Today, we unveil the eighth (and last) set of our national unit rankings, on coaching staffs. Our rankings started with offensive backfields, and receiving corps, offensive lines, defensive lines, linebackers, secondaries and special teams have followed.
These rankings take into account what the coaches have accomplished and how we think their teams will do this season.
Here are the coaching staff rankings.
10. Oklahoma State
The hierarchy: Coach Mike Gundy, offensive coordinator Todd Monken, defensive coordinator Bill Young
The buzz: Gundy used to serve as his own OC, but once he gave that up and started focusing more on the big picture, Oklahoma State has gotten better and better. Gundy and his staff have done an excellent job on the recruiting trail maximizing their new facilities. Monken has NFL experience and should be a head coach soon. Young is a veteran who has seen every offense known to man. Offensive line coach Joe Wickline churns out productive units every season.
9. Michigan State
The hierarchy: Coach Mark Dantonio, offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi
The buzz: Dantonio has turned the Spartans into one of the best programs in the Big Ten. Narduzzi annually puts together salty units and should be a head coach soon. Roushar is heading into his second season as OC, and his work with a rebuilt offense this season will be telling. Among the notable position assistants are secondary coach Harlon Barnett and linebacker coach Mike Tressel, Jim's nephew.
8. South Carolina
The hierarchy: Coach Steve Spurrier (doubles as offensive coordinator), defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward
The buzz: Spurrier has made South Carolina football relevant nationally, not an easy task. He guided the Gamecocks to the SEC East title in 2010, the school's first title of any kind since it won the ACC crown in 1969. Spurrier's offenses certainly haven't been the juggernaut units he oversaw at Florida. The biggest reason: mediocre quarterback play. Ward replaces Ellis Johnson, who became coach at Southern Miss. Ward says he will be even more aggressive than Johnson, which (with an apology to Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap) would be akin to turning the volume to 11 on a stereo whose volume control only goes to 10. Defensive line coach Brad Lawing does a good job, and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott has elevated the play of his unit since his arrival after the 2009 season.
7. Boise State
The hierarchy: Coach Chris Petersen, offensive coordinator Robert Prince, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski
The buzz: The staff underwent a big makeover, with three assistants leaving for new jobs. Prince was promoted from receivers coach to OC. Kwiatkowski is in his third season in his current role; he had been on the staff as line coach for four seasons before that. Linebacker coach Bob Gregory is a good one. Running backs coach Keith Bhonapha has done good work in his two seasons, and Chris Strausser is a top-notch offensive line coach.
6. Ohio State
The hierarchy: Coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Tom Herman, defensive coordinator Everett Withers
The buzz: Meyer has put together a good staff. Both coordinators look to be future head coaches. Herman knows how to design offenses and call plays; now that he has high-level talent, he should shine. Luke Fickell, the Buckeyes' interim coach last season, and Mike Vrabel are other defensive assistants. This should be one of the best recruiting staffs in the nation, too.
The hierarchy: Coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa, defensive coordinator John Chavis
The buzz: Miles is the target of a lot of barbs, but his team sure wins a lot of games. Miles is also a superb recruiter and motivator. Chavis is the best coordinator, offense or defense, in the league. Defensive line coach Brick Haley, who joined LSU in the spring of 2009 after a two-season stint with the Chicago Bears, does an excellent job. Studrawa is a good offensive line coach, but his play calling was scrutinized last season and will be so again this season. Quarterback coach Steve Kragthorpe has done good work in the past, but he may not have all that much to work with at LSU at that position.
The hierarchy: Coach Mack Brown, offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz
The buzz: Brown has one of the best coordinator duos in the nation. He also recently upgraded some of his position assistants, most notably Stacy Searels (offensive line) and Bo Davis (defensive tackles), both hired from the SEC. Oscar Giles does a good job as defensive ends coach, too. One issue: Texas has underachieved the past two seasons and this is a highly paid staff, so the results need to be there this season.
3. Virginia Tech
The hierarchy: Coach Frank Beamer, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, defensive coordinator Bud Foster
The buzz: Beamer has done a masterful job of making the Hokies into a national power, and staff continuity has helped the Hokies rank eighth in the nation in winning percentage this century. Virginia Tech annually contends for the ACC title using the same basic plan: strong rushing attack, tough defense, good special teams. Foster is one of the best DCs in the nation. While Stinespring has the title, quarterback coach Mike O'Cain calls the plays; he deserves credit for his work with Tyrod Taylor and Logan Thomas. Defensive line coach Charley Wiles is, well, a wily veteran. Torrian Gray is a good secondary coach, as well.
The hierarchy: Coach Chip Kelly, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti
The buzz: Kelly does a great job with the offense; Helfrich has the OC title, but Kelly calls the plays. Aliotti almost always has solid defenses; he loved to attack, and blitzes from everywhere. Some of the position coaches are among the best in the nation – Steve Greatwood with the offensive line, John Neal with the secondary and Gary Campbell with the running backs.
The hierarchy: Coach Nick Saban, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, defensive coordinator Kirby Smart
The buzz: Saban is the best coach in the nation. Smart doesn't get enough credit for his work. Burton Burns does an excellent job as running backs coach. Secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt should be a coordinator soon. Strength coach Scott Cochran (an LSU alum) does a great job. Worth watching is how Nussmeier works out this fall. He was hired off Washington's staff, but didn't call plays with the Huskies.
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