Bowl Matchups 2010-11: Power Ranking All 70 Coaches from Every Bowl Game

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IDecember 29, 2010

Bowl Matchups 2010-2011: Power Ranking All 70 Coaches from Every Bowl Game

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts in the second quarter against the USC Trojans during the college football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 13, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Bowl Matchups 2010-2011 see coaches of all types.

    There’s the coaching legend, Joe Paterno.

    The perennial national champion contenders, Bob Stoops, Nick Saban, Jim Tressel.

    The lightning rod, Les Miles. The youngster looking to make waves, Derek Dooley.

    The guy sitting atop the hot seat, Rich Rodriguez.

    And even a handful of guys making their last appearance as a school’s head coach, Ralph Friedgen, Urban Meyer, Randy Shannon.  

    Inside we'll rank all the men who served or will serve as head coach for Bowl season. 

    As with anything, season and career record aren't the only criteria. The program's prestige (or lack thereof) and how that impacts recruiting has to be a factor. 

The Outgoing Bunch

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators stands on the sidelines during the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    (Since their team's bowl game will be their final game as head coach, these six coaches have their own category. We'll rank them anyway).

    No. 4: Randy Shannon, Miami (FL)

    Maybe the Hurricanes program wasn't what it once was, but in the mediocre ACC, Shannon should have done better than 16-16 in conference.

    No. 3: Dave Wannstedt, Pitt

    He didn't do a bad job in the Steel City, and the Panthers aren't exactly a top tier program. But when he took over, Pitt had just appeared in a BCS bowl game. They never returned in his six seasons. 

    No. 2: Ralph Friedgen, Maryland

    Politics, money and/or the appeal of Mike Leach are more responsible for the Terp alumni's departure; not his record: 74-49, seven bowl appearances (four fairly prominent ones) in ten years, and two ACC Coach of the Year awards.

    No. 1: Urban Meyer, Florida

    Obviously one of the best, if not the best coach in the nation: 64 wins in 79 games at Florida, two national championships in six years. 

The Interims

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    No. 2: Lance Guidry, Miami (OH)

    Taking over for the outgoing Michael Heywood (headed to Pitt to replace Dave Wannstedt) will lead the MAC Champion Redhawks into battle on January 6 against Middle Tennessee State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

    No. 1: Tom Matukewicz, Northern Illinois

    Coach "Tuke" guided the Huskies to an impressive 40-17 win over Fresno State two weeks ago in the Humanitarian Bowl. 

Nos. 64 Through 60

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    No. 64: Mike Price, UTEP

    After two very promising years to start his stay in El-Paso, Coach Price has not produced much: the Miners don't have a winning record in conference or overall since 2005, and they did not put up much of a fight in their 52-24 loss to BYU in the New Mexico Bowl. 

    No. 63: Larry Fedora, Southern Miss

    Technically, the Golden Eagles finished third in the Eastern division of Conference USA. That, coupled with a second straight bowl loss, in which they blew a two-touchdown lead, is not an outstanding resume. 

    No. 62: Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State

    The Blue Raiders finished up strong this year, winning their final three games. But, being blown out three times this year (including games against Arkansas State and Troy) drops Coach Stockstill down on the list. He'll certainly move up if they somehow defeat the MAC Champion Miami Redhawks in the January 6 GoDaddy.com Bowl. 

    No. 61: Rich Ellerson, Army

    The Black Knights gave Navy a better fight in 2010, but losing four of their last six games was a poor end to a season that began with an excellent 4-2 start. They face SMU on December 30 in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. 

    No. 60: Pat Hill, Fresno State

    Once a promising candidate for one of the top jobs in college football, or even an NFL gig, Hill's Bulldogs have been pretty average lately. And a third straight bowl loss (they were down 40-10 in the fourth quarter against NIU) won't help them rebound. 

Nos. 59 Through 55

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    TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Head coach Mike Stoops of the Arizona Wildcats during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on December 2, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 30-29 in double
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    No. 59: Mike Stoops, Arizona

    The losses to USC and in-state rival Arizona State were by the narrowest of margins, but four straight defeats and a sub-.500 record in the Pac-10 is a recipe for mediocrity. 

