August 31, 2009

Preseason defensive coordinator power rankings

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Head coaches | Offensive coordinators

We continue our preseason power rankings at each position with defensive coordinators.

There are some head coaches who serve as their own defensive coordinators, but we do not rank those guys.

You can check out our post-spring practice power rankings here. We will update the power rankings each week during the regular season and release the final rankings for the season after the BCS title game.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.


1. Bud Foster, Virginia Tech
: Three constants in life? Death, taxes and the Hokies finishing in the top 10 in total defense. Star players leave every season, but it never fazes Foster, who keeps churning out tough, aggressive, hard-hitting units.

2. Charlie Strong, Florida
: Strong's defense should be well, strong this season. Indeed, a legit goal is holding opponents to less than 10 points per game. Strong is a good motivator, loves to blitz and does a nice job tweaking his defense to take advantage of his players' strengths.

3. Will Muschamp, Texas
: He's the Longhorns' coach-in-waiting, and there might not be a more hyper coach on the sideline. His in-your-face coaching style was a big hit for the Longhorns last season. His unit plays aggressively and he knows how to get his star players in the right position to make plays.

4. Tom Bradley, Penn State
: Bradley, like his boss, stolidly goes about his work. His defenses always are tough against the run, and his linebackers always make a ton of plays. While he works with some talented players, his schemes usually put them in the right place at the right time.

5. Norm Parker, Iowa
: Parker seemingly has been at Iowa since dinosaurs roamed the earth. He's an old-school coach in that his players stop the run, first and foremost. His defensive linemen are known for their toughness and their productivity.

6. Monte Kiffin, Tennessee
: We're taking a small gamble placing Kiffin this high; he hasn't coached college ball since 1982. But we're extremely confident his Vols defense will play to the same high level his Tampa Bay defenses did for so long. He's installing a version of his "Tampa 2" defense in Knoxville.

7. John Chavis, LSU
: He was Tennessee's coordinator before Kiffin, and his work with the Vols was stellar. The "Chief" now moves south and gets to stay in the same league. Suffice to say, you won't see LSU's defense underachieve this season the way it did last season.

8. Dick Bumpas, TCU
: Bumpas' defenses with the Horned Frogs have been among the nation's best this decade. He runs a 4-2-5 scheme, and his back seven fly around and make a ton of big plays. He has helped turn Jerry Hughes into perhaps the nation's best defensive end.

9. Mark Banker, Oregon State
: He toils in anonymity in the Pacific Northwest, but Banker does excellent work despite not always having great talent. He does a nice job adapting to what he has. He always seems to find a way to consistently pressure the passer.

10. Jeff Casteel, West Virginia
: Casteel runs a 3-3-5 set, and his defense has been sturdy the past few seasons in Morgantown. He had just three returning starters to work with last season, yet still built one of the nation's most stingy defenses. Look for this season's unit to be even better.

11. Ellis Johnson, South Carolina
: Johnson doesn't have the coordinator title with the Gamecocks any more, but he still will call the defenses this season. Johnson did great work at Mississippi State before moving on to South Carolina last season. His defenses are aggressive and physical.

12. Jon Tenuta, Notre Dame
: Meet "Mr. Blitz." Tenuta will blitz from anywhere, at anytime, with any number of players. Notre Dame has some talent deficiencies on defense this season, but Tenuta's aggressive nature will mask some of the problems.

13. Greg Robinson, Michigan
: His tenure as coach at Syracuse was a failure, but expect Robinson to get good results from the Wolverines' defense this season. He's a former longtime NFL coordinator, including overseeing Denver's defense when they won Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII.

14. Jim Heacock, Ohio State
: He always oversees a sound 4-3 defense. As with most Big Ten teams, Ohio State's first priority always is shutting down the run. His defense requires big-play linebackers, and he usually has them in abundance. This season, though, the linebackers are a question, though his front four will be among the best in the nation.

15. Phil Bennett, Pittsburgh
: Bennett had a failed tenure as coach at SMU, but the man knows defense. He has had a long and distinguished career as a coordinator, and he has a big-time front four to work with this season.

16. Tyrone Nix, Ole Miss
: He was a coordinator at Southern Miss and South Carolina before moving on to Ole Miss, and has had a great deal of success. He is a former linebacker (at Southern Miss) and his defenses usually are in an attack mode. Mix, 36, should be a prime head-coaching candidate soon.

17. Bill Young, Oklahoma State
: This will be his first season at his alma mater, and he has a lot of work to do with a Cowboys' unit that too often has been shaky of late. He did a nice job with a young Miami defense last season, and that came on the heels of a great run as Kansas' coordinator.

18. Brent Venables, Oklahoma
: Venables has taken some heat of late for having some underachieving defenses, but some of that comes from playing in the high-flying Big 12 South. Still, he will be under the gun somewhat this season. OU looks to have the nation's best defensive line, a solid secondary and one of the best linebackers in the nation in Travis Lewis. Can Venables get results?

19. Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
: He works for a defense-minded coach in Mark Dantonio. Narduzzi had success as a coordinator at Miami (Ohio) and Cincinnati before moving on to Michigan State. He has one of the nation's best linebacker groups to work with this season.

20. Greg Hudson, East Carolina
: He has done a nice job rebuilding what had been a shaky defense. His defenses make it a priority to stop the run and also thrive on forcing turnovers. Last season's defense led C-USA in total defense and scoring defense.

(Rankings by staffers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.) is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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