The 2012 college football season is still months away, but those who oversee its coverage at The Sporting News did their best this week to turn some of the attention away from the NFL’s concussion controversy, the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the NBA’s latest playoff injury and Josh Hamilton’s home run derby at Camden Yards.
Ranking the 125 coaches of Football Bowl Subdivision teams was a pretty ambitious undertaking, and I’m sure it will cause quite a bit of chatter in places like Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Nick Saban was ranked at the top as well as other college towns where the folks are still dissecting spring practice and recruiting classes.
Which means not anywhere in the state of Maryland.
Not at Navy, where Ken Niumatalolo was given a pretty respectable ranking of 35th (right ahead of Auburn’s Gene Chizik, who was basically trashed as a mediocre coach who won a national championship with a once-in-a-generation talent such as Cam Newton). And not at Maryand, where Randy Edsall was picked No. 65 based largely on what he had done at Connecticut rather than what he had not done in his first season in College Park.
I was actually surprised by Niumatalolo’s placement, but I wasn’t by Edsall's. Had he stayed in Storrs and had a respectable season in 2011, I really believe that he and not Bill O’Brien would have been picked to succeed Joe Paterno at Penn State. I’m not sure Edsall would have cracked the top 10 in this ranking, but he might have been in the top 25.
Like James Franklin.
Two of the more interesting picks for Maryland fans were the former offensive coordinator Franklin, who after winning six games in his first season at Vanderbilt came in at No. 25 and former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who has yet to coach a game at Washington State after sitting out the past two seasons and was picked No. 17.
Based strictly on personal opinion, here are my choices for the most overrated and most underrated coaches on TSN’s ranking.
Most overrated: Brian Kelly was picked No. 18, largely for what he did at Cincinnati rather than Notre Dame. The Bearcats were the best of a mediocre bunch in the Big East. Jim Grobe of Wake Forest was picked No. 31 despite being just one game over .500 with the Demon Deacons as well as in his overall career.
Most underrated: Brett Bielema of Wisconsin was picked No. 12 after taking the Badgers to back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances. Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson was No. 19 despite what he he did at Georgia Southern and Navy before proving that you can win in a major conference with the triple option. Steve Addazio of Temple was picked No. 83, meaning that his team’s 9-4 record in 2011 was mostly credited for former coach Al Golden (No. 34, now at Miami, which means his ranking should go down the next couple of years.)
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