10 candidates for Coach of the Year 

November, 11, 2009

With just a few weeks remaining in the regular season, I thought it was a good time to start examining the head coaches who have made the strongest cases for Coach of the Year honors. Here is this week's Top 10 list:

1. Al Golden, Temple Owls:

The Owls are no longer a laughingstock. They haven't been to a bowl in 30 years -- but now, under the fourth-year coach, they've won seven in a row and are assured their first winning season since 1990. That is an amazing feat. Golden, who for years had been noted by his peers as a diligent recruiter in the northeast during his days as an assistant, not only upgraded the talent (see stud freshman RB Bernard Pierce) but also has generated a winning attitude. Last season the Owls lost three games on the final play, including two in OT. Their recent win at 7-3 Navy also looks more impressive considering the Middies just rolled into South Bend and knocked off Notre Dame.

2. Brian Kelly, Cincinnati Bearcats:

Talk about overcoming some issues. Kelly replaces his defensive coordinator and has to plug in 10 new starters on defense -- and then replace a Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Tony Pike, at midyear, and the Bearcats keep on winning, climbing all the way into the top 5. Kelly's team is third in the country in total offense, third in turnover margin and third in sacks. Maybe most impressively, this team -- which has had to rotate QBs -- still leads the nation in passing efficiency. No wonder why his name comes up for every big potential coaching vacancy.