Going into the 2019 season, how do the Pac-12 coaches stack up? Here’s the preseason ranking of all the head men.
Who do you want as your head coach for right now, and how good are the all the current Pac-12 coaches?
Record and resumés aren’t necessarily everything, but of course they matter. Where are each of the teams going, which guys have the buzz, and which ones need to prove themselves a bit more?
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.
Think of it this way. If you were to hold a head coaching draft …
12. Jonathan Smith, Oregon State
To be totally fair, this is an almost impossible list for a head coach in his second season as a head man after going 2-10 in his first run. Of course there’s a whole lot of promise and potential for the 40-year-old, and of course he inherited a bit of a mess, but he’s got the offensive mind to carve out an interesting niche.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 12
– 2019 Oregon State Preview
11. Mel Tucker, Colorado
He’s only this low because 1) the league is loaded with relatively new coaches with a world of upside, and 2) it’s his first year as a head coach.
He was overdue for a gig like this, and now he brings his defensive mindset and experience to a program that might not be all that far from becoming a factor again. It was a fantastic hire – this could really, really work.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
– 2019 Colorado Preview
10. Clay Helton, USC
He’s extremely likable and a good guy. How do you know this? He’s still the USC head football coach after a 5-7 season.
Call this a Stock Up/Stock Down type of ranking, considering there might not be a bigger “What have you done for me lately?” gig in college football.
After going 21-6 in two full seasons with a Rose Bowl win and a Pac-12 title, he was allowed a slip in a year when he went really, really young at the skill spots. However, it’s USC – 8-4 isn’t necessarily going to cut it, especially if that guy over at UCLA starts to kick it all in ahead of schedule.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 4
– 2019 USC Preview
9. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona
One caveat here – he might just have a sneaky-good team in place to rocket up this list in a massive way next year. Here’s the problem, though – since his big 12-1 2011 season at Houston, he went 20-6 in two years with Johnny Manziel, and 36-32 in the five years after him, including a losing first season at Arizona.
He couldn’t get Texas A&M out of a not-that-bad 8-5 rut, and going 5-7 with a loss to Arizona State to kick off his run with the Wildcats wasn’t what the base was hoping for. Again, though, expect things to pick up in a big hurry.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 7
– 2019 Arizona Preview
8. Herm Edwards, Arizona State
Go ahead and admit it – you thought he was going to fall flat on his face after being away from the game for a decade and with no college head coaching experience. Okay, maybe that’s a bit much, but find anyone who thought he’d come up with a solid first run. 7-6 isn’t anything to do cartwheels over, but despite the time away, the man showed he can certainly still coach. Who wouldn’t want to play for him?
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 11
– 2019 Arizona State Preview
7. Justin Wilcox, Cal
The defensive whiz and former coordinator at Tennessee, Washington, USC and Wisconsin is only 42, and he’s about to be on the short list for really, really big gigs if he can just find any semblance of an offense in Year Three. It took just a year to get Cal bowling again as he looks like that Next Big Thing guy.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 9
– 2019 Cal Preview
6. Chip Kelly, UCLA
Is he just too 2011? Considering he went 46-7 with three Pac-12 titles and a trip to the national championship in his four years at Oregon, let’s just give him the benefit of a few doubts over the next few seasons. Going 3-9 wasn’t what the Bruin faithful had in mind right out of the gate, but to be totally fair, no one could’ve fixed those lines in one season. However, there had better be a proof-of-concept step forward this year.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 3
– 2019 UCLA Preview