2013 M-West Coaches
The Building Factor
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1. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Career Record: 84-8
Seriously? 84-8 in seven years? Dirk Koetter might have gotten the ball rolling, and Dan Hawkins did an amazing job, but what Petersen has come up with has been nothing short of miraculous. Talk all you want about being in the WAC and then the Mountain West; the Broncos and Petersen have more than proved themselves worthy with seven double-digit winning seasons out of seven. There might be coaches who have done more and there might be more famous coaches, but any list of who’s doing the best job must have “Coach Pete” in the top five.
Hot Seat Status: Seriously? The stadium should be named after the guy. Turning 49 this season, at his current pace he’ll pass Bobby Bowden’s win total by the time he turns 65.
The Coaching Change Will Come … apparently, never. He could’ve had any job opening in college football over the last five years and hasn’t taken off. He’s rumored for every big opening, and despite telling everyone that he’s not leaving, no one believes him.
2. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
Career Record: 10-4
It’s only been one season, but he did wonders at Fresno State and he has a killer of a team coming back. Pat Hill might have done an amazing job, but DeRuyter appears capable of taking things to a whole other level. The former Texas A&M defensive coordinator got his shot, and he’s making the most of it with his attacking D doing wonders and his offense ultra-efficient and effective. At just 50, his head coaching career is just getting started.
Hot Seat Status: None. It’s going to be next to impossible to keep him around with one more big season.
The Coaching Change Will Come … next season. If Fresno State does what it’s supposed to do, this year, and Kevin Sumlin gets a next-level payday, Texas A&M could be calling.
3. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Career Record: 47-31
While not quite as hot as he was a few years ago, he’s still doing a terrific job at his alma mater. Despite all the restrictions and recruiting issues to fight through, he’s still getting his Falcons to a bowl game on a yearly basis and he’s still keeping the program competitive. However, the Mountain West is improving and the program isn’t able to take a huge step forward and get to ten wins once in a while; the horses just aren’t there.
Hot Seat Status: None, but he has created the high expectations. After winning eight games or more in his first four seasons, going 7-6 and 6-7 doesn’t do.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. He doesn’t appear to be too excited to leave, and his big chances were there a few years ago. He might not be Fisher DeBerry and stick around for 23 years, but he’s making the program his.
4. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Career Record: 44-22
The former UCLA quarterback has worked his way up the ladder starting out with the Bruins before spending time at Kentucky and taking over the San Diego job. At 46, he gets his FBS chance looking to pull a Mike MacIntyre and come up with one big season before being offered a BCS job. With three conference titles and a high octane offense at USD, the Spartans were lucky to get him.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. After what MacIntyre did, San Jose State is supposed to win. It might not be a consistent powerhouse, but it can’t go back to being a doormat.
The Coaching Change Will Come … fast. Caragher did wonders at San Diego and he might be able to turn one or two good years into a BCS job. He’ll get hotter in a big hurry.
5. Dave Christensen, Wyoming
Career Record: 22-27
It’s not easy to be the Wyoming head man. The fan base isn’t huge, but it’s very, very passionate and will get fully behind the program. A good offensive mind who was a key to Gary Pinkel’s rise at Toledo and then Missouri, he’s putting together good offenses with nice quarterback play, but it’s a tough job. The recruiting base isn’t there and it isn’t easy to come up with a consistent winner.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. Wyoming wants a winner, but its expectations aren’t wildly unreasonable. Two winning seasons in the first three seasons bought him some time, but the 4-8 2012 and the suspension after getting into a shouting match with Air Force’s Troy Calhoun didn’t help.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three seasons. Coming up with a winner year-in-and-year out is a problem, and while he could withstand one more bad year, he can’t survive two. If he ever gets canned, he’ll have no problem whatsoever getting an offensive coordinator gig.
6. Bob Davie, New Mexico
Career Record: 39-34
While he still has to prove he can turn around New Mexico after a 4-9 first season, at the very least he restored the program’s dignity after the utterly disastrous Mike Locksley era. The former Notre Dame head coach and Texas A&M defensive coordinator is cranking up the running game and has the defense coming around. There’s a long way to go before the Lobos can become a factor in the Mountain West, but after over a decade off, Davis appears to be getting back in the swing of things in a hurry.
Hot Seat Status: Zero. After Locksley, Davie will get several years to try making something happen.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. Turning 59 this football season, he’s not likely to get another big-time job, but he should do well enough for the Lobos to stick around for a while.
