We started with the worst, now it's time for the best.
6. Jim Mora UCLA
AK: A disappointing year for Jim to go 8-4 with some really rough losses at home, the annual mauling against Stanford and now dropping one to USC. Lots of question marks as Mora enters a make-or-break year with the best quarterback in the Pac-12.
JF: Kind of a down-the-middle year for Mora in my opinion. His team was plagued by injuries and breaking in a true freshman quarterback, but it still seems like they underachieved a bit. Tough losses to Washington State and USC put a damper on the end of the season, but the quick development of Josh Rosen was enough to give UCLA fans a lot of hope for the future under Mora.
5. Chris Petersen Washington
AK: A very solid 6-6 in what figured to be a rebuilding season. Won the Apple Cup, upset USC, smashed lowly Oregon State and obliterated Arizona, nearly ended futility against Oregon. The Husky defense will be a load to deal with. If he can develop the offense into a mildly competent unit next year, they will threaten to win the North.
JF: 6-6 doesn't seem like a big deal, but given the almost non-existent amount of experienced talent Petersen had returning in 2015 and the strength of the Pac-12 this year, it actually was. Petersen took one of the nation's youngest teams to a bowl game and built the conference's best defense on the fly despite losing a third of the unit in the first 40 picks of the 2015 NFL Draft. 2015 has Husky fans excited about the future under Petersen.
4. Mark Helfrich Oregon
AK: Despite having one of the lousiest defenses in Oregon history and the Ducks not being as explosive as before, the Ducks were not that far away from winning ten games again if one more play happens against either Sparty or Wazzu. They ended Stanford's title hopes, blew up USC and rolled to the finish line. Oregon isn't going anywhere, and neither is Helfrich.
JF: Another weird year in what has to be one of the weirdest tenures in college football the past few years. The Ducks got to nine wins, winning their last six, but it took Helfrich a while to figure out exactly how to use Vernon Adams and his reliance on such a late transfer led to a slow start. Still, the Ducks seemed to get better every game across the board by mid-October and were the only team in the conference to beat Stanford.
3. Kyle Whittingham Utah
AK: Whitt took the Utes to the brink of a Pac-12 South title, but Devantae Booker got injured and that was it. Until that point, the Utes were 8-1 and looked like they'd give Stanford a solid fight. Utah definitely punched above their weight for most of the year though.
JF: The end of the season was undeniably disappointing for the Utes, but god damn, the Utes still won nine games in the regular season in the toughest year in the Pac-12 that I can ever remember. I think this season was also a bigger picture success for Whittingham as he showed that last year's nine-win season wasn't a fluke and he and the Utes can win large-scale in the Pac-12 consistently.
2. Mike Leach Washington State
AK: Leach still has so many recruiting disadvantages and doesn't have a lot to work with in Pullman, yet here he is with eight wins in a very strong year in the Pac-12. Beating Oregon in Autzen, nearly upsetting Stanford, stealing a win from UCLA, rallying against the Arizonas--it's been a great year for Leach and it looks like he'll be a fixture in this conference for years to come.
JF: One of the best in-season turnaround jobs you will ever see in college football. Leach stuck to his system despite heavy criticism the past couple of years and it paid huge dividends. His team improved across the board at nearly every position and no Pac-12 coach got more out of the pure talent on his roster this season than Leach.
1. David Shaw Stanford
AK: Three conference titles in four years. At Stanford! And Shaw didn't need Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh; he adjusted, adapted, and evolved his team into Pac-12 champions. The good times figure to keep on rolling with Christian McCaffrey returning, but it has to be a special moment in Cardinal history to be this good for this long.
JF: This is the year Shaw finally made a true believer out of me. I honestly thought the Cardinal were going to become more like the 8-5 team they were last year in the long run than the team they were this year under Shaw, but I was wrong. He got his key players to improve on offense with Kevin Hogan, Christian McCaffrey and Joshua Garnett fulfilling their potential and got a defense devastated by graduation to stay together enough to where it was still one of the best in the conference. He was probably just a couple freak turnovers against Oregon away from getting Stanford into the Playoff.