Everyone has their own criteria for rating coaches. Some prefer rating based on accomplishments like championships. Some go purely on record. Some on performance relative to expectations. For this exercise, we rate on who we would want to coach our team.
- Chris Petersen
At Boise, he finished #11 in cumulative SRS from 2006-2014 and that was with only four 4 star recruits. If you are comparing him to Dan Hawkins or discussing Boise’s weak schedule, you aren’t doing it right.
Petersen established himself as the best coach in the conference and one of the premier coaches in the country by rebuilding Washington in less than 3 years. Last year’s team finished #3 in SRS, made the playoff and won the Pac-12. And it was only 60 minutes from playing for the national championship. Another top 5 season, conference championship and playoff appearance would put Washington in the best position it has ever been in. This time there is no Dick Gerberding (traitor) and Babs Hedges (a quisling) to bring the program down.
As you can see here, Petersen’s recruiting classes have improved each year, from 36-26-17 to 16 last class. Today, UW has 9 commits and 7 are four stars. The 2018 class could come in as high as 11-13.
2. Gary Andersen
Let’s start with Utah State. Prior to Andersen’s arrival in 2009, Utah St had not won more than 3 games in any single season since 2002. He inherited a program that was 9-38 over the previous four years. Over the next four years he won 4-4-7 and then 11 games in his final season (2012). He was 8-16 in his first two years but then in the pivotal third and fourth years he went 18-8.
In 2012 he not only won the most games in school history but he had the best SRS in school history as well, finishing 19th. He inherited a program that from 2006-2009 was 114,115,103,103 in SRS. He proceeded to go 94,93,76 and then 19 in his 4th season. I doubt we could find a team that was that bad for 4 consecutive years and then built up to #19 within 4 seasons. Utah State also managed to go 19-9 in the two years following Andersen.
It is difficult to evaluate Wisconsin where he coached for only two years so I will pass on that.
Andersen inherited a 2008 UW-like Oregon State team that was awful in 2015. In terms of SRS it was #100 and the worst Beavers (haha) team in 20 years. With little to work with, Andersen managed an SRS of #63 in 2016 and 4 wins. In addition to the 4 wins, Oregon State lost three games by a combined 16 points and 3 other games by 14 points or less. They only lost to Stanford by 11. They blew a big lead to a top 25 WSU and lost by only 4. They lost to Utah by 5, while playing with their 3rd string quarterback.
We should also note, Andersen has coached under Urban Meyer and Kyle Wittingham.
Oregon State may not be the second best team in the north this year but if they get a good young quarterback, Andersen will have them challenging (not beating) UW in the future. Andersen’s program is predicated on toughness and defense.
3. Kyle Wittingham
If not for November fades and lacking a quarterback, Wittingham could be quite a bit higher on any list. His teams are tuff, play good defense and Witt is known for developing players.
Before Utah went to the Pac-12, Wittingham’s teams went from 7 wins to 8 to 9 and then 13 in his fourth year. Impressive. Then they dipped for a few years before entering the Pac-12. The SRS marks for that stint show 49-49-31-9-34-29.
The first few years in the Pac-12 were tough as Utah went 8-5 (#50) and 5-7 (#60). But things turned in the pivotal third and fourth years. Utah went 5-7 in 2013 but shot up to #36 thanks to a handful of very close losses. That was followed by 28-11 over the next three seasons with SRS #s of 30-19-28.
Over the past three years Utah is 8-7 in November and 20-4 outside of November. That has prevented Witt’s teams from playing for multiple conference championships and finishing in the top 15/20. And the losses have been to mediocre teams.
Still, you can do a lot worse than Witt and I’m glad a moron like Clay Helton is at U$C and not Wittingham.
Finally, Witt’s recruiting has steadily improved since 2012. Since 2013 his classes (by Scout average star) have been rated 56-58-51-37 and this past class was #26.
4. David Shaw
Shaw inherited Jim Harbaugh’s juggernaut and has done a good job maintaining it. He has won 3 conference titles and went to 4 BCS bowls in his first 5 years. However, I sense a bit of slippage that is at risk of coming to the surface in 2017. Over the first 3 years Shaw went 34-7 (23-4) and that has slipped a bit to 30-10 (19-8).
Stanford was 10-3 and #13 in SRS last year but they benefitted enormously from beating USC by 17 who ended up #5 in SRS. However, had they played USC later in the season, they probably would have lost by 17 and seen their SRS drop quite a bit. Aside from USC, their best win in conference was the #7 SRS team, UCLA. They lost to Colorado at home, got creamed by UW and WSU and didn’t play Utah.
Their combined FEI & S&P+ (FootballOutsiders combined metric) put them at #30, which is quite a disparity with their SRS. The FEI appears more accurate.
Also, their offense was really bad last year and that was with Christian McCaffrey. They don’t appear to have an answer at quarterback unless one of the true freshman surprise.
The bottom line, I expect Stanford to drift back to the pack and Shaw’s shine to come off more. On the other hand, he has done well, develops players and plays the kind of style suitable to winning.
5. Mike MacIntyre
The conference’s biggest bible thumper has two turnarounds to his credit and could really establish himself if the Buffs repeat 2016 success.
At San Jose State, Mac inherited a team that had previous SRS finishes of 110-94-93. They went 1-12 his first year but improved to 5-7 (#90) his second year. His third and final year they went 11-2 and #33 in SRS. San Jose State drifted back to shit a few years later which means the turnaround perhaps wasn’t that sustainable or impressive. Nonetheless, you have to give Mac credit for getting to 11-2 and #33. It was the best year for the Spartans in 23 years.
Colorado finished 10-4 last year and #14 in SRS after a string of remarkably shitty seasons. From 2006 through 2015 the Buffs best finish was #58. Last year’s #14 was the best finish since 2001. If the Buffs could finish in the top 35 this year it would mark their 2nd best finish since 2002.
I took a quick look at Mac’s recruiting rankings per average star and since 2014 it goes 68-56-55-36. With another good season (+8 wins), recruiting could improve further.
6. Justin Wilcox
He proved he could coach defense at UW already. He ran very good defenses at Boise. Sure, he sucked at USC but perhaps his tactics were wrong for a roster littered with blue chip talent. I’d take him over the rest.
7. Mike Leach (only top 6 get a photo haha!)
He’s a goofball but if he can keep recent performance going then he could climb on the list. He went 12-25 in his first 3 years and 17-9 since. He was decent at Texas Tech. He loses out to an unproven Wilcox because defense > offense.
Thats it, no more!
Have an opinion? Leave a comment!