Re-Ranking The College Football Coaching Class Of 2009

Jared Wickerham

With the Frank Spaziani era of Boston College football mercifully coming to an end in two weeks' time, I thought it would be interesting (depressing?) to look back at the college football class of 2009. Just who from the 2009 class has excelled and who has fallen flat? Let's take a closer look, ranking each of college football's 2009 hires as if we were a recruiting service.

With the Frank Spaziani era of Boston College football mercifully coming to an end in two weeks' time, I thought it would be interesting (depressing?) to look back at the college football class of 2009. Just who from the 2009 class has excelled and who has fallen flat?

Let's take a closer look, ranking each of college football's 2009 hires as if we were a recruiting service.

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- Chip Kelly, Oregon -- has his team ranked #1 in the country this season -- in the drivers seat to play in this year's BCS National Championship Game with one trip to the BCSNCG already under his belt. Kelly has amassed a record of 44-6 at Oregon, including a 26-1 record at home. The Ducks' offense ranks 3rd nationally in Total Offense this season, averaging 562.6 total yards a game.

- Bill Snyder, Kansas State -- The Bill Snyder reunion tour started in 2009. All he's done in his second stint with the Wildcats is go 6-6 to 7-6 to 10-3 to 10-0 and in poised to face Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game. K-State finished 2011 ranked 15th in the final AP poll and 16th in the Coaches. The Wildcats are currently the consensus #2 team in the country. His QB could also very well win the Heisman.

Now before you read any further, please step back from the ledge since you've now realized that the two coaches that have their teams in position to play in the National Championship were hired the same year as Spaz.

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- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State -- Since taking over in Starkville, Mullen has led the Bulldogs to 5, 9 and 7 win seasons in the top-heavy SEC West. This year the Bulldogs are 7-3 and ranked in the top 25. Mullen is also 2-0 in bowl games and 3-0 vs. Mississippi State's in-state rival Ole Miss. Though Mullen is only 1-14 against the AP Top 25, that is still infinitely more wins than Spaz has over the Top 25 as head coach of the Eagles.

- Steve Sarkisian, Washington -- The Huskies head coach is 25-23 in four seasons in Seattle. Last season, despite losing star QB Jake Locker, the Huskies started the season 6-2 and undefeated in PAC-12 play before finishing the season 1-4 including a bowl loss to Baylor. Though Washington stands at just 6-4 through 10 games this year, UW does have wins over #8 Stanford (17-13) and #7 Oregon State (20-17) to go with losses to LSU, Oregon, USC and Arizona.

- Gene Chizik, Auburn -- Yes, Chizik may be fired following this year's 2-8 (0-7 SEC) performance. But this ranking has more to do with the fact that Chizik won a BCS National Championship on the arm and legs of Cam Newton. Despite this year's dismal mark, Chizik is still 32-18 at Auburn, including a 15-16 mark in the SEC, and 3-0 in bowl games. Guess Barkley was right.

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- Paul Rhoads, Iowa State -- In his fourth year with the Cyclones, Rhoads is 23-25 overall and 11-21 in the Big 12. Not great, but he has managed to get the Cyclones bowling in two of the last three seasons (and barely missing in 2010, where ISU finished third in the now defunct Big 12 North). For a college football stop as bad historically as Iowa State, Rhoads has done OK for himself. Likely most important for Cyclone fans, Rhoads reversed a three game losing streak against their in-state rivals and has won two straight over the Hawkeyes (after ISU had lost four of six).

- Dave Clawson, Bowling Green -- Clawson has the Falcons at 7-3, 5-1 MAC this season and in position to win the MAC East with victories over Kent State and Buffalo in BGSU's final two games. Though just 21-26 (15-15 MAC) in four seasons at Bowling Green, it would be a big accomplishment if Clawson can get the Falcons back to the MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2003 (then in the MAC West). Prior to his current stay at Bowling Green, Clawson served as the OC at Tennessee and head coach at Fordham and Richmond (go Jesuits!).

