College Football 2011: Power Ranking the Head Coaches of the BCS Conferences

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJanuary 27, 2011

College Football 2011: Power Ranking the Head Coaches of the BCS Conferences

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 09:  Head coaches Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers and Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks pose together with the coaches trophy during a press conference for the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The 2011 college football season is a reality we won't have to deal with for quite some time now. But as a topic, on the other hand, the discussion is never-ending.

    Despite the fact that the 2010 season just came to a close a few short weeks ago, exactly how the 2011 college football season is going to unfold is very much on our minds. Right now, there are plenty of recruits to consider. Before that, there were plenty of vacant head coaching positions that needed to be filled.

    When it comes to head coaching, exactly which coaches represent the best of the best in their respective conferences is always the subject of much debate. This is particularly true in the BCS conferences.

    Well, we aim to end the debate once and for all. To do that, we have decided to rank the top five coaches in each BCS conference.


ACC No. 5: Randy Edsall, Maryland

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    COLLEGE PARK, MD - JANUARY 3:  Randy Edsall speaks as he is introduced as the University of Maryland Terps new head football coach during a press conference on January 3, 2011 at the Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty
    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    I suspect a lot of people will disagree with Edsall's placement among the best in the ACC. After all, he hasn't even coached a game in the ACC yet, and he of course still has to prove himself as a capable replacement for Ralph Friedgen, who was named the ACC Coach of the Year.

    But Edsall was the co-Big East Coach of the Year in 2010, so he's not exactly a lightweight.

    He accomplished something pretty significant by making UConn football relevant, which was no easy task considering it didn't become a Division I-A program until 2002 and a BCS team until 2004. Edsall took over that year and produced two conference championships and three bowl wins.

    In other words, one suspects he'll be just fine in the ACC.

ACC No. 4: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 09:  Head coach Paul Johnson converses with quarterback Joshua Nesbitt #9 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in between downs against the Virginia Cavaliers at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Paul Johnson has been at the helm at Georgia Tech for just three years since coming over from Navy, but in that season, he has produced a solid 26 wins and three bowl appearances.

    Of course, the knock on Johnson is that the Yellow Jackets didn't win any of those three bowls. Nevertheless, one of them was the Orange Bowl in 2009, and one ACC championship in three years is pretty good.

    Thus, he gets the nod over the unproven Edsall.

ACC No. 3: Butch Davis, North Carolina

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  Head coach Butch Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts to a play against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Gett
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    North Carolina Tar Heels football was basically a wreck in the nine years between Mack Brown and Butch Davis. Despite the fact comparing Davis to Brown might be a little unfair, he has still done some pretty good things for the program since he arrived in 2007.

    The Tar Heels have won eight games each of the last three seasons, and Davis got his first bowl win with the team this past season, defeating Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

    True, you could look at some of the transgressions of his players and say that they reflect poorly on him. If that's the case, then we better disregard Jim Tressel and Gene Chizik when we get to them.

    And I'm obviously not going to do that.

ACC No. 2: Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles sideline reacts after their 26-17 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo b
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Jimbo Fisher's first year at Florida State went about as well as anybody could have imagined. The Seminoles went 10-4, beat Florida and Miami and finished first in the ACC's Atlantic Division.

    He then made a whole bunch of old-timers happy by beating Steve Spurrier in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

    Yes, his one year at the helm represents a small sample size. But it was a darn good sample, and there just doesn't seem to be any reason to doubt this guy going forward, especially given the fact he's bringing in the ACC's best recruiting class in 2011.

ACC No. 1: Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

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    ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer watches warmups on the field before the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against the Tennessee Volunteers at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Virginia Tech beat Tennessee 37-1
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Honestly, was there ever a doubt in your mind about finding Frank Beamer in the top spot?

    Indeed, he has been one of the best coaches in the country for a while now, and the Hokies have been one of the most consistent college football powerhouses ever since he took over way back in 1987.

