Spring 2011 - Ranking Mountain West Coaches
Gary Patterson, Troy Calhoun & Chris Petersen
Gary Patterson, Troy Calhoun & Chris Petersen
Posted Apr 21, 2011

If you had to pick a coach right now to lead your program for the next five years and beyond, which one would you want? Who's on the hottest seats? When will each team deal with a coaching change? As part of the 2011 Spring Preview, CFN ranks all the Mountain West coaches based on the future and not necessarily on how good they are right now.

2011 Spring Preview - No. 13
Ranking the M-West 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 the Mountain West; 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. Gary Patterson, TCU
Career Record: 98-28

The Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin only validated an already phenomenal run. Patterson has done wonders with TCU over the last decade with the peerless way he takes decent talents and turns them into stars. Even though he's always in the discussion for every new opening he has turned down job after job, and why not? TCU was this close to playing in each of the last two BCS Championships, and there doesn't appear to be any slowing down.
Hot Seat Status: Considering the success on the field, and being helped by being the one top program without a blemish in the Sports Illustrated article on criminals in college football, no coach has more job security.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Maybe never. Patterson blew off other offers in the past, and with TCU about to join the Big East he's not going to leave now when the program is officially going big-time.

2. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Career Record: 61-5

61-5. Sixty-one and five?! Dirk Koetter started the great run, Dan Hawkins continued it, and then Petersen blew the lid off the program. As real as it gets, there's absolutely nothing phony whatsoever about a coach who has every reason to be posturing and positioning for one of the premier jobs in college football. He still might jump ship at some point for a job that's too good to pass up, but he has earned it. There are few better coaches in sports better at keeping his team focused on the task at hand. The one game at a time cliché never works better than when Petersen is using it.
Hot Seat Status: He'll be the Boise State head coach for the next thirty years if he wants to be.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within the next five years. Petersen might be a true believer, but he's only going to be 47. If Boise State isn't able to make a bigger jump than the Mountain West, it'll be time to see what he can do with a huge budget and a major program.

3. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Career Record: 34-18

It's been forgotten, but Fisher DeBerry was struggling at the end of his great run at Air Force. It's not like Calhoun stepped into a turn-key situation; he rebuilt the program. The former Falcon quarterback has been severely underrated doing more with less than any coach in college football. Remember, only Army and Navy have the recruiting restrictions Air Force has, yet Calhoun has succeeded without a lot of fanfare (outside of being named the 2007 Mountain West Coach of the Year).
Hot Seat Status: None. He could have a long DeBerry-like run it he wants it.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. He's too good and too young – only 46 – to not have millions thrown at him. With time spent as an NFL assistant, he could make the jump to the next level if he's not taking over a major program – possibly in the Pac-12.

4. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Career Record: 82-28

The first year at UNLV wasn't so hot going 2-11, but he was starting from scratch. A D-IAA/FCS god, he made Montana a superpower going 80-17 with seven straight Big Sky titles and just one conference loss in four years. However, he was 0-3 in national title games. Even so, he did a phenomenal job on the field and likely would've been in the mix for a bigger job than UNLV if there weren't issues revolving around a slew of alleged assault incidents by Montana players.
Hot Seat Status: Little. He took over a tough situation at a program that no one can seem to turn into a winner. He'll get time.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Six years. Either he'll win and be off to a bigger program, or he'll struggle to come up with consistent winners and the program will want to go with a change of direction.

5. Dave Christensen, Wyoming
Career Record: 10-15

A tremendous offensive coordinator at Toledo and Missouri, he was expected to come in to Wyoming and get the attack rolling. Last year, the Cowboys finished 116th in the nation in total offense and 106th in scoring. However, he started out hot with a winning 2009 finished up with a New Mexico Bowl win, and now he has to prove he bring a winner on a regular basis. More offense along the way would be nice.
Hot Seat Status: Little. The 3-9 2010 wasn't a plus, but he'll get at least two more years to see what he can do.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2016. He'll come up with one really good year to get everyone fired up and to buy him a few more years, and then the struggles will come.

6. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State
Career Record: 13-24

The former CSU quarterback and offensive coordinator came back to his alma mater after running the St. Louis Ram attack. He came in preaching about how the team was going to get physical again and was going to relive the good old days under Sonny Lubick, but things fizzled after a hot start. The hope rests on star quarterback prospect Pete Thomas possibly getting the offense rolling, but the defense still needs a ton of help.
Hot Seat Status: It's heating up. He seems like he's the right guy for the job, but it hasn't been working. Two straight 3-9 seasons have started the grumbling, and another dud year might be too much to overcome.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In two years. The Rams will be better this year, but they won't rock. A fourth straight losing season in 2012 will end the fun.

7. Rocky Long, New Mexico
Career Record: 65-69

He wasn't bad at New Mexico with a 40-34 record and five bowl appearances, but one losing season was enough to try to start over. The program hadn't exactly become stale, but it hadn't gotten over the hump. After two years as Brady Hoke's defensive coordinator he gets one last chance at running a program. At 61, this is his chance to show New Mexico that it made a mistake.
Hot Seat Status: A little bit. It's asking too much for him to be Hoke, but the pressure is on to get to a bowl game after a great 2010.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In four years. Long will do a good job and the program will tread water, and then he'll retire after a decent run.

8. Mike Locksley, New Mexico
Career Record: 2-22

After doing a phenomenal job of helping Ron Zook recruit the base of talent that would eventually win a national title at Florida, and after bringing in some of the stars that took Illinois to a Rose Bowl, the thought was that Locksley would instantly upgrade the talent level. Instead, New Mexico went from good under former head coach Rocky Long to a disaster, and the only thing memorable about the last two years was when Locksley hit an assistant.
Hot Seat Status: Fa-laming. He survived a scandal in 2009, but he's not going to be able to last another year without a huge turnaround. The only reason he's around is because the school doesn't want to eat the rest of the contract.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2012. One more year will be enough of the fun.

- 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