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- Doug Marrone, Syracuse -- Though Marrone is just 22-25 over four seasons at Syracuse, the former New Orleans Saints OC does have the Orange at 5-5 this year and 4-2 in a watered down Big East. With a win in one of Syracuse's final two games -- @ Missouri, @ Temple -- Marrone would have the Orange bowling for the second time in four years. That is a marked improvement over the Greg Robinson era of Syracuse Orange football. Marrone's final ranking does factor in the fact that he managed to lose to Spaz and the Eagles in 2010.

- Rich Ellerson, Army -- Ellerson, a self-proclaimed "triple-option guy," came to West Point from Cal Poly where he finished 56-34 and 15-6 in the Great West Football Conference in five seasons. He's won 5 and 7 and 3 and 2 games in four years, managing to get Army bowl eligible in 2010 (and winning the Armed Forces Bowl). While Army is a tough place to win, the results so far really haven't been there for Ellerson (17-30 overall). Still, he gets two stars here for winning the head-to-head matchup earlier this year over Spaz.

- Dave Christensen, Wyoming -- The 'Pokes have had four up-and-down seasons over the last few years. In Christensen's first year, Wyoming finished 7-6 (4-4 MWC) and won the 2009 New Mexico Bowl vs. Fresno State. After a 3-9 campaign in 2010, Wyoming returned to the postseason with a 8-5 (5-2 MWC) season and a loss in the New Mexico Bowl. This season Wyoming is just 3-7 (2-4 MWC) in a watered down Mountain West Conference though the Cowboys have now won two straight.

- Gary Andersen, Utah State -- The former Utah DC has the Aggies at 8-2 (4-0 WAC) in the program's final season in the WAC before moving to the Mountain West. In four seasons in Logan, Andersen is 23-24 (14-13 WAC), though he did lead the Aggies to their first bowl appearance since 1997 last season (a 24-23 loss in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl). Utah State has clearly benefitted from the WAC's string of mass defections and subsequent expansion of Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, but he does have the program in position to win the last WAC Championship with what will likely be a winner-take-all showdown with Louisiana Tech this weekend. It will be interesting to see if Andersen has Utah State competitive when the Aggies make the move to the Mountain West next season, where they'll be reunited with Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada.

NR / Preferred walk-on / JUCO transfer

- Ron English, Eastern Michigan -- Eastern Michigan is not an easy place to win. A year ago, English had the Eagles at 6-6 (4-4 MAC), tied for fourth in the MAC West. Unfortunately the Eagles weren't eligible for postseason play as two of those wins came over Division I-AA opponents. Still, it was EMU's best season in 17 years. This season EMU has struggled, currently at 1-9 overall and 0-6 in the MAC West. Through four seasons, the former Michigan DC is 9-37 and 6-24 in the MAC. With all due respect, I don't want to hear English's name dropped for the soon-to-be vacant Boston College football head coaching position ever again.

- Danny Hope, Purdue -- It's been a long time since Purdue was relevant in the Big Ten. Hope managed to get the Boilermakers bowling last season, finishing 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten. Overall he's 20-27 and 11-19 in the Big Ten after going 35-22 (32-8 OVC) at Eastern Kentucky before being named the eventual successor to Joe Tiller in 2008.

- Frank Spaziani, Boston College -- Has taken BC from 8 wins to 7 wins to 4 wins to now 2 in successive seasons. Has lost every one of the contests against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 at game time (0-8). 0-4 vs. Notre Dame. 0-3 vs. Virginia Tech. 2-6 against the top half of the ACC Atlantic Division. Just totally and completely outmatched for the position.

- DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State -- Things could always be worse. We could be New Mexico State football. Walker, the former UCLA Bruins DC, took the top spot in Las Cruces in December 2008. The Aggies have gone 3-10, 2-10, 4-9 and 1-9 in four seasons and face an uncertain future as a football independent starting next season with the dissolution of the WAC.

Incomplete

- Joey Jones, South Alabama -- I went back and forth on whether I should give U.S.A.'s coach a ranking here but ultimately decided against it. Jones is in charge of the South Alabama football program, one that was elevated to Division I-A for the 2012 season. Jones is the first coach of South Alabama since 1939, at which time the school disbanded the program. Jones compiled a 23-4 record in his first three seasons at South Alabama and has the Jaguars at 2-8, 1-5 Sun Belt, which includes a 34-31 double OT victory over Florida Atlantic for the program's first win over a Division I-A opponent.

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