    No. 58: Greg McMakin, Hawaii

    The Rainbow Warriors had a decent season overall: of course not nearly the type of success they enjoyed just a few years ago. But they had two pretty high-profile tests in the last two months: at Boise State and their hometown, Shearton Hawaii Bowl. They were defeated by a combined score of 104-42. 

    No. 57: Rich Rodriguez, Michigan

    Rodriguez deserves some credit for the Wolverines' hot start and producing outstanding quarterback play from both Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier. But the defense remains one of the worst in college football; they lost five of their last seven and had no fire against the rival Buckeyes. 

    No. 56: Bill Snyder, Kansas State

    It's definitely tough competing in the ultra competitive Big XII North, and Snyder has had some great seasons. But 2010 really wasn't one of them. Their only victories in the final two months came against North Texas and a reeling Texas team. Without Daniel Thomas things could have been a lot worse. They have a tough test on December 30 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against a much improved Syracuse team. 

    No. 55: Mario Cristobal, Florida International 

    The Golden Panthers finished up 2010 in good form, winning four of their last five (the only loss by one point) and their bowl game. But they went winless in their four games this year against BCS schools. 

Nos. 54 Through 50

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    STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions stands on the sideline during a game against the Michigan State Spartans on November 27, 2010 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Spartans won 28-22.
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    No. 54: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

    The Yellow Jackets took a huge step back in 2010. They were ACC Champs last year and played in the Orange Bowl, and this year, they finished below .500 with their only win a 10-point home win over Duke. In their 14-7 Independence Bowl loss to Air Force, their one-dimensional offense was completely held in check, no matter how many rushing yards (279) they racked up.

    No. 53: Tim Beckman, Toledo

    Despite a good overall record (especially in-conference), 2010 had to be fairly disappointing to Rockets fans. With a chance to take control of the MAC's Eastern Division, they were thumped by Northern Illinois, lost at home to Wyoming and squandered a 24-7 second half lead in their Little Caesars Pizza Bowl loss to FIU, 

    No. 52: Mark Richt, Georgia

    The Bulldogs rebounded nicely after a horrific start, nearly upsetting Florida and Auburn, and defeating nearby rival Georgia Tech. But in Athens, 6-6 is never acceptable, especially when the SEC East was significantly down. 

    No. 51: Bronco Mendenhall, BYU

    The Cougars trounced UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl.....as they should have. But a 6-6 regular season record takes some of the luster off the entire 2010 resume. Maybe Mendenhall spoiled the Provo fans by winning 10-plus games each of the previous four years. 

    No. 50: Joe Paterno, Penn State

    Given how high he's set the bar, Paterno and the Nittany Lions had a down year in 2010. They lost all four of their games against ranked opponents and were fairly average running the ball, ranking just 75th in the nation in yards per game. 

Nos. 49 Through 45

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes walks the sidelines during a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    No. 49: Doug Marrone, Syracuse 

    After missing out on bowls every year since 2004, Marrone brought the Orange back to the postseason (the December 30 New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Kansas State) with wins over West Virginia, USF and defending champ Cincinnati. He even had the team in contention for the Big East title by November. But the three conference losses in their final four games slowed some of the momentum. 

    No. 48: Skip Holtz, South Florida

    The Big East was a mess this year but no matter what, a team has to produce more offense than the Bulls did in 2010: They were 103rd in yards per game. 

    No. 47: Derek Dooley, Tennessee

    Sure, it was his first season on the job (cleaning up after Lane Kiffin's mess) and the Vols won their final four games. But they still have plenty of top-notch talent, so 3-5 in the SEC isn't nearly good enough. 

    No. 46: Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina

    McNeill's first season as a head coach got off to a fine start, defeating Tulsa. But with one of the worst offenses in the nation (43.4 points per game allowed), they lost four of their last five and have another difficult test against Maryland in the Military Bowl on December 29.

    No. 45: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

    2010 was a tale of two half-seasons for Ferentz: A 6-2 start (one-point loss to Wisconsin, seven point loss at Arizona) kept the Hawkeyes as legitimate contenders for the Big Ten and a BCS Bowl. But something fell apart after that: they barely beat Indiana then lost their final three games, albeit by a grand total of 10 points. For most other coaches that would be a successful season. Not for Ferentz. They did recover nicely with a win over Missouri. 

