Spring 2011 - Ranking The C-USA Coaches
SMU head coach June Jones
SMU head coach June Jones
Posted Apr 17, 2011

What coach would you want to run your program? Who's on the hot seat? As part of the 2011 Spring Preview, CFN ranks all the Conference USA coaches based on the future and not necessarily on how good they are right now.

2011 Spring Preview - No. 13
Ranking the C-USA Coaches

Here's the drill. You have to hire a head coach right now to lead your program for the next several years; whom would you choose? Forget about what happened in the past and forget about legendary status - you wouldn't hire Joe Paterno to build the franchise - you want a guy who can be the head man for a long, long time.

2011 Spring Preview  

- No. 20 Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

- No. 19 - Is a smaller Big 12 better? 
- No. 18 - Who doesn't want to be Independent?  
- No. 17 - Should the SEC champ play in the BCS Champ?  

- No. 16 Top 50 Conf. Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

- No. 15 The Preseason Polls Will Probably Be ...

Schedules and Too-Early Spring Picks
ACC | Big East
Big Ten | Big 12
C-USA | Ind | MAC   
Mountain West | Pac-12
SEC | Sun Belt | WAC 
Age is a factor, being able to recruit helps, and the ability to do big things with mediocre talent doesn't hurt. So with that in mind, this isn't a ranking of the best coaches in Conference USA; this is a ranking of the coaches you'd want to lead the program for the next five years or more.

- ACC Coaches | Big East Coaches | Big Ten Coaches
- Big 12 Coaches | C-USA Coaches | Ind Coaches
- MAC Coaches | M-West Coaches | Pac-12 Coaches
- SEC Coaches | Sun Belt Coaches | WAC Coaches

- Top 15 | No. 16 - 30 | No. 31 - 45 | No. 46 - 60
- No. 61 - 75 | No. 76 - 90 | No. 91 - 105 | Bottom 15 

1. June Jones, SMU
Career Record: 92-64

His high octane passing game hasn't exactly taken off at SMU like it did at Hawaii, but he restored some of the glory to the once-proud program. He's getting paid well to do it, and he's coming through with two good seasons after a rebuilding start. The Conference USA championships need to start flowing, but at 58 and with his tremendous résumé he's proving to be as good as anyone in the league.
Hot Seat Status: None. Jones is taking the Mustangs to bowl games. With the Death Penalty still a part of the program's identity, he's changing that and now SMU is just a decent mid-level football program.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In ten years. He's 58 and still has time left in the coaching world, but he's not going to get a shot at a big-time job. With his $2 million salary, he's not going anywhere.

2. George O'Leary, Georgia Tech
Career Record: 97-77

It's okay to say it now; Notre Dame sort of screwed up. O'Leary resurrected his career by making UCF special with two Conference USA titles in 2007 and 2010 thanks to a hard-nosed formula that made him great at Georgia Tech and made the Irish want him a decade ago. His age, turning 65 just before the season, will keep him from getting a shot at a bigger-name job, but his reputation has more than been restored and he should have at least one more title in the run.
Hot Seat Status: Zero. He's the best coach in the league and has been for several years.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In five years. He built a nice program and he gets to live in Orlando. Why would he leave? He'll pass the torch after a few more successful seasons.

3. Kevin Sumlin, Houston
Career Record: 23-16

After rising through the ranks and shining as Oklahoma's offensive coordinator, now he's up for every job under the sun whenever a stepping-stone opening comes up. Everyone wants a piece of the high-octane passing game he helped create, and while his defenses haven't exactly shown up, he's still a hot prospect.
Hot Seat Status: None. Houston wants to keep him from making the next move up in the progression. However, if he doesn't come up with a big season with all the parts returning, like Case Keenum, there will be a little bit of grouchiness.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within three years. At 47 when the season starts, the time is now for the move up to a midrange BCS program.

4. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Career Record: 5-7

John Holliday is a fiery, energetic coach who knows West Virginia football and is the perfect fit for Marshall. The days of the Thundering Herd dominating at a national level are over, but there should be a few runs at the Conference USA title soon. His first year was a bit disappointing, but he'll recruit well and he'll make the program far better over the next few years.
Hot Seat Status: None. There's a rebuilding job to be done, and he'll get a few years to show what he can do.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In ten years. At 54, he's not exactly going to be too upwardly mobile, and having been born in West Virginia and having gone to school at WVU, he's in the right position.

5. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
Career Record: 7-7

McNeill probably should've gotten a longer look at the Texas Tech job, after serving as the wildly popular defensive coordinator under Mike Leach, but he moved on to East Carolina where his offense was one of the most exciting in the nation in his first season. The problem was the Pirate D, one of the nation's worst, and while McNeill is a defensive coach, he has to prove he can make a big change in a big hurry.
Hot Seat Status: None. 2010 was going to be a rebuilding year no matter what, and even with all the problems on defense he came up with a good season.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In ten years. McNeill isn't going to be that hot a prospect unless he starts winning titles on a regular basis, and at 53 at the end of the year, and considering he went to ECU, this might be a destination.

