Ranking the Pac-12 coaches

Folks like lists. Folks like rankings. They're easy to understand. And they inspire debate.

Athlon Sports decided to rank the Pac-12 coaches, and you can see their list -- and explanations -- here.

Here's their take in advance of providing their list.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind -- the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference.

Here's their order:

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon

2. Lane Kiffin, USC

3. Mike Leach, Washington State

4. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

5. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

6. Steve Sarkisian, Washington

7. Mike Riley, Oregon State

8. Jeff Tedford, California

9. David Shaw, Stanford

10. Todd Graham, Arizona State

11. Jim Mora, UCLA

12. Jon Embree, Colorado

Some of this makes perfect sense. Kelly has to be No. 1: He's won three consecutive Pac-12 titles. End of argument. And Graham, Mora and Embree are justifiable as the bottom three. Graham in large part because of the public relations nightmare surrounding his departure from Pittsburgh (yeah, stuff like that counts), Mora because he's never coached at the college level before, and Embree because he went 3-10 his first season as a head coach.

Changes I'd make?

I'd rank Whittingham No. 2. He's got a track record of success and a BCS bowl win. I'd rank Rich Rodriguez No. 3 for the same reason (his failure at Michigan was more about Michigan than Rich Rodriguez).

Then I'd go Leach, Kiffin, Sarkisian, Shaw, Riley and Tedford.

For me, sometimes a lack of experience hurts in a ranking (Kiffin, Shaw), despite recent success, and sometimes a recent downturn after sustained success hurts (Riley and Tedford).

And, of course, this list is fluid on an annual (weekly?) basis. Two years ago, Riley would have been in the top-three or four, and in as late as 2008, Tedford would have been, too.