Pac-10 coaching rankings: Carroll on top

August, 6, 2008
8/06/08
11:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

 
 Kevork Djansezian/AP Photo
 Pete Carroll has amassed a 76-14 record at USC.

Ranking the Pac-10 coaches. 

  1. Pete Carroll, USC: All Carroll has done is put together one of the best six-year runs in the history of college football, winning a pair of national titles and losing an instant-classic in another BCS title game. His Trojans have won six consecutive Pac-10 crowns and finished ranked in the nation's top 4 six consecutive seasons. Carroll is 5-1 in BCS bowl games. Moreover, he is widely considered the nation's best recruiter, restocking his roster with future NFL draft picks annually. He owns a 76-14 overall record at USC and his 2008 Trojans are ranked No. 2 in the preseason coaches' poll -- again favored to be in the national title hunt.
  2. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State: Simply put, Erickson has won everywhere he's coached (at least at the college level). He went an astounding 63-9 in six seasons at Miami and won a pair of national titles (1989 and 1991). He also led Oregon State to an 11-1 finish in 2000, which included a blistering of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and a final No. 4 ranking. In his first year at Arizona State, he led the Sun Devils to a 10-3 mark. The general feeling is Erickson and ASU are the biggest threat to USC and Pete Carroll.
  3. Mike Bellotti, Oregon: He's the dean of Pac-10 coaches entering his 14th season at Oregon, and it's fair to say that Bellotti is Oregon football. During his tenure, the Ducks -- a program that had never before consistently won -- have suffered only one losing season and have won nine games or more six times. In 2000, Oregon finished ranked No. 7 in the final AP poll. In 2001, the Ducks ended up No. 2, and many believed the BCS robbed them of a chance to play for the national title. Bellotti also has had the courage to reinvent himself, tossing his offense and adopting a spread scheme a few years ago.
  4. Jeff Tedford, California: Tedford's sterling reputation took a hit last year when California went from No. 2 in the country to losing six of its final seven regular-season games. But the fact remains that he took over a program in 2002 that hadn't posted a winning season since 1993 -- and was 1-10 in 2001 -- and has gone 50-26 (.658) with a pair of 10-win seasons and zero losing ones. Moreover, when things went south last year, he pointed a finger at himself and took responsibility, as a stand-up guy should.
  5. Mike Riley, Oregon State: Turns out nice guys can be great coaches, too. Riley, a quintessential players coach, laid the recruiting groundwork for the Oregon State squad that won the 2001 Fiesta Bowl under Dennis Erickson and owns a 47-38 record (.553) in seven years at the Beavers helm. OSU has the third-most victories in the conference over the last six seasons, and Riley is 4-0 in bowl games. Keep in mind that the Beavers didn't post a winning record from 1971-1998, so Riley has been at the center of a historically impressive transformation.
  6. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: He's run afoul of his former teams, Colorado and Washington. He's run afoul of the NCAA. His critics call him "Slick Rick," and believe he's a used-car salesman. But he owns a 66-30 (.688) record in eight seasons as a head coach and has won 10 or more games three times. In 2000, he led a Washington team with only middling talent to a Rose Bowl victory, an 11-1 record and a final No. 3 ranking. And his former players love him. What he does at UCLA, however, will define his ultimate coaching legacy.
  7. Tyrone Willingham, Washington: Things have not gone well at Washington, see a three-year record of 11-25. And things went south quickly at Notre Dame. And his overall record is just 76-77-1. But keep in mind he was a two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year at Stanford and a National Coach of the Year at Notre Dame. He led Stanford to the Rose Bowl after the 1999 season, and the Cardinal hasn't had a winning season since he left. Also, he seemed to catch his stride recruiting last winter. But Huskies fans aren't patient. They expect wins, and if Willingham doesn't produce this season against a rigorous schedule, he'll likely be fired.
  8. Jim Harbaugh, Stanford: Harbaugh feels like a real up-and-comer. He's energetic and charismatic and has made significant strides in recruiting. Moreover, who would have predicted in 2007 that the woeful Cardinal would have: a) beat USC as a 41-point underdog; and, b) won the Big Game against California. Stanford may climb into the middle of the Pac-10 this season, and if that happens Harbaugh will move up this list.
  9. Mike Stoops, Arizona: Stoops has recruited well but has been unable to break the Wildcats out of the bottom third of the conference. He's toned down his notorious sideline demeanor and has been open with self-criticism, but he's made mistakes in games that have cost his team. He needs a bowl game to retain his job.
  10. Paul Wulff, Washington State: Wulff ranks at the bottom because he's never coached at the Division I-A level before. His track record at Eastern Washington -- 53-40 in eight seasons -- is strong, and he's made a good first impression in Pullman, where residents are welcoming back one of their own. Folks on the Cougars end of things don't think he'll be down here for long -- see Harbaugh.

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