    At the end of the day, his numbers speak for themselves. All he has done is rack up 198 total wins, and he has won eight bowl games. The Hokies have also been ACC champions three times under Beamer since joining the conference in 2004.

    Despite the fact he has only won one of them, he has also led the Hokies to five BCS Bowls, including the Sugar Bowl in 1999, which of course served as the National Championship game.

Big East No. 5: Skip Holtz, South Florida

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 31:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the USF Bulls stands with the trophy after a 31-26 victory over the Clemson Tigers at Bank of America Stadium on December 31, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Before I forget, let me just say that picking five stand-out coaches from the Big East was pretty tough.

    In any case, a simple DNA test would be enough to solidify Skip Holtz as a legit college football head coach.

    That being said, he decided to go ahead and prove it by leading the Bulls to an 8-5 season his first year as a BCS head coach. And he tacked on a win against Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl just for good measure.

    Going back to Holtz's days at East Carolina, he hasn't had a losing season since 2005.

Big East No. 4: Doug Marrone, Syracuse

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    NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 30:  Syracuse Orange head coach Doug Marrone holds aloft the Pinstripe Bowl trophy after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 30, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Doug Marrone has only been the head coach at Syracuse for two years, and his record is an unimpressive 12-13.

    However, he doubled his win total from 2009 to 2010 and led the team to a (somewhat controversial) victory in the Pinstripe Bowl. It was the team's first bowl win since the 2001 Insight Bowl, which was also the program's last winning season.

    So yeah, the man deserves some credit.

Big East No. 3: Greg Schiano, Rutgers

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    PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 16: Head Coach Greg Schiano of the Rutgers University Scarlett Knights watches his team play against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers on October 16, 2009 at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Jared Wickerham
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    After four very successful years between 2006 and 2009, Greg Schiano and the Scarlet Knights took a significant step backwards in 2010. They finished 4-8 and went 1-6 in Big East play. They also missed out on a bowl after winning four straight.

    Nonetheless, there was no way I was going to leave Schiano off this list, and be warned, Rutgers has the second-best recruiting class in the Big East this year.

Big East No. 2: Charlie Strong, Louisville

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 15:  Charlie Strong the Haed Coach of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 15, 2010 in Louisville, K
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Cardinals finished just 6-6 in Charlie Strong's first regular season on the sidelines, but that's obviously something that should not be held against him.

    Indeed, this is a guy who comes straight from Urban Meyer's system at Florida, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if he wins a Big East championship some time in the very near future.

    Once again, we can look to the recruiting rankings, where Strong's class is the best in the Big East.

    I might be going out on a limb ranking him ahead of Schiano, but suffice it to say I have faith in him to prove me right.

Big East No. 1: Bill Stewart, West Virginia

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Bill Stewart of the West Virginia Mountaineers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Bill Stewart's first game as the head coach of the Mountaineers was the 2008 Fiesta Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners. He still bore the interim tag then, as he took over when Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan.

    The Mountaineers smoked the Sooners 48-28 in that game and have gone on to win nine games in each of the following seasons.

    Indeed, you could easily make the case that the Mountaineers were far more deserving than UConn for the Big East's BCS bid in 2010. That's because they were.

    Regardless, Stewart is the best the Big East has to offer right now. At least until TCU arrives.

Big Ten No. 5: Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

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    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 30: Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio looks on from the sidelines during play against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 37-6 over Michigan State. (Pho
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Before I give Mark Dantonio his props, I just want to let everyone know that you will not find Joe Paterno up ahead. In fact, that's the last time I'm going to drop his name anywhere on this list. I love the guy, but I'm not foolish enough to think he's still a great coach.

    In any case, it's very easy to look at the 2010 Michigan State Spartans and accuse them of being overachievers. That's because they were.

    But Dantonio is the reason they overachieved, which is probably why he was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. No FBS coach did more with less than he did in 2010, and I thought it was an absolute delight to watch him do so—especially that fake field goal against Notre Dame, which was brilliant.

    Of course, he still needs to win a bowl game. So here's hoping he's not shell-shocked after what happened in the Capital One Bowl.

