Posted: Wednesday June 28, 2006 3:26PM; Updated: Wednesday June 28, 2006 3:44PM
6. Mark Richt, Georgia: Two SEC titles and three conference-championship-game appearances in the past four seasons? Not too shabby. In just a short time, Richt has built a consistent program that has been an annual contender no matter the personnel turnover each season.
7. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: The Hokies' first two seasons in the ACC have been nothing short of remarkable (back-to-back 7-1 conference seasons), though last year's meltdowns against Miami and Florida State certainly left a bitter taste in some people's mouths -- not to mention the Marcus Vick situation (more on that later).
8. Bobby Petrino, Louisville: In only four seasons as a head coach, Petrino has emerged as arguably the top offensive mind in the country, and he's upgraded the talent level at once-small-time Louisville so dramatically as to have two of this season's top Heisman candidates (Brian Brohm and Michael Bush).
9. Urban Meyer, Florida: His first season at Florida had its share of ups and downs, but the Gators still managed to finish 9-3, and Meyer asserted his presence in the recruiting world shortly thereafter. His five-year head coaching record now stands at an impressive 48-11.
10. George O'Leary, UCF: He never really got proper due for his tenure at Georgia Tech, where his .612 winning percentage was the school's highest since Bobby Dodd, but his most remarkable achievement came last year, when he orchestrated the Golden Knights' incredible turnaround from 0-11 to 8-5 and a Conference USA division title.
Just missed: TCU's Gary Patterson, West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez, Cal's Jeff Tedford, Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and Texas Tech's Mike Leach.
The five worst
1. Chuck "Red Shoes" Amato, N.C. State: Any remaining doubts as to how badly the Wolfpack has underachieved lately were erased in April's NFL draft, when three members of a 7-5 team were selected in the first round. Amato's teams have had no offensive identity whatsoever since Philip Rivers' departure, which might have something to do with going through new coordinators nearly every year. Didn't he at least take notes when Norm Chow was there?
2. Gary Pinkel, Missouri: How golden an opportunity were the last two years for Missouri football? The career of the most dynamic quarterback in school history (Brad Smith) and a roster finally filled with Pinkel recruits happened to coincide with the rare downturns of division powers Nebraska and Kansas State. What do the Tigers have to show for it? A 12-11 record and an Independence Bowl win.
3. Chan Gailey, Georgia Tech: Another year, another season of maddening inconsistency for a Gailey-coached team, which last season managed to go on the road and beat top 10 foes Auburn and Miami but lose to N.C. State and Virginia and, in its most embarrassing display to date, crumble 38-10 to Utah in its bowl game. At least he's consistent about one thing: Tech has won exactly seven games in each of Gailey's four seasons.
4. John L. Smith, Michigan State: There was a time, back at Louisville, when Smith might have merited consideration for the other list. But he appears in over his head in the Big Ten, where defense and special teams -- not exactly Smith's fortes -- actually matter. Despite producing the nation's fifth-ranked offense last year, the Spartans dropped six of their last seven games, including 49-14 to Northwestern and 41-18 to Minnesota.
5. Bill Doba, Washington State: The 65-year-old career high school coach/college assistant was able to carry on the pipeline for one season, going 10-3 in 2003 and beating Texas in the Holiday Bowl, but the Cougars have won only four Pac-10 games in the two seasons since. Can someone explain how a team with a 1,900-yard rusher (Jerome Harrison) can go 4-7?
Yes, that's right, Kentucky fans, Brooks earned a reprieve this year. After a fairly disastrous first two seasons in which rumors circulated almost daily that he wanted out, Brooks finally seemed more comfortable last season, and the Wildcats showed signs of progress on the field.
Others considered for best: Navy's Paul Johnson, Northern Illinois' Joe Novak, Toledo's Tom Amstutz, Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe and UTEP's Mike Price.
Others considered for worst: Virginia's Al Groh, Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione, Oregon State's Mike Riley, North Carolina's John Bunting and Illinois' Ron Zook.