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Golden Nuggets: Athlon Sports ranks Wilcox as one of the worst FBS head coaches

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Eh. No one should be offended at this ranking for a first-year head coach.

You know we’re in the muck of the offseason when we resort to using a days-old article in the Golden Nuggets. And when we mine Athlon Sports so frequently for content.

So, let’s take a look at some more enthralling Athlon Sports content—their ranking of all 130 FBS head coaches!

The Athlon Sports editors framed their rankings in the context of each coaches’ school and their expectations, then evaluated based the coaches on wins, accomplishments, and the following:

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: Is the coach more involved with X's and O's or more of a CEO? In our rankings, we valued coaches who are more involved with X's and O's. How is the coach when it comes to the recruiting trail? Are there factors such as facilities or budget concerns that have an overall impact on the program? Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs? What type of shape was the program in when the coach took over the job? What is the overall trajectory of the program?

...

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach.

So, where does Coach Justin Wilcox fall? The first-time head coach falls all the way to 113th.

Considering the Golden Bears have not finished higher than eighth in the Pac-12 in scoring defense over the last five years, choosing a coach with a solid defensive background should fix some of the issues on that side of the ball. And to help ease Wilcox’s transition to head coach, he hired two proven coordinators and former head coaches—Beau Baldwin on offense and Tim DeRuyter on defense.

I wouldn’t sweat this too much. Wilcox is taking on his very first gig as a head coach, so he basically a walking question mark. It’s totally expected for Wilcox to be ranked low until he proves that he deserves better.

Here are the rankings of the Pac-12 head coaches. Even bearing in mind Wilcox’s inexperience, this is daunting...

Athlon Sports’ rankings of Pac-12 head coaches

Nat'l Rank P12 rank Head coach
Nat'l Rank P12 rank Head coach
6 1 Chris Petersen
7 2 David Shaw
15 3 Kyle Wittingham
18 4 Mike Leach
28 5 Mike MacIntyre
33 6 Gary Andersen
34 7 Willie Taggart
37 8 Todd Graham
38 9 Rich Rodriguez
47 10 Clay Helton
74 11 Jim Mora
113 12 Justin Wilcox

Ten of the twelve Pac-12 coaches are among the top 50. (And frankly, I think the other coach outside of the top 50—Jim Mora—is unfathomably underrated here.) Coach Wilcox has a lot of space to move up.

Lastly, Athlon graded all of the new hires at head coach in the FBS and placed Wilcox at #16 out of 22. Our friend Jeff Tedford came in at number 19.

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