Big Ten No. 4: 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

    I don't know him, but Bo Pelini is a real jerk.

    But that's okay, because it just so happens he's a pretty good football coach, too. In three years, he led the Cornhuskers to 30 wins and back-to-back appearances in the Big 12 Championship Game.

    The move to the Big Ten will necessitate some changes, and the Cornhuskers are losing some pretty good players to the draft this season (i.e. Prince Amukamara). However, Pelini still has Taylor Martinez, and that should be a good thing as long as he can avoid tearing his head off in 2011.

Big Ten No. 3: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Bret Bielema of the Wisconsin Badgers stands on the field during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs in the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    I watch an awful lot of college football, and I have to say that I probably got more enjoyment out of watching the Wisconsin Badgers in 2010 than any other team. Even when they were losing the Rose Bowl to TCU, they were still entertaining.

    For that, I thank Bret Bielema.

    Then again, you shouldn't need me to tell you Bielema is a great coach. He has won 49 games in five years as the head coach of the Badgers, and had easily his best season yet in 2010. The Badgers were co-Big Ten champions, and they made it to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2000.

Big Ten No. 2: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates with the  Insight Bowl trophy after defeating the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Pho
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Kirk Ferentz won a single game in his first season as the head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes in 1999. The year after that, he won just three.

    Since then, the Hawkeyes have had just one losing season, and they've been Big Ten champions twice.

    All totaled, Ferentz has 101 wins in 12 seasons at the helm, and the Hawkeyes are as steady as they come. Plus, he deserves a load of kudos for leading a depleted team to a win over Missouri in this year's Insight Bowl.

    Lastly, he's gathered the second-best recruiting class in the conference for 2011. Suffice it to say, Ferentz and the Hawkeyes aren't going anywhere any time soon.

Big Ten No. 1: Jim Tressel, Ohio State

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/G
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    If you're surprised to see Tressel at the top of the Big Ten rankings, please let me know so I can send somebody to your house to hit you with a stick.

    In Tressel, we're talking a guy who has 106 wins in 10 years as the Buckeyes' head coach, a BCS national championship and six consecutive Big Ten titles.

    The only thing he had yet to do was beat an SEC team in a bowl game. He did just that this past season, so all you can really do is tip your hat to him.

    In addition, he handled the Terrelle Pryor situation about as well as he could have handled it, so bravo.

Big 12 No. 5: Mike Sherman, Texas A&M

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Mike Sherman of the Texas A&M Aggies during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Exactly who would occupy this spot was the source of much personal strife. I may come to regret it, but I ended up giving Mike Sherman the nod over Kansas State's Bill Snyder.

    If you want to dispute this, feel free to argue the point in the comments section. Or you can send somebody to hit me with a stick, either way.

    Right then. The fact of the matter is that Sherman just strikes me as the guy I would rather have on my sidelines at this point in time. Like everyone else in the country, I had him on the hot seat for the first six games of 2010. But the Aggies finished with six wins in a row, dispatching Oklahoma and Nebraska in the process.

    True enough, the Aggies were pummeled by LSU in the Cotton Bowl, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that Sherman has clearly turned a corner at Texas A&M.

    I hope he can keep it up. Otherwise, I'll look like an idiot. I may be used to that by now, but it's still not that much fun.

Big 12 No. 4: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

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    STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Bob Stoops (L) of the Oklahoma Sooners talks with head coach Mike Gundy (R) of the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Imag
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    This is usually where you'd find a bunch of tongue-in-cheek remarks about how Mike Gundy is a man, he's 40 and he can yell really loud.

    I'm a little tired of all that nonsense, so I'll just say Gundy is a better coach than he gets credit for. The Cowboys haven't had a losing season since his first year at the helm in 2005, and they had the first 11-win season in school history in 2010. Moreover, they flat-out embarrassed Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.

    Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are coming back, so it's a good bet Gundy and the Pokes will be back at it in 2011.

