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August 9, 2011

Preseason unit rankings: Coaching staffs

Today, we unveil our seventh - and last - national unit rankings. We're ending with overall coaching staffs.


BUZZ: The Badgers haven't really missed a beat since Barry Alvarez moved upstairs to become athletic director. Bret Bielema is intense and fiery, and his players feed off that. Offensive coordinator Paul Chryst does a solid job, and it will be interesting to see how he incorporates QB Russell Wilson into the offense. Former defensive coordinator Dave Doeren left to become Northern Illinois' coach, but the overall philosophy is not going to change.

BUZZ: Coach Chris Petersen has lost both coordinators in the past two years - defensive leader Justin Wilcox went to Tennessee after the 2009 season, and offensive guru Bryan Harsin left for Texas following last season - but the Broncos promote a guy from the staff and nothing changes. Petersen seems content to remain in Boise. Is there a job out there that intrigues him enough that he would leave?

BUZZ: Joe Paterno is entering his, what, 87th season on the Nittany Lions' sideline? Actually, this will be his 46th and he says he has no interest in retirement. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley is one of the best in the business, and offensive coordinator Galen Hall and quarterback coach Jay Paterno have done a nice job sprucing up the offense in recent seasons.

BUZZ: Steve Spurrier showed last season that when he has talent to work with offensively, his team can get it done. In RB Marcus Lattimore and WR Alshon Jeffery, he has two of the best players he ever has coached. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is a veteran who has seen it all in the SEC. He generally gets high-level results from less-than-elite talent.

BUZZ: Kirk Ferentz doesn't get enough credit for what he has accomplished at Iowa. At least half the Big Ten has better facilities and probably nine league members have a better recruiting base, but Ferentz and the Hawkeyes keep winning. Norm Parker is an excellent defensive coordinator, and offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe has been with Ferentz a long time.

BUZZ: Coach Chip Kelly is an offensive innovator and has taken the Ducks' program to unparalleled heights. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti puts together some unique schemes. Offensive line coach Steve Greatwood does good work, too.

BUZZ: Frank Beamer keeps on keeping on in Blacksburg. His program has been the best in the ACC for the past decade, and in Bud Foster, he has one of the nation's best defensive coordinators. Beamer isn't afraid to shake things up, either: While offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring retains that title, quarterback coach Mike O'Cain will call the plays this season.

3. TCU
BUZZ: Make no mistake - this is one of the nation's premier programs, and coach Gary Patterson deserves the bulk of the credit. He has an incredible mind for defenses. Co-offensive coordinators Jarrett Anderson and Justin Fuente do a good job adapting to the talent on hand.

BUZZ: Bob Stoops gets criticized for losing in the national title game. That brings up this conundrum: Is it better to have played for the national title and lost, or never play for the national title at all? We're of the opinion that playing for it is a big deal. Stoops works well with defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and while there will be co-offensive coordinators this season in the wake of Kevin Wilson leaving for Indiana, the promotions came from in-house, so there won't be any scheme changes.

BUZZ: Nick Saban has two of the best coordinators in the nation in Jim McElwain (offense) and Kirby Smart (defense), and both should be head coaches relatively soon. Saban obviously has put together a recruiting juggernaut, and position coaches such as Burton Burns (running backs) and Sal Sunseri (linebackers) sure know what to do with the talent when they get it.

(Text by Mike Huguenin. Rankings by Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.)

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