The team position rankings are done, and now comes the really, really, really hard part. Ranking the coaches. Did I mention this is the really hard part?
The problem with ranking coaches is this: you can go from genius to bum in the span of a season. Louisville coach Charlie Strong looks fantastic in Year 1. How will he look in Year 2 if the Cardinals go 4-8? Syracuse coach Doug Marrone had problems his first year trying to rebuild a program. He looks pretty darn good today. Greg Schiano has resurrected Rutgers. But he has not won a Big East championship in 10 years. Good coach or bad coach?
What also makes these rankings difficult is the fact that there are so many first and second year coaches in the league. Dana Holgorsen has never been a head coach before, so how does he rank? Paul Pasqualoni has been out of the head coaching business for years. Do we judge him based on the good years at Syracuse or the bad (yet another illustration of the point I made in the previous paragraph).
I honestly do not think there is a bad coach among this group. I do not think anybody is on the hot seat, and I certainly do not think anybody deserves to be ranked No. 8. So I am going to do these rankings in a slightly different way. I am going to look at each coach and the likelihood he could be snatched away from the Big East, from highest probability to lowest.
1. Charlie Strong, Louisville. Strong waited long enough to become a head coach and after his successful first season, he made quite an impression across the country. Eddie George even mentioned him as somebody he would like to see at Ohio State. What I am most interested to see is how he handles Year 2 with a green team lacking the senior leadership he had in 2010. Still, Strong remains an up-and-coming coach to definitely watch.
2. Skip Holtz, USF. Holtz is a proven winner, and has his Bulls primed to win their first Big East championship. He has been able to go into living rooms in Florida and convince some top prospects to play for him; he has snagged some pretty top-quality transfers as well. It seems to be only a matter of time before USF wins a league title. That means Holtz could be a hot commodity pretty soon.
3. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia.If the Mountaineers have the success everyone expects, the big question is whether Holgorsen bolts. If you look at his past, he does not seem to stay in one place for very long. Many West Virginia fans never thought Rich Rodriguez would leave, and he did. I got a question during a chat asking whether I thought West Virginia was a career job. I think it depends on who comes calling.
4. Todd Graham, Pittsburgh. Graham won at Rice, people! OK that may be beside the point, but he has an opportunity to create something special with the Panthers. Graham has wanted the opportunity to coach at an AQ school. He really wanted this Pitt job badly throughout the entire process. In fact, he dropped Tulsa pretty quickly as soon as Pitt came calling after the Mike Haywood fiasco. Would he do the same to Pitt if a bigger name school wanted him?
5. Butch Jones, Cincinnati. Year 1 was not exactly what anybody envisioned, but he had little to work with in terms of depth and experienced players. He obviously can coach if you look at what he did at Central Michigan. Cincinnati has been known to be a "stepping stone" job. See: Dantonio, Mark and Kelly, Brian.
6. Greg Schiano, Rutgers. I have defended Schiano on this blog, where there have been fans who have wondered whether the Scarlet Knights were in need of moving on in a different direction. I think he is a solid coach, but I do not necessarily think that he is going anywhere anytime soon. Penn State is often a school that gets tossed around in connection with him, but I am not so sure about that. I think Schiano has built a foundation and is bringing in an unbelievable recruiting class. If he has another 10-win season, then his stock may soar.
7. Doug Marrone, Syracuse. The Orange had a wonderful rebound season in 2011, but Marrone was able to stay under the radar for the most part. He is coaching at his school, and, in short, seems to love where he is.
8. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut.This is the perfect spot for Pasqualoni to resurrect his head coaching career. He knows the Northeast and is familiar with the Big East. I am not sure another program would come calling, or Pasqualoni would leave if he has multiple seasons of success with the Huskies.