Spring 2011 - Ranking The Pac-12 Coaches
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly
Posted Apr 21, 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 Pac-12 coaches based on the future and not necessarily on how good they are right now.

2011 Spring Preview - No. 13
Ranking the Pac-12 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, recruiting talent 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 MAC; 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. Chip Kelly, Oregon
Career Record: 22-4

Question: which team in the 2011 BCS Championship game likely has more staying power? No, Oregon doesn't have to play in the SEC West, but it has an offensive system that doesn't necessarily need a Cam Newton to succeed, and the defense relies on fast, active athletes that seem to flock to Eugene. Kelly might come across as arrogant and way too cocky in his up-tempo system, and rightly so. Considered to be merely a D-IAA type who happened to have a nice offensive mind, Kelly proved to be so much more last season. Remember, it wasn't like the Ducks came out and blew everyone away after the opening kickoff. Time and again the coaching staff made the right adjustments at halftime, and time and again there wasn't any reason to panic with close games turning into laughers in a hiccup. A lot of that stemmed from Kelly, who always seemed to remain calm, cool, and again, cocky, knowing that eventually the trickle would turn into a full-blown flood. Kelly has the system, Oregon has been cemented as the cool place to play – thanks to Phil Knight – and the recruiting classes are bringing in the top shelf talent.
Hot Seat Status: As long as Kelly stops using certain recruiting services, the statue will be unveiled in 2023.
The Coaching Change Will Come … As long as there isn't any fallout from Complete Scouting Services, Kelly will be around for more than 15 years. Kelly is only going to turn 48 this season and there aren't any other places for him to go. He's not a pro coach, and Nike, uh, Oregon is always going to make sure he's paid well enough to be happy.

2. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Career Record: 58-20

Ron McBride made Utah strong. Urban Meyer made the program great. Kyle Whittingham got the university to the Pac-12. It took a little while for Whittingham to make the program his after Meyer took the Utes to the Fiesta Bowl in 2004, but after three decent years everything blew up with the 13-0 2008, finishing with the win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, to start a 26-6 run over the last three seasons. While Whittingham might have lost ground to TCU's Gary Patterson on the Mountain West coaching respect front, he's 6-1 in bowls and is still one of the elite of the elite who could be in the mix for any huge job opening if he wanted to be. Now that Utah is in the BCS and playing with the big boys, Utah is that type of big job other coaches want.
Hot Seat Status: Zero. The expectations are high, but he could weather a few bad seasons without a problem.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In ten years. He's not getting paid like an elite coach, making just over a million in base salary, so there's a chance he might leave for a monster payday, but he's only turning 52 this year and now he's the Utah coach with the program hitting the big-time.

3. Lane Kiffin, USC
Career Record: 15-11

Lost in all the controversy, the way he left Tennessee, and all the rumors and smoke whirling around some of his recruiting practices is that he actually did a pretty decent job in his two years as a college football head coach. It seems like he's been around the college game for ten years, but he went 7-6 with a depleted Tennessee team in 2009 and got eight wins out a USC that had nothing to play for last year. Okay, so going 15-11 isn't great, and the Trojans should've beaten Stanford and Washington, but he's a bright young coach who's in a great position. He gets to build up USC and live in Los Angeles, he has a next-level hot wife, the recruiting classes are strong, and he's getting paid over $4 million a year. Don't hate the player, hate the game. Okay, in this case, it might be alright to hate the player, too.
Hot Seat Status: Considering he's the USC head coach, not much. He's in a dream position pressure-wise. Yes, losing big games won't be acceptable and things can't fall off the map, but any and all problems can and will be blamed on Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush, and the sins of the past that hamstrung the program. Losing season? Blame it on the sanctions. Team lost motivation in late November? Blame it on the sanctions. Lost a top recruit? Blame it on the sanctions. Earthquake? Blame it on the sanctions.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In 15 years. He's only going to be 36 going into the season, the NFL won't be calling any time soon, and there's no bigger college coaching gig than USC. Of course, considering Kiffin's brief history, the NCAA will always be lurking around waiting to strike.

4. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
Career Record: 12-13

It didn't seem like a whole bunch of progress was being made considering Sarkisian had Jake Locker to work with and more athletes than the program was getting credit for. The Huskies were 8-13 in Sarkisian's first 21 games and coming off a brutal stretch of three losses to Arizona, Stanford, and Oregon by a combined score of 138-30. And then came the streak. UW won its final three games to get bowl eligible before pulling off the shocker of the bowl season with a dominant 19-7 win over Nebraska, and now Sarkisian is being seen as the guy who can finally turn the former superpower back around. He has to deal with a burgeoning giant in Oregon in the new Pac-12 North, but he's bringing in some good recruits and appears to be the man for the job over the long haul.
Hot Seat Status: More than it might appear. He's only 37, bright, and has the personality you want in a head man, but he has to make Washington a consistent winner. There are too many positives about the program to excuse mediocrity, and if it wasn't for the great final month of last year this would be a make-or-break season.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. The problem will be Oregon. Sarkisian might get Washington back on track and will make it a winner, but Dawg fans want to get back to the days of being in the national title discussion. With the way Oregon is rolling, it's going to be tough to simply win the North.

5. Jeff Tedford, California
Career Record: 72-42

Has the window closed? There was a time about five years ago when it seemed like Tedford was about to make Cal a yearly Pac-10 powerhouse worthy of challenging USC for championships, Rose Bowl appearances, and more. But for all the great things he has done to take a program that did next to nothing before he arrived, he only has two ten-win seasons in his ten seasons, has tied for one Pac-10 title, has only one top ten finish and four finishes in the top 25 – ranking 25th in two of those years - and has yet to coach in a BCS game. Even so, his teams crank out speedy talents for the NFL, boasts a Super Bowl winning quarterback, and continues to be dangerous even with last year's clunker of a losing season, his first since taking over the job. Now Tedford is at a crossroads. Going 13-12 over the last two years, and with Washington getting better and Oregon starting to rock at a level Cal was hoping to get to a few seasons ago, it's time to come up with a big, splashy season.
Hot Seat Status: It's not a hot seat as much as it is a stale seat. Tedford and Cal used to be able to get their share of top recruits, but now Stanford is starting to get more and more good players, Washington is back on track, and Oregon is the star of the new Pac-12 North. The Mark Richt of the Pac-12, Tedford can survive one more bad year with everyone around the program rooting for him to succeed.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In the next five years. It might be a case of all sides needing a fresh start. Tedford got Cal to Point B, but there might need to be a new energy and new ideas to change things up a bit. Tedford is only going to be 50 in November and could pick any offensive coordinator job he wanted and could be a natural at, say, Fresno State. With the Bulldogs soon to join the Mountain West and looking to make another step up in national attention, Tedfod, a former FSU quarterback and offensive coordinator, could be a great fit down the road.

6. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Career Record: 69-54

Oregon State isn't Oregon. It doesn't get the same talent and it doesn't have the same internal advantage (like Nike) to count on to make it a splashy program. Even so, Riley has kept his teams in the Pac Ten title discussion on a regular basis with the championship puck on its stick in the final weeks of 2008 and 2009. 2010 was a dud, but Riley has managed to come up with six winning campaigns in the eight years since rejoining the program, and he's a terrific 5-1 in bowl games. To put it another way, he does more with less.
Hot Seat Status: A wee bit, but not really. The pressure isn't there at Oregon State like there is at other schools, but it won't be a plus if the Beavers struggle again this year. It's not going to sit too well with the fan base to have to sit back and groove on Oregon becoming a perennial national title contender.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. Riley is an energetic coach, but he's also about to turn 58. He won't get fired any time soon, but in a few years the program will want someone to challenge Oregon for the North title. The pressure will soon be on for Riley to be the one to get it done.

7. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
Career Record: 81-52

For some reason it's just not working. There might have been scorched earth when he was done at Colorado and Washington, going 3-0 in bowls with the Buffs and winning a Rose Bowl in Seattle, but he was a success at both places. After paying his penance, he was supposed to make UCLA a power again, and now in Year Four and after two eighth place Pac-10 finishes and a ninth, everyone is left scratching their heads. He has recruited well, USC has hit the skids, and the window should be wide open for resurgence in Bruin football. Now he has to show he can really coach and has to come up with a big year to stick around.
Hot Seat Status: The heat shield has been deployed, but it's not working. 15-22, a bowl win over Temple, and bottom-feeder Pac-10 status isn't exactly what the Bruins thought they were getting.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Next year. He's only 50 and he has a great offensive mind, but the results aren't there. His 2011 team will be good. It won't be good enough.

