The Coach You Want To Take Over ... 16 to 30
Posted Apr 21, 2011

What coach would you want to run your program for the next five years and beyond? Who's on the hot seat? As part of the 2011 Spring Preview, CFN ranks all the coaches based on the future and not necessarily on how good they are right now. Here are the coaches No. 16 to 30.

2011 Spring Preview 
The Coaches You'd Want - 16-30

Here's the drill. You have to hire a head coach right now to lead your program for the next several years from among the 120 current coaches. Forget about what happened in the past and forget about legendary status - you wouldn't hire Joe Paterno to build a franchise - you want a guy who can be the head man for a long, long time. Okay, so maybe you just want a coach to win right away, but you need a guy who can go on the recruiting trail tomorrow, bring in the talent, and then be there to win with the players brought in. That's why age is a factor and why so many big names are down low.

This is NOT a list of the best head coaches in college football. 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 

30. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Career Record: 133-53

He pulled off miracles at Navy and he brought Georgia Tech an ACC title, but his Yellow Jackets took a step back last year. Still, his option attack could be even more devastating with a few more recruiting classes to get the right guys. No one wants to prepare for the offense, but Johnson has to start doing more in bowl games with just a 2-5 record.
Hot Seat Status: None, but that could quickly change if Tech struggles this year. There might be some concern that there's a ceiling on what the team can do with the unconventional offense.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. No bigger program will make the commitment to the option.

29. 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.

28. Butch Davis, North Carolina
Career Record: 79-43
He might have snuck out of Miami, was a failure for the Cleveland Browns, and is a part of several major issues at North Carolina, but he's a peerless collector of college talent and he's a winner with a 5-2 record in bowl games. He made a basketball school a possible football power and he rebuilt a dynasty on South Beach.
Hot Seat Status: It depends on how the controversy all shakes out. If nothing else comes from the drama of last year, he's in Chapel Hill as long as he wants to be.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. His name keeps coming up any time a big job opens up.

27. Skip Holtz, USF
Career Record: 80-55

One of the hottest prospects a few years ago, South Florida got the high-riser and the hope is for the Big East titles to come. He's doing a good job recruiting, he came up with a good first year, and the sky is the limit. The key will be to keep bringing in the talent and keeping the better players at home, but he should be able to crank out better offenses with a little bit of time. (The 2010 version was awful.)
Hot Seat Status: None. USF would love nothing more than to keep Holtz around and for his name to be out of the mix whenever a big opening comes up (helloooo, South Carolina, where he was an assistant).
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. He's getting paid just under $2 million a year, but he's young, upwardly mobile, and should be in the hunt for openings at Penn State, South Carolina, and others in the near future.

26. Charlie Strong, Louisville
Career Record: 7-7

After finally getting his shot, Strong immediately started to clean up Louisville after falling off the map under Steve Kragthorpe. A long time top defensive coordinator, he's revamping the Cardinal D, and he's bringing in some good talent, but it could be a long year with more rebuilding to be done. Even so, he's a tremendously talented coach who should shine over the next several seasons.
Hot Seat Status: Zero. Louisville was lucky to keep him when the Florida job came open.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Three years. This might be a stepping stone to one huge payday. South Carolina could come calling in the near future.

25. Art Briles, Baylor
Career Record: 49-50

The guy came to Baylor actually believing he could turn around one of the most woeful BCS programs in America. While the mission isn't exactly accomplished, he has made the Bears fun, exciting, and successful. He might be just scratching the surface with his best team yet coming back, but the schedule is nasty enough to make in a disappointing 2011. Even so, he has done a tremendous job with the upbeat attitude and the stubborn belief that he can create a consistent winner in Waco. A legendary high school coach who made a name for himself running the wishbone, he showed at Houston and now at Baylor that he could adapt and adjust. While he's 0-4 in bowls and has a losing record, he has been terrific.
Hot Seat Status: The guy took Baylor to its first bowl game since joining the Big 12. He can stay as long as he wants.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In ten years. He has had offers to at least interview for several big jobs, but instead he has been adamant in his desire to stay at Baylor. Only 55, he's still young, he's recruiting well, and he's making the program his.

24. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Career Record: 240-118-4

About to turn 65 years old and with no signs of slowing down, he has quickly turned Virginia Tech into the ACC's brightest star with four conference titles after winning the Big East champions three times from 1995 to 1999. It's possible he's one of the most underappreciated college football coaches of all-time.
Hot Seat Status: None. Buildings and streets will be named after him whenever he decides he's done.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within the next five years, and only because of age.

23. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Career Record: 101-81

The workout controversy this offseason will be an ongoing problem, and the off-the-field concerns with several players at the end of last year was an issue, but Ferentz has become an Iowa institution. He's not going to get any other big job offers and it would take something much bigger than the problems at the end of last year for him to get fired. As long as the Hawkeyes are in the Big Ten title hunt on a regular basis, he's going to keep getting the coin like one of the best head coaches in college football.
Hot Seat Status: There's a little heat after what happened this offseason, but no one around the program has any interest in losing him.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2020. He's only going to be 56 at the start of the season, and he's going to get paid really, really well up until 2020. The bloom is off the rose as far as his upward mobility, and he's not going to the NFL, so this might be it. This is his destination.

22. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Career Record: 47-50

Michigan is going to LOVE him. Okay, so he didn't actually win the MAC title when he had the heater of a Ball State team in 2008, and he left San Diego State just when it was about to be a true player, but at 52 he's the right fit at the right time for Michigan. While he's a tough-minded defensive coach, his biggest success over the last few years has been in the way his running backs are always, ALWAYS flying through ten-mile-wide holes. His offenses always produce, his defenses are always aggressive, and he certainly knows what the Maize and Blue are expecting.
Hot Seat Status: It's Michigan so there's always going to be ramped up pressure, but not being Rich Rodriguez will buy him two years.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Ten years. He'll turn around the Wolverines, raise up the expectations, and then will suffer from Lloyd Carr-what-have-you-done-for-me-lately syndrome.

