Mandel rides again.

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve felt the need to get worked up about a Stewart Mandel piece, but his lists of best and worst coaches in college football manage to scratch that itch.  And they do it for the same reason that his M-word stuff did.  Both are way too arbitrary and lacking in any logical cohesion to make much sense.

Take, for example, Bobby Petrino’s placement on his ten-best list.  Petrino is, no doubt, one of the very best offensive minds in the game.  Other than that, though, he brings little more to the table.  He is at best an indifferent recruiter – ask his successors at his last two stops what kind of talent base they inherited from him – and institutional loyalty is an alien concept to him.  Petrino’s got a mid-major title to his name and a sprinkling of double-digit win seasons on his resume.  But how in the world does that add up to anything close to what Steve Spurrier has accomplished?

And how to explain Kevin Sumlin clocking in at number six, while David Shaw finds himself grouped in with the “maybe in three years” bunch?  Sumlin’s got two hot years (there’s a losing season at Houston mixed in earlier, which Mandel conveniently ignores) while Shaw sits at 23-4 in two seasons as a head coach.  At Stanford.

Tell me where that fits with this:

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 right now. They are not career achievement awards. Picture an inverted triangle, with the most recent season on the top line (the widest), the 2011 season below that, and so on. Each season is thus weighted a little bit heavier than the last. Someone like Mack Brown, who easily made this list six years ago, is nowhere to be found because his past three mediocre seasons are more relevant today than his 2005 national title. That said, I do like to see more than a one- or two-year track record before anointing a coach. Consider it my lesson learned from Charlie Weis.

Speaking of Weis, he’s an easy entry on the worst five list, but most of the rest of that is a big a mess as the other.  I yield to no man in my contempt for Junior, but there’s no way a guy who recruits as well as he does belongs with a group of the five worst college coaches.  And his logic chopping of Kirk Ferentz – “Take away that one 11-2 season” – still leaves a guy with a winning record at a backwater like Iowa.  Is Ferentz overpaid for the results he’s gotten recently?  Sure, but that’s a long way from saying there is something like 120 better coaches than him.  (It also begs the question of how Mack Brown doesn’t qualify.)

These aren’t the worst lists of their type I’ve seen – HP set the gold standard in that department (at least Mandel has enough sense to put Miles on the right side of the ledger) – but they’re pretty dumb.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Mandel was worried he might not have enough material to stretch out a couple of preseason Mailbag columns and wanted to make sure he could gin up some reader response.


Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

28 responses to “Mandel rides again.

  1. TennesseeDawg

    According to Mandel, Bobby Petrino is a better coach “right now” than Mark Richt. ‘Nuff said.


    • Merk

      I know right…cause Arky was in the National Title talk before Petrino got caught lying to the admin and having an affair with a staffer he brought in. Also how the hell does that not count towards his coaching? I mean representing the University is part of the job, which Petrino did a very good job of doing horrible.

      Richt sucks cause he fired a DC then went on to have his First losing season followed by 2 10+ win seasons, in which 1 of the seasons had him playing for the right to be in the NC game.


      • Irwin R Fletcher

        Just to point out a little bit of logic here..

        Petrino’s last three seasons were 10-3 with a #12 ranking nationally and an 11-2 season with a #5 national ranking…and then he used his acumen to get fired for lying to his boss and hiring a mistress to work under him in his office. I assume that’s a sign of the ‘strong leadership’ he is talking about that it takes to consistently win at a powerhouse.

        Richt, meanwhile, took at program that hit a low point in 2010 of a 6-7 record and built it back into a SEC championship/National Championship contender…with a 10-4 record and a #18 national ranking and a 12-2 finish with a #4 national ranking. I assume that is the opposite of what Mandell means by ‘strong leadership’ that it takes to consistenly win at a powerhouse.

