Going into the 2018 season, how to the Pac-12 coaches stack up? Here’s the preseason ranking of all the head men.
Preview 2018: Ranking The Pac-12 Coaches
Who do you want as your head coach for right now, and who are the best guys going at each program?
Of course, it’s easy to go by record, but it’s just as much about trends, where the teams are going, and where the buzz is at for each of the rulers of their respective worlds.
These aren’t Hot Seat Rankings – those are coming later. These are the rankings based loosely on what the head coaches have done, and mostly about what they’re about to do.
12. Jonathan Smith, Oregon State
He’s just getting started, but he’s also an unknown. He’s young, he’s at a place that he knows can win – he was the quarterback of the amazing 2000 season – and he’s going to get the offense going after serving as Chris Petersen’s offensive coordinator at Washington. But he’s only 39, and this is his first head coaching gig in a conference full of big-name coaches.
11. Herm Edwards, Arizona State
It’ll be really, really fun in he turns out to be a big ball of amazing right out of the gate. He’s a good story, he’s a peerless enthusiast, and he’s going to sell the program well. But he hasn’t been around the college coaching game since 1989 and hasn’t been a head coach since 2008. This will be interesting no matter what.
10. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Yeah, he was able to pull off an impossible ten-win season at San Jose State, and yeah, he got Colorado to a Pac-12 Championship – something Utah can’t claim – but he’s also going into Year Six of the era and he has just one bowl appearance, one winning season, and a 25-38 record.
Granted, it’s a whole different world than it was when Bill McCartney and Gary Barnett helped make the Buffs players in the Big-8/Big-12 world, but it’s not like it’s impossible to win in Boulder.
9. Justin Wilcox, Cal
Just wait … he’s about to turn into an IT head coach very soon. The 5-7 debut might have been a disappointing clunker, and there’s still a massive prove it factor for the young head man at his first head coaching gig, but after serving as a whale of a defensive coordinator at several major stops including USC and Wisconsin, he’s one very good season from being more of a national name.
8. Mario Cristobal, Oregon
There was a moment when he was the hot coach at FIU with the upside to possible be the Miami head man – he played for the Canes. But one bad season ended all of that. He’s getting a great shot to take what Willie Taggart started to put together and make it even better, but first, he has to prove that the Las Vegas Bowl egg his team laid against Boise State wasn’t an indication of things to come. However, unlike Taggart, Cristobal has a conference championship and a bowl win on the resumé.
7. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona
He’s the big-name coach with the big-time offense who should rock and roll at Arizona. He was better than you think in the SEC world – it’s just not that bad to win at least eight games in every year, not counting the last season when he was done before the bowl game. But his Aggies were only better than fourth in the West once in his six years. Arizona fans are going to expect their Cats to at least be in the hunt for the Pac-12 South on a regular basis.
6. Mike Leach, Washington State
Now he’s starting to kick in and do what he did at Texas Tech. He had ten winning seasons in ten campaigns in Lubbock, and now, after a rough start, has 26 wins in the last three years in Pullman. He’s always going to crank up an amazing offense, but he has just one division title – a three-way tie – in his 16 years as a head man.