21. Will Muschamp, Florida
Career Record: 0-0

Call this the sky's the limit choice. Muschamp has been a hot head coaching commodity for years, and Florida was lucky enough to get him. He patiently waited his turn at Texas in a Jimbo Fisher-Bobby Bowden-like situation, but he couldn't pass up the chance to step into a heater of a hand at Florida considering Mack Brown isn't going anywhere. A high-energy, uber-talented defensive coach – it wasn't the D's fault Texas stunk last year – Muschamp is the right fit for the right job at the right time as the antidote to a burnt out Urban Meyer. A success everywhere he has been as an assistant, and doing it at the highest of levels at places like Auburn, LSU, and the Miami Dolphins, he's ready.
Hot Seat Status: Blazing. Meyer came up with what was considered to be one of the greatest recruiting classes in college football history two years ago, and it's not like the shelves weren't stocked with stars to begin with. Muschamp will get one year to get his feet wet, but the Gators as is are good enough to win the SEC East immediately.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2021. Muschamp will turn 40 just before the season starts, and he'll be a star for the next decade. Florida is a pressure-cooker of a job, and while he'll handle it fine, there's a reason Steve Spurrier and Urban felt it was time do something else with their lives.

20. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Career Record: 47-29

While he'll never live down the prefabricated "I'm a man, I'm 40" speech, his teams have started to rock over the last few years as the offense has hit its stride. Oklahoma State through and through, he was a good quarterback, a strong assistant, and now he has turned into a great head coach for the program. The problem has been his inability to get over the hump, even through the Cowboys finished second in the Big 12 South in 2009 and tied for the division title last year. However, a late loss to Oklahoma kept them out of the title game, and now it'll take winning a ten-team league and not a six-team division to be a champion.
Hot Seat Status: None. T. Boone Pickens isn't ready to make any sort of a change now that the team is humming offensively.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within ten years. Turning 44 just before the season, he's very young and will be a hot property with one more successful year. He'll get a whopper of an offer from someone in the near future and will make a Les Miles-like jump to a program that isn't second banana in its own state.

19. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Career Record: 150-86-3

It took a little while, but now he's turning into one of college football's top head coaches. While he's not exactly the kind of guy who'll put the lampshade on his head at parties, his no-nonsense approach worked through a mediocre start. It's been forgotten, but Mizzou finished with losing seasons in three of Pinkel's first four years and lost five games or more in his first six seasons. Just when the program appeared to be mired in mediocrity and the hot seat began to get a little toasty, Chase Daniel and company ripped off a 12-2 2007 season and the Tigers owned the Big 12 North winning at least a piece of the division title in three of the final four seasons. Only 3-4 in bowl games during his Mizzou tenure, Pinkel has to start closing stronger, but the fans will happily take more double-digit win seasons and wins like last year's classic over No. 1 Oklahoma.
Hot Seat Status: None. Remember, it's not like Missouri was challenging for anything more than winning seasons before Pinkel arrived. After three ten-win campaigns in the last four, it would take two very, very bad years before he'd be in any real trouble.
The Coaching Change Will Come … In seven years. About to turn 59, he might look like he has another decade in him, but he might not be the type who'll be coaching into his 70s. Don't expect him to be fighting for any other gigs

18. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Career Record: 27-24

Does Gus Malzahn come with? A wildly controversial hire after a disastrous two years at Iowa State, Chizik was instantly great at Auburn. No matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone thinks, all Chizik has to do is point to the 2010 scoreboard. He's only turning 50 later this year, he has a national championship, and he's been a phenomenal recruiter, so why isn't he higher on the list? There's just a little bit too much smoke around the program under his watch, and it's very, very possible that last year was a case of the planets aligning absolutely perfectly. From Cam Newton's emergence, to Nick Fairley going from being just a guy to a legend, to the disastrous season from the East, to being loaded with veterans while most of the other conference superpowers were rebuilding, everything went right. To put it another way; Chizik might be more Larry Coker than Bob Stoops.
Hot Seat Status: Absolutely none unless Real Sports has a Cam Newton interview in the works.
The Coaching Change Will Come … Within five years. Tonight, on 60 Minutes …

17. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Career Record: 14-11

After all the success he had as Florida's offensive coordinator, and as the mentor to Alex Smith at Utah as well as Tim Tebow, the question was whether or not he'd be able to bring any success to Mississippi State, a decent program, but clearly a second-tier one in the loaded SEC West. It took a year and then everything started to click going 9-4 with a Gator Bowl win over Michigan. Now Mullen is one of the hottest young coaches in college football, and with one more big season his name will be on the short list for several bigger jobs. Considering he grew up in Pennsylvania, there will be plenty of speculation about his interest for one very, VERY big gig that'll have an opening in the near future.
Hot Seat Status: None. 39, he's young, talented, and Mississippi State would love nothing more than to keep him around for a long, long time. However, the Bulldogs mostly beat up on the mediocre last season – and that includes Florida and Georgia - so the record might not be as good over the next few seasons with a slightly tougher slate.
The Coaching Change Will Come … 2013. If he's not looking for real estate in Happy Valley within the next two years, he'll be off to another huge job where he won't have to beat his head against the Alabama/Auburn/Arkansas/LSU wall.

16. 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.

- 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