Jackson Wang

Top Five Coaches In The AAC

Created on May. 29, 2014 6:28 AM EST

A team’s performance is a reflection of the coach’s ability to prepare his team for success. Take a look around the country and you’ll notice that coaches who are prepared, along with experience and a few five-star recruits, are the ones who lead their teams to victory.

In the American Athletic Conference, it’s the same story. Here are the top five coaches in the 10-team AAC:

5. June Jones, SMU

SMU was awful before Jones’ arrival in Dallas. The NCAA's death penalty in 1987 severely crippled the Mustangs and it took years to recover.

Jones was able to give SMU its first bowl win in more than 20 years. Since then, the Mustangs have won two more bowl games and two conference division titles.

Not bad for a team that barely won any games from 1987 to 2008, the year that Jones took over. He has certainly earned his $2 million per year salary.

4. Tony Levine, Houston

Levine is a coach in the mold of Bobby Petrino and John Fox. Levine coached under both of them in the early and mid- 2000s.

Now, he’s showing that his years of assisting Petrino and Fox were steps to his own success. When Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M, the Cougars selected Levine to take over.

Levine is proving to boosters, players and fans that it was a smart move. In his first season, he led Houston to a 5-7 record. Last year, he coached an inexperienced team to an 8-5 record and a bowl appearance. This is a young coach that has the ability to outperform his teachers in the long run.

3. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

It’s good to see that Petrino finally realizes that the NFL is not for him. College football is where Petrino belongs.

During his first run with Louisville, Petrino led the Cardinals to four bowl games and winning seasons in the four years he coached there. That included two bowl victories and two conference titles.

When Petrino went to Arkansas, it was a similar story — three bowl games in four years, including an appearance in a BCS bowl game. But an extramarital affair led to his dismissal.

If history repeats, Louisville fans should be pleased with Petrino’s return.

2. George O’Leary, UCF

O’Leary put the UCF program on the college football map. He’s turned a struggling team into a contender for not only conference titles, but national titles.

He has also produced multiple NFL products, including Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Matt Prater and Bruce Miller.

The Knights have won three bowl games in the last four years, including the school’s first ever BCS bowl victory earlier this year.

It’s going to be a tough road for UCF, trying to replace Bortles and Johnson. But if any coach can develop new superstars and continue the success, it would be O’Leary.

1. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati

Tuberville should have had at least one shot already for a national championship (Auburn was left out in 2004). If Tuberville can capture that elusive title, then his coaching career would be set.

Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award, and SEC Coach of the Year award are just a few honors that Tuberville has on his resume.

Tuberville has not only developed great players, but also terrific coaches. Will Muschamp, Bobby Petrino and Gene Chizik all worked as assistants for Tuberville and all three have, or have had, successful coaching careers.

Now, most likely toward the end of his career, Tuberville has a great fit in Cincinnati, a program with a mixture of veteran and young players. This will give Tuberville an opportunity to build for future success while also getting players ready for the NFL.

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