1. Kyle Whittingham (Utah)
In my opinion, Kyle Whittingham is one of the most underrated coaches in all of college football and his 67% win percentage in 200 career games shows just the tip of the iceberg of how far he can push a solid team over the edge into greatness. Whittingham posted a 13-0 season back in 2008 and posted five nine-win (or plus) years in the last seven campaigns. He also boasts a stunning 11-3 record in bowl games.
2. David Shaw (Stanford)
Entering his 11th season at the helm of the Cardinal in 2021 (man, does time fly), David Shaw is largely considered the class of the Pac-12. Shaw is able to blend a tough, old-school mentality with a new-school flair and get his players to play ruthlessly hard for him. While lately, the Cardinal haven’t been the Top 25 outfits of years past, Shaw is still considered among college football’s elite coaches.
3. Mario Cristobal (Oregon)
After a disastrous stint as the head man at Florida International, Oregon took a chance in hiring Mario Cristobal as their head coach back in 2017, which so far has worked out swimmingly for the Ducks. In 2019, Oregon ended the campaign as a top-five team nationally and Oregon has now returned to a program that’s regularly churning out top NFL prospects and lurking at the top of the Pac-12 annually.
4. Justin Wilcox (California)
Justin Wilcox’s rebuild of the California program has been one transcending on a solid scale, yet 2020 was a massive step-back for the Golden Bears overall. California has found a new identity under Wilcox, who switched an “air-raid” squad to a defensive-minded approach from his years as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. If he can continue to solidify his culture within the team, he can make California the real deal.
5. Jimmy Lake (Washington)
The new guy on the block in the Pac-12, Jimmy Lake posted a 3-1 record in his debut season with victories over Oregon State, Arizona and Utah. Those wins won’t place him in the Hall of Fame just yet, but they will get the ball rolling for what looks to be a statement hire in the Pacific Northwest. The Huskies are looking to find their place in the Conference of Champions and they’ve found the right man to lead them there.