Cirminiello's Best Bowl Coaches
Posted Jan 8, 2013

Rich Cirminiello's best coches of the bowl season.

2012-2013 Bowl Season

Cirminiello's Top Coaches

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central 

Richard Cirminiello's 2012-2013 Bowl Season ...
Top Offensive Performances | Top Defensive Performances
Best Bowl Coaches | Best Bowl Games
Biggest Bowl Surprises | Biggest Bowl Disappointments

By Richard Cirminiello 

15. Mark Hudspeth, UL-Lafayette
Every year Hudspeth spends in Lafayette is great news for the program. He's now led the Ragin' Cajuns to back-to-back New Orleans Bowl victories in front of partisan crowds. Louisiana used 591 total yards, a huge day from QB Terrance Broadway and three Brett Baer field goals to remain a step ahead of East Carolina. The Cajuns have won nine games just three times in school history. Hudspeth was at the helm for two of them.

14. Gary Andersen, Utah State
Andersen led the Aggies to an Idaho Potato Bowl victory and the school's first-ever 11-win season, catapulting to a major promotion at Wisconsin. Special recognition goes to his defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda, whose no-name D capped a terrific season by keeping the Toledo offense out of the end zone.

13. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Did anyone serious believe that the Cowboys offense was going to miss coordinator Todd Monken, who's now the Southern Miss head coach? Not as long as Gundy is at the controls. Oklahoma State trounced Purdue, 58-14, deftly working in two quarterbacks to produce six offensive touchdowns and 524 total yards.

12. Frank Solich, Ohio
The Bobcats have won two bowl games in their history. Solich has been on the sideline for both of them. The former Nebraska player and coach continues to excel as the elder statesman of the MAC, crafting a gameplan for the Independence Bowl that led to the complete domination of favored Louisiana-Monroe in Lousiana, 45-14.

11. Tom Mason, SMU
The Mustangs' defensive coordinator did a brilliant job preparing for Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl. Facing a team that hadn't been held below 42 points since Oct. 13, SMU created four turnovers and sacked Derek Carr seven times. Heck, Mason's D outscored the Bulldogs offense, 14-10, registering a safety and two late pick-sixes.

10. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Instant success has been Freeze's track record throughout his career. He's rapidly earning a reputation as one of the game's better turnaround specialists. He and his Rebels capped an impressive 7-6 season by shelling Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl, 38-17. Ole Miss is flush with momentum just a year after going 2-10, including 0-8 in the SEC.

9. Chip Kelly, Oregon
Despite all of the distractions swirling around about his own future, Kelly got his kids to focus on the task at hand—winning the Fiesta Bowl. The Ducks were an imperfect bunch, yet got hot when they needed to, and pulled away for good after halftime. For Kelly, it was his fourth consecutive BCS bowl game, a record among FBS coaches, and his second straight win.

8. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
How do you silence talk about the uncertainty of your future? Well, if you're Marrone, you finish 6-1, with wins over Big East champ Louisville, Mizzou in Columbia and West Virginia, 38-14, in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Orange finished 8-5 for the second time in three years, paving the way for Marrone to accept the head job with the Buffalo Bills.

7. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Franklin and his staff just keep knocking down new barriers in Nashville, disposing of NC State, 38-24, in the Music City Bowl. The 9-4 Commodores will take a seven-game winning streak into the offseason, having lost to four quality opponents during the regular season. Franklin will carry that momentum into Signing Day, where he's expected to further bolster his budding reputation.

6. Art Briles, Baylor
Coaching in Waco sort of limits the extent of Briles' notoriety, but not many in his profession have done a better job over the last three years. The Bears' leader thoroughly outcoached counterpart Jim Mora in the Holiday Bowl, flattening the Bruins, 49-26, in a game expected to be close. Baylor finished the year on a four-game winning streak, averaging 49 during that stretch.

5. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Fitzgerald is one of the best to ever play for the Wildcats. Now he's also the winningest coach in program history, leading Northwestern to a 34-20 Gator Bowl victory over Mississippi State, its first in the postseason in 64 years. The Cats wrapped up just their third 10-win season, losing three games they led in the final quarter.

4. David Shaw, Stanford
Shaw and his Cardinal capped a most improbable 2012 season by capturing the school's first Rose Bowl victory in four decades. Forever stepping out of the long shadow of Jim Harbaugh, Shaw not only led his team to a hard-fought defeat of Wisconsin in Pasadena, but did it with an unheralded redshirt freshman, Kevin Hogan, behind center.

3. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
The Aggies won 11 games in a season, capped by Friday night's Cotton Bowl rout of Oklahoma, for just the fourth time in school history. Sumlin did it in his first year at a new program as it entered the SEC … with a quarterback who had no experience at the start of the season. He did an outstanding preparing A&M for the Sooners, as did coordinator Mark Snyder, whose D held the Sooners to just a lone touchdown.

2. Charlie Strong, Louisville
The Cards didn't just pull an upset in the Sugar Bowl; they embarrassed the nation's third-ranked team, Florida. Louisville was better prepared and far more motivated for the challenge, testament to the job that Strong and his assistants completed throughout the month of September. The program had some highs and lows in 2012, but winning the Big East, accepting an offer to join the ACC and stunning the Gators have this program soaring.

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Saban and his entire staff, including defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, deserve a ton of credit for once again delivering in a big spot. The game's best coach is now 8-1 in championship settings, highlighted by wins in his last three BCS National Championship Games. Brian Kelly and Notre Dame were no match for the preparation and planning of Saban, who maximizes an extended layoff better than any coach in America.

Richard Cirminiello's 2012-2013 Bowl Season ...
Top Offensive Performances | Top Defensive Performances
Best Bowl Coaches | Best Bowl Games
Biggest Bowl Surprises | Biggest Bowl Disappointments