Big 12 No. 3: Gary Pinkel, Missouri

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach Gary Pinkel of the Missouri Tigers reacts on the sidelines during the Insight Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Photo
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Anybody else get the sense that Gary Pinkel is one of the more unsung coaches in the country?

    Well, even if it is just me, the man is still a good football coach. The Tigers have won no fewer than eight games in each of the last five seasons and have gone to the Big 12 Championship Game twice in that span; one of those was as the No. 1 team in the country back in 2007, but of course they didn't do so hot against Oklahoma.

    Regardless, Pinkel can basically be credited for putting Missouri football back on the map, and they should be there for quite some time going forward.

Big 12 No. 2: Mack Brown

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    LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Mack Brown of the Texas Longhorns at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Lubbock, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    If you want my opinion (which is admittedly not so humble), it's absolutely absurd that a lot of people out there have Mack Brown on the hot seat.

    Then again, I've been told they don't abide losing in Texas, a state of mind that apparently has origins as far back as the Alamo.

    What I'm getting at here is that getting on Mack Brown's back for one losing season doesn't make any sense. The Longhorns had 10 or more wins in each of the nine seasons preceding 2010. They also won three BCS bowls under Brown, including the epic Rose Bowl against USC in 2005.

    For those who have their doubts about Brown in 2011, just know that the Longhorns have the top recruiting class in the Big 12. Put simply, the dude can still get it done.

Big 12 No. 1: Bob Stoops

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Bob Stoops of the Sooners celebrates the 48-20 victory against the Connecticut Huskies during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Tom Pen
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Bob Stoops is pretty good at what he does.

    In 11 seasons as head coach of the Sooners, he's won 129 games, seven conference titles and a BCS national championship. Altogether, Stoops has led the team to eight BCS bowls. He may have only won three of them, but that shouldn't make him any less of a coach.

    In fact, the only way I'll feel bad at all about putting Stoops in this spot is if I forgot to mention some of his accomplishments, and I probably did.

Pac-12 No. 5: Mike Stoops, Arizona

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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

    Conveniently, we go from one Stoops to another.

    In seeing Mike Stoops right here, I suspect that right now a lot of you are remembering just how weak the Pac-12 is outside of Oregon and Stanford. If Jim Harbaugh had stayed at the latter institution, Stoops doesn't make the cut.

    One way or another, Stoops will head into the 2011 season as a hot-seat coach, but he still deserves some respect. The Wildcats have won a total of 23 games in the last three seasons, and their win in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl was their first bowl victory since 1998.

    So he's not that bad, and yes, he is better than Lane Kiffin.

Pac-12: Jeff Tedford, California

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears watches his team play their game against the Stanford Cardinal at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Imag
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Jeff Tedford will also be on the hot seat in 2011. Unfortunately, it's pretty likely that the Bears are going to struggle just as badly as they did in 2010, which was the first losing season in Tedford's tenure.

    As a Cal guy, I don't mind saying that I'd rather have Tedford around than anyone else. He's got nine seasons and 72 wins under his belt, and he successfully made Cal a relevant program again.

    The good news for Cal is that only USC and Oregon brought in better recruiting classes for 2011 among Pac-12 schools. The bad news is that Andrew Luck came back to Stanford, and that it's doubtful the Axe will be going back to Berkeley.

Pac-12 No. 3: Mike Riley, Oregon State

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    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 04:  Head coach Mike Riley of the Oregon State Beavers on the sidelines during play against the TCU Horned Frogs at Cowboys Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Not unlike Tedford and the Bears, Mike Riley and the Beavers failed to live up to expectations in 2010. A lot of that obviously had to do with key injuries, not to mention their tough schedule.

    Still, 2010 was just the second losing season in Riley's eight-year tenure, and he has an impressive 5-1 record in bowl games.

    It will be interesting to see how the Beavers bounce back in 2011, as they're losing Jacquizz Rodgers to the NFL draft. They still have James Rodgers, however, and Riley is still a good coach, so it shouldn't be all bad.

