Last summer I decided to rank the Mountain West coaches in a purely opinion based way. I ended that article by stating I hoped this time next year we would be ranking Kyle second instead of fifth. Well it's almost been a year since I wrote that piece and I think it's the perfect time to revisit my original rankings.
Firstly, a look at the 2007 Coaches Ratings:
- Gary Patterson
- Joe Glenn
- Sonny Lubick
- Bronco Mendenhall
- Kyle Whittingham
- Rocky Long
- Chuck Long
- Mike Sanford
About my first list: Sonny Lubick retired and Joe Glenn has no business being that close to the top, while I clearly underrated Bronco Mendenhall. But I don't think that was too out of place, since it wasn't clear if 2006 was a fluke or not.
So with last year's results out of the way, here's a look at the 2008 Coaches Ratings:
1. Bronco Mendenhall (3 seasons, 28-10).
Seriously, what else can be said about Bronco? He's a good coach and as a Ute fan, I can readily admit it. In fact, he's proven to be the best coach in the conference, at least for the moment. I mean, you can't ignore the fact he became the first coach in Mountain West history to lead his team to back-to-back undefeated conference seasons, all the while leading the Cougars to back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since Saint LaVell did it in 1989-1990. Even with how much talent BYU lost on offense prior to the start of the 2007 season, they still managed to pretty much roll through the Mountain West. Impressive. Now don't stone me.
2. Gary Patterson (8 seasons, 62-25).
Patterson easily is one of the best non-BCS conference coaches in the country and the fact he consistently has TCU competitive is testament to his leadership. Yet the Frogs stumbled a bit last year, which hurt, since many expected them to contend for the BCS and win the Mountain West outright. But that does not diminish the fact Patterson is the most successful coach the Frogs have seen this side of Good Ol' Dutch Meyer.
3. Kyle Whittingham (3 seasons, 24-14).
Ok, so he didn't leap into 2nd place, but he's pretty close. Whittingham proved once again you can never count his teams out, as they looked dead after an embarrassing loss to the Rebels last year, only to find new life by way of a 7-game winning streak. Unfortunately for Whittingham, he still hasn't figured out how to win the Mountain West and is now 1-2 against Bronco and the Cougars. If you're going to cut it at Utah, one of those is going to have to change.
4. Rocky Long (10 seasons, 61-61).
Let's hear it for Coach Long, after 10 seasons, he finally climbed to a .500 career record. And I'm not being sarcastic, he's done a pretty solid job with the Lobos, especially last year after he guided them to 9-wins and their first bowl win since the Lyndon Johnson administration. Long isn't a great coach and he's probably not the type of coach who will turn many heads, but he's reliable and that seems to be what New Mexico wants from their football program. You can generally expect 7-8 wins from these guys and with how little money they actually pump into the football program, that's pretty good.
5. Troy Calhoun (1 season, 9-4).
What a first year for Calhoun and the Falcons. Picked to do nothing in the Mountain West last year, Air Force actually contended for the championship and yes, beat the Utes in Salt Lake. Calhoun proved last season that talent, coupled with coaching, can lead to some good results. Mike Sanford and Chuck Long should take note.
6. Joe Glenn (19 seasons, 164-73 @ Wyoming, 26-33).
What's that sound? Joe Glenn crashing in the ratings. I know falling from second to sixth is pretty extreme, but I think it was more extreme putting Glenn at #2 in the first place. That was a mistake on my part, because Wyoming has really not done anything since they managed to win 7 games in 2004. Glenn, who fired his offensive coordinator after last season's dismal 5-7 finish, will probably need 7-wins if he plans on coaching in Laramie next season. Then again, it's Laramie, so maybe he's tanking on purpose?
7. Chuck Long (2 seasons, 7-17).
The Aztecs improved marginally last season, but when you're coming off a 3-win season, it isn't like it's that hard to do. But now the pressure turns up for Long, who's in his 3rd year at San Diego State. Some Aztec fans are getting restless and won't accept another losing record. So is Long good enough to get things turned around in San Diego State, or is he their version of Mike Sanford?
8. Mike Sanford (3 seasons, 6-29).
Mike Sanford is pretty much gone at UNLV, since it'll take a miracle to get this team back to respectability. UNLV has not improved on their win total once since Sanford took over after John Robinson retired and two of those seasons were after the NCAA allowed teams to play a 12-game schedule. Embarrassingly enough, though, one of UNLV's wins last year came against the Utes. Had Utah not lost that game, the Rebels probably would be working spring drills under a new coach.
Colorado State's Steve Fairchild will start his first season with the Rams this year, thus I omitted him from the rankings.
There you have it, the Mountain West coaches ranked from top to bottom. Whittingham made some gains and can even climb further up the list if the Utes win the Mountain West this year. Agree? Disagree? Let me know.