Taken as a unit, our top five coaches
in the Pac-10 have the substance to be as good or better than any other
comparable set of coaches in college football's BCS conferences. Not too
shabby, either, three of the bottom five look to better their ranking this
1. Mike Riley (56) -- Overall
67-47 in 9 years at OSU, 5-1 in bowls. 8-5 in 2009; lost Las Vegas Bowl.
Riley gets more out of his players
than any other coach in the Pac-10. Nobody does it better.
2. Jeff Tedford (48) -- 67-35
in 8 years at Cal, 5-2 Bowls; 8-5 in 2009, losing Poinsettia Bowl.
Tedford brought Cal back from the
brink of oblivion in 2002, turning a 1-10 team (2001) into 7-5
respectively. Prior to his arrival, Cal had posted 8 non-winning years.
Since his arrival, Cal has enjoyed 8-straight winning seasons.
Tedford is a tireless
worker, sometimes sleeping overnight in his office to get a head start
in the morning.
3. Jim Harbaugh (46) -- 46-26
overall, 17-20 over 3 years at Stanford; 8-5 in 2009 plus a loss in the
Sun Bowl last year after tying for second in the conference.
Harbaugh has turned the Cardinal into a blue-collar, physical football
team in addition to keeping its quarterback tradition alive and well.
After Stanford ran up the score on USC last year, former Trojan coach
Pete Carroll at midfield asked Harbaugh, "What's your deal?" And now
Stanford is using that tepid exchange to sell tickets in a marketing
4. Mike Stoops (48) -- Overall
33-39 and 1-1 in bowls over his 6 years at Arizona. 8-5 in 2009; lost
the Las Vegas Bowl.
In 2004, Stoops took over a 2-10 team
and turned it into a winner in his fifth year at Arizona. Last season,
his Wildcats finished second in the conference in total defense.
Stoops has set a 5-year
benchmark for coaching success.
5. Rick Neuheisel (49) --
Overall 77-44, 11-14 at UCLA over last 2 years. Coached 4 years at
Colorado (33-14) and 4 years at Washington (33-16). 4-3 in bowls, his
7-6 UCLA team winning the 2009 Eagle Bank Bowl.
The much maligned Neuheisel
is the only head coach in the conference to post a victory in the Rose
is an excellent recruiter, arguably the best closer in the Pac-10, in a
league that features coffee for closers and roses for winners.
6. Dennis Erickson (63) --
Overall 167-83-1, with coaching stints at Idaho, Wyoming, Washington
State, Miami, Oregon State, Idaho and Arizona State. At ASU, he is 19-18
over three seasons. ASU lost in the 2007 Holiday Bowl. In 2009, ASU
posted a 4-8 season. Overall he is 5-5 in bowls.
His bruising Sun Devils led the league
in total defense last season but finished ninth in total offense and
ninth in the conference standings. Erickson needs to get the Sun Devils
offense off the snide, lest his hot seat be ejected from the coaching
ranks. However, this ubiquitous coach is a lock to find another coaching
job if, unfortunately, he is jettisoned from the desert.
7. Steve Sarkisian (36) -- 5-7
at Washington last season, in his first year of coaching.
Inheriting a 0-12 team, Sark went 5-7
last season, losing 4 games by 8 points or less. He and his coaching
staff have molded QB Jake Locker into a respectable passer and a steady
team leader. Jake is a possible first-round NFL draft pick in 2011.
Coming off an excellent recruiting season -- the 2010 class ranked
eleventh in the country by scout.com -- Sarkisian is off to a fine start
in corralling his 2011 class. With some help from defensive coordinator
Nick Holt, his biggest challenge comes in plugging in what has turned
out to be
a perennially leaky defense at Washington, the success or failure of
which will likely make or break his career with the Dawgs.
In transmuting the Dawgs'
defensive mettle, Holt and Sark need to find metallurgists who will
pound the middle and hammer the edges.
8. Chip Kelly (46) -- 10-3
coaching Oregon in 2009; his Pac-10 champions lost in the Rose Bowl,
preserving Oregon's 93-year history.
Oregon's only victory in the
Rose Bowl is a 93-year-old source of reminding and chiding, with the hook
Kelly will move higher in our rankings
once Oregon's off-field problems
resolution and containment, not that he is responsible for them.
9. Lane Kiffin (36) -- the new
kid on the block, replacing the legendary Pete Carroll at USC. Coached a
7-6 Tennessee team in 2009, losing the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Had a 5-15
record coaching the Oakland Raiders. Looked more than capable coaching
the Trojans during spring football.
Kiffin is looking to restore
the age-old conference adage, "Nobody runs on the Trojans."
Historically, it's one reason, the Pac-10 is the conference of quarterbacks.
10. Paul Wulff (43) -- overall 56-62; 3-22 coaching
Washington State over the last two seasons. Formerly the coach at
Eastern Washington from 2000-2007, he compiled a
Reportedly, he is on the proverbial hot
seat this season.