One of those rankings came out last month from Athlon Sports and I thought it deserved a second look. They sifted through the head coaches of all 125 coaches in college football again this year. Ordinarily I respect their research and look forward to their studies and articles, but the more I look at their analysis of the FBS coaching ranks for 2013, the more I feel like speaking out. They didn’t give the Mountain West coaches much love with only one mentioned in the top 50:
6. Chris Petersen, Boise State Broncos
58. Troy Calhoun, Air Force Falcons
70. Rocky Long, San Diego State Aztecs
78. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State Bulldogs
82. Dave Christensen, Wyoming Cowboys
89. Bob Davie, New Mexico Lobos
90. Jim McElwain, Colorado State Rams
98. Ron Caragher, San Jose State Spartans
99. Matt Wells, Utah State Aggies
100. Brian Polian, Nevada Wolf Pack
117. Bobby Hauck, UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
124. Norm Chow, Hawaii Warriors
In the Athlon article writer Steven Lassan discusses the factors used to rank the coaches. Things like how much an assistant coach is paid or how a team's facilities compare to the rest of the conference. Only in the last criteria does he mention how a head coach’s on field success is weighted into the formula stating that their record is “not always indicative of where a coach should rank nationally.”
Of course without taking into account the coaching success rates and looking at the criteria controlled by money that would rank the coaches in the BCS conferences well ahead of all the other FBS coaches. It makes one wonder how Boise State’s Chris Petersen with his sterling record even made it into the top ten. But that is how you end up with a list of coaches where 37 of the top 40 coaches are from the BCS conferences and only three coaches are from the non-BCS ranks.
The low rankings of the non-BCS teams might make up the most laughable list many of us have seen. It seems especially ridiculous when the names are viewed of coaches ranked above MW coaches Troy Calhoun, Tim DeRuyter, and Rocky Long.
Coach Mike Leach of Washington State, for instance, comes in at #31 in spite of last season’s dismal 3-9 record. Before anyone starts making excuses about that being only his first year with WSU, remember he came into the Cougar clubhouse with an 84-43 record at Texas Tech (2000-09). Overall, he’s 87-52. Leach, by the way, was ranked #18 on Anthlon's 2012 list.
Then there is Paul Rhoads, Iowa State, at #38. His overall record is 24-27 from 2009-present. He has had 4 years to improve, but last year he was 7-6 and two of those losses were to the only top-25 teams he faced. His season finale was a 31-17 loss to Tulsa in the Liberty Bowl. Does that smack as a top-rated coach to you?
I could go on but what would be the point? The BCS-bias is built in and this year’s rankings of the head coaches in college football are just another example of that. Once again, if the MWC coaches want some national recognition they will have to keep proving their programs on the football field.