Nos. 44 Through 40

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    EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes works the sidelines in the third quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 31-24. (Photo by Steve Dy
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    No. 44: Kyle Whittingham, Utah

    A crushing 40-point home loss to TCU followed up by a 25-point loss to Notre Dame was bad enough. But producing almost nothing in a 26-3 loss against Boise State in last week's Las Vegas Bowl put the finishing touches on a very underwhelming second-half.

    No. 43: Joker Phillips, Kentucky

    A bowl appearance and near wins over Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee were a good start for Phillips' first year as head coach of his alma mater. Still, no matter how tough the SEC is, 2-6 is a poor record. 

    No. 42: Frank Spaziani, Boston College

    The second year head coach crafted a nice turnaround after the Eagles' terrible five-game losing streak. A sixth straight victory, over Nevada in the January 9 Kraft Hunger Bowl, would make for a promising 2011. 

    No. 41: Art Briles, Baylor

    After poor years in 2008 and 2009, Briles seemed to have the Bears on the right track: 7-2 and ranked 21st. But three consecutive losses to Oklahoma State, Texas A & M and Oklahoma cost them a shot at making a statement. 

    No. 40: Frank Solich, Ohio 

    The Bobcats put together a nice run towards the end of the season, winning six straight, including a three-touchdown victory at rival Miami (OH). Failing to beat mediocre Kent State cost them a shot at the MAC title, then they were crushed by Troy in the New Orleans Bowl. 

Nos. 39 Through 35

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    EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats watches as his team takes on the Michigan State Spartans at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27.  (Photo by Jona
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    No. 39: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

    The Wildcats had just a so-so season in 2010. But they did earn a third straight bowl appearance. And with a little more luck, they probably would have earned three more Big Ten victories, over Purdue, Penn State and Michigan State. 

    No. 38: Ron Zook, Illinois

    Since their improbable Rose Bowl appearance in 2007, the Illini have seemingly fallen back into mediocrity. But despite their three losses to finish up the regular season, they played Ohio State tough and went to Happy Valley and beat Penn State. A win over Baylor in the Texas Bowl would be a nice finale. 

    No. 37: Steve Sarkisian, Washington

    Although the Huskies were pretty horrible the first two months of the season (and were beaten by five touchdowns when they played Nebraska, the team they'll face in the December 30 Holiday Bowl), Sarkisian's club had great wins over USC, Oregon State and rival Washington State. 

    No. 36: Troy Calhoun, Air Force

    The Falcons had a good year, only losing to Oklahoma, an underrated San Diego State team and top 10 teams, TCU and Utah. With a victory over last year's ACC Champion, Georgia Tech, in the Independence Bowl, Calhoun is a worthy recipient of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

    No. 35: June Jones, SMU

    The Mustangs went 6-2 in Conference USA for the second time in a row . They fell to UCF in conference championship but suggests their revival from the Death Penalty is still on track. And they can prove that when they play Army on December 30 in the Military Bowl.


Nos. 34 Through 30

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    No. 34: Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

    Stepping in for Mike Leach, Tuberville did some good things in Lubbock (beating 12th ranked Missouri, earning a New Year's Day bowl game against Northwestern) and some less-than outstanding things, like giving up 52 points to an Iowa State team that finished 98th in total offense). 

    No. 33: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

    Kelly had perhaps the brightest spotlight of any head coach in 2010, and overall he did a nice job: beating rivals, Boston College, Army and USC. Another win over a familiar opponent, Miami, in the the Sun Bowl on December 31 will go a long way. 

    No. 32: Bill Stewart, West Virginia

    The Mountaineers nearly ran the table in the Big East: their only two Big East losses were by three and five points. Couple that with a narrow defeat at LSU and WVU could have been a BCS team. They had to be thinking that when they laid an egg against NC State in the Champs Sports Bowl, scoring just once and turning the ball over four times. 

