Spring ball is over and the 2013 season isn't quite here, so to fill our insatiable need for football coverage media outlets across the nation are coming up with some interesting things. The fine people over at Athlon Sports took it upon themselves to rank all 125 FBS coaches. An impressive task.
Here's a look at where the MAC coaches come in on Athlon's list. Take a seat because things aren't pretty.
62. Frank Solich, Ohio Bobcats
63. Pete Lembo, Ball State
72. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
81. Terry Bowden, Akron
84. Matt Campbell, Toledo
104. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
111. Jeff Quin, Buffalo
113. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
114. Don Treadwell, Miami
115. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
116. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
118. Paul Haynes, Kent State
122. Charley Molnar, UMASS
As you can see, things are downright ugly for the MAC in terms of this list. But why? After all guys like Solich (117-63) and Bowden (141-73) were proven coaches at major programs before coming to the MAC. I mean Bowden once led Auburn to a perfect season in the fabled SEC in his first season with the program and Solich led Nebraska to three top-10 finishes in six season. So why the hate?
Well when we look at how Athlon justify's its rankings things get dicey. As one can expect they look at records, previous stops on the resume and how well a coach manages a game and recruits.
But sure enough it's not just the on-the-field intangibles that the fine folks at Athlon took a look at. Here are some of the other criteria used to rank the head coaches (actually these are the first criteria listed):
"How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? ... Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration?"
Now wait a second. Understanding that assistant coaches pay has an impact on how well a program does in the long-run, after all no one wants to be underpaid, it still doesn't make sense to me that it somehow impacts how good a head coach is. In fact, pay shouldn't matter at all. No. 28 Mack Brown certainly makes more ($5 million annually) than No. 6 Chris Peterson ($2 million) and No. 3 Bill Snyder ($2.95 million) and can pay his assistants better, but outside of Texas not many would put Brown over the other two.
Facilities. Again, are we ranking coaches here, or the programs they work for. I don't judge the carpenters skills based off of his tools, I certainly wouldn't say No. 60 Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) is better than No. 63 Pete Lembo (Ball State) because he gets to play in a nicer stadium.
And off-the-field issues, funny that they mention that. I agree off-the-field issues do impact a coaches performance, yet somehow the Athlon Sports editors list Bobby Petrino (king of off-the-field issues) at No. 8, 54 spots ahead of Solich. Never mind the fact that Solich has won more games (117 to 75) and has had a much more stable career. Oh and Solich never got run out of a job for sleeping with a young female staff member. When you look at their resumes, is Petrino better than Solich, probably, but not 54 spots better. Then there is this.
Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach?
Again, I think you have to give Solich the nod here. Sure Louisville and Arkansas weren't powerhouses before Petrino got there (Arkansas still isn't) but Ohio had never even won a bowl game until Solich arrived. After getting canned from Nebraska, Solich came to Athens and has built Ohio into a winning program. What has Petrino ever built besides one heck of a national media buzz over who he's sleeping with?
But to get back on track here, I can't help but think that much of the reason for the MAC's low rankings in this list is because of the conference they play in. Sure, I'm all for putting newer, unproven head coaches at the bottom, but Athlon is clearly being overly harsh to the coaches like Ron English who has one of the toughest jobs in the MAC (he's battling with two other in-state schools in the same conference, plus the big boys Michigan and Michigan State for recruits).
Clearly, the editors didn't give much thought to the smaller schools as evidenced by the long string of back-to-back MAC coaches at the end of the list. I could continue here, ranting about the unfairness of this list, but I think we can all agree that clearly this isn't an accurate reflection of a conference that routinely breeds great coaches. After all, three of the top four coaches on this list spent time roaming the sidelines for a MAC school.
So instead I'll leave it to the crop of new talent as well as the masters like 'Fearless Frankie' Solich to prove their value on the field.