8. David Shaw, Stanford
Career Record: 0-0

It's not like taking over the Stanford job is the same as stepping in at Florida. There are restrictions, there are the highest of standards, and there are plenty of barriers to keep the team from being special on a consistent basis. Jim Harbaugh might have set the bar at an unattainable level, and now Shaw, a former Cardinal wide receiver, has to prove he's ready in his first head coaching gig. He's a great offensive mind and he got a gift thanks to Andrew Luck's decision to pursue his career in architecture.
Hot Seat Status: It'll be a little warm right away. Everything he does for the next few years will be compared to the Harbaugh era, and he won't have Luck around forever. He doesn't have to go 12-1 this year, but Stanford has to be a player in the Pac-12 North.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. Good head coaches at Stanford don't stay good head coaches at Stanford for very long. Harbaugh, Ty Willingham, and Dennis Green all left after a little bit of success, while Buddy Teevens (you can win a few bar bets with that name), Walt Harris, and even the late Bill Walsh stunk and were done in three years or fewer.

9. Jon Embree, Colorado
Career Record: 0-0

It should've worked. Dan Hawkins was one of college football's hottest coaches after helping to take Boise State to another level, and there was seemingly no better place for the unconventional head man than Boulder. Oops. Embree isn't exactly the anti-Hawkins, but his no-nonsense, tough guy approach could be just what the program needs to get back to among the elite.
Hot Seat Status: None. The Buffs need to rebuild and it's going to take a little while to do it. Embree will get a free pass for two years.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2018. Embree will turn 46 in October, he has the energy, and he has the fire to become a strong new name in the coaching world. It'll take a while, but he'll turn things around with a more physical approach. 

10. Mike Stoops, Arizona
Career Record: 40-45

The Fredo of the college football world, he hasn't been bad compared to most of the coaches in the history of Arizona football, but he hasn't gotten the program over the hump. With only one Pac-10 finish higher than fifth in his seven seasons, and with two eight-win campaigns, Stoops hasn't done enough to make the Wildcats a power. Just when it seemed like everything was turning, with a 7-1 start including a win over Iowa, Arizona finished up last year with a five-game losing streak including a brutal Alamo Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. Now, to quote the NBA, it's win or go home.
Hot Seat Status: No BCS league coach in America is on a hotter seat. He was able to hold on to his gig for another year, but there won't be a ninth season without a winning record and a bowl victory.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In 2012. Stoops is an elite coordinator and will be a phenomenal assistant if and when he's done, and he won't be able to do enough this year in the new Pac-12 South to hang on. 

11. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
Career Record: 171-89-1

How many current head college football head coaches have won more than one national title? Jim Tressel? Nope. Bob Stoops? Nyuh-uh. Mack Brown, Steve Spurrier or Les Miles? No, no, and no. There's Joe Paterno, Nick Saban, and Erickson. While many of the players on his current Arizona State team weren't born yet the last time Erickson won a championship, he has been busy since 1991. But here's the problem. For all the good things he has done, like taking 2000 Oregon State to an 11-1 season and a Fiesta Bowl romp over Notre Dame, he has just two winning seasons in his last seven years as a college coach. He has a heater of a team returning, and he has the personality and the long career that makes him a fun coach in the spotlight, but he needs a winning season after not going to a bowl game in three years.
Hot Seat Status: He might has well have a pitchfork and be on the side of the helmet. Fun stat: Erickson has just one bowl win, the 2001 Fiesta victory over the Irish, since winning the national title in 1991.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Sometime in the next few years. Bruce Snyder, Dirk Koetter, and now, possibly, Erickson. Since John Cooper left for Ohio State, Arizona State is where promising coaching careers go to die. At 64, this will be Erickson's last stop.

12. Paul Wulff, Washington State
Career Record: 58-72

He's trying hard enough. Good at Eastern Washington, but not special, he got his teams to the D-IAA playoffs three times in four years before taking the step up to Wazzu. He wasn't exactly handed a heater, but he hasn't been able to do much to turn things around in three seasons going 5-32 with his 2009 Cougars, arguably, the worst team in Pac-10 history. He has a good offensive mind and he's innovative, but he's not able to get the talent to compete with the top Pac-12 teams and experience hasn't translated into production so far.
Hot Seat Status: Red hot. No one was expecting Mike Price, but two conference wins in three years isn't going to get the job done. And now the league just got tougher.
The Coaching Change Will Come … At the end of the 2011 season. Wazzu will be more competitive and won't just be a speed bump like it's been over the last three years, but the wins simply won't be there.

- 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