    No. 31: Charlie Strong, Louisville

    A few big victories for the first-time head coach, including a shutout of eventual conference Champion UCONN and a great Beef 'O' Brady Bowl comeback against Southern Miss. Next year, if they win some of those close ones (seven-points or fewer losses to Cincinnati, West Virginia and USF), they could be the one with an automatic BCS bid. 

    No. 30: Dabo Swinney, Clemson

    The Tigers defense was outstanding in 2010, allowing just 18 points per game. But for a coach with an offensive background, they need to be able to score more points to compete in the wide-open ACC. Still, aside from their rivalry game against South Carolina, they were in every contest. 

Nos. 29 Through 25

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles looks at the scoreboard against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streete
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    No. 29: Gary Pinkel, Missouri

    The Tigers finally got over the hump this year, defeating top ranked Oklahoma in October, but the two ensuing losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech cost them a shot at a BCS bowl. And they gave away the Insight Bowl to Iowa with a terrible second half. 

    No. 28: Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

    Given the uphill battle he faces in Annapolis, Niumatalolo has done a masterful job the past two seasons. They won nine and lost three, by a combined 14 points. It's too bad they looked so overmatched against San Diego State in the second half of the Poinsettia Bowl, losing 35-14. 

    No. 27: Tom O'Brien, North Carolina State

    The Wolfpack were one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season: in each of their four losses, they had a chance to win or tie it up late in the game. And their 23-7 victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl was very impressive. 

    No. 26: Todd Graham, Tulsa

    With a third outstanding season in his four-year tenure, Graham continues to earn his seven-figure salary. The Golden Hurricane started slow (two early conference losses along with a pasting by Oklahoma State), but they rebounded to earn a share of the West and made a nice statement, in the Hawaii Bowl, in what was basically a home game for the Rainbow Warriors. 

    No. 25: Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

    Taking over for a college football icon like Bobby Bowden is not easy and Fisher handled the transition very well, taking the Seminoles to the ACC Title Game for the first time since 2005. A win over former FSU rival Steve Spurrier and South Carolina in the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl will only further endear him to the Tallahassee fans. 

Nos. 24 Through 21

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks looks on against the Auburn Tigers during the 2010 SEC Championship at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    No. 24: Brady Hoke, San Diego State

    The Aztecs were terribly overlooked this year. Not only did they win eight games and manhandle Navy in the second half of the rain-soaked Poinsettia Bowl, but take a look at their four defeats this year: a three-point loss at Missouri, a three-point loss at BYU, a five-point loss at fifth ranked TCU and a four-point loss to 23rd ranked Utah. 

    No. 23: Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

    The Ol' Ball Coach did a fine job this year. And the future is bright in Columbia. But make no mistake about it: they only reached the SEC Title Game because the East was way down in 2010. Let's see how they fair on New Year's Eve against a good FSU team. 

    No. 22: Larry Blakeney, Troy

    Granted, the Sun Belt is not the SEC or the Pac-10. But Blakeney's Trojans essentially won the conference title when they walloped FIU 44-7. And following that up with a decisive 48-21 victory in the New Orleans Bowl over a good Ohio team earns their long-tenured head coach high praise. 

    No. 21: George O'Leary, Central Florida

    The Knights had a great year, especially in-conference: Had the secondary not melted down in the second half against Southern Miss, they would have posted an undefeated Conference USA record. Nevertheless, they won the conference title game over SMU, and O'Leary gets to face an old rival from his days at Georgia Tech, when they play the Georgia Bulldogs in the Liberty Bowl on December 31. 

No. 20: Les Miles, LSU

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 06:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers watches pregame before playing the Alabama Crimson Tide  at Tiger Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 10-2 (6-2)

    Bowl: Cotton Bowl

    Opponent: Texas A & M

    The loss to Arkansas ruined Miles' chance to shut up his doubters: a Sugar Bowl berth would have been a remarkable achievement given the team's offensive woes. 

    But that failure in Little Rock cannot be overlooked when it comes to Miles' 2010 legacy.

    Still, this team overachieved in virtually every other area. You don't defeat Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State and West Virginia without fine coaching. 

No. 19: Butch Davis, North Carolina

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Butch Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels watches on against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during their game at Kenan Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/G
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 7-5 (4-4)

    Bowl: Music City Bowl

    Opponent: Tennessee

    With all the talent that was taken away from him, you have to say that Davis did an outstanding job in 2010, even though the overall record doesn't necessarily reflect that.

