Once upon a time, around this point in the summer, I preempted my usual Mailbag format for a week in favor of something sure to grab readers' attention. Call it my version of a TV sweeps stunt. But my annual list of the "10 best and five worst" coaches heading into the season eventually faded away, in part because the 10 best didn't change much from one year to the next, but more so because -- unintentionally -- the "five worst" section inevitably stole all the spotlight. (It gave this Charlottesville, Va., columnist, for one, fodder for a day. In fact, readers should probably just stop this column now since it "... wasn't written by someone I know to be extremely knowledgeable of college football.")
But enough time has passed to merit a 2013 preseason edition (and to break it apart from the Mailbag), and as the exercise below shows, the "10 best" list has changed considerably in six years. Most notably, the No. 1 coach at that time (Pete Carroll) is in the NFL now, while the new No. 1 (Nick Saban, of course) was in the NFL then. As for the "five worst," I must be getting soft in my old age. I'll still provide five names, but I'm listing them alphabetically so as to avoid branding someone "the worst coach in college football." Readers can decide that for themselves.
Before I get into my list, it's necessary to revisit the methodology behind these admittedly subjective rankings. Please note that they represent the best and worst coaches
As for my criteria -- well, it varies. National coach of the year awards tend to go to guys deemed to have overachieved at their respective school, as doing more with less is an obvious sign of effective coaching. There are plenty of those guys here. But make no mistake, it still takes a strong leader to consistently win at a traditional powerhouse. This list offers a mix of both.
The five worst coaches (in alphabetical order)