Tom Amstutz is underrated, Jim Tressel is the fourth-best coach in the nation, Joe Paterno and Gary Pinkel are two of the worst, and Lloyd Carr is somewhere in between in the world of college football coaches.
Those contentious evaluations were made by writer Stewart Mandel in a column on SI.com. Mandel said he compiled the list of the best, worst, the most underrated, and the most overrated college football coaches "to shake things up a bit in the midst of a summer lull."
Amstutz joined Michigan State coach John L. Smith as a member of the eight most underrated coaches in the country. Apparently Amstutz's recent string of successes (two MAC titles in four years) and numerous appearances on ESPN have not gone unnoticed.
Former Toledo coach Gary Pinkel did not fare nearly as well in Mandel's assessments. He wrote that Pinkel, who is now at Missouri, thoroughly messes up players' development and that he must contend for the Big 12 North title this season or he'll be fired.
Urban Meyer, an ex-Bowling Green coach, is ranked as the seventh-best coach. Meyer has enjoyed a wildly successful ride that has taken him from northwest Ohio to Utah to one of the brightest spotlights in the sport, Florida. Mandel said that Meyer's "new-age offensive approach has taken the sport by storm."
Current Falcon coach Gregg Brandon does not appear in the column, but given his recent achievements he could also quickly garner positive appraisal. In two years at BG, Brandon has guided the Falcons to back-to-back bowl wins for just the second time in school history and has a 20-6 record.
The only coaches ranked ahead of Tressel are USC's Pete Carroll, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. Tressel may be overly conservative at times, but "he already has won one national title and has recruited the talent base necessary to win another," according to Mandel.
Tressel's arch rival, Carr, is left in a bit of limbo by Mandel. Carr just missed making Mandel's top 10, but he also is neither overrated or underrated, he wrote.
"On the positive side he oversees one of the nation's most consistently successful programs of the past 10 years, and he's appeared in the past two Rose Bowls," Mandell wrote. "On the negative side, he annu-ally has as much talent on hand as any team in the country, yet hasn't contended for a national title since the one he won in '97 and, without fail, loses at least one early-season game he shouldn't."
It clearly pains Mandell to call out Penn State legend Joe Paterno, who has a 26-33 record over the last five seasons. But he said "a blind evaluation" would conclude that JoePa is a bad coach despite having tradition and resources to compete for national titles.
Mandell does preface his comments with a stipulation that his evaluations were based on recent performance and not a career.
He said the rankings are based on "ability to both recruit and get the most out of the talent [a coach] assembles."
But in the end, Mendel's goal clearly is to generate passionate discussion of a sport worthy of year-round debate.
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