        Honestly, his list sucks and there are several coaches that you could scoff at…but Petrino is such blatant trolling…

        BTW- the irony of his quote about Patterson isn’t lost on me: “Does anyone get less credit for running a consistently successful program than this guy?” “


      • AlphaDawg

        With all due respect, Petrino is really good at being a horrible person.


  2. Mandel, who’s paying you these days? Arbitrary and lacking cohesion indeed!


  3. Yeah, I didn’t get Petrino in the top 10 either. His resume isn’t a fly on an elephant’s ass to Richt’s, or Spurrier’s either for that matter. I think you could also make the case that his Arky replacement has a better one.


  4. Bryant Denny

    If Saban retires, I would take Shaw in a heartbeat.


  5. Dog in Fla

    “2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State. While the brash and often outspoken 48-year-old certainly has his share of critics, it’s hard to argue with his résumé. Meyer has…undefeated seasons at…Ohio State* (2012)….While initially viewed as a spread-offense guru, he is now renowned** for his unique ability to charm and connect with both recruits and players, something that’s produced consistent success.”


    ** He was first renowned for his Buck Naked Corchstache during his first tour of hardcore duty at Buck Eye State

    In addition to “consistent success” of having players charged but not convicted, he’s still a poseur*** with one of the worst defendants**** in recent movie history




  6. OhioDawg

    Considering he had to fit this in between the filming of game shows and such, I consider this a great piece. 🙂


  7. Bobby

    I can see how Junior belongs on the list of worst 5. He has had plenty of opportunities at high profile jobs, and he has had only one good season. It’s the biggest sham there is. As for recruiting, USC recruits itself. It’s not hard to recruit Tennessee either. CPJ would even recruit a good class if he was the head coach at USC.

    The problem w/ his list is that he clearly isn’t consistent in his methodology. Based on his own comments, some coaches are only held to the “right now” standard (Sumlin), whereas others clearly are benefiting from Mandel factoring in their whole career (Patterson). Also, apparently, if your record really sucked historically, have a couple of good seasons makes you one of the hottest names in head coaching (Snyder; Briles); it’s just another way Mandel factors in a coach’s long-term career–the “comeback kid” bump.

    Under either methodology, I think Junior belongs on that list. If nothing else, he can lose control of a locker room at any moment. You can probably attribute last season’s implosion almost solely to him; it certainly wasn’t from lack of talent.


    • As for recruiting, USC recruits itself.

      Tell that to Paul Hackett.


      • Bobby

        I’m talking about the current state of things. USC is probably the easiest school to recruit for in the country at the moment. Every kid has heard of it. They were considered the Team of the Decade following 2000. It’s in LA, which is cool and exotic; LA is probably one of the top 3 most recruit-fertile cities in the country. USC is a great school academically (at least one of the top 10 in major college football). It’s got a tradition of success.

        When Hackett arrived, USC was on the downslope, and UCLA was on the rise, at least for a season. It makes a big difference when you have to compete heavily w/ a cross-town rival. It was a materially different situation than what Junior inherited.


        • Bryant Denny

          Right now, I wouldn’t say the current state of things is so good: consider their coach, NCAA violations, etc. I’d say UCLA is looking better and better.


          • Bobby

            That’s a good point about the NCAA violations, but the light at the end of the tunnel is visible (unless I’ve been out of the loop on some other pending, major violation).

            Regardless of the coaching staff at USC, it is a school w/ massive appeal to players, based its the inherently appealing location, winning tradition (at least in the minds of today’s recruits), highly regarded academic reputation, proximity to some of the best talent in the country, and reputation for being a pro-pipeline.

            UCLA certainly looks like a program that is on the rise, but its all predicated on continued success; it hasn’t established a grand enough perception to get recruits to overlook a couple of mediocre seasons. USC could go 7-6 again, and it still would be a hot destination point for recruits. Aside from the school’s inherent, positive qualities, its recent, historical success will hold a lot of currency w/ recruits for at least a few more years to come, regardless of whether it is dominant on the field.