    They had a chance to upset LSU in Death Valley (right after losing several stars) and could have changed the complexion of the ACC race with one more defensive stand in the fourth quarter against NC State. 

    And under his watch, the offense (up from 108th to 50th overall) showed vast improvement, especially the passing game. 

No. 18: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Bob Stoops during the Big 12 Championship at Cowboys Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 11-2 (6-2)

    Bowl: Fiesta Bowl

    Opponent: UCONN

    Much like Jim Tressel, the standard that Stoops has set in Norman makes a two-loss season seem like a failure. But it wasn't. 

    They dropped vital road games to Missouri and Texas A & M, but when they absolutely needed victories, they went out and got them, besting Oklahoma State and Nebraska in consecutive weeks. 

    With a seemingly lesser opponent on the docket for early January, Stoops can improve on his pretty poor bowl record: since 2002, he's lost three Fiestas, a Sugar, an Orange and a national championship game. 

No. 17: Randy Edsall, UCONN

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    EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Randy Edsall of the Connecticut Huskies directs his players in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats on November 27, 2010 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Huskies defeated the
    Elsa/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 8-4 (5-2)

    Bowl: Fiesta Bowl

    Opponent: Oklahoma

    Not unlike the team (and head coach) they will face on January 1, the Huskies overcame a few slipups during the regular season and won the games they had to win in order to claim the conference title. 

    They are going to be supremely overmatched when they face the Sooners, but Edsall has done more with less than 95 percent of the coaches out there. 

No. 16: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

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    AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 25:  Head coach Mike Gundy of the Oklahoma State Cowboys during play against the Texas Longhorns at Texas Memorial Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 10-2 (6-2)

    Bowl: Alamo Bowl 

    Opponent: Arizona

    Although Mike Sherman was able to defeat them both in the span of three weeks, Gundy's only two losses (to Oklahoma by seven and Nebraska by 10) aren't anything to be ashamed of. 

    The Cowboys had a great year (far better than the Cowboys a few hundred miles south of Stillwater) and have one of the most complete offenses in the nation. 

    What else would you expect from the former quarterback who played with Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Hart Lee Dykes. 

No. 15: Jim Tressel, Ohio State

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    IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20:  Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel looks on from the sidelines during pre game warm ups at the University of Iowa Hawkeyes NCAA football game at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State won
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 11-1  (7-1)

    Bowl: Sugar Bowl

    Opponent: Arkansas

    Tressel did an admirable job, rebounding the Buckeyes from that crushing loss to Wisconsin that probably cost them a shot at a national championship and definitely an outright Big Ten title. 

    And earning a spot in the Sugar Bowl is never a "bad" thing.

    But with all that talent (on both sides of the ball) they were hoping for a spot in Glendale, Arizona, not in New Orleans. 

    Worse yet, Terrelle Pryor didn't take that next step following his outstanding Rose Bowl performance against Oregon. 

No. 14: Chris Ault, Nevada

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    LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 02:  Nevada Reno Wolf Pack head coach Chris Ault watches his players take on the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium October 2, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada Reno won 44-26.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 11-1 (7-1)

    Bowl: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

    Opponent: Boston College

    It doesn't matter how the Wolfpack pulled off their stunning victory over Boise State, they earned it. And they earned a share of the WAC Championship.

    Their only loss in 2010? A six-point road defeat by Hawaii. 

    And Ault's work with the Wolfpack offense has been as impressive as any in the nation: Not only is Colin Kaepernick a remarkable duel threat (2,830 yards passing, 20 passing TDs, 1,84 rushing yards, 20 rushing touchdowns), but Vai Taua was the nation's sixth leading rusher. 

    Only because of what Oregon and Auburn did is that overlooked. 

No. 13: Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

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    COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 06:  Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks watches his team during warm ups before the start of their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 10-2 (6-2)

    Bowl: Sugar Bowl

    Opponent: Ohio State

    It took him two years, but Petrino built the Razorbacks into one of the nation's best programs.

