So, Tuesday, we had a brief twitter discussion where I relayed my current top five coaches to the masses. If you weren't following along at that time the break down came as Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel with Mack Brown and Les Miles rounding out the top five. That's right, those are my top five guys. Shouldn't be of much surprise to anyone who has been with the program for any length of time. These guys are at four of the top five jobs and Bob Stoops is at a Top Ten gig and keeps adding to his success.
A quick run down of why:
Nick Saban is the man. He's not only my favorite coach of all time but he is, in my mind, the best coach we've seen in this era of college football. Rarely do you get the blend of recruiting prowess, organizational skills, X and O's, eye for detail, motivation, ability to build a program and of course the wherewithal to maximize your players' potential while still preparing them for the next level. Saban has built a powerhouse in Tuscaloosa and as Bud Elliott and I discussed during our Project Spring Top 25, if every coach in America was being honest they'd trade their roster for the Tide's any day of the week. Simply put, Saban's the best in the business.
Damn Bob Stoops BCS record and the shortcomings we've seen out of Big Game Bob in several BCS bowls including a couple BCS Championships. In the words of Tyrone Biggums "you gotta play to win."Meaning sure Bob might have lost a few big BCS games, a few to teams who were just better than his, the fact is we're complaining about a guy that is at least giving himself a shot to be at the apex of the game. He's been to 4 national titles, sure he's only won one but he's in a better position than every school besides the team that is beating him. He recruits, his fans, his players and his staff love him. The guy has resurrected the OU brand and has the Sooners positioned for his fifth BCS Championship game.
Jim Tressel, the Senator, has come under fire recently given the Buckeye 5 and the revelation that he had knowledge of the exchange of merchandise and didn't come forward with the evidence. Doesn't matter, Tressel is right behind Stoops in BCS Championship Game appearances with three and sure he's only won one as well in a miracle and controversial game against one of the best college football teams ever to walk the earth. Tressel is the shining beacon of consistency and excellence in the midwest and has dominated the Big Ten for the last decade. I don't buy all the "class" stuff that's been sold to us but I do buy the results because he racks up Big Ten Championships and keeps ending up in BCS Bowls.
Mack Brown. When I think Mack Brown I instantly get the sick feeling of UNC and the administration and their unwillingness to break the bank to keep a guy who had the Heels on the doorstep of greatness. That said Mack Brown is in the coach in the best position of any in our top five. He is a politician, he's built those Texas high school into his image and while no he isn't Big Game Bob, Mack's seen plenty of success in the Lonestar State. He's built an empire and yes I know this past season didn't go so well but keep in mind they're still a little over a year removed from being in the BCS Championship game. The 'horns will be back on top soon, Brown isn't the greatest X and O's guy but he makes smart hires, recruits elite talent and that politician in him keeps the coffers full in Austin.
Yup, Les Miles. That's right the head man for the Bayou Bengals rounds out that final spot and I'm sure there are people thinking "you're crazy" right now. Actually, I'm not, regardless of your perception of his grass eating, end game fumbling, weird press conference persona the numbers don't lie when it comes to Les Miles. He wins games, his players love playing for him, he recruits his but off and he handles the pressure of coaching in football crazed Louisiana the best way he can. The guy has never been lauded as an X and O genius, he's a grunt, a players coach a guy that grew up playing in the trenches and his players respect his simple, very simple approach to the game.
Now before you get all butt hurt because whoever isn't on the list I did give some consideration to Chris Petersen and Gary Patterson but in the end I couldn't elevate those guys above the last two because when I'm evaluating college coaches I take everything into account. That includes recruiting, politics and of course program management.
Petersen and Patterson are two of the best in the business on gameday but I'll err on the side of the guys performing in the pressure cooker. I always have and until they prove they can operate under the lights every weekend that will be a mark on their resume. Not a bad thing; just holds them back on my list, I want to see how they perform on the biggest stage, against the best competition.
Looking into the future there are several coaches that have a shot to break into the elite status; names like Brian Kelly, Chip Kelly and Dan Mullen come to mind as do the likes of Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and yes, Lane Kiffin. I'm rooting for the latter over the former, even Kiffin. Not because I thin they're better but because of their belief in the pro style scheme vs the spread attack. I'll gladly admit my bias and will give Fisher the edge over all of those listed because he's got a team ready to roll this season and he's got that Saban polishing that will keep both he and Muschamp succeeding in the future.
Disagree? Drop your thoughts in the comments. Some other coaches of note are Charlie Strong and Pat Fitzgerald.