6. Larry Fedora, Southern Miss
Career Record: 22-17

His offenses have been fun and exciting, but the Conference USA titles haven't been flowing. The former Florida and Oklahoma State offensive coordinator is doing a good job, but considering Jeff Bower was unceremoniously shown the door after not doing quite enough, more is expected. He's doing a strong job of recruiting, and now three years in to his era the results have to start coming.
Hot Seat Status: Getting there. Two third place division finishes and a second isn't what USM is paying for, and while he's not going to get canned this year if he doesn't win the championship, he's due for a big year.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. Either he'll produce and he'll move on to a bigger gig, or he won't get the titles the school is hoping for and he'll be gone. At worst, he'll be a whale of an offensive coordinator somewhere.

7. David Bailiff, Rice
Career Record: 36-37

It's a shame he's not getting a shot to show what he can do with more talent and at a bigger program. Only 53 when the season starts, there's still time for him to come up with one more good year and parlay it into a mid-level BCS gig, but the window is closing after going 6-18 over the last two years and three years removed from the 10-3 2008 campaign.
Hot Seat Status: Lukewarm. He hasn't had much luck over the last few years, but after two bad seasons he might be allowed to have one more. A truly disastrous campaign might be enough to make a change.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. It's too tough a task to win consistently at Rice, and while Bailiff can coach, the wins won't be there.

8. Larry Porter, Memphis
Career Record: 1-11

He was handed an empty cupboard and wasn't able to do much with it. The former Memphis running back knows the program and he knows what he's supposed to do, but he wasn't anything more than a running back coach before getting the head gig at MU. Only 39 going into the season, he's young, bright, and expected to make big things happen.
Hot Seat Status: None. There was such a big rebuilding job needing to be done that he'll get at least two more years to change things around.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In five years. Either he'll be great and he'll leave for a bigger, better job, or he'll struggle, sputter, and will be off to be someone's offensive coordinator for a few years before getting another chance.

9. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Career Record: 0-0

A legendary high school coach, he took over an assistant job at Tulsa where he's been a big part of the offensive machine for the last few seasons. Now he gets to move up a spot with Todd Graham leaving to take over the Pitt job, and the expectations will be high for a program that's been in the Conference USA title chase for years. Turning 65 late this year, this is the chance he's been waiting for. At the very least the offense should keep on rolling.
Hot Seat Status: High. After winning ten games last year and with so much success over the last several seasons, even with a down 2009, nothing less than a bowl game will do. The Golden Hurricane offense finished fifth in the nation and it should rock again.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. Turnover is the norm at Tulsa, but this time the coaching change will come from retirement. He'll do a fine job.

10. Neil Callaway, UAB
Career Record: 15-33

Callaway hasn't had a whole bunch of luck. UAB is a tough, tough gig with Alabama, Auburn, and even Troy to deal with for attention, and while he's done a decent job of making the program competitive, he hasn't had a winning season. He's still relatively young at 56 come November and could still be a strong offensive coordinator at an SEC school, but it'll take a minor miracle to turn the program into a winner this year.
Hot Seat Status: Up to 11. It's been four years and the Blazers haven't been able to turn a corner. It might be a win-or-else situation this season.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2012. The schedule is nasty and the team will be entertaining, but not great. A fifth straight winning season will bring a change, but Callaway will get an assistant job immediately.

11. Mike Price, UTEP
Career Record: 169-167

Tremendously successful at Washington State, he overcame the Alabama fiasco to carve out a decent closing act to his career at UTEP. While his teams have been interesting, he hasn't come up with a winning season in five years and has just one bowl win as a head coach since 1994. His teams die in the second half of seasons and they haven't been close to a Conference USA title game in several years.
Hot Seat Status: Warm. He has been fine at UTEP, but not great, but he got the team to a bowl game last season. Bowl games are good enough, but he likely can't last if there's a disaster of a campaign.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2012. The Miners are in for a tough year with a slew of big replacements to make and a tough schedule to deal with. At 65, this is his last stop.

12. Bob Toledo, Tulane
Career Record: 91-103

A star at UCLA over a decade ago, he hasn't been able to bring the same offensive firepower or the same success to Tulane. In one of the toughest situations in college football, he hasn't been able to rebuild a program that hasn't been the same since the Hurricane Katrina disaster. While Toledo knows offenses, he has only four winning seasons in 16 years of coaching at the D-I/FBS level.
Hot Seat Status: High. He's in a tough situation trying to rebuild the program, but 13-35 in four years is a problem. Another dud year will mean a change.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2012. The Green Wave will have to shock to pull off a winning season, and at 65, Toledo's career is slowing down. He still has a great offensive mind and could be a good offensive coordinator.

- ACC Coaches | Big East Coaches | Big Ten Coaches
- Big 12 Coaches | C-USA Coaches | Ind Coaches
- MAC Coaches | M-West Coaches | Pac-12 Coaches
- SEC Coaches | Sun Belt Coaches | WAC Coaches

- Top 15 | No. 16 - 30 | No. 31 - 45 | No. 46 - 60
- No. 61 - 75 | No. 76 - 90 | No. 91 - 105 | Bottom 15