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The Underachieving BCS College Football Coaches of 2009

Every year, some college football fans are filled with disappointment of a fall come and gone, their hopes and dreams dashed by a miserable season on the gridiron.  2009 is no different, so we decided to offer a list of who were the worst offenders of underachievement. And please note, that unless specified, this list is only based on the merits of the current season.


Bobby Bowden
Florida State

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A classic example of a coach who didn’t know when to quit.  You surely can’t take Bowden’s National Titles away, but we’re a decade removed from his last title–which was his last BCS win as well.  The biggest gripe about Bowden in the last decade is the perennial underachievement of his enormously talented squads. But this year, the ‘Noles have been as maddening as any team in the nation. They drilled a then Top 10 BYU team in Provo, nearly lost to a FCS division Jacksonville State team at home before winning in the final seconds and lost three straight winnable games before winning their last two to get their current 4-4 record. Still, in the mediocre / dreadful ACC, they’re still in position to make a run at the conference title game if they win their last 3 conference games before closing the season at #1 Florida.

Also considered: Ralph Friedgen, Maryland

Big East

Steve Kragthorpe

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So what do you do when someone gives you the keys to a Ferrari?  If you’re Steve Kragthorpe, apparently fit it with 14 inch tires with hubcaps, put fuzzy dice on the rear-view mirror and equip it with the General Lee’s horn.  In 2007, Kragthope took over a Louisville club that won the Orange Bowl, finished 6th in the country and returned 17 players that are or were on NFL rosters. Easy to win with that in the Big East, right?  Well not for Krags.  In his third game of 2007, he lost to arch rival Kentucky and never recovered, finishing 6-6 and since has gone 5-7 and is 3-5 this season and hasn’t beaten a BCS team in over a year.  Needless to say, the fan base has noticed with only 21K showing up on Halloween to watch the Cards (barely) defeat lowly Arkansas State.  And this great website about sums up the feeling of most of UofL’s fan base.  Mercifully for Cardinal fans (like yours truly), it appears this reign of misery should come to an end in about four more weeks.  (And for Louisville fans, this would be enough to make us forget the last three years.)

Also considered: none-no one has come close the level of failure of Kragthorpe.

Big 10

Jim Tressel
Ohio State

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The Sweater Vest could be forgiven for losing to U$C, if he hadn’t lost every single important non-conference game in the last decade while being embarrassed in most of them. But he has. Furthermore, he can’t be forgiven this year for:

  1. Failing to utilize the incredible talents of Terrell Pryor (remember the Buckeye camp claiming he ran a sub 4.4 40 in the spring.  Hilarious.)
  2. Losing to a dreadful Purdue team in a game that wasn’t even that close
  3. Nearly losing at home to Navy.

With games remaining at Penn State, against #4 Iowa, and at their biggest rival Michigan still looming, OSU may not win the Big 10 (11) for the first time since 2005

Also considered: Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

Big 12

Mark Mangino

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Of all the BCS conferences, the Big 12 was probably the toughest place to find an under performing coach. We could have gone with Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State, but his team is still 6-2 and in the hunt for a decent bowl game (and we probably should have because he is, after all, a man). Dan Hawkins at Colorado is about to get whacked for his under achievements, but they beat Mangino’s club to start the Jayhawks’ three-game skid in conference. Since the loss to CU, Kansas has been hammered by both an injury-ravaged Oklahoma team and Texas Tech. They are currently tied for last (1-3) in the Big 12 North.  With trips to suddenly rejuvenated Kansas State and #2 Texas looming, Mangino’s squad is looking at staying home for the holidays–certainly not what was expected from a team that went 8-4 last season and returned 7 starters on both sides of the ball.

Also considered: Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Gundy (the MAN), Oklahoma State

PAC 10

Pete Carrol

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Again, this list is based solely on the 2009 performance (with the exception of Kragthorpe whose three-year reign of FAIL is unparalleled on this list) and it’s hard to not give Pete Carrol a pass for losing two games in a season for the first time since Marcus Allen was toting the rock. Okay, not that long, but still, it seems like it. Nevertheless, Carrol almost always reloads at SC and that was supposed to be the case this season with about a million High School All Americans on the way.  But in what’s becoming an annual occurrence, after beating Ohio State in Columbus, the Trojans lost a classic let down game in Seattle to a plucky, but underwhelming Washington team.  Then they got smacked by the best team in the PAC 10, Oregon  Now, tied for fourth in the league, the Trojans need to run the table in order to keep PAC 10 title aspirations alive.  Again, maybe we’re a little hard on Carrol here, but frankly, he’s earned the right to be criticized harshly due to his incredible success at SC.

Also considered: Rick Neuheisel, UCLA –but didn’t like the odds.


Houston Nutt
Ole Miss

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Forget for a second that he has the best name in sports (well, maybe Dick Trickle is better), Nutt has taken a pre-season Top 10 team, a preseason Heisman candidate and potential first round draft pick QB (Jevan Snead) and guided them to a 5-3 mark.  They have a gimme next in Northern Arizona, but with the three remaining SEC games of Tennessee, #9 LSU and at arch rival Mississippi State (in the Egg Bowl–look it up!), it’s not out of the question to see Ole Miss finish at 6-6 for the season.  If that scenario comes to pass, maybe only Kragthorpe will have done a worse coaching job on this list.

Also considered: Rich Brooks, Kentucky – decided to give ol’ Grandpa a break since he did beat Louisville earlier this year.

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