    Ryan Mallett is the star, but the entire team has been impressive in 2010. Their only losses were to the defending national champions, Alabama, and quite possibly the eventual national champion, Auburn. One player doesn't produce those 10 victories. 

    And that was on display when they upset LSU in the season finale. Mallett was good against the Tigers, but so was Knile Davis and a defense that yielded just three field goals in the second half. 

No. 12: Mike Sherman, Texas A & M

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Mike Sherman of the Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 9-3 (6-2)

    Bowl: Cotton Bowl

    Opponent: LSU

    The Aggies lost just three games this year, and each of them came at the hands of BCS caliber teams: Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Arkansas. 

    And with an outstanding final month to the season (which included wins over the two Big XII finalists, Nebraska and Oklahoma) Sherman is building a real power house in College Station.

    They are one of the most balanced teams in the nation, a philosophy Sherman probably brought over from his long tenure in Green Bay. 

No. 11: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin

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    EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 01:  Head coach Brett Bielema of the Wisconsin Badgers argues a third quarter call while playing the Michigan State Spartans on November 1, 2008 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 25-24.
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 11-1 (7-1)

    Bowl: Rose Bowl

    Opponent: TCU

    Bielema's first trip to the Rose Bowl could be one of the best games on the bowl schedule. 

    And without that ten-point loss at Michigan State, they'd have a shot at an undefeated season. 

    Regardless, Bielema has become one of the coaching stars in college football: he is in line for his second 12-win season in five years, something that not even Jim Tressel has achieved during that time. 

No. 10: Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

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    EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans returned to the sidelines for a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 11-1 (7-1)

    Bowl: Capitol One Bowl

    Opponent: Alabama

    Since the Spartans got the shaft in this year's bowl drawing (Wisconsin and Ohio State, also 11-1 with one conference loss, earning BCS bids) Dantonio will earn this defacto "Big Ten Coach of the Year" award. 

    The fake field goal call against Notre Dame may have been the signature play of the season, but the wins over Wisconsin and Penn State were outstanding as well.

    Winning 12 games for the first time ever will be difficult with Alabama on the schedule. But regardless of the outcome, Dantonio is at the helm of one of the greatest teams in school history. 

No. 9: Bo Pelini, Nebraska

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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Bo Pelini of the Nebraska Cornhuskers leads his team against the Oklahoma Sooners at Cowboys Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Sooners beat the Cornhuskers 23-20.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 10-3  (6-2)

    Bowl: Holiday Bowl

    Opponent: Washington

    Because the Cornhuskers have a bowl game against a team they already defeated once this year (and by 35 points), Pelini is a good bet to post their first 11-win season since their ill-fated trip to the 2001 Orange Bowl. 

    Pelini has revamped a program that was mired in mediocrity and, in consecutive seasons, brought them to the doorstep of a Big XII Championship. 

    That resume will translate very well to the Big Ten. 

No. 8: Nick Saban, Alabama

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 13: Coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs shakes hands with coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide November 13, 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 9-3 (5-3)

    Bowl: Capitol One Bowl

    Opponent: Michigan State

    Saban's Crimson Tide obviously saw a down year in 2010, following their national championship the previous January. Still, Saban did a fine job. 

    On his watch, Greg McElroy and Trent Richardson blossomed into excellent complementary players while last year's Heisman winner Mark Ingram struggled with nagging injuries. 

    And even though the defense wasn't quite as good as last year, they still finished fifth in scoring. 

    The only real blemish on Saban: letting Auburn come back from a 24-0 deficit. 

No. 7: Gene Chizik, Auburn

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    AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 13:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers against the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 13-0 (8-0)

    Bowl: BCS National Championship 

    Opponent: Oregon

    Did Cam Newton make Gene Chizik a genius or did Gene Chizik make Cam Newton a Heisman Trophy winner?

    It's probably a little bit of both, but credit Chizik for bringing in Gus Malzahn and never panicking when the scandal hit or when they fell behind against Alabama or Arkansas and their national title hopes hung in the balance. 

    To see really how great of a coach Chizik is, however, we'll have to wait until No. 2 leaves campus. 

