Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was named the number one college football coach in the nation’s top tier, the FBS, on “The Sporting News.” It is hard to argue with that pick, seeing as Alabama won two of the last three national championships. Throw in his national title with LSU from 2004 and it solidifies Saban’s standing at the top.
Let’s take a look at some of the coaches that dot the landscape of the rankings from number one to number 124.
Lower Than Expected?
Les Miles, LSU, #4:
Miles led the Tigers to a national title in 2008 and to the BCS Championship Game in 2011. Miles has posted a 75-18 record during his seven years at the school, yet is only ranked fourth in the poll. Chris Petersen did wonders for Boise State and Urban Meyer was great before, but Miles coaches in the SEC. The powerhouses in the conference cannot be overlooked.
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin, #12:
Bielema took over the Badgers program from Barry Alvarez and continued the winning tradition. The school is coming off back to back Rose Bowl appearances and remains the class of the Big Ten Conference, even with the addition of Meyer to Ohio State. Bielema went 60-19 at the school with the only knock on his resume a 2-4 record in bowl games. He is better than number 12 on the list.
Brady Hoke, Michigan, #24:
Hoke took over the Michigan program following the Rich Rodriguez debacle and turned the program around, with the Wolverines going 11-2 last season. Hoke previously built Ball State and San Diego State into contenders and is primed to have that effect on Michigan. Hoke barely cracks the top 25, falling in at 24, which defies logic. Look for Michigan to have another solid season in 2012.
Rated Too High?
Chris Petersen, Boise State, #2:
Yes, Boise State is a mid-major powerhouse and a BCS nightmare scenario waiting to happen year in and year out. Petersen has great success at the school during his six seasons, amassing a mark of 73-6, including a Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma in 2007. Does all that add up to being the number two coach in the nation? That depends. Boise State transitions to the Big East Conference, where the competition should be a little tougher.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, #9:
Beamer fell in at number nine, which is a result open for debate by many college football fans. On the plus side, Beamer won 209 games in a quarter century at the school. Virginia Tech has been a perennial power for years now. The problem is that the Hokies don’t play well against ranked opponents; Virginia Tech is just 7-30 against schools in the top ten. The Hokies also struggle in BCS bowl appearances, sporting a 2-6 record. Beamer is a great coach but not an elite one.
Mike Leach, Washington State, #17:
Leach is an offensive scheme genius who turned Big 12 defenses on their collective ears during his time at Texas Tech. To be ranked number 17 is a bit of a stretch however. He didn’t coach anywhere the past two seasons after being fired from Texas Tech following the whole fiasco involving former ESPN analyst Craig James’ son and the treatment of him. On top of that, Leach is taking over at Washington State, a school that has not appeared in a bowl game since 2003. He’s good, but not that good.
Clearly, there is no set science to how this list was compiled. It couldn’t be based on recent results, as Meyer was not coaching in 2011 and struggled in his final year at Florida. June Jones has a losing record at SMU but is rated higher than Hoke. Vanderbilt had a losing record, yet James Franklin is rated number 25 in the poll, ahead of Gary Pinkel at Missouri, David Shaw of Stanford and Jimbo Fisher at Florida State among others.
Longevity at a school fails to register as a factor either. Of the top ten coaches in the poll, only Beamer, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and Gary Patterson of TCU have been at their respective schools at least ten years. Saban’s been at Alabama for five, Miles at LSU for seven, Chip Kelly and Oregon have been a match for three seasons. For as great as Petersen has been at Boise State, he’s coached six years at the school. Meyer’s next game at Ohio State will be his first.
Polls and lists are completely arbitrary when it comes to their criteria. Each poll will differ from the next based on the thoughts and perceptions that the individuals answering have. Who is YOUR pick for the top coach in the nation?