Ranking the top coaching hires

How decisions to land Meyer, Leach, Sumlin and other major hires stack up

Updated: December 15, 2011, 5:13 PM ET
By Brock Huard | ESPN Insider

Judging a coaching hire is a little like grading an NFL team's draft: Everyone has an opinion right away, but until coaches blow a whistle and players take a snap, predicting their success is as reliable as a weatherman in Seattle.

Don't believe me? Who had Gene Chizik and Chip Kelly as head coaches in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game last season? Chizik was hired by the Auburn Tigers to a chorus of boos after guiding the Iowa State Cyclones to an 0-8 conference record in 2008. Two seasons later he led Auburn to a title.

Kelly had never been a head coach before he was promoted by the Oregon Ducks. In fact, he was an assistant at New Hampshire for 13 years before traveling across the country to become Mike Bellotti's offensive coordinator in Eugene. He reached the BCS title game in his second season as the head man, and the Ducks have won three straight conference titles.

However, this doesn't mean we won't give predicting the success of each coaching hire a try. In reaching out to seven of my colleagues at ESPN who cover college football, there was a near consensus on which teams were the biggest winners among those that recently hired new coaches.

They are ranked below, in order of best to worst.