Question of the day: Who is the best active coach in college football?
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
Naming the best active coach in college football is ... a good way to start a bar fight. You mean right now? Up to this year? Over time?
So, I'm going to throw my top-name ping-pong balls into a big hopper and randomly pick out Boise State Coach Chris Petersen (yeah, like the BCS, this is all rigged). The over-time/division balls are Division III legend John Gagliardi of St. John's in Minnesota, who is a month older than Joe Paterno and the all-time winningest coach, with 478 victories.
Then I'm tossing in Paterno of Penn State and two of the best active coaches up to last August: Urban Meyer (Florida) and Mack Brown (Texas), who have since combined for nine losses. Then I'm throwing in the best current coaches: Nick Saban (Alabama), Gene Chizik (Auburn), Petersen, Jim Tressel (Ohio State) and Gary Patterson (TCU). Then I'm throwing in the best coach up until the Cal game: Chip Kelly (Oregon). Then I'm going to apologize to all the coaches I left out.
Then I'm reaching my arm into the hopper and, lookie here, it's Coach Pete. Boise State was good before Petersen arrived, but he's gone a ridiculous 59-4 and upgraded a former JC from a gadget, trick-play program into a powerhouse that, this year at least, would win the SEC East ... and maybe the West.
You can make good arguments for the likes of Bob Stoops and Jim Tressell, Urban Meyer and Mack Brown. And clearly those coaches have separated themselves. It'd be difficult to argue with anyone, though, who insists the best coach in the country is Nick Saban.
He's certainly not the most personable guy, and his controlling nature will never make him a media favorite. But in less than four seasons, Saban has made a previously mediocre program at Alabama into one of the best in the nation.
If he remains in Tuscaloosa -– and who knows how long he will -– the Crimson Tide more often than not will enter the season in the national title conversation. Saban's oft-talked-about "process" leads to clear results.
Mark Wogenrich, The Morning Call
Bruce Dickinson put his pants on one leg at a time. Except, once his pants were on, he made gold records.
I'm reminded of the "Saturday Night Live" skit (needs more cowbell, right Christopher Walken?) when people deride Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel. The man puts his vest on one sleeve at a time. Except when it's on, he wins Big Ten titles.
Tressel on Saturday can lead the Buckeyes to a share of their sixth consecutive conference title, not to mention a 9-1 record against Michigan.
Of course, Ohio State's financial advantages are significant. Still, Tressel handles the pressure of doing a lot more with a lot more with calm aplomb.
A win over Michigan would give Tressel his eighth 10-win season in 10 years at Ohio State. He's headed to a BCS bowl for the eighth time. He's on an extremely short list of coaches who conceivably could win more games than Joe Paterno. Give the vest more cowbell.
Photo: Boise State Coach Chris Petersen. Credit: AAron Ontiveroz / Associated Press