No. 6: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 16:  Coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs directs play against the Florida Gators  October 16, 2010 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 8-4 (4-4)

    Bowl: Gator Bowl

    Opponent: Michigan

    Mullen does not have anywhere near the level of talent that several of his fellow SEC coaches (Saban, Chizik, Miles, Meyer, Richt) had in 2010. Yet his Bulldogs were extremely competitive. 

    They beat Florida and Georgia, and nearly defeated both of the SEC's BCS teams, losing to Auburn by a field goal and Arkansas in double overtime.

    His decision to stay in Starkville and not return to Gainesville shows he believes they can become a contender for the conference title. 

No. 5: Chris Peterson, Boise State

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    LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 06:  Boise State Broncos head coach Chris Petersen watches from the sidelines against the Virginia Tech Hokies at FedExField on September 6, 2010 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 12-1 (7-1)

    Bowl: 26-3 win, Las Vegas Bowl

    Opponent: Utah

    The dreams of a national championship bid (and even a BCS bid) died on that November evening in Reno. But Petersen and the Broncos still had an incredible season. 

    And Petersen should be praised for not letting the team fold following the loss to Nevada. They pounded Utah State in the regular season finale and did the same to Utah a few weeks later in their bowl. 

No. 4: Jim Harbaugh, Stanford

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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal reacts after Delano Howell #26 of the Stanford Cardinal made an interception on a pass intended for Joe Halahuni #87 of the Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Stadium on November
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 11-1 (8-1)

    Bowl: Orange Bowl

    Opponent: Virginia Tech

    Stanford might not have been able to topple the Pac-10 giant, Oregon. 

    But Harbaugh, in what could be his final year in Palo Alto before returning to the NFL, has led the Cardinal to arguably their finest season in more than 100 years of football. 

    Furthermore, Andrew Luck might be a tremendous physical specimen, and he probably would have been a great player under any coach, but Harbaugh deserves part of the credit for him becoming the most polished, passing quarterback in the nation. 

No. 3: Gary Patterson, TCU

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    SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 6: Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs calls a play against the Utah Utes during the second half of an NCAA Football game November 6, 2010 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. TCU Beat Utah 47-7.  (Ph
    George Frey/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 12-0 (8-0)

    Bowl: Rose Bowl

    Opponent: Wisconsin

    The Horned Frogs had an incredible balance of running, passing and defense in 2010. 

    And considering that he didn't have that electrifying star on either side of the ball (Andy Dalton is a fine quarterback, however) like a Cam Newton, LaMichael James, Andrew Luck or even Kellen Moore, the head coach stands out even more. 

    Now he and the Horned Frogs top-ranked scoring defense need to defeat the 43-points-per-game Wisconsin Badgers to complete the incredible undefeated season with a program-defining win in Pasadena. 

No. 2: Chip Kelly, Oregon

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    CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 4: Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks looks on from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the game against the the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Corvallis, Oregon. The Ducks beat the Beavers
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 12-0 (9-0)

    Bowl:  BCS National Championship

    Opponent: Auburn

    Both Gary Patterson and Gene Chizik (who also had to win a conference title game) went through their schedule without even a single blemish.

    But there is reason why Kelly swept all the national coaching awards. 

    His starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, was dismissed from the team in June and they promptly replaced him with a sophomore who redshirted the year before. Yet the team not only repeated as Pac-10 champions, they reached the national championship game. 

    And considering that the Ducks defense has been very good, especially in the second half of games, he has done by far the greatest piece of coaching in school history. 

No. 1: Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Frank Beamer of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates winning the ACC Championship 44-33 at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 11-2 (8-0)

    Bowl: Orange Bowl

    Opponent: Stanford

    This is not an assertion that Virginia Tech is better than Oregon or Auburn or even a few other top teams in the FBS.  

    But the 180-degree turnaround that Beamer pulled off in Blacksburg this year is the most impressive coaching job of the 2010 season. 

    The loss to Boise State hurt; the home loss to FCS James Madison could have, even should have been the death knell for the 2010 Hokies. But they won their next 11 games, including the ACC Championship Game. 

    And considering that this year's Virginia Tech team became the first ACC team to go undefeated in conference play since the 2000 Florida State Seminoles, Beamer gets a slight nod over the other very worthy candidates.