—their first in the Big Ten—many Nebraska fans believed the 'Huskers would easily be amongst the top teams in the conference. That didn't exactly pan out after undressings at the hands of Wisconsin and Michigan as well as a shocking loss to Northwestern.

    Both Smith and Pelini can be, at times, fiery presences on the sidelines, but perhaps careful contemplation about the future direction of their respective programs would be best this offseason.

Nick Saban, Alabama

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    Pete Carroll once had one of the most coveted jobs in all of college football: head coach at the University of Southern California.

    But Carroll jumped ship once it became apparent that the Trojans were going to be facing some pretty damaging allegations that could (and did) lead to some punishing sanctions from the NCAA.

    One of Carroll's traits that some love and others hate is his ability to say with absolute conviction things that others find difficult—or even impossible—to accept.

    His attitude toward the media, critics and naysayers hasn't changed much since he left LA for Seattle, and it's not likely to change anytime soon.

    Whether it's Carroll's insistence that he never knew of nor did anything wrong while at USC, or his steadfast defense of the Trojans and how things ran under his direction in Los Angeles, it looks to have some pretty close parallels to Alabama's Nick Saban.

    Saban is an unabashed Crimson Tide supporter, and it seems he'll do whatever it takes to keep Alabama at or near the top of the college football world.

    From his coaches' poll ballot putting Oklahoma State at No. 4 to his constant statements about focusing on capturing Alabama's “14th” national championship (when we all know the number is closer to 10), Saban's attitude has been the topic of much discussion in the media.

    Carroll and Saban are matched up together because of their steadfast adherence to their programs, and their undying contempt for those who disagree.

Jim Mora, UCLA

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    After assistant coaching positions in the NFL since 2005, Jacksonville Jaguars coach Mel Tucker has found himself in the unenviable position of being thrust into an interim gig as head coach.

    That usually means that your team isn't very good to start with as your old boss just got fired.

    Jacksonville is 4-10, and Tucker is trying to find a way to simply stop the bleeding. While there's no hope of salvaging 2011, there's still hope for 2012—if certain changes can be made.

    It's unclear if Tucker will be around long enough to build his own program, but his 1-2 record thus far will at least have him in the running for the position.

    Jim Mora was recently hired as the head coach at UCLA, and his job is identical to that of Tucker's: Stop the bleeding, and do so quickly. The Bruins have been searching for that magical coach for quite some time now, and Bruins fans are desperately hoping Mora is their man.

    Unlike Tucker, there is no doubt that Mora will be around next season, as he has been hired to rebuild this once-proud program.

Mack Brown, Texas

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    The AFC North is a tough division, with two 10-win teams at the top. One of those teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and their gritty coach Mike Tomlin are headed for the playoffs after an at times trying season.

    Pittsburgh fans are a tough crowd to please. After being spoiled with Super Bowls, the Steelers faithful are finicky when it comes to their football, and Pittsburgh's four losses this season caused a little consternation amongst those clad in yellow and black.

    Go from yellow and black to burnt orange and white.

    Like Steelers fans, Texas Longhorns fans have been witness lately to some pretty incredible football teams.

    After a BCS title following the 2005 season and another BCS title game appearance at the conclusion of the 2009 season, the fact that Mack Brown and the Longhorns missed a bowl game entirely in 2010 was a bit of a shocker.

    Neither of these men is close to what anyone could consider bad coaches, but that doesn't mean they don't have temperamental fan bases. Being thick-skinned in a necessity for the man holding the top job in Pittsburgh or Austin.

Les Miles, Louisiana State

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    It takes a brave man to look danger squarely in the eyes and maintain a steely demeanor.

    Mike Shanahan did exactly that this season when the Washington Redskins began the year without a top-notch quarterback as starter.

    Still, Shanahan made the case that both Rex Grossman and John Beck had what it takes to succeed as a starter this season, ignoring the danger of a potentially cut-throat NFC East race.

    As it turns out, the Redskins didn't have much success this season and are currently bringing up the rear in the East with a 5-9 record—a mark made all the worse by the simple fact that Dallas leads the division with a meager 8-6 mark.

    But if there's one college coach that can look at danger and laugh, it has to be Les Miles at LSU.

    Miles didn't get the nickname “The Hat” by accident. His frequent use of trick plays and unconventional styles to win a game by any means possible gives us the impression that nothing scares him anymore. 

Chris Petersen, Boise State

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    Norv Turner is the quintessential optimist. Always positive about his team's chances, Turner never seems to have much negative to say, even in losses.

    Chris Petersen from Boise State is much the same way. Always looking at the silver lining, and always diplomatic, Petersen has been one of the top coaches in the college game for the past several years.

    His BCS-busting Broncos are always right in the thick of things when it comes time for bowl selections.

    Turner's San Diego Chargers do have an outside shot at the playoffs this year, but will need a little help to reach the postseason.

    Similarly, it seems as if the only way Boise State can guarantee itself a BCS berth these days is to demolish every team on their schedule—and then some.