Ranking the Pac-12 Head Coaches

We rank the Pac-12 Head Coaches as they enter the 2021-22 Season

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Article By Nick Battey

1. Mario Cristobal (Oregon)

In his first three seasons in the conference Mario Cristobal has won two Pac-12 Championships, a Rose Bowl and has had the conferences #1 recruiting class all three seasons. The level of talent currently in Eugene is something Oregon has never had before and the sky is the limit for what could be accomplished with Cristobal in charge.

2. Kyle Whittingham (Utah)

As the head coach of the Utes since 2005, Kyle Whittingham is clearly respected as one of the top coaches in the conference. The Utah coach has won multiple Pac-12 South titles and consistently puts out competitive, physical squads. The one question left is can he win the big game? He’ll have another quality team to try and answer that next season.

3. David Shaw (Stanford)

No coach in the Pac-12 has shown more stability or success than David Shaw with three Pac-12 Championships and 4 NY6 Bowl appearances. Stanford has begun to drop off recently and hasn't had a 10 win season now since 2016 and recruiting has also begun to stall with their class in 2021 ranking 53rd. The recent decline puts Shaw 3rd on our list.

4. Herm Edwards (ASU)

Herm Edwards quickly silenced the people who thought he was a bad hire by ASU with 7 wins in 2018 followed by 8 wins in 2019. Edwards has brought excitement and high hopes to Tempe with a stellar young QB and a talented roster in 2021. ASU will likely be ranked in the Top 25 entering next season and its feels like just the start of something special that Edwards is building.

5. Chip Kelly (UCLA)

Ranking Pac-12 coaches means we look at their entire body of work and Chip won three Pac-10/12 titles and made 4 NY6 bowls at Oregon. Kelly's UCLA tenure has been disappointing thus far but appears to be trending up as he provided an explosive offense that was fun to watch in 2020. 2021 will be a pivotal season for Kelly and he will likely need to reach a bowl in order to keep his position.

6. Clay Helton (USC)

Every single year there is so much discussion about how Clay Helton still has a job, but yet he still holds on for whatever reason. 2020 he showed he is still an above average coach as he won the Pac-12 South and only lost one game. Add that to a top 10 recruiting class in 2021 and Helton will have another chance to try and convince fans he is the right man for the job.

7. Justin Wilcox (Cal)

After the very successful 2019 season that ended in a Redbox Bowl victory over Illinois, hopes were high for Cal to take the next step and compete for the North in 2020. For multiple reasons that didn’t happen. 2021 seems like a make or break year for Wilcox's reputation at Cal. Can he keep the Golden Bears trending up or will the program begin to stagnate?

8. Jimmy Lake (UW)

In his first year after taking over for Chris Peterson, Jimmy Lake led Washington to a Pac-12 North title. The Husky coach will seemingly always have a tough defense and if he can pair that with an effective offense, he should be able to sustain a consistent winning program in Seattle.

9. Karl Dorrell (Colorado)

A simply incredible first season for Dorrell, who was hired after the recruiting season ended and had to deal with coaching a new team during a season with difficulties imposed by Covid. Reaching the Alamo Bowl in his 1st season should have Colorado fans feeling good about the future in Boulder.

10. Jonathan Smith (OSU)

Smith has slowly but sure been digging Oregon State out of the hole that Gary Andersen dug the program into after he quit. Smith has the Beavers playing quality football and it feels like the program is on the cusp of becoming a Bowl team.

11. Nick Rolovich (WSU)

Year 1 for Rolovich ended with the Cougs going 1-3 with blowout losses to USC and Utah to end the season. 2021 will give us a better look at what Rolovich can build on the Palouse.

12. Jedd Fisch (Arizona)

Arizona has a new era underway with Jedd Fisch, and while he is building a great staff and looks as though can turn the program around quickly, there are no games to judge him on and therefore he starts at 12th on the list.