Athlon ranks every FBS college football coach for 2015.
Ranking every college football coach is an impossible task. However, coaching is a critical component to every collegiate program. Needless to say, success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.
This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It’s always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.
A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?
Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don’t get the assistants – only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking.
Here’s the full 128 list of coach rankings, as voted on by the Athlon Sports staff for 2015.
Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2015
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 91-17 (8 years)
Career Record: 182-59-1 (19 years)
Maintaining a place among college football’s elite every year is no easy task. However, as long as Alabama has Saban, the Crimson Tide will factor into the Playoff mix and remain among the nation’s top threats to win the national championship every season. In Saban’s eight years in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has won 10 games at least seven times and has not lost more than one game in SEC play in four years. And of course, we can’t forget about the three national championships during the BCS era. Additionally, the Crimson Tide has seven consecutive finishes inside of the top 10 in the final Associated Press poll. Recruiting and developing talent is another strength of the program under Saban, as Alabama has reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class over the last five seasons and 48 players have been drafted since 2009.
Related: SEC 2015 Predictions
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 38-3 (3 years)
Career Record: 142-26 (13 years)
There was never really any doubt about his place among the nation’s best coaches, but if there was, Meyer clearly solidified his top billing with Ohio State’s 2014 season. The Buckeyes lost their No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks, yet won 14 games and claimed the national championship over Oregon. In three seasons at Ohio State, Meyer is 38-3 and has not lost a regular season game in Big Ten play. The 2014 national title was Meyer’s third as a head coach, as he claimed two during his tenure at Florida (2006, 2008). In addition to his national championships in Gainesville, Meyer went 65-15 with the Gators, 22-2 in two years at Utah and 17-6 in two seasons with Bowling Green.
Related: Big Ten 2015 Predictions
3. Art Briles, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 55-34 (7 years)
Career Record: 89-62 (12 years)
Briles has completely changed the perception of Baylor football over the last seven years. Prior to Briles’ tenure, the Bears did not play in a bowl or post a winning record from 1995-2007. Baylor went 8-16 in Briles’ first two years, but has played in five consecutive bowl games and tied or won the conference championship in back-to-back years. The Bears are 22-4 over the last two seasons and have three double-digit victory totals in three out of the last four years. Prior to taking over at Baylor, Briles went 34-28 at Houston. Briles is a Texas coaching lifer and has changed this program from one of the bottom teams in the Big 12 into a conference championship contender. The talent level on this team has improved with four consecutive top-40 signing classes, and the program just opened brand-new McLane Stadium in 2014. Momentum at Baylor is at an all-time high with Briles at the controls – and it doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon.
Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions
4. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Record at Michigan: First Year
Career Record: 58-27 (7 years)
Harbaugh is the right coach to return Michigan back among the nation’s elite. At three different coaching jobs, Harbaugh has delivered a quick turnaround and won at a high level. At San Diego from 2004-06, Harbaugh went 29-6 and lost only two games over the final two years. Harbaugh moved to the FBS level in 2007 at Stanford and won 29 games in four seasons. The Cardinal missed a bowl appearance in the first two years, but managed 20 wins over Harbaugh’s last two seasons, including a 12-1 finish in 2010. Harbaugh left Stanford for the NFL and won 44 games with the 49ers from 2011-14. San Francisco lost in the NFC Championship Game twice under Harbaugh’s watch and lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. As a former Michigan quarterback and player under Bo Schembechler, Harbaugh knows what it takes to win in Ann Arbor. Expect to see the Wolverines back among the top 10-15 teams in the nation in the next few years.
5. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Record at Kansas State: 187-94-1 (23 years)
Career Record: 187-94-1 (23 years)
There’s not a coach in the nation doing more with less every year. Kansas State is not an easy job, yet Snyder continues to keep the Wildcats in contention for the Big 12 title on a yearly basis. Kansas State won only three games in the four previous years prior to his hire in November 1988, and after a 1-10 record in his first season, Snyder’s teams have won fewer than six games only four times and claimed double-digit victories in seven years. Don’t forget that following his retirement after the 2005 season, Kansas State went just 17-20 in three years under Ron Prince before Snyder returned in November 2008. Regardless of how much talent or key personnel Kansas State loses, the Wildcats are always a threat to win the conference championship and finish among the top 25 teams in the nation. Developing and finding talent in the junior college ranks is one of Snyder’s biggest strengths. Kansas State doesn’t recruit at a high level, so it’s important to develop talent and find ways to win games with less. That’s exactly what Snyder has accomplished, as from 2011-14, the Wildcats have the best record in Big 12 games (27-9).
6. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 75-31 (8 years)
Career Record: 93-48 (11 years)
Dantonio has transformed Michigan State from an underachieving program to one of the best in the Big Ten. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in four out of the last five years and finished No. 3 nationally after winning the Big Ten Championship Game and Rose Bowl in 2013. Under Dantonio’s watch, Michigan State also has claimed four consecutive bowl victories and went 15-1 in conference play from 2013-14. And if you needed any more information on why Dantonio is among the nation’s best: The Spartans have six seasons of 10 or more wins in program history. Four of those have come with Dantonio at the helm.
7. Gary Patterson, TCU
Record at TCU: 132-45 (14 years)
Career Record: 132-45 (14 years)
Coming off a 12-1 season and a No. 3 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, TCU is among the favorites to contend for the 2015 national championship. The Horned Frogs have come a long way in a short amount of time since joining the Big 12. TCU finished 7-6 in its Big 12 debut in 2012 but followed that up with a 4-8 mark in 2013, thanks in large part to a struggling offense. The The 8-1 mark in conference play last season is easily the best of TCU’s three-year stint in the Big 12. In Patterson’s 14 years, the Horned Frogs have won 132 games and claimed 10 or more victories in nine of those seasons. Winning at a high level is nothing new for Patterson in Fort Worth. In 2010, TCU finished No. 2 nationally with a 13-0 mark, No. 7 in 2008 and No. 6 in 2009. With Patterson at the helm, TCU will be a consistent threat to win the Big 12 title.
Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions
8. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Record at Oklahoma: 168-44 (16 years)
Career Record: 168-44 (16 years)
With 16 seasons at Oklahoma, Stoops is the second-longest tenured coach in college football. The Sooners have consistently ranked among the Big 12’s best under Stoops, winning at least 10 games in 12 of his years in Norman. Additionally, Stoops has guided Oklahoma to eight Big 12 titles and one national championship (2000). Winning at a high level and competing for a spot in one of college football’s top bowl games has become the norm for the Sooners under Stoops. However, Oklahoma finished 8-5 in 2014, which was the worst mark under Stoops since 2009 (8-5). Maintaining success at one job for a long period of time is no easy task for any college football coach. Stoops will try to get the program back on track with a few staff changes, including new offensive play-caller Lincoln Riley. There’s no question Stoops is among the best in the nation, and it will be interesting to see if 2014 was just a small blip on the radar or if it’s the beginning of a down period for the program.
9. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 20-7 (2 years)
Career Record: 29-10 (3 years)
In just three seasons as a head coach, Malzahn has already entrenched his name among the best in the nation. After a 9-3 record at Arkansas State in 2012 (his first as a head coach on the FBS level), Malzahn has guided Auburn to a 20-7 mark over the last two years. The Tigers played for the 2013 national championship and finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll after the loss to Florida State. Auburn slipped to 8-5 last year, but Malzahn should have this team back in contention for the SEC title in 2015. Prior to being a head coach on the FBS level, Malzahn was one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators at Auburn and Tulsa, with a one-year stop at Arkansas in 2006. He’s also known for his stint as a high school coach at Springdale High School in Arkansas from 2001-05. Malzahn is one of the game’s top X’s and O’s tacticians on offense and upgraded his defense with the addition of Will Muschamp as his new coordinator.
10. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Record at Florida State: 58-11 (5 years)
Career Record: 58-11 (5 years)
Fisher has returned Florida State to the nation’s elite, guiding the Seminoles to a 27-1 mark over the last two seasons and the 2013 national championship. Under Fisher’s watch, Florida State has averaged 11.6 wins a season and has three consecutive finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Replacing Jameis Winston won’t be easy, but Fisher is one of the nation’s best at talent evaluation, and the Seminoles will continue to win at a high level under his watch.
Related: ACC 2015 Predictions
11. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 84-45 (10 years)
Career Record: 226-85-2 (25 years)
Spurrier enters 2015 ranked No. 2 among active FBS coaches with 226 career wins. South Carolina slipped in 2014 after three consecutive 11-win seasons, but Spurrier has elevated a program that had only one 10-win campaign prior to his arrival in 2005. Additionally, out of the six times the Gamecocks have won at least nine games, four of those have taken place under Spurrier’s watch. And Spurrier’s track record is no secret, as he went 122-27-1 at Florida from 1990-2001 and 20-13-1 at Duke from 1987-89. It’s not easy for coaches to maintain success over a 20-year span. Spurrier has had to tweak a few things along the way, but as evidenced by his recent success at South Carolina, he’s still one of the game’s top coaches.
12. Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 50-13 (5 years)
Career Record: 92-34 (10 years)
Petrino’s return to Louisville was a success, as the Cardinals finished 9-4 in their first season in the ACC. And Petrino’s team was neck-and-neck with the top teams in the conference, losing by just six points to Clemson and was defeated by Florida State after leading the defending national champs going into the fourth quarter. In Petrino’s 10 years as a college head coach, he’s won at least eight games every season but one. The Cardinals have some key pieces to replace for 2015, but the program is in good shape for the long haul with Petrino in control.
13. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 28-12 (3 years)
Career Record: 77-41 (9 years)
It’s a close call between Graham and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez for the No. 1 spot among current Pac-12 coaches. The Sun Devils enter 2015 as one of the favorites for the conference title, and Graham has guided the program to 28 wins over the last three seasons. The Sun Devils won the South Division in 2013 and tied for second in ’12 and ’14. Under Graham’s watch, Arizona State has clearly removed the label of a program that struggles to reach expectations. And the Sun Devils are in the midst of a stadium renovation that will only help Graham and this staff sell a program that has inked back-to-back top-25 signing classes. Graham’s success isn’t just limited to Arizona State, as he helped Rice make a six-game improvement in the win column in 2006, won 36 games in four years at Tulsa and went 6-6 in his only season at Pittsburgh.
14. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 26-14 (3 years)
Career Record: 146-98-2 (21 years)
Rodriguez is in the process of elevating Arizona into a yearly contender for the Pac-12 title. The Wildcats claimed the South Division championship last season with a 7-2 conference record and won double-digit games (10) for the first time since 1998. Additionally, the 10 wins last year was only the third time in program history that Arizona has won more than nine in a season. Rodriguez only went 15-22 in three years at Michigan, but he won 60 games in seven seasons at West Virginia and guided the program to three finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2005-07. The bad news for the rest of the Pac-12: Rodriguez is really just getting started and this program is only going to get better in the coming years.
Related: Pac-12 2015 Predictions
15. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Record at Notre Dame: 45-20 (5 years)
Career Record: 216-77-2 (24 years)
Kelly hasn’t quite returned Notre Dame to national prominence since he took over in 2010, but the Fighting Irish are 45-20 under his watch and has one appearance in the national championship game (2012). Outside of 2012, Notre Dame has won at least eight games every season under Kelly and has two top 25 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Prior to Notre Dame, Kelly went 34-6 at Cincinnati – including a 12-0 record in the 2009 regular season – 19-16 at Central Michigan from 2004-06 and a 118-35-2 mark at Division II Grand Valley State from 1991-2003.
16. Mark Richt, Georgia
Record at Georgia: 136-48 (14 years)
Career Record: 136-48 (14 years)
Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005, but the Bulldogs usually rank near the top of the conference. Richt has guided Georgia to three double-digit win seasons over the last four years, and the Bulldogs finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. The talent level certainly isn’t an issue for Georgia, as the program owns the No. 3 roster in the SEC over the last five seasons. And with a 7.6 national average, the talent level is in place for the Bulldogs to contend for a national title. Under Richt’s direction, Georgia has never finished lower than third in the East and has lost more than two games in SEC play only five times over the last 14 years.
17. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 113-66 (14 years)
Career Record: 186-104-3 (24 years)
Pinkel has been a consistent winner throughout his tenure at Missouri. The Tigers average 8.1 wins a season under Pinkel and have claimed back-to-back East Division titles after a 5-7 record in their SEC debut. Prior to joining the SEC, Missouri posted seven consecutive winning campaigns from 2005-11, including a 12-2 mark and a No. 4 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. Pinkel’s success isn’t limited to just Missouri, as he went 73-37-3 in 10 years at Toledo. Despite a national recruiting rank of 39th nationally over the last five years, the Tigers won the SEC East in back-to-back years and will begin 2015 as one of the favorites in the division once again. That’s a huge credit to Pinkel and his staff’s ability to find and develop talent every year.
18. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 40-48 (7 years)
Career Record: 84-77 (13 years)
Cutcliffe has elevated Duke into an annual bowl team in the ACC, and after winning the Coastal Division title in 2014, the Blue Devils finished second last season. How big of a difference has Cutcliffe made with Duke since 2008? The 10-win 2013 campaign, and the 19 victories in a two-year span are the best marks in school history. Cutcliffe is regarded for his work with offenses and quarterbacks, but he deserves more credit for his work as a head coach, especially at a program like Duke where it’s not easy to maintain success.
19. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Record at Mississippi State: 46-31 (6 years)
Career Record: 46-31 (6 years)
Mullen is the perfect example of why job hierarchy within a conference matters when ranking coaches. Mississippi State is the toughest job in the SEC West, and this program’s 27.4 finish nationally over the last five years in recruiting ranks No. 7 within its own division. However, the Bulldogs are 46-31 under Mullen and are coming off just the third double-digit win season in program history. Last season, Mississippi State climbed as high as No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time and finished No. 11 in the final ranking – the second-highest mark in school history. Since a 5-7 mark in Mullen’s debut, Mississippi State has recorded a winning record in five consecutive years and is 22-26 in the SEC. Even though the Bulldogs suffered some heavy personnel losses this offseason, Mullen has elevated this program and the talent level has improved to ensure a quick rebuild.
20. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 24-15 (3 years)
Career Record: 54-22 (6 years)
Ole Miss has made steady improvement under Freeze, including a nine-win campaign in 2014. The Rebels have made a bowl game in all three of Freeze’s seasons in Oxford and went as high as No. 3 in the Associated Press poll in 2014. And if injuries didn’t take a toll on the 2014 team, Ole Miss easily could have won 10 games for the first time since ’03. While Freeze doesn’t have the track record of some of the coaches in this league, he’s already a proven winner at three different jobs. In addition to the 24 wins at Ole Miss, he went 20-5 at Lambuth from 2008-09 and 10-2 at Arkansas State in ’11. As we mentioned in the introduction, it’s not a list of career accomplishments. Based upon what Freeze inherited and has done in three years at Ole Miss, his career trajectory is higher than several names on this list.
21. David Shaw, Stanford
Record at Stanford: 42-12 (4 years)
Career Record: 42-12 (4 years)
For the first time in Shaw’s tenure at Stanford, the Cardinal are coming off a season with fewer than 11 wins. After winning 34 games through Shaw’s first three years, Stanford regressed to 8-5 but still finished second in the North with a 5-4 conference record. Under Shaw’s direction, the Cardinal has finished inside of the top 11 of the final Associated Press poll three times and played for the conference title in back-to-back years (2012-13). Additionally, Shaw and his staff continue to do an excellent job on the recruiting trail, signing top-25 classes in four out of the last five years. The biggest challenge for Shaw in 2015 will be improving an offense that averaged only 23.8 points per game in conference play last year (11th in the Pac-12). Even with significant departures on defense, Stanford can push Oregon in the North if Shaw is able to find the right answers on offense.
22. James Franklin, Penn State
Record at Penn State: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 31-21 (4 years)
Franklin will return Penn State back to contention for the Big Ten title and as a consistent top-25 team – it just may take a little longer than we anticipated. High expectations surrounded the Nittany Lions last year, but Franklin’s team finished 7-6 and won only two games in Big Ten play. Fixing the offensive line is Franklin’s top priority in 2015, and there’s hope for improvement with one of the nation’s top assistants (Herb Hand) leading this group. Franklin went 24-15 in three years with Vanderbilt and recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons in 2012-13. Considering what Franklin managed to accomplish at Vanderbilt – the SEC’s toughest job – combined with the success on the recruiting trail, it’s only a matter of time before Penn State wins again at a high level.
Related: Penn State 2015 Schedule Analysis
23. Chris Petersen, Washington
Record at Washington: 8-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 100-18 (9 years)
After one of the most successful stints by a coach during the BCS era, Petersen decided to make the jump to a Power 5 job and replaced Steve Sarkisian at Washington. Petersen went 92-12 at Boise State and led the Broncos to double-digit win seasons in seven out of his eight years. But Petersen didn’t quite find the same success in his first year with the Huskies. Washington’s defense had three first-team All-Pac-12 selections on defense, but a struggling secondary and offense dropped Petersen’s first team to just 8-6 overall and 4-5 in Pac-12 play. Petersen and his staff will be tested even more in 2015, as Washington returns only nine starters, loses standout defenders Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha, and could have a true freshman start at quarterback.
24. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 103-29 (10 years)
Career Record: 131-50 (14 years)
2015 is shaping up to be one of the most interesting years of Miles’ tenure at LSU. The Tigers have slipped in the SEC pecking order over the last three seasons and last year finished outside of the Associated Press top 25 poll for the first time since 2008. LSU’s 4-4 mark in SEC play in 2014 was the first non-winning record in conference games in six seasons. Additionally, Miles lost top assistant and defensive coordinator John Chavis to rival Texas A&M, and the offense ranked 13th in the SEC in scoring last year. Plenty of question marks surround LSU for 2015, but Miles has showed before he’s capable of getting the program back among the best in the SEC. The Tigers went 17-9 from 2008-09, yet rebounded with four consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2010-13. LSU has averaged a 6.8 finish nationally in recruiting rankings over the last five years. With that type of talent in place, the Tigers have the necessary pieces in place to get back to the top of the SEC.
25. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: 12-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 62-40 (8 years)
The arrow on Tennessee’s program under Jones’ leadership is clearly pointing up entering 2015. The Volunteers went 5-7 in Jones’ first season but improved to 7-6 and returned to a bowl for the first time since 2010. Upgrading the talent on Tennessee’s roster has been a priority for Jones, and the coaching staff has inked back-to-back top-10 signing classes. With the talent on the rise, a solid core of personnel in place, and a team that won four out of its final five games, Tennessee is poised to take another step forward in 2015. Prior to Tennessee, Jones guided Central Michigan to a 27-13 record in three years (2007-09) and led Cincinnati to a 23-14 mark from 2010-12.
26. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 28-11 (3 years)
Career Record: 63-28 (7 years)
Texas A&M has made a successful transition to the SEC under Sumlin’s watch. In addition to fielding an explosive offense, the Aggies are 28-11 over the last three years and have a 13-11 record in SEC play in that span. With the program entrenched in the nation’s toughest conference, along with facility upgrades to compete with the SEC’s elite, Sumlin will be looking to push Texas A&M even higher in the conference standings. The Aggies’ win total in SEC games has declined from six (2012) to four (2013) to three (2014). While the offense has been among the league’s best since 2012, the defense has struggled mightily. But Sumlin took a big step in fixing that side of the ball by hiring John Chavis away from LSU. Prior to the last three seasons at Texas A&M, Sumlin guided Houston to a 35-17 record in four years from 2008-11.
27. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 10-15 (2 years)
Career Record: 78-39 (9 years)
The overall coaching depth in the SEC is on display when Bielema ranks as the No. 11 coach on this list. Arkansas has showed marked improvement under Bielema in the last two years, and the Razorbacks are poised to take another step forward in 2015. After a 3-9 mark and a winless record in SEC play in 2013, Arkansas finished 7-6 and lost four games by a touchdown or less last fall. The Razorbacks closed 2014 by winning four out of their final six games, including a 31-7 destruction of Texas in the Texas Bowl. Prior to Arkansas, Bielema went 68-24 at Wisconsin and led the Badgers to four seasons of double-digit wins. The Razorbacks are clearly headed in the right direction, and Bielema’s physical style of play fits right at home in the SEC.
28. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 25-26 (4 years)
Career Record: 152-99 (21 years)
As we mentioned above, college football coaches can’t be judged strictly on wins and losses. Kill is a perfect example of why record isn’t the best indicator of coaching ability, as he’s only 25-26 in four years with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have made significant improvement under his watch, going from 3-9 in his first year to three consecutive bowl games. And Minnesota is coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons and finished 5-3 in Big Ten play last year – the first winning mark in conference play since 2003. Kill is a proven winner at four other coaching stops in his career, including a 23-16 record at Northern Illinois and a 55-32 mark at Southern Illinois.
29. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Record at Oklahoma State: 84-44 (10 years)
Career Record: 84-44 (10 years)
Oklahoma State took a step back in the win column in 2014, needing a late punt return for a touchdown to beat Oklahoma and secure bowl eligibility for the ninth consecutive season. The win over Washington in the Cactus Bowl gave Oklahoma State its ninth winning season in Gundy’s 10 years. The Cowboys have won at least 10 games in three out of the last five seasons and finished No. 3 nationally in 2011. Gundy consistently has Oklahoma State finishing in the top half of the Big 12, and the Cowboys are poised to return to the top 25 after last year’s 7-6 mark. Gundy’s name popped up in the rumor mill for other jobs over the last three offseasons, but the former Oklahoma State quarterback seems to be reenergized headed into 2015.
30. Charlie Strong, Texas
Record at Texas: 6-7 (1 year)
Career Record: 43-23 (5+ years)
As expected, Strong had to reset the foundation at Texas. The Longhorns finished 6-7 last year and won five games in Big 12 action. However, Texas beat only two teams with a winning record and was thoroughly dominated by TCU and Arkansas in the final two games of 2014. The Longhorns only went 16-11 in Big 12 games over Mack Brown’s final three years and recorded just one finish in the final Associated Press poll in that span. The program clearly slipped in Brown’s final four years, and Strong needs a little time to rebuild the talent and get Texas back into contention for Big 12 championships. It’s only a matter of time before that happens, as Strong went 37-15 in four years at Louisville, including a 23-3 record from 2012-13.
31. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 58-35 (7 years)
Career Record: 165-74 (18 years)
2014 wasn’t necessarily a make-or-break year for Johnson at Georgia Tech, but it was fair to wonder where the program was headed after a 14-13 mark from 2012-13. The Yellow Jackets entered 2014 with low expectations and delivered with a surprising 11-3 season and a Coastal Division title. In Johnson’s seven seasons in Atlanta, Georgia Tech has never finished under .500 in conference play. Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have played for the ACC Championship three times.
32. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Record at Utah: 85-43 (10 years)
Career Record: 85-43 (10 years)
Whittingham has successfully transitioned Utah from a Mountain West team to a solid Pac-12 program in just four years. The Utes don’t have the resources or recruiting base of a UCLA or USC, but Whittingham’s team knocked off both programs last year as well as Stanford and Michigan en route to a 9-4 record. Utah also finished No. 21 in the final Associated Press poll – it’s first top-25 finish since 2009 – and claimed its first winning mark in Pac-12 play (5-4). In his 10-year tenure in Salt Lake City, Whittingham is 85-43 overall and has led his team to eight bowl games.
33. Gary Andersen, Oregon State
Record at Oregon State: First Year
Career Record: 49-38 (7 years)
Andersen’s move from Wisconsin to Oregon State came as a surprise, but the Utah native is a great hire for this program. In two seasons at Wisconsin, Andersen went 19-7 and guided the Badgers to a Big Ten West Division title in 2014. Prior to Wisconsin, Andersen guided Utah State to a 26-24 record in four years. To show how big of an impact Andersen had on the Aggies – in the four years prior to his arrival in Logan, Utah State won only nine games. Utah State won 26 during Andersen’s four years, including 18 over the last two. Andersen is a proven winner at two different jobs and was a successful assistant at Utah prior to becoming a head coach. Oregon State is rebuilding in 2015, but Andersen’s hire will pay big dividends for the Beavers.
34. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Record at Oregon: 24-4 (2 years)
Career Record: 24-4 (2 years)
Helfrich is the only current Pac-12 coach to play for the national championship and has picked up where Chip Kelly left off by guiding Oregon to a 24-4 record over the last two years. The Ducks finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll after a loss to Ohio State in college football’s national championship in January. Helfrich and his staff navigated several injuries and overcame an early loss against Arizona to win the Pac-12 title and finish 13-2 overall. Prior to his promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach with the Ducks, Helfrich was an assistant at Arizona State, Colorado and Boise State. Helfrich won’t have Marcus Mariota in 2015, but the third-year coach has this program in great shape and poised to continue finishing near the top of the Pac-12.
35. Jim Mora, UCLA
Record at UCLA: 29-11 (3 years)
Career Record: 29-11 (3 years)
A case could be made Mora should be higher among his conference peers. In three seasons at UCLA, the Bruins are 29-11 under his watch and have won six Pac-12 games each year. Mora guided UCLA to the Pac-12 South title in 2012 and finished (or tied) for second in the other two seasons. High expectations surrounded this program last year, but the Bruins were easily handled by Oregon in mid-October and on Nov. 28 lost to Stanford 31-10 with a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game up for grabs. Mora has recruited four consecutive top-20 classes, so talent isn’t an issue for this program. Contending for the South Division in 2015 should be a reasonable expectation, but the Bruins have to replace quarterback Brett Hundley.
36. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 231-115-2 (28 years)
Career Record: 273-138-4 (34 years)
Beamer is college football’s longest-tenured coach entering the 2015 season. Virginia Tech has won 231 games under Beamer’s watch, which includes a streak of eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2004-11. While Beamer’s longevity deserves plenty of consideration here, it’s also worth noting Virginia Tech is just 22-17 over the last three seasons and has not finished in the final Associated Press poll in that span after recording 12 top-25 finishes in 13 years from 1998-2011. The Hokies tied for second in the Coastal Division in 2013 but slipped to fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2014. Can Beamer return this program back to the top of the Coastal in 2015?
37. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Record at Northwestern: 60-53 (9 years)
Career Record: 60-53 (9 years)
Northwestern is coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time under Fitzgerald and is 4-12 in Big Ten play over the last two years. While it’s easy to only judge coaches by recent history, this is not an easy job and Fitzgerald has won 60 games since 2006. Additionally, the Wildcats went to five consecutive bowl games from 2008-12, including a 10-win campaign in ’12, concluding with just the program’s second postseason victory. Considering what Fitzgerald has accomplished at one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, what could he do at a program with more resources?
38. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Record at Clemson: 61-26 (7 years)
Career Record: 61-26 (7 years)
Swinney has helped Clemson football reach its potential with four consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories. The Tigers have not lost more than two games in ACC play during that span and finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013. Swinney is also regarded for his work on the recruiting trail, as Clemson has averaged a 13.2 finish – including two top-10 classes – among all 128 teams over the last five seasons. It’s no secret the Tigers invested heavily in their coordinators – Chad Morris (now at SMU) and defensive play-caller Brent Venables – to allow Swinney to focus on being the program CEO. What type of impact will Morris leaving have on the offense? That’s the big question facing Clemson in 2015 and beyond.
39. Mark Hudspeth,UL Lafayette
Record at UL Lafayette: 36-16 (4 years)
Career Record: 102-37 (11 years)
Hudspeth has been a home-run hire for UL Lafayette, and it won’t be long before Power 5 programs inquire if he’s interested in moving to a bigger job. In each of Hudspeth’s four seasons, the Ragin’ Cajuns have won nine games and claimed a bowl victory. Prior to the last four years at UL Lafayette, Hudspeth went 66-21 at North Alabama from 2002-08 and also worked as an assistant at Mississippi State. Hudspeth is one of college football’s top rising stars in the coaching ranks.
40. Mike Riley, Nebraska
Record at Nebraska: First Year
Career Record: 93-80 (14 years)
Nebraska’s hire of Riley came as a surprise, but the Idaho native seems to be the right coach at the right time. The Cornhuskers won at least nine games in each of Bo Pelini’s seven seasons, yet never finished higher than 14th in the Associated Press poll or claimed a conference title. That’s the challenge for Riley in 2015 and beyond. Can he elevate Nebraska back into contention for a national title or compete with Ohio State and Michigan for Big Ten championships? Oregon State is a challenging job, yet Riley won 93 games in 14 seasons and guided the Beavers to a winning conference record in six of those years. Another mark in favor of Riley’s hire is his experience in recruiting and finding talent in Texas and California. Also, Riley and his staff did a good job of developing talent while in Corvallis. If Nebraska can’t beat Ohio State or Michigan for five-star recruits, it needs to develop three-star talent into five-star players.
