College Football’s Most Overrated Head Coaches
We all know that Nick Saban is the best head coach in college football right now. If we came up with a list of the best college football coaches, everyone would include Chip Kelly, Urban Meyer and Chris Petersen on it. But what about the most overrated coaches in college football--the ones who get a lot of praise while their shortcomings are ignored?
Here are some of the most overrated coaches in college football:
Gene Chizik, Auburn. Sometimes, too much of an emphasis is placed on who has won a national title and who hasn’t. Forget that one season in which Chizik had Cam Newton as a quarterback, and Chizik’s accomplishments don’t look so great in that light, do they? He left Iowa State with a 5-19 record, and Auburn has been mediocre every season Chizik has been there without Newton. He still needs to prove that he knows how to win, not that he knows how to ride some player’s coattail.
Skip Holtz, South Florida. He hasn’t blown anyone away anywhere he’s been. And this is despite the fact that his latest teams have been in the weaker FBS conferences. Yet some people are looking for this guy to turn USF into one of the top programs in the Big East and maybe even in the state of Florida. Yes, in 2008 he led East Carolina to a win over ranked Virginia Tech and followed it up by blowing out a top 10 team in West Virginia. But that’s not like Chris Petersen and Boise State beating ranked teams from every major conference--including the SEC--year after year, regardless of which players they lose. The time is near for asking if people expect a lot from Holtz simply because of who his father is.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame. And it’s not just about his record at ND, which is mediocre--you know, by Fighting Irish standards. His tenure in South Bend has been kind of embarrassing in nearly every way imaginable--screaming on the sidelines like a lunatic, 10 turnovers in the first two games in 2011, Declan Sullivan’s death, in-game coaching decisions, etc. This dude hasn’t even been able to beat a down Michigan--which goes hand in hand with those poor in-game coaching decisions and turnovers--and nearly every team in an automatic qualifying conference was able to figure out how to do that...and by, like, 20+ points, too.
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona. Speaking of a down Michigan. If a program ever needs a reason to think twice before hiring the latest hot shot from the Big East, all it needs to do is look at Kelly and Rodriguez. And the issue is not just fit, which is how so many people excuse Rodriguez’s time at Michigan. In the tougher conferences and in conferences that play defense, you cannot win games with one or two players carrying the team and no defense. Period. You’re looking at another coattail rider here. But it could work in the Pac-12--he’ll be right at home there with that “no defense” thing, which will fool a lot of people into believing the Michigan experiment was an outlier.
Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech. Johnson had a very respectable record at Navy, going 45-29. But if you go back and look at those schedules, who did Navy really beat? It’s easy to win and make it to a bowl game when you’re playing Duke, a down Stanford, a down Notre Dame--who Johnson’s Navy squads lost to most seasons anyway--and Army. Now he coaches in the ACC, where there has been no real competition every season except Virginia Tech, and he has managed only one ACC title. If Florida State and Clemson finally decide to meet expectations on a regular basis, Johnson can forget about winning another ACC title. If Miami and/or North Carolina also step up anytime soon, the Yellow Jackets can expect plenty of mediocre (at best) seasons.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska. If Nebraska ever wants to get back to competing for national titles, the Cornhuskers are going to have to find someone else to be their head coach. There aren’t enough people who understand this yet. There were a lot of people who thought Nebraska would win the Big Ten, or at least the Legends division, in its first season in the conference. One year later, Nebraska is already starting to be labeled as the third best team in the Legends division. Not the third best team in the Big Ten--the third best team in its division of the Big Ten. That’s not going to get the Cornhuskers any titles. Pelini has been good for that program in terms of consistency and generally fielding a good defense. And he’ll get a pass for 2011 because Nebraska entered a new conference. But soon, everyone will be looking for more than 9 or 10 wins a season from Nebraska, and Pelini has yet to show he can deliver that. At some point, people will put two and two together, realizing that being third best in the Legends division and winning the Big Ten or a national title don’t equate.