7. Jim McElwain, Colorado State
Career Record: 4-8
Is this the year Colorado State starts to turn it around? The program used to be a powerhouse, but it hasn’t been able to find its groove over the last few seasons, especially offensively. The former Alabama offensive coordinator has a little bit of NFL assistant experience and he’s been involved in some big games, but he hardly has the talent at CSU that he had in Tuscaloosa. However, he’ll get time to try restoring the glory.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. Steve Fairchild didn’t get much time to show what he could do after taking over for Sonny Lubick, but it’s been a long enough time since the Rams were good that McElwain should get a little longer shot.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within four years. Either Colorado State will struggle and the program will go in a different direction, or McElwain will come up with a big season, will be hot, and will move on. At 51, he’s at the age where he might get one chance at a BCS job if he has any success.
8. Matt Wells, Utah State
Career Record: 0-0
A miserable football program before Gary Andersen took over, Utah State suddenly became strong and now has real, live expectations to live up to. Wells played a big part of it as the quarterback coach over the last few seasons and the offensive coordinator last year, helping to mold Chuckie Keeton into a star and getting the ground game going. Can he keep the defense playing at a high level? The spotlight is on.
Hot Seat Status: Warm. Andersen created an atmosphere where winning is now expected, and while no one is thinking the Aggies will win the Mountain West right away, they need to get back to a bowl game.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. Turning 40 this season, the former Utah State quarterback is young, talented and ready to keep his alma mater rolling.
9. Brian Polian, Nevada
Career Record: 0-0
How do you follow in the path of a Hall of Famer? Chris Ault not only had a legendary career his first time around, but he managed to come back and improve thanks to Colin Kaepernick and a sensational running game. Polian not only hasn’t been a head coach before; he hasn’t been a top assistant. His big claim to fame is as the son of former Buffalo Bill, Carolina Panther and Indianapolis Colt general manager, Bill. Turning 39 this season, Brian is a young prospect who’ll get a chance to grow into the gig.
Hot Seat Status: Medium. Nevada is one of those programs that just on the verge of getting a look from the bigger conferences. This only works if the football team keeps on winning and becomes even more of a Mountain West player.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than five years. He needs time to learn how to become a head coach, but it you’re good enough to be picked to be Chris Ault’s replacement, you’ve got potential.
10. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Career Record: 82-78
The second act is going well. The long time New Mexico head coach never could take the program to another level, doing a good job but not coming up with a Mountain West title. After being let go after a 4-8 clunker – just a year after doing his best job going 9-4 – he took over as Brady Hoke’s defensive coordinator at San Diego State and stepped up when the opening was there. With two straight winning seasons and a share of the 2012 Mountain West title, he’s proving just that his system and style works.
Hot Seat Status: Mild. He can withstand a losing season or two, but with the program hoping beyond all reasonable hope of going to a BCS conference, the wins need to keep coming.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within four years. While he’s rolling, at 63 he might not be looking to hang around for another decade. He can do it, but age is going to start becoming a factor.
11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Career Record: 86-49
UNLV is nearly impossible to turn around. Other talented coaches have tried and failed, and Hauck is fighting the good fight, but the program is constantly in a rebuilding mode. After winning seven straight Big Sky titles and going 80-17 in an amazing run at Montana, despite leaving with some controversy, he appeared to be the right guy at the right time. However, going 6-32 with three straight two-win seasons isn’t what anyone had in mind. He’s still a great coaching prospect, but he’s not having any luck.
Hot Seat Status: Blazing. Everyone acknowledges that Hauck has an impossible task and is getting plenty of time to try making something happen, but considering Utah State and San Jose State have been able to start winning, UNLV has to start showing that something positive is happening.
The Coaching Change Will Come … next year. Turning 49 this summer, he’ll instantly be hired as someone’s staff as a defensive coach and will get another shot at a head coaching gig down the road.
12. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Career Record: 3-9
A legendary offensive coordinator at BYU, NC State and USC, doing wonders with some of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history, his magic hasn’t exactly continued lately. He was expected to become a major force behind UCLA’s resurgence under Rick Neuheisel – it didn’t happen. He was supposed to help out the Utah offense in 2011 – it didn’t happen. He was supposed to come to his hometown of Honolulu and make the offense rock – it hasn’t happened. He’ll get time to try making it work, but at the very least, the offense has to start to work.
Hot Seat Status: It’s turning up. It’s one thing for Hawaii to be bad and go 3-9, but it’s another to be 118th in the nation in passing efficiency and 118th in total offense.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three seasons. 67 this football season, this is the last stop.