Related: Big Ten 2015 Predictions
41. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Record at Cincinnati: 18-8 (2 years)
Career Record: 148-86 (19 years)
Tuberville is a proven winner at four different stops and is off to a strong start at Cincinnati with an 18-8 mark in two years. The Bearcats claimed a share of the conference title in 2014 and is considered the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference this fall. Prior to taking over at Cincinnati, Tuberville went 20-17 at Texas Tech, 85-40 at Auburn and 25-20 at Ole Miss. In 19 years as a head coach, Tuberville has posted only four losing seasons.
42. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Record at Memphis: 17-20 (3 years)
Career Record: 17-20 (3 years)
Fuente is one of the nation’s top rising stars in the head coach ranks. The Oklahoma native worked as an assistant at Illinois State and TCU before replacing Larry Porter at Memphis in 2012. Fuente inherited a program that went 3-21 from 2010-11 and the Tigers showed immediate progress in Year One, finishing with a 4-8 mark in 2012. Memphis finished 3-9 in its debut in the American Athletic Conference but went 10-3 and finished No. 25 in the final Associated Press poll in 2014. With Memphis among the contenders to win the AAC in 2015, Fuente could be pursued by bigger programs this offseason.
43. Steve Addazio, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 14-12 (2 years)
Career Record: 27-23 (4 years)
Even though he’s won only 14 games in two seasons at Boston College, Addazio is off to an impressive start with the Eagles. In the two years prior to Addazio’s tenure, Boston College went 6-18 and missed out on a bowl appearance in both seasons. But Addazio has made the Eagles a tough out in the ACC once again, and the program is coming off back-to-back bowl appearances. Addazio’s tenure is even more impressive when you consider he was able to mesh his systems with the returning talent in 2013, as well as recruit a graduate transfer (Tyler Murphy) at quarterback with a slightly different approach on offense. With only nine returning starters, Addazio has a tough assignment just getting Boston College back to a bowl in 2015. However, the track record suggests the Eagles will be pushing for a winning record once again.
44. Matt Wells, Utah State
Record at Utah State: 19-9 (2 years)
Career Record: 19-9 (2 years)
Despite a few major injuries to key players over the last two seasons, Wells has navigated Utah State to a 19-9 record and a 13-3 mark in conference play in that span. The Aggies played for the 2013 Mountain West title and have back-to-back bowl victories under Wells’ direction. Even though Wells inherited plenty of talent from former coach Gary Andersen, his coaching ability has been on full display with the key injuries this team has been forced to overcome over the last two years.
45. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Record at BYU: 90-39 (10 years)
Career Record: 90-39 (10 years)
Mendenhall has been a consistent winner during his 10 years in Provo and has guided the program into FBS independence after BYU left the Mountain West at the end of the 2010 season. The Cougars finished in the final Associated Press poll in four consecutive years from 2006-09 and won 22 games from 2006-07. BYU went 10-3 in its debut as an independent in 2011 and has finished 8-5 in three consecutive seasons. A challenging schedule awaits the Cougars in 2015, but Mendenhall’s team will be a tough opponent for the four Power 5 teams on their schedule, along with matchups against Boise State and Utah State.
46. Steve Sarkisian, USC
Record at USC: 9-4 (1 year)
Career Record: 43-33 (6 years)
By this time next year, Sarkisian could rank higher on this list – if USC ends up winning the Pac-12 as the early odds for 2015 suggest. Sarkisian’s first year with the Trojans had its share of ups and downs. USC beat Stanford 13-10 in Week 2 but lost 37-31 at Boston College the following Saturday. The Trojans lost on the last play of the game to Arizona State and in the final seconds to Utah. With better depth due to the end of NCAA scholarship sanctions, USC should have the manpower needed to close the door in tight games. Prior to taking over at USC, Sarkisian went 35-29 at Washington and guided the Huskies to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-13. The challenge for Sarkisian is simple: Get USC back among the nation’s elite and contend for national championships. Is he the right coach to do so?
47. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 12-25 (3 years)
Career Record: 96-68 (13 years)
Entering his fourth year in Pullman, Leach is still looking to elevate Washington State into a consistent winner and a bowl team every season. At Texas Tech, Leach guided the Red Raiders to an 84-43 record in 10 years and never finished a season with fewer than seven victories. But winning at a high level has been much tougher at Washington State. The Cougars are 12-25 over the last three years, and a 6-7 team from 2013 is bookended by 3-9 records in ’12 and ’14. Offense is Leach’s specialty, and Washington State has ranked in the top 10 nationally of passing offense from 2012-14. But fixing the defense has to be a priority after allowing at least 36 points in Pac-12 games in each of the last three years.
48. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Record at West Virginia: 28-23 (4 years)
Career Record: 28-23 (4 years)
Under Holgorsen’s direction over the last four years, West Virginia has made the successful transition from the Big East to the Big 12. The Mountaineers won the Big East title in Holgorsen’s first season and finished 7-6 in their Big 12 debut in 2012. After stumbling to a 4-8 record in 2013, West Virginia rebounded with a 7-6 record in 2014 and claimed its first winning mark in conference play since joining the Big 12. And with 15 starters back for 2015, West Virginia should have a good chance to improve on last year’s record. Holgorsen is a highly regarded offensive mind and is settling into his role as the head coach. With Holgorsen stabilizing the program and competing in the Big 12, the future looks bright in Morgantown.
49. Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Record at Wyoming: 4-8 (1 year)
Career Record: 108-40 (12 years)
Bohl’s first season at Wyoming resulted in a 4-8 mark, but that record wasn’t unexpected. Most anticipated 2014 and ‘15 would be rebuilding years for the Cowboys, but Bohl’s team should show progress throughout the course of the upcoming season. In 11 years at North Dakota State, Bohl went 104-32 and claimed three consecutive FCS national championships from 2011-13. Give Bohl a couple of years and Wyoming will be a consistent winner in the Mountain West.
50. Bryan Harsin, Boise State
Record at Boise State: 12-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 19-7 (2 years)
Harsin is a coach on the rise entering the 2015 season. After a 7-5 mark in 2013 as Arkansas State’s head coach, Harsin left Jonesboro to replace Chris Petersen at Boise State. The former Bronco quarterback went 12-2 in his debut and guided the program to a win in the Fiesta Bowl. Expect Harsin to climb higher in these rankings over the next few years.
51. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 28-33 (5 years)
The depth of the Pac-12’s coaching prowess is on full display when Sonny Dykes ranks as the No. 11 coach on this list. After a successful 22-15 stint at Louisiana Tech from 2010-12, Dykes is 6-18 in two seasons at California. The Golden Bears went 1-11 in 2013, but showed marked improvement last fall. California finished 5-7 overall and lost four games by eight points or less. Dykes has this program trending in the right direction, and the offense should be among the nation’s best in 2015. If Dykes can solve the defensive woes, California will make a bowl game this year.
52. George O’Leary, UCF
Record at UCF: 81-60 (11 years)
Career Record: 133-93 (18 years)
The Knights have averaged 10.3 wins over the last three years, and O’Leary has led UCF to four double-digit win seasons since taking over the program in 2004. The Knights also have three consecutive bowl appearances and finished No. 10 nationally in the final 2013 Associated Press poll. Prior to UCF, O’Leary coached at Georgia Tech (1994-01) and led the Yellow Jackets to a 52-33 mark in eight years.
53. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Record at Navy: 57-35 (7 years)
Career Record: 57-35 (7 years)
Navy is set to transition to the American Athletic Conference in 2015, and Niumatalolo is the right coach to guide this program into a new era. The Midshipmen are 57-35 under Niumatalolo’s direction, including six seasons of at least eight wins in the last seven years. Navy also has a bowl appearance in six of Niumatalolo’s seasons, and the 10-win campaign in 2009 was only the third year of double-digit wins in program history.
54. Jim McElwain, Florida
Record at Florida: First Year
Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)
After three seasons at Colorado State, McElwain was tapped as the replacement for Will Muschamp at Florida. Although Muschamp guided the Gators to an 11-2 mark in 2012, this program underachieved over the last four years with a 29-21 record. McElwain seems like the right coach to get the program back on track after a 22-16 record with the Rams, as well as a previous stint as an offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11. Colorado State improved its win total in each of McElwain’s three years, including a 10-win mark in 2014. Prior to calling the plays at Alabama, McElwain made stops as an assistant at Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville and in the NFL with the Raiders. His offensive background will pay dividends for a program that has struggled mightily on that side of the ball in recent years.
55. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 115-85 (16 years)
Career Record: 127-106 (19 years)
Ferentz enters 2015 as the nation’s third-longest tenured coach. Over the last 16 seasons, Ferentz’s tenure with the Hawkeyes has experienced its share of ups and downs. And entering 2015, it’s fair to wonder where this program is headed after a 9-7 mark in Big Ten play over the last two years. Iowa has won 10 games at least four times under Ferentz but has not finished better than 8-5 since 2010. Maintaining success at a program for a long period isn’t easy, and as the nation’s ninth highest-paid coach in 2014, Ferentz is drawing plenty of criticism from the Iowa fanbase. In Athlon’s recent expert poll, Iowa tied with Maryland as the No. 7 coaching job in the Big Ten. This program has its share of challenges (in-state talent in recruiting), but there’s really no reason why the Hawkeyes can’t contend for the Big Ten West Division title each year.
56. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 20-30 (4 years)
Career Record: 94-100 (16 years)
Edsall’s tenure at Maryland got off to a rocky start with a 2-10 record in 2011. But since that two-win campaign, the Terrapins are 18-20 over the last three seasons and finished their first year in the Big Ten with a 7-6 record and a 4-4 mark in conference play. Prior to Maryland, Edsall went 74-70 at UConn, guiding the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl and a share of the Big East title in 2010. After earning back-to-back bowl appearances, Edsall’s next challenge is to elevate Maryland into the Big Ten East Division’s top tier, which includes Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. That’s not an easy task, but with the talent available in the Maryland/Washington, D.C. area, Edsall should be able to keep some of those players at home. This fall looks like a rebuilding season for Maryland, but Edsall should have this team in contention for a bowl.
57. Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern
Record at Georgia Southern: 9-3 (1 year)
Career Record: 185-70-1 (21 years)
Fritz was one of the top coaching hires from 2014, as he guided Georgia Southern to a 9-3 record and a perfect 8-0 mark in Sun Belt play. Adding to the impressive 2014 season was the fact it was Georgia Southern’s debut on the FBS level. Fritz’s success isn’t just limited to Georgia Southern either, as he went 40-14 in four years at Sam Houston State and 97-47 at Central Missouri.
58. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 28-22 (4 years)
Career Record: 55-56 (9 years)
2015 is a critical season for Golden at Miami. The Hurricanes are just 16-16 in four years of ACC play under Golden and 28-22 overall. For a program that has the ability to recruit at a top 10-15 level, a .500 mark in conference games is a troubling sign. Golden did inherit some obstacles when he took over the program, including the Nevin Shapiro scandal and NCAA investigation, which was a cloud hanging over the program for over two years. Prior to taking over at Miami, Golden went 27-34 at Temple, which included a 17-8 record over the final two years (2009-10). With one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in Brad Kaaya, Miami has the potential to challenge for the Coastal Division title. But potential has been the key word surrounding this program for a few years. It’s time for Golden to deliver.
59. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 11-14 (2 years)
Career Record: 34-18 (4 years)
If NC State picks up in 2015 where it left off last season, it’s a safe bet Doeren will rank higher on this list next year. The Wolfpack showed marked improvement in Doeren’s second season, going from a 3-9 and winless team in the ACC in 2013 to an 8-5 squad in 2014. NC State also finished 3-5 in ACC games and won four out of its final five games, including a 35-7 rout over rival North Carolina. Prior to NC State, Doeren went 23-4 at Northern Illinois and guided the Huskies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl in the 2012 season. Recruiting at NC State is on the rise too, as the Wolfpack have signed back-to-back top-35 classes after not finishing higher than 54th from 2011-13.
60. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Record at Ball State: 30-20 (4 years)
Career Record: 109-56 (14 years)
Ball State went 5-7 in a rebuilding year last season, but it won’t be long before the Cardinals are back in contention for a bowl or the MAC title. Under Lembo’s watch, Ball State is 30-20 and has won 21 of 32 conference matchups over the last four years. Additionally, Lembo guided the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl games from 2012-13. Lembo’s success isn’t limited to just Ball State. He went 35-22 in five years at Elon and 44-14 in five seasons at Lehigh.
61. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Record at Air Force: 59-44 (8 years)
Career Record: 59-44 (8 years)
Calhoun is the longest-tenured Mountain West coach at his current job. Over the last eight years, Calhoun has led Air Force to 59 wins and seven bowl appearances. After a 2-10 mark in 2013, the Falcons rebounded with their best season under Calhoun with a 10-3 record in ‘14.
62. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 22-39 (5 years)
MacIntyre didn’t inherit much to work with when he replaced Jon Embree after the 2012 season. The Buffaloes are 6-18 over the last two years and have won only one contest in conference play. While the overall record isn’t pretty, MacIntyre has this program on the right track. Colorado lost four Pac-12 games by five points or less last season, and with an experienced roster returning in 2015, the Buffaloes should show progress in the win column. Prior to Colorado, MacIntyre went 16-21 at San Jose State, including a 15-9 mark over the final two years. MacIntyre should move up this list in the coming seasons.
63. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Record at Indiana: 14-34 (4 years)
Career Record: 14-34 (4 years)
Indiana is one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, but Wilson has this program moving in the right direction. The Hoosiers won only one game in Wilson’s first year (2011), improved to 4-8 in 2012 and just missed on a bowl game in ’13 by finishing 5-7. Bad luck hit Indiana last season, as this program was poised to hit six wins but starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost midway through the year with a shoulder injury. Sudfeld is back in 2015, giving the Hoosiers an opportunity to push for six wins once again. Considering Wilson’s background on offense, along with Indiana’s production on that side of the ball over the last four years, scoring points won’t be a problem. However, the defense has allowed six yards per play in Big Ten games in five consecutive seasons. That must be addressed for this program to move forward.
64. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 21-17 (3 years)
Career Record: 55-36 (7 years)
The ongoing NCAA investigation/uncertainty at North Carolina certainly isn’t helping Fedora’s tenure in Chapel Hill. However, the Tar Heels have regressed in wins since posting an 8-4 record in 2012. North Carolina finished 7-6 in 2013 and slipped to 6-7 in 2014. Aside from the regression in the win column, the biggest concern for Fedora has to be fixing a defense that ranked 14th in the ACC in yards per play allowed. The hire of Gene Chizik as the team’s coordinator should address that side of the ball, and North Carolina has one of the league’s most talented offenses in place. Could 2015 be the best year of Fedora’s tenure with the Tar Heels?
65. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: First Year
Career Record: 19-19 (3 years)
Gary Andersen surprisingly departed Wisconsin for Oregon State this offseason, but the Badgers were able to turn to a familiar name in Chryst. After three years as Pittsburgh’s head coach, Chryst is coming back to Madison to guide a program that has won at least 10 games in four out of the last six seasons. In addition to being a Madison native, Chryst played quarterback for the Badgers and served as an assistant with the program in 2002 and again from 2005-11. There’s no denying that Chryst is an excellent fit at Wisconsin. However, he was only 19-19 in three seasons with the Panthers.
66. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 93-88 (15 years)
Prior to taking over at Wake Forest, Clawson was a successful head coach at three previous stops. From 1999-2003, Clawson went 29-29 at Fordham, with 19 of those victories coming in the final two seasons. After five years with the Rams, Clawson went 29-20 with two FCS playoff appearances at Richmond, followed by a 32-30 mark at Bowling Green from 2009-13. Clawson didn’t inherit a loaded roster and finished 3-9 with just one of those wins coming in conference play. However, Clawson seems to have Wake Forest moving in the right direction with a talented, young core in place for 2015 and ’16.
67. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-6 (2 years)
Career Record: 23-6 (2 years)
Carey has continued to keep Northern Illinois at the top of the MAC in his two years in DeKalb. The Wisconsin native inherited a loaded team from former coach Dave Doeren and guided the Huskies to a 12-2 mark in 2013. Northern Illinois finished 7-1 in conference play last season and claimed the MAC Championship with a blowout 51-17 win over Bowling Green. In two years, Carey has won 23 games and has lost only once in MAC play.
68. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: First Season
Career Record: First Season
If we are buying stock in coaches for 2016 and beyond, Narduzzi is on the must-have list. The former Michigan State coordinator is ready to be a head coach after leading one of the nation’s top defenses from 2007-14. The Spartans ranked in the top five nationally for fewest yards per play and points allowed per game from 2011-13. Narduzzi’s defense was a big reason why Michigan State won at least 11 games in four out of the last five years. Pittsburgh is on its fourth coach in six seasons. However, Narduzzi seems like the right coach at the right time for the Panthers.
69. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Record at Western Michigan: 9-16 (2 years)
Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)
Western Michigan showed marked improvement in Fleck’s second season, and the Broncos will be picked near the top of the MAC once again in 2015. After a seven-win jump from 2013 to ‘14, Fleck has proven he is not just an ace recruiter. Western Michigan has recorded the top signing class in back-to-back years and is coming off a solid 8-5 record. The arrow on Fleck and this program is clearly pointing up going into 2015.
70. Matt Rhule, Temple
Record at Temple: 8-16 (2 years)
Career Record: 8-16 (2 years)
Temple is trending in the right direction entering Rhule’s third season. The Owls went 2-10 in Rhule’s debut (2013), but lost seven games by 10 points or less. Temple took a step forward last year by improving to 6-6 and winning games against Vanderbilt and East Carolina. Prior to taking over as Temple’s head coach, Rhule was an assistant with the New York Giants and worked with the Owls as an assistant from 2006-11. The 2015 version of Rhule’s team should be his best yet.
71. Tom Herman, Houston
Record at Houston: First Year
Career Record: First Year
After a successful run as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator (2012-14), Herman is ready for his opportunity to run a program. The Ohio native lands at a solid program too, as Houston as the resources to be one of the top contenders in the American Athletic Conference on an annual basis. Prior to the last three years with the Buckeyes, Herman spent time as an offensive coordinator at Iowa State (2009-11), Rice (2007-08) and Texas State (2005-06).
72. Chad Morris, SMU
Record at SMU: First Year
Career Record: First Year
Morris is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. After a one-year stint as Tulsa’s play-caller in 2010, Morris was hired to coordinate Clemson’s offense and was a key piece of the Tigers’ recent success over the last four years. The Tigers averaged at least 30 points in each of Morris’ four seasons, including back-to-back years of at least 40 points (2012-13). This is Morris’ first opportunity to be a head coach on the collegiate level, but he was a successful high school coach from 1994-2009. As a Texas native and with connections to the high school level, Morris should have no trouble recruiting to SMU. This should be a great hire for the Mustangs.
73. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Record at Kentucky: 7-17 (2 years)
Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)
Kentucky is making progress under Stoops, making the jump from two wins in 2013 to five in ’14. The Wildcats also went 2-6 in SEC play last year, equaling the amount of conference victories recorded from 2012-13. Kentucky was close to bowl eligibility in 2014, losing to Florida by six in three overtimes and by four to Louisville in the regular-season finale. The overall talent level and direction of this program have each improved since Stoops took over after the 2012 season. The next challenge is getting Kentucky to the postseason. With 12 starters back, that could happen this fall.
74. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
Record at East Carolina: 37-27 (5 years)
Career Record: 38-27 (5+ years)
McNeill has successfully transitioned East Carolina from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, and the Pirates will remain a factor in the league despite the departure of quarterback Shane Carden and receiver Justin Hardy. McNeill is a former ECU player, and before taking the head coaching job, he spent one year as an assistant with the program in 1992. McNeill is 37-27 over the last five years in Greenville, with the Pirates winning 26 games over the last three seasons.
75. Frank Solich, Ohio
Record at Ohio: 72-56 (10 years)
Career Record: 130-75 (16 years)
Solich is the MAC’s longest-tenured coach, entering his 11th season at the helm. Ohio has won at least four games in each of Solich’s 10 years and has played in six bowls. The Bobcats went 10-4 in 2011 and won nine games in ‘12. And entering the 2015 season, Ohio has a streak of six years without a losing overall record.
76. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Record at Louisiana Tech: 13-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 101-84 (15 years)
Holtz is coaching at his fourth FBS program and eclipsed 100 wins in his career in 2014. After a 16-21 three-year stint at USF, Holtz landed at Louisiana Tech and guided the Bulldogs to a Conference USA West Division title last season. Holtz also has successful stops on his resume from UConn (34 wins) and East Carolina (38 victories).
77. Terry Bowden, Akron
Record at Akron: 11-25 (3 years)
Career Record: 151-87-2 (21 years)
Improvement has been noticeable for Akron under Bowden’s watch. After a 1-11 mark in 2012, the Zips have recorded back-to-back five-win campaigns. But Akron is still looking to take the next step and reach a bowl. With 10 starters and a few transfers from Power 5 teams, the Zips should have a good chance to reach six wins in 2015. Bowden was successful at previous stops at Auburn and North Alabama. It shouldn’t be much longer before Akron takes a step forward and becomes a consistent bowl team.
78. Matt Campbell, Toledo
Record at Toledo: 26-13 (3+ years)
Career Record: 26-13 (3+ years)
Campbell is one of college football’s youngest head coaches at 35 years old, and through three full seasons, the former Mount Union defensive lineman has guided Toledo to 26 wins. The Rockets tied for the MAC West title in 2014 but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with Northern Illinois. Campbell is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and with running back Kareem Hunt returning for 2015, Toledo should be among the favorites to win the conference this year.
79. David Bailiff, Rice
Record at Rice: 48-53 (8 years)
Career Record: 69-68 (11 years)
Bailiff has quietly transformed Rice into a consistent winner during his eight years with the program. The Owls won 25 games and appeared in three consecutive bowl matchups from 2012-14 and are one of the frontrunners to win the West Division in 2015. Rice is not an easy job, but Bailiff has won 48 games over the last eight years and the 2013 Conference USA Championship.
80. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Record at Marshall: 40-25 (5 years)
Career Record: 40-25 (5 years)
Holliday was known as an ace recruiter when he was hired at Marshall in 2010, but the West Virginia native has proven he’s more than just a Signing Day specialist. The Thundering Herd has won 40 games under Holliday’s watch and has played in back-to-back Conference USA Championship games. Also, Marshall has 23 wins over the last two seasons and finished No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll in 2014.
81. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Record at Texas Tech: 12-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 12-13 (2 years)
Kingsbury was one of the nation’s top assistants when he was tapped to replace Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech in 2013. And the Red Raiders started Kingsbury’s tenure on a high note, winning their first seven games and jumping as high as No. 16 in the Associated Press poll. But Texas Tech lost its last five regular season games and used a bowl victory over Arizona State to finish 8-5. 2014 was a step back for Kingsbury, as the Red Raiders slipped to 4-8 and recorded three wins by seven points or less against Central Arkansas, UTEP and Iowa State. There’s no doubt Kingsbury is one of the Big 12’s top offensive minds and will have his unit performing at a high level. However, fixing the defense has to be a priority after allowing 42.8 points in Big 12 games in 2014. Hiring David Gibbs should pay dividends for the defense, which should allow Texas Tech to return to the postseason in 2015.
82. Dino Babers, Bowling Green
Record at Bowling Green: 8-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 27-13 (3 years)
Babers turned in a solid 8-6 record in his debut at Bowling Green last season. The Falcons managed to overcome the loss of starting quarterback Matt Johnson in the season opener to claim the MAC East title. Babers came to Bowling Green after a 19-7 record in two years at Eastern Illinois. With Johnson back under center, along with a standout core of offensive talent, Babers’ “Falcon Fast” offense should take flight in 2015.
83. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Record at San Diego State: 32-20 (4 years)
Career Record: 97-89 (15 years)
Long enters his fifth season at San Diego State with 32 wins over the last four years, and the Aztecs begin 2015 as the frontrunner to win the Mountain West’s West Division. Long has led the program to four consecutive bowl appearances, and his success in the Mountain West also extends to his tenure at New Mexico. Long was the head coach in Albuquerque from 1998-2008, during which he won 65 games. Long is a steady winner with a proven track record in the Mountain West.
84. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
Record at Fresno State: 26-14 (3 years)
Career Record: 27-14 (3+ years)
DeRuyter enters his fourth season at Fresno State looking to rebound after a 6-8 campaign. In DeRuyter’s first two years, the Bulldogs went 20-6 and claimed at least a share of the Mountain West title in both seasons. The program took a step back in 2014 without quarterback Derek Carr but still managed to win the West Division title with a 5-3 record in conference play. One mark for DeRuyter to improve on in 2015: Getting Fresno State a bowl victory. The Bulldogs are 0-3 in the postseason under DeRuyter and lost each game by at least 20 points.
85. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Record at Iowa State: 29-46 (6 years)
Career Record: 29-46 (6 years)
Iowa State is one of the nation’s toughest Power 5 jobs. The in-state recruiting base is small, the Big 12 slate isn’t easy and you have to be good at developing talent or mining the junior college ranks for quick fixes. As an Iowa native, Rhoads knows all about the challenges of coaching in Ames. He also served as an assistant with the Cyclones in 1995-99. In six years as the program’s head coach, Rhoads is 29-46 overall with three bowl appearances. Iowa State has slipped after earning back-to-back bowl bids in 2011-12 with a 5-19 mark over the last two years. Rhoads is a good coach that can squeeze the most out of his roster. However, after a winless record in Big 12 play, Rhoads needs to get the program back to qualifying for a bowl game.
86. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Record at MTSU: 57-55 (9 years)
Career Record: 57-55 (9 years)
Stockstill is the dean of Conference USA coaches. In nine years with MTSU, Stockstill has guided the program to four bowl appearances and has only one losing record in the last four seasons. The Blue Raiders also have a winning mark in C-USA play in each of the last three years. Stockstill’s best season at MTSU took place in 2009, as the Blue Raiders finished 10-3 and claimed a victory in the New Orleans Bowl.
87. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
Record at Old Dominion: 52-20 (6 years)
Career Record: 52-20 (6 years)
Wilder has guided Old Dominion from start-up program to a bowl contender in the FBS ranks. The Monarchs restarted football in 2009 and went 17-5 as a FCS independent from 2009-10. Wilder guided ODU to playoff appearances in 2011-12, with a program-best 11-2 record in ‘12. And in the Monarchs’ first season at the FBS level, Old Dominion finished 6-6 and went .500 in C-USA play. Wilder is a coach on the rise and will be a name to remember for coaching searches at Power 5 jobs if the program continues to progress.
88. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Record at Illinois: 12-25 (3 years)
Career Record: 33-41 (6 years
Beckman enters 2015 facing a make-or-break year at Illinois. The Fighting Illini have showed some improvement in Beckman’s tenure by increasing their win total by two games in each year after a 2-10 mark in 2012. Illinois finished 4-8 in 2013 and improved to 6-7 with a 3-5 mark in Big Ten play in 2014. While improvement has been noticeable in the overall win column, this program is just 4-20 in Big Ten games over the last three years and has not finished higher than fifth in its division. Beckman’s tenure got off to a rough start, but things have stabilized over the last two years. A few more wins this fall would help Beckman ensure a fifth season.
89. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Record at Rutgers: 23-16 (3 years)
Career Record: 23-16 (3 years)
Rutgers was one of the Big Ten’s biggest surprises last year. In the Scarlet Knights’ debut in their new conference, Flood guided the program to an 8-5 record and a 3-5 mark in Big Ten play. Rutgers improved late in the season and finished with wins in three out of their last four games, including a 40-21 victory over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl. The 8-5 record in 2014 was the second winning mark during Flood’s tenure, as he finished 9-4 in his debut (2012) and finished 2013 with a 6-7 mark. Keeping Rutgers in bowl contention in the Big Ten East will be a challenge in 2015. And Flood’s task was made even more difficult when Ralph Friedgen decided not to return to his staff in 2015. Flood was on the hot seat entering 2014, but a solid 8-5 record in the first season of Big Ten play has reduced some of the pressure on him.