          • Bobby

            “Right now, I wouldn’t say the current state of things is so good: consider their coach . . . .”

            If USC loses recruits b/c of its coach (Junior), that just shows even more that USC’s most recent recruiting successes are not really attributable to Junior. If you can’t recruit successfully for that school, you can’t recruit successfully for any school.


        • Junior was on Carroll’s staff until he left for the Raiders. He did more than inherit when he came back.


          • Bobby

            If I understand you correctly, you’re suggesting that Lane didn’t simply piggyback on Carroll’s successes–that he actually played an active role in building the program along w/ Carroll.

            While Lane definitely had a substantial role in recruiting players for USC during the Glory Decade, there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that Carroll–and only Carroll–was the big draw on the coaching staff. Carroll was immensely successful, had pro experience, ran a pro offense, and is a player’s coach. He is what Jim Mora always hoped he could be. By all accounts, Carroll was a really cool guy to play for. You won’t find another coach in college football who is as much of a “player’s coach,” as well as a proven winner. That’s a rare combination.


          • Bobby

            And I don’t know why I didn’t mention this first, but I should have: Lane owes much of his recruiting success to having had his dad on staff. Until recently, what defensive player wouldn’t be excited about running the Tampa-2 under Monte? Even when Carroll left for the pros, I can remember reading quotes from then-current players on the roster expressing excitement about the move; some players even thought they might be getting an upgrade b/c of the addition of Monte.

            Monte may be perceived as something of a dinosaur nowadays, but only a couple of years ago, he was a hot commodity that only Lane had. Basically, recruits got the promise of playing for one of the greatest and most innovative NFL DCs ever. And Monte was only there b/c his son was the head coach. He wasn’t going anywhere. He wasn’t going to take another job in the pros. That is perceived stability and that no other program has. It was also perceived to be about as elite as it comes on the defensive side of the ball.

            So, yet again, there’s another example of how Lane got something he wouldn’t have gotten on his own. He’s done nothing but ride Daddy’s coattails as a head coach. Like I said: what a sham.


      • Ted Tollner

        Tell me about it, too.


  8. shane#1

    I would think raping a program and taking the first thing smoking out of town would make one a bad coach, like Kiffin and Petrino. Someone that would treat a good man and a good boss the way Petrino did Blank would be enough to say that he is a good for nothing rather than a good coach.


  9. Mdcgtp

    It is a stupid exercise and a formulaic and thoughtless list. Shaw is a great guy but inhereted a program with Andrew Luck, a bunch of NFL OL and TEs, a bruising RB, and a winning culture to match. He stuck with Nottingham way too long last year such that they lost to Washington and a way way overrated Notre Dame team. Heat in fact be a great coach, but would you have said Larry Coker was a great coach after 2 seasons?

    The rest of it is a mish mosh of a guys career vs of the moment. Peterson seems like a great coach an is really articulate, but until we see him compete regularly against top competition, how good is he really? Obviously, they whipped us, but they beat a version of us that had one foot in 2010 and one foot in 2011.

    Meyer just inherited the most talented roster in the big 10 and beat a bunch of teams that lost MAC teams. He left UF with a dearth of offensive talent, and did not win anything of consequence without Tebow converting every third and short.

    I hate lists like this because they don’t really lead to any worthwhile discussion, but act as filler content for his employer.


    • Dog in Fla

      Mandel writes again. “[S]tupid exercise and a formulaic and thoughtless list”? Sure but when that list writing happens, he listens to show tunes. It helps him concentrate on his own private Idaho


  10. Ed Kilgore

    There does seem to be a conceit among some writers that “coaching” means X&O’s & “flair” & perhaps game management, but nothing else. So Kiffikins gets no credit for recruiting & Petrino no demerits, and the instability involved with both doesn’t seem to be a factor. Might as well rate corporate managers on the brilliance of their powerpoint presentations.