Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But some things are objectively ugly and some opinions are just flat out wrong — like, for instance, the 10 coaches that selected James Franklin or Willie Taggart as the most overrated in college football.
CBS Sports published the latest installment of their annual Candid Coaches series on Sunday, asking approximately 25 active FBS head coaches to weigh in on the most overrated and underrated of their peers.
David Shaw and Chris Petersen shared the honors as the most underrated coaches (12 percent apiece), followed by Dan Mullen, Pat Fitzgerald and Kyle Whittingham at 8 percent.
Here’s how the most flip side of that poll shook out:
Before we dig in, we have to add the caveat that CBS only spoke to “one-fifth of the 129 active coaches leading FBS teams entering the 2018 season,” which is roughly 25 coaches. This means we’re talking about 10 coaches that selected Franklin and Taggart — 40 percent of the poll, but less than 8 percent of the entire FBS head coaching census. Pick a different 25 coaches and you may get different results.
But, still, this is the poll we have, and these are its results. And they’re just flat wrong.
In his last two seasons at Vanderbilt, Franklin went a combined 18-8 (9-7 SEC), with back-to-back wins over Tennessee and back-to-back AP Top 25 final rankings. The last time before 2012-13 that Vanderbilt won 18 games over a 2-year period? Never. It had never happened before. The last time before 2012-13 that Vanderbilt beat Tennessee two years running? 1925-26.
Franklin parlayed his unprecedented success at Vanderbilt into the Penn State job, where he took over a program still emerging from the Jerry Sandusky scandal and won the Big Ten in his third year. For an encore, he went 11-2 with a Fiesta Bowl win in 2017.
Who did Franklin beat in Glendale? The most underrated coach in college football: Penn State 35, Washington 28.
As for Taggart, this anonymous comment cuts to the heart of it:
“I would say Willie Taggart at Florida State. He was only at Oregon for one year, and it’s not like he really transformed that program — and that’s a place that’s won for a long time. Not that he isn’t good — he’s won. But usually when you get a job like Florida State, it’s because you’ve won some championships or done something really amazing.”
Taggart’s first job came at Western Kentucky, where in 2010 he inherited an 0-12 team working its way into FBS membership and in Years 2 and 3 produced consecutive 7-5 seasons. That success led him to South Florida, where he inherited a 3-9 Bulls club and had USF at 8-5 by Year 3 and 10-2 in Year 4. USF led him to Oregon, where, after inheriting a 4-8 squad, he went 7-5 in a mixed bag first season (the Ducks were 6-1 with starting quarterback Justin Herbert under center and 1-4 without him).
Admittedly, leaving Oregon after one season isn’t a great look, but Florida State had its first job opening in four decades and targeted him, a Florida native and lifelong ‘Noles fan.
What coach is passing up his dream job because the timing isn’t perfect?
Three coaches — Shaw, Kirk Ferentz and Tom Herman — drew votes as the most underrated and overrated in the game. When combining that with the above, it’s impossible not to notice this unless you’re sticking your head in the sand:
Also, James Franklin, Willie Taggart and David Shaw all getting singled out by peers as overrated among their 127 FBS colleagues? File that under “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.”
— David Ubben (@davidubben) August 19, 2018
Two final thoughts:
1. Given the level of vitriol he seems to inspire with every breath the man breathes, it’s genuinely surprising Jim Harbaugh wasn’t among the top four vote getters for Most Overrated Coach.
2. If I’m going critique the votes for Most Overrated Coach, it’s only fair that I offer a suggestion as to who should take Franklin and Taggart’s place at the top (or bottom?) of the poll. That’s easy: your favorite coach is easily the most overrated in the game.