With about 50 days until the 2013 college football season starts, some focus is returning in the sports world towards the gridiron, which has one of the shorter seasons in sports – considering fans have been waiting since January and still have most of summer to wait through.
Leading and managing these football schools, whether they’re playing or not, are some of the most worked men in sports, or maybe of any working job for that matter. Yes, they’re paid well but considering the hours these guys put in, you would understand why colleges are willing to pay millions of dollars to these head coaches. Oh, and don’t forget the big dollars they bring in when they’re successful.
So who are some of the top major college coaches currently? First off, as soon as someone sees this descriptive list, they immediately wonder what the heck is the ‘West’? Simply stated, it’s any state from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean. There are many people who consider themselves west when in fact, they’re nowhere near the true western United States. As someone who has lived in California and on the coast of the Pacific, west for folks out here is usually just coastal states – but we’ll live with the usual description for this list.
This is strictly FBS (Division 1) we’re talking about and since this is quite subjective, obviously these are my choices with consideration given to many areas of expertise, including winning records, career success, doing more with less along with the particular situation the coach currently is in. There are several head coaches who have had past success but are now in recent rebuilding modes and maybe haven’t had enough time to showcase their abilities – good or bad. Here they are listed fourth through first.
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4. Mike Riley –
Five years ago, he would have been on this list as well, but before last season, the 60 year old Oregon State Beaver head coach was on the hot seat after a couple of losing records. From the penthouse, to the outhouse and back to a nice room with a view – what a difference a year makes.
Let’s be honest, Corvallis isn’t the easiest place to win and expectations have never been high. Still, Riley has done wonders at Oregon State and after those two bad seasons, he was able to rally the team to a 9-4 record last year. Even if they slide a bit this year, the prospects of another quality season for the Beavers appear good right now and that can be directly attributed to a very good coach in Mike Riley.
3. Troy Calhoun –
Coaching at one of the military academies isn’t easy. It’s tough to get the very best athletes to come to a school that requires your commitment to the Air Force with little chance of playing professional football. Plus, the young men’s priorities are academics and trying to become an officer in the military. However, the 46 year old Calhoun has made it work.
Calhoun had never been a head coach prior to taking over in ’07, but his familiarity of having played there as a quarterback for four years back in the ‘80s gave him insight. He has never had a losing regular season and has taken the Falcons to six straight bowl games. Even the great Fisher DeBerry (Calhoun’s predecessor), who won an incredible 169 games at the Air Force Academy, never had a string of bowl appearances like that. Expect that streak to continue in 2013.
2. David Shaw –
He has only been head coach at Stanford for two seasons but in that short period, he has won 23 games – an amazing feat no matter the circumstances. It’s true that the head coach before him, Jim Harbaugh, had rebuilt the Cardinal football program in Palo Alto back into a BCS contending club. Still, Shaw has kept them there with two Top 10 teams that have only lost two Pac-12 Conference contests over the past two years.
Shaw’s accomplishments shouldn’t have been surprising considering he was Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator the four years prior. Even with tougher academic levels than most schools, Shaw has been able to recruit high quality players and now the team is even considered a national championship contender. Heady days for the 40 year old David Shaw, who may soon be measured as the best in the country before long.
1. Chris Petersen –
He’s generally thought of in most circles as one of the best coaches in the country and what the 48 year old has done with the Boise State Bronco football program can be at the very least seen as amazing.
In seven seasons at the helm, Petersen has led Boise State to seven straight postseason visits, four final Top 10 national rankings, two BCS bowls and two undefeated seasons, all-the-while averaging 12 wins per year – accomplishments almost unfathomable at any level of football. He keeps the team in the Top 20 and yet seldom is ever that high in the recruiting ranks. However, he’s able to continually produce excellent teams with NFL quality players; and, 2013 doesn’t appear to be any different for the best college football head coach in the West … and maybe the country.