You always hear about the coaches who need a huge season to remain employed for another year.
We all know who they are. Names like Frank Spaziani, Jeff Tedford, Robb Akey and Mike Riley have been floated out there since the 2011 season ended.
Oregon’s Chip Kelly is an interesting case. He would seem like a solid lock as the Ducks coach for as long as he wants to remain in Eugene. But his questionable recruiting tactics open him up to criticism from within.
So who are the 10 guys that are solid? Let’s take a look.
10. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Hoke couldn’t have asked for much more in his first season in Ann Arbor. Led by a much-improved defense and QB Denard Robinson, the Wolverines went 10-2 and then added a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
He was a breath of fresh air following three years of stale air under Rich Rodriguez. Now Hoke has a chance to get Michigan back on top of the Big Ten, as well as be a national title contender.
We’ll learn a lot about the Wolverines in the first week when they take on defending national champ Alabama.
9. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Under Dantonio the Spartans have owned their rival Michigan, including four straight wins over the Wolverines.
He’s gone 44-22 since taking over in 2007, including 11-win seasons and a spot in the inaugural Big Ten championship game last year.
The only thing that could keep Dantonio from coaching in East Lansing into the future is his health. He did miss time in 2010 following a heart attack.
8. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Beamer can coach the Hokies as long as he wants to, and that’s what you get for turning the Tech program into a Big East and now ACC power.
It’s been awhile since the Hokies actually won a big game, but consistent nine-, 10- and 11-win seasons build up equity and job security.
Tech is among the favorites in the ACC again thanks to an experienced quarterback, solid defense and Beamer.
7. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Meyer was the hottest coach last year after taking a year away from the game for his “health.”
But the two-time BCS champ couldn’t stay away from the allure of Ohio State and the limitless support thrown at the program.
Meyer will be given a pretty long leash, especially considering the Buckeyes aren’t even eligible for the Big Ten title or a bowl game this season. If his early recruiting success is an indicator of what’s to come, Meyer will do just fine in Columbus.
6. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
The Ol’ Ball Coach is still one of the best … even as an AARP card holder. Spurrier’s last two seasons are arguably two of his best years as a coach.
Spurrier has the passion back and the Gamecocks love him. He keeps reeling in the state’s best talent (e.g. Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney) and he actually has a quarterback he can trust in Connor Shaw.
It’s unlikely Spurrier will go all Joe Paterno and coach until he’s in his 80s, but South Carolina will keep him around as long as he wants. Of course, Spurrier is in good enough shape to coach until he’s 80.
5. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Chizik may be 35-29 as a head coach, but he led Auburn to the BCS National Championship in his second season and he’s 3-0 all-time in bowl games.
He has also proven to be a top-notch recruiter and that should equate to more successful seasons on The Plains.
Chizik has had some turnover with his staff, most notably the loss of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn so we’ll learn more about Chizik’s coaching prowess in 2012.
4. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Petersen’s success and his unwillingness to consider a bigger paycheck at a larger program seem to floor fans outside of Boise.
But Petersen seems to understand he has a great thing and he doesn’t need the distractions that come with a job like UCLA or Florida.
Boise has rewarded him with contract extensions and he has delivered 73 wins in 79 games, including two BCS bowl victories.
3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
After a decade as an assistant, Stoops got a shot at Oklahoma and he’s made the most of it. He has won 139 and lost just 34 and won the 2000 BCS National Championship.
OU fans love the guy, but there are plenty of them who wish he’d picked up another title and that he was better in bowl games (7-6 record). However, the Sooners have won their last three bowl games.
Due to his success, Stoops has been the rumor of many job openings in the NFL and at other marquee universities. However, he has remained loyal to Oklahoma.
2. Les Miles, LSU
Before last season, Miles was always the coach who won tons of games but it seemed like the LSU fan base wanted someone else.
The way he handled the Tigers in 2011, despite the loss to Alabama in the final game, sort of endeared Miles to the LSU fans.
Now the Mad Hatter is one of the most secure coaches in all of college football.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Saban led Alabama to two of the past three BCS Championships and he could pretty much name his salary and anyone in the nation would pay it.
The Tide love him and Saban loves what he has in Tuscaloosa. Is it possible Saban is content to stick with a job and not look elsewhere?