Pac-12 No. 2: Kyle Whittingham, Utah

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    EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes works the sidelines in the second 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 D
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    It's going to be very interesting to see how the Utah Utes make the transition into the Pac-12 in 2011.

    Given the goods displayed by Whittingham in his six seasons in charge of the Utes, they should be just fine. Utah's 2010 season may have unraveled in a bad way after their huge loss to TCU, but the program has still won double-digit games each of the last three years, and the Las Vegas Bowl loss at the hands of Boise State was the first bowl defeat for Whittingham.

    I might be pushing things a little by putting him at No. 2., but like I said, the Pac-12 is just that weak.

Pac-12 No. 1: Chip Kelly, Oregon

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks calls a play against the Auburn Tigers in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martin
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Chip Kelly is an actual certified genius. At least, that's what ESPN tells me, and they're pretty reliable, right?

    All kidding aside, Kelly is easily the best the Pac-12 has to offer. He's 22-4 in two seasons as Oregon's head coach and has lost exactly one conference game.

    The Ducks nearly beat the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship Game and they have quite a few starters coming back in 2011. If they're not in the thick of things as far as the national title chase is concerned, it will be a huge surprise.

SEC No. 5: Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks reacts against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Get
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Ah yes, we come at last to the "best" conference in all of college football.

    This No. 5 spot could have gone a bunch of different directions. I considered Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and Florida's Will Muschamp, but I ultimately decided to go with the hot hand in Arkansas' Bobby Petrino.

    In his third season after the epic failure that was his stint with the Atlanta Falcons, Petrino led the Razorbacks to their first BCS bowl. They of course ended up losing the Sugar Bowl to Tressel's Buckeyes, and Ryan Mallett is headed to the NFL, but one suspects that the Razorbacks won't fall too far as long as Petrino is on their sideline.

SEC No. 4: Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 13:  South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier greets his players after winning a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. The Gamecocks beat the Gators 3
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Ol' Ball Coach finally made something of the Gamecocks in 2010, leading them to a 9-5 record and a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

    Things obviously fell apart in the final two games, as the Gamecocks were destroyed by Auburn and then upset by Florida State, Spurrier's old rival, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

    Nevertheless, Spurrier is Spurrier, and that basically means his team is going to be a force to be reckoned with in any given year. Simple as that.

SEC No. 3: Gene Chizik, Auburn

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers poses with the Coaches trophys during a press conference for the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn on January 11, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers won the BCS national championship in his second year at the controls, but you won't hear me saying that he "led" the team to the victory.

    No sir, that honor belongs to Cam Newton, which is why I'm stashing Chizik at No. 3 for the time being.

    Indeed, without Newton I'm pretty sure the Tigers don't make it as far as Glendale in 2010. By all accounts, Chizik is a great coach, but he looks even better because he had one of the greatest college football players of all time running his plays for him.

    In other words, I'd say 2011 is going to be a real "show me" season for Chizik and the Tigers. So we shall see.

SEC No. 2: Les Miles, LSU

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers celebrates after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies 41-24 during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Grayth
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Folks in and around LSU may not be crazy about Les Miles, but to the rest of us, he's a pretty darn good coach.

    I mean, I don't like LSU personally, but I don't see much to complain about when I see 62 wins and a BCS national championship in just six seasons worth of work.

    I suppose you could point out the fact that he won his national championship with Nick Saban's recruits. If so, go right ahead. It serves as a helpful segue to the final entry in this slideshow.

SEC No. 1: Nick Saban, Alabama

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    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate with the BCS Championship trophy after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, Calif
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Love him or hate him, there's no denying Nick Saban is one of the great college coaches of this era.

    He has won two of the last six BCS national championships and has gone 43-11 in his four seasons at Alabama, including 25-7 in conference play.

    On balance, I don't know if I want to call Saban the best overall coach in the country. Tressel, Stoops and Kelly are all good reasons not to, but I do think he's the best in the SEC. The Crimson Tide are probably going to be title contenders every year as long as he's at the helm.


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