Who has been the best and worst coach in each Power Five conference this season?

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (heat-seeking onside kick tutorial sold separately in Athens, Ohio):

[More Dash: Throwback Week 8 | Worst-case scenarios | Rise of SMU, Baylor]



Where things stand for Coach of the Year — and Not Coach of the Year — in each of the top five conferences with six weeks left in the regular season:

ACC (32)

Leading candidate: Scott Satterfield, Louisville. He inherited a flaming trash heap from Bobby Petrino and has doubled the Cardinals’ 2018 win total, from two to four. The opportunity is there to go bowling, despite playing three quarterbacks this season due to injuries.

Closest pursuer(s): Dave Clawson, Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have a chance for their highest singe-season victory total since 2006 or ’07. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh. The Panthers could repeat as Coastal Division champions, something nobody has done since 2010-11.

Not Coach of the Year: Dino Babers, Syracuse. The Orange have collapsed after their 10-3 2018 season, currently sitting at 3-4 and winless against Power Five opposition. Babers leads a crowded field at the bottom of this dismal league.

Big 12 (33)

Leading candidate: Matt Rhule, Baylor. See Dash Third Quarter for details.

Closest pursuer(s): Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s work with a new starting QB (again) should not be taken for granted. The two new guys in the Sunflower State, Chris Klieman at Kansas State and Les Miles at Kansas, have done some nice work.

Not Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU. The Horned Frogs lost the Skillet Game to SMU. They were doubled up by Iowa State. They lost to Kansas State. They’re 3-3 with three ranked opponents to go. The offense hasn’t been great, but a Patterson defense that hasn’t forced a turnover the past three games is a shocker. Last time it happened: 2008.

Ryan Day's Ohio State Buckeyes look like one of the best teams in the country this season but faces a test against Wisconsin on Saturday. (Getty)
Ryan Day's Ohio State Buckeyes look like one of the best teams in the country this season but faces a test against Wisconsin on Saturday. (Getty)

Big Ten (34)

Leading candidate: Ryan Day, Ohio State. Pretty nice when a first-year head coach can say that his team has played two months worth of football as well as any the program has seen in many years.

Closest pursuer(s): P.J. Fleck, Minnesota. Doing an elite job rowing the undefeated boat. James Franklin, Penn State. Undefeated, ranked sixth and still flying a smidge below radar.

Not Coach of the Year: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern. A year after winning the Big Ten West, the Wildcats are on pace for the third-worst passing season of the 21st century. It’s just gross at this point.

Pac-12 (35)

Leading candidate: Jonathan Smith, Oregon State. The Beavers were 4-32 in conference play the previous four seasons, 1-17 in the last two. They’re currently 2-2, and have won consecutive Pac-12 road games for the first time since 2013. Doormats no more.

Closest pursuer(s): Mario Cristobal, Oregon. The Ducks are in position to run away with the Pac-12 race.

Not Coach of the Year: Chris Petersen, Washington. Once Pete got the program elevated in 2016, there wasn’t supposed to be any backsliding to the current 2-3 league record — already the Huskies’ most league losses since 2015. Making it worse, all three defeats are at the hands of division opponents.

SEC (36)

Leading candidate: Ed Orgeron, LSU. The offensive makeover has been stunning, and the overall success striking. The Tigers are The Dash’s No. 1 team at the moment, something unexpected not only this year but since the school elevated him from interim coach.

Closest pursuer(s): Gus Malzahn, Auburn. Making the Gus Bus roll with a freshman quarterback. Dan Mullen, Florida. Making the Dan Van roll with a backup QB.

Not Coach Of the Year: Chad Morris, Arkansas. The worst home loss in six years is one thing. But the fake punt atrocity means this competition is already over for the season.


For all readers waiting breathlessly for their Last Interception Pool (37) update: We have news.

We lost Tyler Huntley on Saturday. The Utah quarterback threw one to the wrong team in a victory over Arizona State. We’ll miss you, Ty, but we must endeavor to persevere.

The competition now is down to Dustin Crum of Kent State and Max Duggan of TCU. Not exactly household names, but fastidious lads with the football. The situation this week:

Crum, interception-free in 150 passes, was very good in a shootout loss to Ohio: 24 of 35 for 262 yards and four touchdowns. This week: The Golden Flashes take on Miami (Ohio), which has intercepted six of its opponents’ 204 passes (2.94 percent).

Duggan, a freshman who has yet to throw a pick in 142 college attempts, was pretty pedestrian in a loss to Kansas State: 16 of 29 for 132 yards and no TDs. This week: The Horned Frogs face Texas, which has intercepted 10 of opponents’ 270 passes (3.7 percent).

On paper this looks like a great opportunity for Crum to take the LIP. Stay tuned.


Lovie Smith (38), Illinois. For the first time in his undistinguished Illini tenure, it can be said with a semblance of conviction: Fear the damn beard. For most of the season the slogan had been, fire the beard. Seemingly on a direct route to taking his Santa Claus look into unemployment, Smith engineered the biggest upset of the season to date by taking down Wisconsin. The Lovester has seen it all in football, so it stands to reason he would not be distracted by speculation about his job or daunted by taking on what had been the best defense in America. Illinois scored the first touchdown the Badgers have given up in the first half this season, then added 17 more points for a 24-23 shocker. There might yet be hope for turning this 3-4 season into the program’s first bowl bid in five years.


Jason Candle (39), Toledo. Something bizarre has happened to the Rockets. After rolling to a 4-1 start and looking the part of the best program in the Mid-American Conference, Toledo has been handily beaten in consecutive games by major underdogs. On Oct. 12, the Rockets fell immediately behind a 1-4 Bowling Green team and were beaten 20-7. On Oct. 19, the Rockets were run off the field by 3-3 Ball State, 52-14. The game was 38-0 at halftime, and Toledo fans had to be wondering what happened to their team and to their purported rising star coach.

(Dishonorable mention to Paul Chryst, not just for losing as a 30½-point favorite but for directly aiding and abetting the upset with a terrible decision to throw late in the game while nursing a lead. The result was an interception that set up Illinois’ winning field goal.)


The Dash ate nowhere special this past week, but did see this urgent news breaking on Twitter on Monday. Rejoice, the single best beer brewed by Sierra Nevada (40) is going to hit shelves soon. (There is even rumor of a Dash pilgrimage to the Asheville, North Carolina, brewery in the near future. Stay tuned.)

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