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Mike Leach ranked 10th among Pac-12 coaches

Athlon released its annual ranking of Pac-12 coaches. Where does our coach rank?

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Good morning, Cougar fans, and Happy Mother's Day. If you have a mom, I hope you've called her by now, or plan to do so in the immediate future. If you are a mom, hopefully you're being showered with gifts and love. My two boys came into our room this morning and said "Happy Mother's Day" to my wife, which made her swoon. Then they immediately turned the conversation to how long they were in the bathroom before they came in. Boys are the best.

Switching gears back to sports, Athlon released its annual Pac-12 football coach rankings this week, and our coach took a precipitous nose dive. Upon first glance, I wasn't too surprised that Mike Leach finished tenth. After all, WSU followed up its first bowl season since 2003 with a 3-9 belly flop, and the defense was really, really bad. Then I decided to look at the rankings from the previous couple years, and I became confused.

If you look at the rankings from 2013 and 2014, Leach is ranked fifth both times. That seems a tad high, but given his track record at Texas Tech, it probably isn't far off. So what exactly happened between 2014 and 2015 to make Mike Leach a much worse coach? Isn't he basically the same guy? There hasn't been a huge influx of top tier coaches to knock him down the list. What about David Shaw? He took the title for two straight years, then suddenly the two coaches in Arizona became smarter than he is?

Chris Petersen took a team with four Top 45 draft picks and couldn't beat any FBS teams with a winning record. That only cost him two spots in the rankings for some reason. I disagree vehemently with the guy atop this year's rankings, Todd Graham. Without question, he has done a great job at ASU, taking the undisciplined team that Dennis Erickson left him and turning the Sun Devils into a solid program. But the best coach in the conference? No way.

If you ask me, and you didn't, Rich Rodriguez is easily the best coach in the Pac-12. He's had three quarterbacks in three seasons, and Arizona has gone bowling every time. In 2014 he rode a freshman quarterback, brand new running backs and a defensive terror nobody else recruited to a win in Eugene and a New Year's Six bowl game. That was a grand slam hire by the folks down in Tucson.

This whole exercise of ranking coaches from year-to-year seems like a fruitless endeavor. A three year snapshot, at minimum, seems like an apt window of time. Unlike the constant player turnover, in which a team can go from a bunch of seniors to a bunch of freshmen and sophomores almost overnight, coaches don't suddenly get smarter or dumber. There are the obvious gradual declines, like Phil Fulmer in Tennessee or Mack Brown at Texas. However, I'm here to tell you that Kyle Whittingham didn't suddenly become a much better coach (he went from tenth to fifth) just because he found Devontae Booker. Heck, Whittingham was pretty darn close to being fired after 2014 due to friction with his AD.

So to sum up, ranking college football coaches on a yearly basis is loaded with flaws, and is probably done mostly to generate web traffic, yet here I am writing over 500 words about ranking college football coaches. Welcome to the beginning of the offseason's dog days. That said, where would you rank Mike Leach? Given the fact that nearly every coach in the conference has been around for at least two seasons, where would you rank everyone else?

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