Scott Prather from Coaches By The Numbers
Hard to believe but Greg Schiano now has seniority over the coaches in the Big East, if you will allow me to count Paul Pasqualoni as a new head coach in the conference (the Big East is much different today than it was the last time he was in the conference). The Big East has some new stars in the conference this season with Todd Graham taking over at Pittsburgh, Dana Holgorsen being handed the West Virginia program and Pasqualoni returning to the conference with a job at Connecticut.
Meanwhile Charlie Strong, Doug Marrone, Skip Holtz and Butch Jones are all entering their second or third season in a head coaching position and hoping to see some improvement in 2011. Each is in a unique situation and seem to be handling it well, and each will have different challenges this season. Can they keep the momentum going, or in Jones’ case can he get a solid rebound season?
Here today I am joined by one of the guys from Coaches By The Numbers. Each of the past two weeks I was joined by Stephen Prather, but this week we say hello to his brother, Scott Prather. It may be a new guest but we get a look at the same kind of analysis of the coaches as we touch on each head coach in the Big East, and touch briefly on Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly. The Big East has four coaches in Coaches By The Number Top 50 (Graham #41, Jones #44, Holtz #45, Strong #50) but I find myself differing with the experts a tad with my Big East coaches ranking.
Here is a look at my order.
1. Todd Graham, Pittsburgh (43-23 overall) – Why put the new guy in town at the top right away? Three double-digit win seasons at Tulsa, three straight bowl victories and a knack for having a quality coaching staff. It can’t be a mistake, can it? Graham should have been Pittsburgh’s choice earlier in the coaching carousel, although hindsight is 20/20, but now we will see what the former Big East defensive coordinator (West Virginia) can do in a BCS conference.
2. Skip Holtz, South Florida (80-55) – Few coaches in the Big East have traveled the path that Skip Holtz has. Of course he is the son of Lou Holtz but he has been a graduate assistant under Bobby Bowden, and an assistant at South Carolina, Notre Dame as well as a head coach at Connecticut and East Carolina. Plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Holtz’s future at South Florida.
3. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut (141-76-1) – There is no doubt that UConn’s hiring of Pasqualoni lacked sizzle, but that does not mean that the hiring of will not help. He knows the Big East very well (four Big East championships with Syracuse) and takes over a team that went to a BCS game but the team he takes over has no time to rest on being on top. He is also the only head coach in the conference to have won a BCS bowl (1993 Fiesta Bowl), although that was before the BCS era.
4. Greg Schiano, Rutgers (59-63) – Rutgers has been to six bowl games in program history, and five of them have come under Schiano’s watch. Schiano has a four-game winning streak in bowl games although last year injuries held his team back and out of postseason play. Before last season Rutgers had recorded five consecutive winning seasons, a feat not accomplished since the 1970s
5. Charlie Strong, Louisville (7-7) – These next two guys are two that I am particularly fond of. Charlie Strong has the right kind of personality I think Louisville needed and year one was a much better year than many predicted. The Cardinals were picked last in the Big East and Strong did not take kindly to that. Strong will have a young team to work with in 2011 so expect this season to be one of growing pains.
6. Doug Marrone, Syracuse (12-13) – Marrone just seems like the perfect fit for Syracuse. The former Syracuse offensive lineman enters third season on the job and looks to continue the upward climb back to national prominence. It won’t be easy, but I feel that Syracuse is in good hands with Marrone.
7. Butch Jones, Cincinnati (31-21) – Jones has plenty to prove this season. With nearly an entire defense returning and some of the top offensive players back in 2011 Jones needs to see his team improve on the field. Cincinnati could be one of the most improved teams in the country this season.
8. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia (0-0) – Making his debut on the sidelines this season following a bizarre situation in Morgantown. I’ll wait to see what he can do as a head coach before determining whether or not he is the real deal as a head coach. For now, he’ll start at the bottom.
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