Bumped. GO BRUINS. - N
Fox Sports has posted CollegeFootballNews.com's preseason coaching rankings for this upcoming season. While I'm not a big fan of preseason polls, especially ones like this, I do appreciate that CFN isn't just bowing to the company line and putting legends like Bowden (#38) and Paterno (#31) near the top based on their reputation alone. So, since it looks like they're willing to knock coaches down to how they think they'll perform this season, I thought I'd do a quick run-through of the rankings for those interested.
First, CRN came in at #29, sandwiched between Dan Hawkins of Colorado (#30) and Butch Davis of UNC (#28).
29. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: Say what you will about Neuheisel's off-field shenanigans, but the guy knows how to produce results. At both Colorado and Washington, he won twice as many games as he lost and three times finished in the top 10. How he handles this next gig after a six-year absence will define him as a coach.
Given the MSM's line on CRN, I did not expect him to finish so high, but I'm glad someone out there recognizes CRN, despite the "Slick Rick" rep., can flat-out coach. Never mind the allusion to "shenanigans" that CRN was often not guilty of, it's nice to see they recognize the coaching talent we have in Westwood.
Second, I thought I'd compare where some of the names we all tossed around during the coaching search ended up. Those that finished behind CRN included Al Golden of Temple (#78), June Jones of SMU (#55), Todd Graham of Tulsa (#44), Gary Patterson of TCU (#37), Bronco Mendenhall of BYU (#32). A bit of a shock to see Mendenhall down in the 30s. Personally, I'd have him in the low-20s or high teens, but definitely within the top 25. The guy is young and BYU is going to be a damn good team as long as he's at the helm in Provo. CFN seemed to agree, but still went in the low-30s:
32. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: It took a few years, but BYU has found its man to build a bridge back to the program's golden years. In successive seasons, the Cougars have swept the Mountain West and finished ranked in the polls. If Mendenhall keeps this up, his name will replace Lavell Edwards' outside the stadium.
The guys from our coaching search coming in ahead of CRN include Mike Leach of Texas Tech (#25), Chris Petersen of Boise State (#22), Brian Kelly of Cincinnati (#18), Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech (#17), Mike Bellotti of Oregon (#15), and Jim Grobe of Wake Forest (#6). No real shock here. All very solid coaches, although I'd rather have CRN given his energy, his passion, and the fact, as a fellow Bruin, he understands how important beating U$C, winning the Pac-10, and playing in the Rose Bowl in January is.
Now, CRN isn't going to have it easy. The Pac-10 boasts some of college football's best coaches (rivaling the coaching talent in any conference, including the SEC, but more on that in a bit). Within our conference, we do have Mike Stoops of Arizona (#82) and Tyrone Wilingham of Washington (#70). Now that I've mentioned the scrubs, we do have Paul Wulff of Washington State (#90), Jim Harbaugh of Stanford (#66), Mike Riley of Oregon State (#25), Jeff Tedford of Cal (#16), Mike Bellotti of Oregon (#15), Dennis Erickson of Arizona State (#14), and ol' Cheaty Peety of U$C (#2).
Personally, I think Wulff and Harbaugh are going to climb that ladder. Both guys don't have easy jobs (how do you convince a kid to come to Pullman and getting through Stanford admissions can't be an easy task), but I suspect both teams , in a few years, will regularly contend for bowl games and be tough away games for our Bruins. I don't expect Stoops or Willingham to be around much longer. As for the talent part, Riley has done a great job with the Beavers despite not having the elite talent, Tedford made Cal relevant (before Tedford, Cal football flat out sucked), Erickson, despite his shady recruiting and reputation, wins wherever he goes (unless it's the NFL), and as much as we hate Pom Pom, he's made the trOJans a force.
While we're in the business of arbitrarily ranking coaches, let's arbitrarily compare the Pac-10 with the other BCS conferences. If you take each coaches' ranking, add them together, and divide by the number of teams in each conference, you end up with the following average coaching rank: SEC (28.92), ACC (36.08), Pac-10 (40.9), Big-10 (43.45), Big-12 (44.92), Big East (51.5). The Pac-10 isn't doing too bad, especially considering we're saddled with Stoops and Willingham and Harbaugh and Wulff are young up-and-comers. The ACC got a huge boost from landing Paul Johnson at GT (#17).
Finally, some other coaches of note. Bob Toledo, now at Tulane, came in at #88. CFN had this to say about the man who came before the Doofus:
88. Bob Toledo, Tulane: Best known for a seven-year stint at UCLA, Toledo has largely had an inconsistent career on the sidelines. Always an offensive innovator, his teams rarely play much defense or with any degree of sustained excellence.
Sounds about right. Moving on, Charlie Weis of Notre Dame finished at #48. Pat Hill, the man in charge at Fresno State, a team that will give our Bruins a tough game, was ranked #41:
41. Pat Hill, Fresno State: Hill's "anybody, anytime, anywhere" attitude resonates throughout a program that's had considerable success against larger schools. His teams are always tough, physical, and built on a solid running game. The Bulldogs have been to eight bowl games in nine years, but a WAC title has escaped them since Boise State joined the league.
As for the season opener, Phil Fulmer of Tennessee took the #33 slot:
33. Phil Fulmer, Tennessee: Whether Fulmer's glass is half full or half empty probably depends on your geography. While there's no denying he's been very successful over the last 16 years, folks in Knoxville point to a 10-year stretch without an SEC title and zero top 10 finishes since 2001.
CRN will be facing some tough teams with good coaching. In fact, when you look at our schedule, the only two coaching rejects we'll see are Stoops in Arizona and Willingham at Washington. Yet, despite the fact these guys have been total busts at both schools, they have a tendency to play us tough, especially when they're home.
If CRN puts together a bowl-eligible season with a banged-up OL, big questions at QB, a inexperienced secondary, and one of the nation's toughest schedules, there's no way he won't slide into the top 25.
But hey, according to some people, we were being totally unreasonable in our predictions for this season. What a bunch of clowns.