90. Joey Jones, South Alabama
Record at South Alabama: 37-28 (6 years)
Career Record: 40-35 (7 years)
Jones started the South Alabama program from scratch and has guided the Jaguars to five seasons of at least six wins. And South Alabama is trending up after making the program’s first bowl appearance last year. Jones has plenty of roots within the state of Alabama, playing for the Crimson Tide under Bear Bryant and spending time as a high school head coach at Dora and Mountain Brook. The Jaguars return only five starters for 2015, but Jones should keep this team in contention for another bowl.
91. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
Record at Texas State: 36-34 (6 years)
Career Record: 210-126-2 (29 years)
Texas State has been on the cusp of reaching the program’s first bowl appearance under Franchione. Can the Bobcats take the next step in 2015? Franchione has guided the program to at least six wins in three out of the last four seasons, including a 7-5 mark in 2014. While Franchione has been solid at Texas State, he’s better known for his stops at Alabama (2001-02), Texas A&M (2003-07) and TCU (1998-00). In his 29-year coaching career, Franchione has recorded 210 wins.
92. Todd Berry, ULM
Record at ULM: 27-34 (5 years)
Career Record: 56-93 (13 years)
ULM is not an easy job, but Berry has been able to transform the Warhawks into a consistent threat for bowl appearances. ULM has won at least four games in each of Berry’s five years and won 14 contests from 2012-13, which included a bowl appearance in ‘12. With a 13-game slate and uncertainty at quarterback, reaching a bowl this season won’t be easy for ULM. However, Berry has a solid defense, and the Warhawks will be a tough out once again in the Sun Belt.
93. Mark Whipple, UMass
Record at UMass: 52-35 (7 years)
Career Record: 124-68 (17 years)
Whipple returned to UMass after a 10-year absence and guided the Minutemen to a 3-9 record in his debut. While the 3-9 mark might not seem like much, UMass was significantly more competitive than under Charley Molnar and the three wins was more than the program recorded from 2012-13 combined. Whipple has won 52 games in seven years as the head coach at UMass, including a FCS Championship in 1998.With 18 starters returning, the Minutemen could challenge for a bowl in 2015.
94. Dan McCarney, North Texas
Record at North Texas: 22-27 (4 years)
Career Record: 78-112 (16 years)
McCarney enters his fifth season at North Texas still looking to push the program into consistent C-USA West contender status. The Mean Green has one bowl appearance (2013) under McCarney’s direction, but has three losing seasons as well. McCarney also coached from 1996-2006 at Iowa State, guiding the Cyclones to five bowl appearances over his final seven years in Ames.
95. Larry Coker, UTSA
Record at UTSA: 23-23 (4 years)
Career Record: 83-38 (10 years)
UTSA has made the successful transition from FCS to the FBS ranks. Now, Coker has the difficult task of rebuilding a roster that returns just three starters for 2015 and loses several other key contributors. The Roadrunners are 23-23 under Coker’s direction and won 15 games from 2012-13. However, UTSA underachieved at 4-8 last year and won its three games in conference play by seven points or less. Coker has a national championship on his resume from six years at Miami and has been instrumental in getting UTSA’s program off of the ground.
96. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State
Record at Appalachian State: 11-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 11-13 (2 years)
Satterfield is a coach on the rise. The former Appalachian State quarterback had the tough assignment of replacing Jerry Moore in 2013, and the Mountaineers went 4-8 in his debut. The program transitioned to the FBS ranks last season, and Satterfield’s team finished with a 7-5 mark, including a 4-4 record in the Sun Belt. With 20 starters returning, Appalachian State should be one of the favorites to win the conference in 2015.
97. Sean Kugler, UTEP
Record at UTEP: 9-16 (2 years)
Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)
UTEP showed considerable progress in Kugler’s second season after a 2-10 mark in 2013. The Miners finished 7-6 and played in the New Mexico Bowl – the program’s first postseason appearance since 2010. As a former offensive line coach, it’s no surprise Kugler emphasizes the running game and toughness. UTEP should be in the mix for a bowl once again in 2015.
98. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky
Record at WKU: 8-5 (1 year)
Career Record: 8-5 (1 year)
Brohm is a coach that could easily climb this list by the end of the 2015 season. WKU finished 8-5 in Brohm’s debut, which included a thrilling 49-48 victory over Central Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl. Behind prolific quarterback Brandon Doughty, WKU is the frontrunner to win Conference USA in 2015. Judging by Brohm’s first season and what’s to come next year, this program is in good hands for the foreseeable future.
99. Willie Taggart, USF
Record at USF: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 22-38 (5 years)
Taggart was considered one of the top coaching hires in 2013, but USF is only 6-18 in his first two years. Taggart enters 2015 squarely on the hot seat, and the Florida native hopes a revamped offensive style and staff helps to push the program in the right direction. Taggart has recruited well, so there’s no shortage of talent in place. How quickly will the talent and unproven players mesh with the scheme? Prior to USF, Taggart went 16-20 at Western Kentucky, including a 14-10 mark over the final two years.
100. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 20-30 (4 years)
After guiding Kent State to a 16-10 record in two years, including an impressive 11-3 mark in 2012, Hazell appeared to be the right coach for Purdue. After two years with the Boilermakers, however, it’s apparent that there’s still a lot of work ahead for Hazell. Purdue is only 4-20 over the last two seasons and has won only one game in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers had two losses in conference play by seven points or less, but lost three out of their last four games by 15 points or more. Hazell has made small gains through his first two years. However, plenty of work remains going into 2015, and Hazell needs to show progress in year three.
101. Lance Leipold, Buffalo
Record at Buffalo: First Year
Career Record: 109-6 (8 years)
Leipold was one of the top coaching hires this offseason, as he heads to Buffalo after eight successful years at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Warhawks won 109 games and six national championships under Leipold’s watch. The Bulls could be a dark horse to contend in the MAC East this year, as Leipold inherits a talented offense (his specialty) and senior quarterback Joe Licata.
102. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 23-38 (5 years)
Career Record: 47-43 (7 years)
London entered 2014 on the hot seat but managed to earn another season in Charlottesville after the Cavaliers finished 5-7 and lost five games by eight points or less. London enters 2015 in the same situation, as his contact expires at the end of 2016 and there’s pressure to get Virginia back into a bowl game after three consecutive losing seasons. Recruiting has been a strength for London and his staff, with the Cavaliers averaging a 31.8 finish nationally since 2011. The 31.8 mark ranks No. 6 among ACC teams, ahead of three other Coastal Division teams in Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Duke. But despite the success on the recruiting trail, Virginia has won only five games in ACC play over the last three seasons. 2015 is a make-or-break year for London.
103. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse: 10-15 (2 years)
Career Record: 10-15 (2 years)
Shafer went 7-6 in his first season at Syracuse (2013), but the Orange regressed to 3-9 last season. The four-win decline had a lot to do with injuries to key players, including quarterback Terrel Hunt. Improving the offense has to be a priority for Shafer and coordinator Tim Lester, especially since the Orange managed only 24 points in their final three games. Prior to Shafer’s promotion to head coach, he worked as a defensive coordinator with the Orange from 2009-12. Additionally, he made stops as an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois and Northern Illinois. Syracuse seemed to be trending in the right direction after 2013. But after a three-win campaign last year, can Shafer get the program back into contention for a bowl? With a new athletic director coming, the pressure is on Shafer to produce.
104. Mike Bobo, Colorado State
Record at Colorado State: First Year
Career Record: First Year
Bobo has spent most of his life in the state of Georgia, so moving to Colorado will be a definite change of scenery for the former SEC quarterback. After spending 1993-97 under center for the Bulldogs, Bobo worked as a coach with the program from 1998-99 and again from 2001-14. Bobo was promoted to call the plays for Georgia in 2007 and coordinated an offense that led the SEC last season by averaging 41.3 points per game. Bobo has never been a college head coach. However, this seems like a good hire for a program like Colorado State.
105. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State
Record at Arkansas State: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 7-6 (1 year)
The arrow on Anderson’s coaching career is pointing up. Arkansas State went 7-6 in Anderson’s debut, but the Red Wolves are among the favorites to win the Sun Belt in 2015. Prior to taking the job in Jonesboro, Anderson was an assistant at North Carolina, Southern Miss, UL Lafayette, MTSU and New Mexico. Last year, Anderson represented the fifth coach at Arkansas State in five years, and the stability of the coaching staff for 2015 should pay dividends.
106. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Record at Tulane: 12-25 (3 years)
Career Record: 12-25 (3 years)
As a New Orleans native and former assistant with the Saints, Johnson is familiar with Tulane and what it takes to win in the Big Easy. The job is a challenging one, but an on-campus stadium should help Johnson recruit and rebuild this program. The Green Wave went 2-10 in Johnson’s first year (2012) but rebounded into the postseason with a 7-6 mark in 2013. Tulane finished 3-9 in 2014, and there’s hope for a turnaround in 2015 with 13 returning starters.
107. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 3-9 (1 year)
James Franklin left big shoes to fill in Nashville after leading the Commodores to three consecutive bowl appearances. While repeating that success in the first year was going to be tough for Mason, Vanderbilt slipped to 3-9 and went winless in SEC play for the first time since 2009. The Commodores also lost four conference games by 20 or more points, and two of their three wins came by less than three points. Mason plans on taking over the defensive play-calling duties in 2015 and a staff overhaul should help the offense improve after averaging only 12.8 points per game in SEC contests. Mason had plenty of success as a coordinator at Stanford. Will the Commodores show big improvement in year two?
108. Brian Polian, Nevada
Record at Nevada: 11-14 (2 years)
Career Record: 11-14 (2 years)
Nevada made steady progress in Polian’s second year. After a 4-8 record in his 2013 debut, the Wolf Pack finished 7-6 and 4-4 in conference play last season. Nevada also returned to the postseason after a one-year absence with a trip to the New Orleans Bowl, defeated one Power 5 opponent (Washington State), while losing by just seven points to another (Arizona). Polian has Nevada moving in the right direction. However, improving on the win total in 2015 could be difficult without quarterback Cody Fajardo.
109. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio)
Record at Miami (Ohio): 2-10 (1 year)
Career Record: 76-17 (7 years)
Miami (Ohio) won only two games in Martin’s first season, but the RedHawks were more competitive and there’s a promising outlook for this program headed into 2015. The former Notre Dame assistant took over in Oxford after spending four years under Brian Kelly at Notre Dame and worked from 2004-09 as the head coach at Grand Valley State. The Lakers went 74-7 with two Division II championships under Martin’s watch. It may take another year or two for Miami to get back to a bowl, but Martin has this program trending in the right direction.
110. Jeff Monken, Army West Point
Record at Army: 4-8 (1 year)
Career Record: 42-24 (5 years)
Army West Point is one of college football’s toughest coaching jobs, and Monken has plenty of work to do with just six returning starters in 2015. The Black Knights went 4-8 in Monken’s debut last season but also suffered a surprising 49-43 loss at Yale in late September. Prior to the 2014 season at Army, Monken went 38-16 in four years at Georgia Southern. Monken is a good fit at West Point, but he needs more time to rebuild a program that has only one winning record since 1997.
111. Bob Davie, New Mexico
Record at New Mexico: 11-26 (3 years)
Career Record: 46-51 (8 years)
Davie inherited a major rebuilding project in 2012, and the Lobos have made noticeable improvement over the last three years. New Mexico is only 11-26 under Davie’s watch, but the Lobos just missed on a bowl last year after losing three games by seven points or less. With 11 returning starters and more overall depth in the program, 2015 will be a critical year for Davie and the Lobos.
112. Bob Diaco, UConn
Record at UConn: 2-10 (1 year)
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)
Diaco was regarded as one of the nation’s rising stars in the assistant ranks after coordinating Notre Dame’s defense from 2010-13. Under Diaco’s watch, the Fighting Irish finished No. 2 nationally in scoring defense in 2012. But Diaco’s first year guiding the UConn program was a struggle, as the Huskies finished 2-10 and lost the final four games of 2014.
113. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Record at Southern Miss: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 4-20 (2 years)
Southern Miss has fallen on hard times recently, as the Golden Eagles were once one of the annual contenders in Conference USA but has failed to record a winning record since 2011. Monken has a tough job and needs a few years to rebuild the talent and overall depth of the roster. Southern Miss did improve its win total by two games in Monken’s second year. The Golden Eagles are on the right path.
114. Trent Miles, Georgia State
Record at Georgia State: 1-23 (2 years)
Career Record: 21-59 (7 years)
Georgia State is struggling to put all of the pieces together since reaching the FBS level, and Miles is just 1-23 with the Panthers over the last two years. But prior to Georgia State, Miles turned around Indiana State’s struggling program, guiding the Sycamores to three winning records from 2010-12. There’s a lot of work ahead for Miles in Atlanta.
115. Neal Brown, Troy
Record at Troy: First Year
Career Record: First Year
Brown is one of the nation’s youngest head coaches (35) and has the tough assignment of following Larry Blakeney after the long-time coach retired at the end of last season. Brown is known for his offensive background and has stops as an assistant in his career at Texas Tech and Kentucky. Brown previously worked at Troy as an assistant from 2006-09. The Kentucky native is unproven, but he should be a good hire for the Trojans.
116. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa
Record at Tulsa: First Year
Career Record: First Year
Montgomery is tasked with turning around a Tulsa program that slipped to a 5-19 record in the final two years under Bill Blankenship. Montgomery has never been a head coach on the collegiate level, but he worked under Art Briles at Baylor from 2006-14 and Houston from 2003-05. Montgomery’s background on offense should be a good fit for Tulsa.
117. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Record at San Jose State: 9-15 (2 years)
Career Record: 53-37 (8 years)
Caragher had the tough assignment of following Mike MacIntyre, who left for Colorado at the end of the 2012 season. And after two years with the program, Caragher is starting to feel a little heat. The Spartans finished just 6-6 in 2013 with standout quarterback David Fales at the helm and slipped to 3-9 last season. There is optimism at San Jose State in 2015, as the program returns 12 starters and inked one of the Mountain West’s top signing classes this year.
118. David Beaty, Kansas
Record at Kansas: First Year
Career Record: First Year
Beaty is a former Kansas assistant and comes to Lawrence after a three-year stint at Texas A&M. He has never been a head coach, but the Jayhawks hope his recruiting ties to Texas and previous experience at Kansas help to turn around a program that has not won more than three games in each of the last five years. Beaty retained last year’s interim coach Clint Bowen but isn’t inheriting much to work with going into 2015 and just getting to three or four wins would be a good year for the Jayhawks. With a lack of head coaching experience and only two years as a coordinator on the collegiate level, Beaty is still largely an unknown.
119. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Record at Kent State: 6-17 (2 years)
Career Record: 6-17 (2 years)
Haynes is a Kent State alumnus and came to the program after working as an assistant at Ohio State and Arkansas. However, the Ohio native has struggled in his two years as Kent State’s head coach. The Golden Flashes are just 6-17 during that span and finished 2-9 last year. With the addition of Don Treadwell as the team’s offensive play-caller, Haynes hopes to jumpstart an offense that averaged only 16.4 points per game last season. The seat is starting to warm just a bit for Haynes as he enters Year 3.
120. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
Record at Eastern Michigan: 2-10 (1 year)
Career Record: 142-56 (18 years)
Eastern Michigan might be the toughest place to coach in the FBS ranks. Needless to say, Creighton has a tough assignment ahead, as EMU has not recorded a winning season since 1995. The Eagles went 2-10 in Creighton’s debut but has a more manageable schedule to show improvement in 2015. Prior to taking over in Ypsilanti, Creighton went 42-22 at Drake, 63-15 at Wabash and 32-9 at Ottawa.
121. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
Record at New Mexico State: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 33-73 (9 years)
Similar to Idaho’s Paul Petrino, Martin walked into a difficult job and needs more time to be evaluated. Martin is just 4-20 through two years with the Aggies, and he went 29-53 in seven seasons as Kent State’s coach from 2004-10.
122. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Record at Idaho: 2-21 (2 years)
Career Record: 2-21 (2 years)
Idaho is a tough job, and Petrino took over in Moscow with some uncertainty about the program’s conference home. The Vandals landed in the Sun Belt and struggled in their return to the conference (1-10 in 2014). Petrino inherited a rebuilding project, and through two seasons, there’s still plenty of work to do.
123. Ron Turner, FIU
Record at FIU: 5-19 (2 years)
Career Record: 47-80 (11 years)
FIU showed small signs of life in Turner’s second season. After a 1-11 record in 2013, the Panthers finished 4-8 in 2014 and defeated rival FAU 38-10. Turner was a curious hire for this program, and there’s still plenty for this coaching staff to prove in 2015. However, there’s a good core of young talent in place and one of the conference’s best defenses for Turner to build around.
124. Charlie Partridge, FAU
Record at FAU: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 3-9 (1 year)
Partridge is known for his recruiting ability, so it’s no surprise FAU reeled in the No. 2 signing class in Conference USA from 2015. However, the Owls went 3-9 in Partridge’s first season and won only two games in conference play. With 11 returning starters and standout quarterback Jaquez Johnson back in the mix, Partridge has a good opportunity to take this program a step forward in 2015.
125. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Record at Hawaii: 8-29 (3 years)
Career Record: 8-29 (3 years)
After winning just eight games in three years, there’s a ton of pressure on Chow to push Hawaii up in the Mountain West standings in 2015. The Rainbow Warriors have failed to win more than four games in a season under Chow’s watch, but are coming off their best showing in Mountain West play (3-5). With 12 returning starters and USC transfer Max Wittek at quarterback, Chow has plenty of reasons to expect improvement. However, if Hawaii finishes its fourth consecutive year with at least nine losses, Chow will have a tough time making a case to return in 2016.
126. Tony Sanchez, UNLV
Record at UNLV: First Year
Career Record: First Year
Hiring a head coach from the high school ranks is a risky move, but Sanchez is worth the gamble for UNLV. The Rebels have only two seasons of more than five wins since 2001 and have four years of double-digit losses over the last five seasons. Sanchez has only one year of collegiate coaching experience (1996 at New Mexico State), but the California native was one of the nation’s top high school coaches, going 85-5 at Las Vegas prep powerhouse Bishop Gorman from 2009-14. Sure, Sanchez is unproven and risky. But there’s also something to like about UNLV thinking outside of the box for this hire.
127. Brad Lambert, Charlotte
Record at Charlotte: 10-12 (2 years)
Career Record: 10-12 (2 years)
Lambert has a difficult assignment for the next few years. The former Wake Forest defensive coordinator is trying to follow the path of fellow C-USA members UTSA and Old Dominion in transitioning from the FCS level to the FBS ranks. The 49ers are 10-12 since starting their football program, but have yet to beat a team from the FBS level.
128. John Bonamego, Central Michigan
Record at Central Michigan: First Year
Career Record: First Year
Bonamego takes over at Central Michigan after Dan Enos left to be the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. Bonamego is no stranger to Central Michigan, as he played quarterback and wide receiver for the Chippewas. While the familiarity is important, Bonamego has never been a head coach, let alone an offensive or defensive coordinator at the FBS level. Bonamego was the Detroit Lions’ special teams coordinator when he was hired to replace Enos and previously worked with the Jaguars, Saints, Packers and Dolphins in a similar role.