NCAA PAC 12 Conference

Pac-12 coach rankings: Mario Cristobal moves to top of list


The Pac-12 is looking for its next elite coach.  

Chris Petersen’s decision to retire at Washington means that the conference does not have a coach in the top 10 of our 1-130 coach rankings for the first time since 2016.  

A total of four Pac-12 coaches made the top 25, with Oregon’s Mario Cristobal the highest-ranked coach of the three. The Ducks are coming off a Pac-12 championship and have the look of a College Football Playoff contender again.  

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Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and Stanford’s David Shaw are the other top 25 coaches on the list. The conference also features three new coaches in Washington’s Jimmy Lake, Washington State’s Nick Rolovich and Colorado’s Karl Dorrell.  

The next elite coach might be the one who gets the conference back in the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016.  

With that in mind, here’s a deeper look at our Pac-12 coach rankings for 2020 (record at current school):   

2020 Pac-12 Coach Rankings 

RANK COACH SCHOOL W L PCT OVR
1 Mario Cristobal Oregon 21 7 .750 15
2 Kyle Whittingham Utah 131 64 .672 18
3 David Shaw Stanford 86 34 .717 21
4 Clay Helton USC 40 22 .645 26
5 Herm Edwards Arizona State 15 11 .577 30
6 Justin Wilcox Cal 20 18 .526 48
7 Chip Kelly UCLA 7 17 .292 53
8 Jimmy Lake Washington 0 0 .000 64
9 Nick Rolovich Washington State 0 .000 0 65
10 Jonathan Smith Oregon State 7 17 .292 77
11 Kevin Sumlin Arizona 9 15 .375 78
12 Karl Dorrell Colorado 0 0 .000 96

Quick reads   

 — Cristobal made a 28-spot jump in our overall rankings, and the recruiting at Oregon has contributed to that quick rise since he took over. The Ducks are 13-5 in conference play the past two seasons and figure to be the favorite to win the Pac-12 in most preseason publications.  

— Cristobal’s rise coincides with a drop for Shaw, who still maintains a .717 winning percentage. That’s the best among active coaches in the conference, but a .500 record the past two seasons and a 4-8 campaign in 2019 have that program on the spot.  

— What do we do with Clay Helton? We initially had him in the top 25, but we dropped him out at the last minute. Helton has steadied the recruiting with the Trojans heading into 2021, but the program cannot slip down this season. USC is just 13-12 the past two seasons; but it does come with an 11-7 record in Pac-12 play.  

— Arizona State’s Herm Edwards has a case to be in the top 25 given that the Sun Devils could be in the mix in the Pac-12 South. He’s 15-11 with a bowl victory since taking over, but a .500 record in league play has keep this program from a true breakthrough.

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