With no spring football or NCAA tournament to occupy our time or content, we are looking to supply you with some content that can generate discussion. In this article, I give my best effort at ranking the current football coaches in the Mountain West.
1- Bryan Harsin
Last year, the top spot would have been a tough one, but I probably would have leaned toward giving it to Jeff Tedford. After a poor season and Jeff Tedford stepping away, the top spot clearly belongs to Coach Harsin. He has won four division title and three conference championships. Harsin also recruits at a much higher level than his peers. A few years ago, it appeared that the gap was closing, not so much anymore.
2- Troy Calhoun
I’m not sure who does more with less, Calhoun or Bohl? I do know this; coaching at Air Force is a tough task. Athletes at Air Force have a demanding schedule, and football comes after academics and defending our country. Calhoun is the longest tenured coach in the Mountain West and has built a program that wins more often than it loses. While the triple option may not be “sexy” to the casual football fan, there is something satisfying about the way the Falcons play the game.
3- Craig Bohl
While Calhoun may have the toughest job in the Mountain West, Bohl is not far off. Laramie, Wyoming is not an easy town to recruit to, and like Air Force, Bohl has to recruit a special kind of athlete that fits into his program. Bohl has done something that most coaches at Wyoming have not been able to do; he has built a mediocre football program. Don’t take offense to that Cowboy fans, that is not an easy task. Bohl might be the best X’s and O’s coaches in the Mountain West.
I feel like the top three were pretty obvious, you could probably make a case for any coach from this point forward.
4- Brady Hoke
Am I sure that Hoke is the fourth best coach in the Mountain West? No. Is he inheriting the best situation of any new coach in the Mountain West? Yes. Hoke has been average pretty much everywhere he goes. He propelled one really good season at San Diego State into the head coaching job at Michigan, where he was never a good fit. Hoke has proven that he can be a great assistant coach. I’m not sure that he will ever be more than an okay head coach. But, with the current state of Mountain West football programs, that was good enough to land him in the number four spot.
5- Kalen DeBoer
I know, this might be a stretch, but nobody can argue that Fresno State’s offense didn’t take a significant step back when DeBoer left for Indiana. Now DeBoer is back, and he is inheriting some young talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs won’t be talked about much this offseason, but it wouldn’t shock me if they represent the West in the championship game.
6- Jay Norvell
I was shocked when Nevada gave Norvell the extension he recently received. I’m not sure he has earned that to this point. This will be the season where we learn what kind of coach he is. The West will be wide open, and Nevada will have one of the more experienced rosters in the conference and a manageable schedule to go with it. If Nevada is ever going to win their division, this is the year to do it.
7- Gary Andersen
I said it from day one and I will say it again, I was not a fan of this hire. I think Utah State had a good thing going with Wells and should’ve filled the position in-house when he left for Texas Tech. Andersen, like Hoke, has been a mediocre coach at best. He used one really good season at Utah State to land multiple Power 5 jobs. He struggled mightily at Oregon State, and I think fringe bowl team is the new expectation at Utah State. The Aggies now look like they might fall permanently behind Air Force and Wyoming.
8- Brent Brennan
For a while there it was looking like Brent Brennan was going to save the Spartans. He still might, but Josh Love is irreplaceable. The Spartans will have some nice players at skill positions this coming season, but the defense is filled with question marks and the quarterback position will also be worth keep an eye on. With that being said, I think Brennan has done a nice job for the Spartans to this point, but he needs to make a bowl game in 2020.
9- Todd Graham
I think Todd Graham is probably a better football coach than some of the guys in front of him, but I think Hawaii is an awful fit for the veteran coach. Like Utah State the year before, I was shocked that Hawaii did not try to build on the momentum they had and hire a coach that was already on the staff. Graham will have to adjust his style to the players he has on the roster and will have to learn to recruit the islands.
10- Marcus Arroyo
Out of all the new coaches, Arroyo has made the biggest impact. He brought in a great recruiting class in a very short time and has the youth and energy to be the face of this program. Now we have to get an answer to the bigger question; can he actually coach? Many Oregon fans were not impressed with Arroyo as their offensive coordinator and were not sad to see him go. I think Arroyo will be an upgrade over Sanchez and will have some solid seasons for the Rebels, but will he be there long enough to see things through?
11- Danny Gonzales
If I were to predict which coach will make the biggest climb next year, I would go with Gonzales. I love this hire; he has ties to the program and was climbing the coaching ladder at a rapid pace. He also brought Rocky Long with him to coach the defensive side of the ball. As great as Gonzales is, he will need to pull off a miracle to fix this program. Not only will he have to overcome a lack of talent, he also has to deal with a messy athletic program.
12- Steve Addazio
This hire was absolutely shocking. Addazio does not make much sense for the Rams. They have some nice talent at the skill positions and showed improvement on the defensive side of the ball. I thought the Rams would go with a young, energetic recruiter. Instead, they got a coach that struggled to win in the worst Power Five conference in the country. Addazio is a 6-6 coach. Will Colorado State fans accept that?
How would you guys rank the coaches of the Mountain West? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.