The Pac-12 replaced a third of its coaches prior to the 2012 season. Half of the Pac-12 South changed skippers, with Rich Rodriguez going to Arizona, Todd Graham to ASU and Jim Mora to UCLA. In the North, Mike Leach took things over at Washington State.
Per the hard-working, number-crunching folks at Arizona State, 27 schools changed coaches that year, and six of them have already made additional changes. Here’s a look at the coaching records of those coaches hired between December 2011 and January 2012.
20-6: Fresno State (Tim DeRuyter); Texas A&M (Kevin Sumlin)
19-8: UCLA (Jim Mora)
18-9: Arizona State (Todd Graham)
16-9: Toledo (Matt Campbell)
16-10: Arizona (Rich Rodriguez)
15-10: North Carolina (Larry Fedora)
15-11: Rutgers (Kyle Flood); Ole Miss (Hugh Freeze)
13-12: Houston (Tony Levine)
13-13: Pittsburgh (Paul Chryst)
12-14: Colorado State (Jim McElwain)
9-16: Washington State (Mike Leach); Tulane (Curtis Johnson)
7-17: Memphis (Justin Fuente)
7-18: New Mexico (Bob Davie)
6-18: Illinois (Tim Beckman); Akron (Terry Bowden)
4-20: Kansas (Charlie Weis); Hawaii (Norm Chow)
The purpose of the post, coming from ASU, is to show that the Sun Devils believe they hit a home run with the Graham hire, which of course was much maligned at the time. Ironically enough, so was the hire of the guy who ranks one win ahead of Graham, UCLA’s Mora. While Rodriguez and Leach were celebrated hires at their respective schools, Graham and Mora weren’t met with as warm of a reception.
And yet all four have done a fine job in their own right, given their respective situations. Mora has a South Division championship, a bowl win and a pair of victories over rival USC. Graham has a South Division championship, a bowl win, and a pair of victories over rival Arizona. After missing the postseason in 2011, Rodriguez has come in and given the Wildcats back-to-back bowl victories. And after a rocky first year, Leach brought the Cougars to the postseason for the first time in a decade.
So while there are varying degrees of success, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that all four schools found the right guy. Each has excited the fan base -- and donors -- because all four programs have either had facility upgrades or they are on their way.
And while the balance of power still lies with Stanford and Oregon in the North, the trio of coaches in the South have upped the competition level significantly. The UCLA-USC and ASU-Arizona rivalries will always take center stage. But how great have the UCLA-ASU games been the last couple of years?
Because all four hires were so high profile at the time, the coaches will always be measured against each other. But two seasons in, all four schools have to be feeling pretty good about their choice of coaches.