5. Mike Leach, Washington State
He might not have anything big to show for it other than a piece of a division title, but his Cougar program has gotten a whole lot better. The defense has been far stronger over the last few seasons, the system continues to rock and roll despite the lack of all-star talents, and with 37 wins in the last four seasons, he continues to do a phenomenal job. All that’s missing is a championship of some sort.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 6
– 2019 Washington State Preview
4. Mario Cristobal, Oregon
The former Miami Hurricane is proving to be a special recruiter with the upside and talent to take Oregon back to the elite level it enjoyed under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich. Former coaches put the pieces in place, but he took the recruiting game up a few notches, and now he has the team to be a real, live threat to do some damage in the College Football Playoff chase. If this isn’t the Pac-12’s IT program of the moment, it appears to be on its way.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 8
– 2019 Oregon Preview
3. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Finally able to break through in the Pac-12 with a South title and an appearance in the conference championship game, don’t expect anything to slow down any time soon – this year’s team should be even stronger. With great line play, an aggressive defense, and a tough guy team in a – let’s go ahead and say it – finesse conference, he has found his niche. However, he’s been able to tweak the offense just enough to take things to the next level.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 5
– 2019 Utah Preview
2. David Shaw, Stanford
Talk about consistency, Shaw has been able to win at Stanford with a brute force running game, great defenses, a high-powered passing attack, and just about everything in between. He’s been able to adapt and adjust on the fly, and he’s been able to put up eight straight winning seasons with five campaigns with ten or more victories and two nine-win runs. You’re doing something right when going 8-5 is a clunker.
Three Pac-12 championships, two other division titles, two Rose Bowl wins, five top 12 finishes … how is he not an NFL head coach already?
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 2
– 2019 Stanford Preview
1. Chris Petersen, Washington
Take everything UCF is currently doing and make it happen over seven years. That’s what Petersen did at Boise State. So what could the guy do when given a shot at a big-name Power Five program? In two seasons of rebuilding, how about a 32-9 record, two Pac-12 championships, a College Football Playoff appearance, and a trip to the Rose Bowl?
To sound absolutely ridiculous considering what he’s been able to do over the last three seasons, he’s still missing the really big win over one of the big boys – it’s been fun, but the program wasn’t able to get over the hump in the CFP semifinal, the Fiesta Bowl, and the Rose Bowl. For now, Dawg fans aren’t going to complain.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 1
– 2019 Washington Preview