Sunday, July 7, 2013

Most Underrated Coaches

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
If Brandon Weeden doesn’t throw three picks in a 2011 game at Iowa State, the Cowboys are in the National Championship game and Gundy is a household name. Instead, he is most known for blowing up on the media for targeting one of his players. Yet in 2011, Gundy helped redeem his team by leading them to a victory over Andrew Luck and Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, winning 41-38. Gundy is 5-2 in bowl games as head coach and has averaged almost 10 wins over the last five seasons. The team regressed last year, but that was due to injuries at quarterback that caused three players to start at least one game. Oklahoma State hopes that one will stay healthy this year, but it is nice that there are backups with experience on the team. Gundy is a master of the air raid offense. He recruits gunslingers at quarterbacks and some very talented wide receivers (Dez Bryant, Justin Blackman). The Cowboys throw the ball often and put up huge numbers, but he has also been able to recruit solid running backs who can take pressure off of the passing game. The BIG 12 is down this year, and besides their annual match against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State faces its toughest challenge in Austin. Gundy’s squad is already receiving Top 10 rankings, so this should be a team that returns to a BCS Bowl game under Gundy’s tutelage. 

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
I’ll give you a minute to open up Google Images since I can guarantee that few people know who Fitzgerald is or what is accomplishments are. Done? Good. Fitzgerald has been the head coach at Northwestern for eight years and racked up a record of 50-39. While that may not seem impressive at first, just remember that they are an afterthought for most people and have still gone to a bowl game in the last five years. Last year, Fitzgerald had his best season when Northwestern won ten games and won their first bowl game in almost 70 years. They took Michigan to overtime in Ann Arbor and went down to the wire with Nebraska. He did that while recruiting in territories that are poached by the big boys of the conference like Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Last year was capped with an impressive two touchdown victory over Mississippi State. How is he doing it? Very similarly to Baylor coach Art Briles, he has an offensive philosophy that he sticks too and recruits the players he knows he can coach and will thrive within his system, even if they don’t have the stars next to them on Rivals. Northwestern has a very daunting schedule this year, but I think that Fitzgerald can get the 8-10 wins and reach a bowl game for the sixth straight year.

Will Muschamp, Florida
Has anyone even noticed that Muschamp is the head coach of Florida? After Urban Meyer bailed on Florida, the university went out a plucked Muschamp from under Mack Brown’s arm. The Gators were only 7-6 in his first year (2011) but was playing with Urban’s boys and had one of the most ridiculously hard schedules. Last year, Muschamp brought the Gators within one win of playing in the SEC Championship and even for the national title. An annual mid-season game against Georgia is all that stopped them from squaring off against Alabama. In one year, he was able to bring in a top ten recruiting class and worked miracles on defense. Florida was one of the most imposing defenses on paper and on the field last year.  Florida allowed an average of only two touchdowns and less than 300 yards a game, while only allowing more than 21 points twice. Muschamp’s weakness is on the offensive side of the ball. He is a renowned defensive coordinator and that shows in the offensive statistics. They only scored 35 offensive touchdowns, just barely under 17 offensive points a game. Muschamp relies heavily on his defense to win games which can go both ways for him. However, the fact that he was able to dominate games with his defense shows just how great of a coach he is. I expect him to continue to reap the rewards of talent in state at all positions and add some key members on offense in the next season or two. I think that he will follow the mold similar to Nick Saban at Alabama: build a stifling defense and create an offense he is comfortable managing to put up three to four touchdowns a game.

No comments:

Post a Comment