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Pac-12 football coach rankings: Rich Rodriguez takes mantle

The Pac-12 is the conference of coaches. We have innovative minds and good game-planners and solid recruiters and everything in-between. Let’s rank them!

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Here are their rankings based on their performances this past week (and a little bit through the season).

1. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona Wildcats

Back on top Rich Rod! Sure it took a Hail Mary to get there, but Arizona is 5-0 and still very much kicking despite debuting a new quarterback and a new running back. Arizona’s two-way performance in Oregon in Autzen is the most impressive Pac-12 result of the young season, and beating USC will probably ensure that they’re in the picture going into November.

2.  Kyle Whittingham, Utah Utes

Would be higher if I couldn’t get the image of the Washington State loss out of my head. But what an excellent performance in the Rose Bowl. With all eyes on UCLA-Oregon, the Utes came out and manned up and dominated UCLA on both sides. It’s going to be awfully hard to find wins on this schedule past-Oregon State, but with Whittingham in charge the Utes figure to be in plenty of games and give themselves a chance to win.

3. Todd Graham, Arizona St. Sun Devils

Mike Bercovici has come in and thrown for an average of about 500 yards and a 60% completion rate in two starts against two of the most talented defenses in the conference. The ASU defense is not great, but they got critical stops and held the USC offense from executing any big plays. Arizona State is still in great position in the Pac-12 South position, especially if they get past Stanford—they should be favored (or pretty close to favored) in all their remaining conference games before they face Arizona. Kudos to Todd Graham.

4.  Mike Riley, Oregon State Beavers

He won on the road in a fairly competitive game in Boulder. As much as you can hope for. Keeping the status quo steady. There’s no doubt the Beavers have issues though and Riley is still in a murky spot right now, so a lot has to break their way for him to retain this spot.

5. Sonny Dykes, California Golden Bears

The leaps the Cal offense has made from Year 1 to Year 2 are extraordinary. The defense is a bit of a disaster right now, but they have improved a bit. Dykes is learning quickly, and the Bears are now two wins away from bowl eligibility. Unfortunately, the schedule is about to take a turn for the painful, but Cal will have plenty of those games at home.

6. Chris Petersen, Washington Huskies

Real good week to catch up on your daily reading. Solid life decision Coach. 

7. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado is getting incrementally better each season and the Buffs have had chances to win the last two weeks. That was more than they could have been said in any period of the last few years. Unfortunately, there are no more easy tests: USC, UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Oregon, and Utah finish the season.     

8. David Shaw, Stanford Cardinal

Only the insane defense and some pretty sketchy officiating in South Bend keeps him from dropping any further down the list, and even they let him down on the last drive on Saturday. This Stanford offense is abhorrent. The Cardinal had nearly as many three-and-outs as first downs entering the 4th quarter. Notre Dame’s defense is good though, so we’ll see what happens against the more porous Cougars.

9. Mike Leach, Washington St. Cougars

Hard to believe a coach that unleashed an offense that just went for 812 yards is in the bottom tier of this list, but his inability to put together a working special teams unit cost them on Saturday night. Additionally, Leach’s game management with under a minute left was questionable at best, as he chose not to center the ball to give his kicker an easy chip-shot attempt. Bad week for Leach, who now stares down a must-win at Stanford.

10. Jim Mora, UCLA Bruins

At some point, you have to realize that Brett Hundley is getting sacked a little too often (like "three consecutive plays" often) and maybe move things outside the tackle box instead of dropping him back there to get sacrificed to Nate Orchard’s battaliion. Noel Mazzone’s offense did not look good on Saturday and only managed to stay alive thanks to some nice Hundley deep balls/Utah coverage breakdowns.  Adrian Klemm might bring a lot as a recruiter, but his offensive lines are getting worse and worse and he could be first on the chopping block if things go south.

11. Mark Helfrich, Oregon Ducks

Mark, see that Marcus Mariota kid over there? Might want to give him the chance to run with the football a little bit more instead of dropping him back behind that offensive line and getting him sacked 12 times in two weeks of action. There's a reason he's getting "hurt". Also, that Don Pellum promotion? Not looking so good to give someone who has never been the defensive coordinator in 30 years of coaching the keys to Nick Aliotti’s office.

12. Steve Sarkisian, USC Trojans

This is by proxy Justin Wilcox, who Sarkisian insisted on bringing to Heritage Hall with him. Sarkisian oversaw USC blowing a two score lead with three-and-a-half minutes left, a situation which provides a 95% win probability at worst.  Wilcox has been beaten over and over by spread teams, and now he gets the lucky pleasure of drawing Rich Rod in the desert at night. Enjoy.