A reader asked me on my chat Wednesday to grade Skip Holtz's first year at South Florida, and then another reader asked me to do it for all the Big East coaches. It's certainly a lot easier to sit on the sidelines and pass judgments than it is to try and run a program. But it's kind of fun, too. So here are my grades for each job turned in by a Big East head coach in 2010:
Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Charlie Strong, Louisville
What is coaching if not maximizing a team's potential? If you had told Syracuse supporters before the season they would win eight games and a bowl, and Louisville backers they would win seven games and a bowl, both fan bases would have giddily agreed to that. Strong and Marrone squeezed the most out of their teams.
Skip Holtz, South Florida
The Bulls' 8-5 season is particularly impressive when you consider how many defensive starters were gone from 2009, the potential for team conflict following the Jim Leavitt episode and the lack of playmakers on offense, especially in the passing game. USF played about as well as any Big East team down the stretch.
Randy Edsall, Connecticut
Perhaps we should split this into semesters. For the first seven games, Edsall deserved no better than a C-minus and probably much worse. From late October on, he surely would have gotten an A-plus as the Huskies won their last five and clinched the BCS bid. But this is about a full body of work, and you can't ignore that 3-4 start or 0-2 beginning in conference play. Bottom line is that UConn finished 8-5 despite its Tostitos Fiesta Bowl bid, and a whole lot of people thought the team's record would be better than that.
Bill Stewart, West Virginia
Stewart did get the Mountaineers to within a whisker of a BCS game, but this team was far too talented to end up at 9-4. The grade would have been higher if it weren't for the ultra-disappointing showing in the Champs Sports Bowl, which cost the Mountaineers a shot at a 10-win season and raised questions about how Stewart handled the admittedly difficult coaching transition.
Butch Jones, Cincinnati
You could certainly argue that this should be lower, since Jones inherited a 12-1 team and took it to a 4-8 record. But I also think he was handcuffed by the schedule, injuries, a very young, thin defense and other issues. Cincinnati could have won some more games if players had held onto the ball better, and I don't think that's all coaching.
Greg Schiano, Rutgers
Schiano had a difficult assignment in keeping things together in the wake of the Eric LeGrand injury, and that's not a task I'd wish on any coach. But the truth is that the Scarlet Knights weren't very good before that happened, and they never were able to solve their problems on offense. Continually throwing the Wildcat out there was an ineffective Band-Aid approach.
Dave Wannstedt, Pittsburgh
Whether you agree or disagree with Wannstedt's removal as coach, he definitely provided some justification for it with a lousy season that included not only embarrassing losses but troubling off-the-field transgressions by several players. A team almost universally picked to win the league finished 7-5 in the regular season, though it did clinch a hollow co-championship in the Big East.
Those are my grades. Now get out your own report cards and tell me how you'd evaluate the 2010 Big East coaching jobs.