On the flip side of the bad, the ugly and the profane are a handful of coaches who won’t get national consideration but deserve, like Sumlin, a good deal of credit for the seasons their teams have had.
A lot of people thought Rutgers would slip when Greg Schiano went to coach in the NFL but, at least this season, there’s been no sign of that. The Scarlet Knights are 8-1 under Kyle Flood.
David Cutcliffe will probably be the ACC coach of the year, partly by default, but anyone who can coax six wins out of Duke deserves recognition. The Blue Devils have been exposed by the ACC’s two best teams — Florida State and Clemson — in their past two games, but Cutcliffe has brought them a long way since taking over arguably the worst FBS program in the country five years ago.
Even after collapsing Saturday at Nebraska, Penn State is 6-4 under Bill O’Brien. It can be argued that no coach has ever taken over a football program under more difficult circumstances and O’Brien has kept the Nittany Lions respectable after an 0-2 start.
Finally, two coaches who probably won’t be noticed anyplace except (perhaps) on their campuses. One is Pennsylvania’s Al Bagnoli, who is in his 21st season at Penn and Saturday wrapped up at least a share of his ninth Ivy League title when his team stunned Harvard, 30-21, without starting quarterback Billy Ragone, who hurt his ankle at the end of the third quarter. The sight of the Penn seniors lighting cigars on the field to celebrate their win was one of the highlights of the season.
The other coach who won’t be noticed but should be is Colgate’s Dick Biddle. Like Bagnoli he has gone largely unnoticed nationally, even though he has had great success in 17 seasons coaching the Raiders. Colgate won the Patriot League title on Saturday, coming from 14-0 down to shock unbeaten Lehigh on the road, 35-24. The Raiders are now 7-3 after a 1-3 start and Biddle called the win “the greatest of my career.” This from a man who is 132-64 as a head coach, has won seven Patriot League titles and took his team to the FCS national championship game in 2003.
Colgate will now represent the Patriot League in the 20-team FCS tournament, which will conclude on Jan. 5 with the title game. Imagine, a real tournament where who plays and who wins are decided strictly on the field. What a novel idea.
For more by the author, visit his blog at feinsteinonthebrink.com. To read his previous columns for The Washington Post, go to washingtonpost.com/