One of the things I enjoy about being a member of the Coaches Legend Poll group is our weekly discussion on our conference call about a variety of subjects pertaining to college football. Recently we came up with a list of coaches from around the country who we believe are doing a great job.
Some on our list are obvious and well known to most college football fans. Others are a little more under the radar, but are very impressive, too. With Auburn looking for a new head coach I believe it will be of interest to fans who our group of 17 retired head coaches really likes. I believe 15 members of our group are in the College Football Hall of Fame.
There are great coaches all around the country and a lot of them are not at the top programs. Some of the worst coaching jobs have been done at colleges you would expect to be successful every year and some of the best jobs have been done with programs that have had little success over the years.
One of the best jobs being done anywhere is what has been happening at Utah State. Dave Anderson, who brought his team to Auburn and nearly defeated the Tigers two years ago, finished the 2012 regular season 10-2 and nationally ranked. This is the best season in Utah State’s history. Anderson was defensive coordinator at Utah and has really made a huge difference since taking over at Utah State.
Dave Doeren led Northern Illinois to the MAC title this year with an exciting win over Kent State in the championship game. He has since been hired by North Carolina State and I believe he will do an outstanding job there after getting his MAC team into a BCS bowl vs. Florida State in the Orange Bowl, which is a big surprise.
Another MAC coach who the Legends coaches are high on is Darrell Hazell at Kent State. His team took Northern Illinois into overtime in the title game.
Also in the midwest, Brian Kelly has done a great job at Notre Dame. His team made it to the BCS Championship Game this year with a great defense and a pretty good offense led by a redshirt freshman quarterback.
The other Kelly on the list, Chip Kelly at Oregon, does a great job with his team every season. He is one of the most well-known coaches in the country for a reason.
A lesser known coach on the West Coast who is impressive is Mike MacIntyre at San Jose State. His father, George, was the head coach at Vanderbilt. His team lost only two games this year to Stanford and Utah State.
Jim Mora is another coach out West who has done an impressive job. He has changed the whole personality of UCLA’s football program. His team lost to Stanford twice, but Stanford is a really tough opponent.
Will Muschamp took over at Florida last year and went 6-6 with a team that didn’t have as much talent as some of the teams we are used to seeing the Gators put on the field. Last year he played with freshmen quarterbacks who struggled. This year those quarterbacks were more seasoned and combined with a great defensive team the Gators are in a BCS bowl. Losing just once with a schedule that included four of the top six teams in the SEC is impressive. The Gators played Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and Texas A&M.
In my opinion Will Muschamp or Kevin Sumlin are the top candidates for Coach of the Year in the SEC. Coach Sumlin is also on our list. The job he did in his first year at Texas A&M is very impressive. Texas A&M made an outstanding hire in bringing him in from Houston.
Perhaps the best coaching job done in the country this year came from Bill O’Brien at Penn State. Taking over the mess he inherited with a lot of their players transferring is particularly impressive to me. They started 0-2 and lost a couple of close games early, but ended up 8-4. He and his staff did a great job holding that team together, a group that wasn’t eligible to compete for the conference championship or go to a bowl game.
Mark Richt at Georgia is on the list. He has been under a little fire the last year or two, but his team came within five yards of playing for a national championship this season.
Coach Nick Saban’s team edged Georgia to get into the national championship game and he is on the list, too. He always does a good job.
David Shaw of Stanford followed Jim Harbaugh as head coach and there has been no dropoff in the quality of football in that program. He is on our list and certainly deserves to be.
Last, but not least on our list, is Bill Synder at Kansas State. Individually when you watch his team play you don’t see as much talent as some of the top teams in the country with the exception of the quarterback, but you do see 11 guys playing hard doing what they do.
There are impressive coaching jobs being done around the country by guys not on our list and the same is true around the SEC. Les Miles at LSU, Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, James Franklin at Vanderbilt, Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss and Dan Mullen at Mississippi State have all done good things with their programs. In the SEC this season the only coaches who did bad jobs this season are the three who aren’t coming back.
I believe Auburn will be bringing in a good coach, too. All of the people making the decision are Auburn people and I believe they will do the right thing.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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