Editor's note: This is the sixth of a 10-part summer series rating the top D-I college football coaches in the country. From position coaches to head coach, Dennis Dodd and you, the community, will compile an All-Star team of the nation's top 10 coaches. Next up: Linebackers. Vote now!
Pat Ruel, USC
Some guys just aren't meant to be head coaches.
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|Wide Receivers Coaches|
|Running Backs Coaches|
|Defensive Line Coaches|
|Offensive Line Coaches|
Some guys are meant to coach at eight colleges.
And for four NFL teams.
Some guys play for Miami.
Way before it was a dynasty.
Some guys are meant to sleep in tents during training camp.
That's why not all guys can be Pat Ruel.
There's only one, and as the 57-year-old gets ready to start his fourth season at USC, we should all be jealous. His offensive lines are annually NFL Draft choices in waiting. His recruiting abilities stretch far beyond his position. The guy can't help it. Everyone he meets turns into a friend and everything he touches turns to ... well, there is a reason his given name is Golden Pat Ruel.
Or, the more informal: Golden Ruel.
|USC assistant Pat Ruel is thought of as one of the top recruiters in the country. (US Presswire)|
Carroll worked all the angles. The two had been assistants together at Arkansas in 1977. USC's coach used picturesque Manhattan Beach to his advantage, taking his recruit to lunch there on a sun-splashed day.
"Pete's like a beautiful woman," Ruel said after taking the job. "The closer you get, you better look out. He is very charismatic. He can smile and make you feel like a million dollars."
In his first year at USC (2005) all five USC offensive linemen got at least an honorable mention on the all-conference teams. Actually, they achieved quite a bit more. Center Ryan Kalil was All-Pac-10. Left guard Deuce Lutui and left tackle Sam Baker were All-Americans. Right guard Fred Matua was drafted by Detroit in 2006. Lutui and right tackle Winston Justice eventually become second-round choices in 2006.
Baker went on to become the third Trojan to become a three-time, first-team All-American in consecutive years. Kalil was an All-American in 2007 and became a Rimington Trophy finalist.
Recently, rivals.com named Ruel one of the best 25 recruiters in the country.
He played for Fran Curci in the 1970s at Miami. That's UM four coaches before Howard Schnellenberger. His longest stay came at Kansas (1988-96). During that first summer in Lawrence, the staff slept in tents near the practice fields as a show of solidarity. The Jayhawks had to stay together. There weren't very many of them -- 50 or so on scholarship.
Kansas went from 1-10 in 1988 to 10-2 in 1995, finishing in the top 10.
The wanderlust started at an early age. Dad (Pat II) was an FBI agent. Young Pat, then 8, didn't know that until he discovered a cache of dad's weapons underneath a floorboard in the family car. The family moved and moved and moved as dad worked counter-espionage in North Carolina, interstate commerce in Texas, organized crime in Chicago.
The son would follow dad's inherent support of local moving companies. Ruel is ready to begin his 35th year as an assistant. USC is his 12th stop. You might say everything is Golden.
"What it did is cause me to have a sense of adventure," said Pat, the coach. "I was never intimidated by a new environment or new places."
Five others to consider:
|Pos.||Dennis Dodd||Community Users|
|HC||Pete Carroll, USC||Pete Carroll|
|DC||Jim Heacock, Ohio State||Tom Bradley, Penn State|
|OC||Norm Chow, UCLA||Norm Chow|
|LB||Brian Cabral, Colorado||Luke Fickell, Ohio St.|
|OL||Pat Ruel, USC||Hugh Nall, Auburn|
|DL||Rodney Garner, Georgia||John Blake, N. Carolina|
|DB||Chuck Heater, Florida||Bobby Jack Wright, Okla.|
|RB||Cale Gundy, Oklahoma||Eddie Gran, Auburn|
|WR||Erik Campbell, Iowa||Andy Hill, Missouri|
|TE||Bruce Walker, Missouri||Bruce Walker|
Mike Markuson, Ole Miss: In all 15 seasons Houston Nutt has been a head coach, Markuson has been his offensive line coach. Markuson comes to Oxford on a roll. Arkansas led the SEC in rushing four of the past five seasons. Center Jonathan Luigs won the Rimington Trophy last season, clearing the way for some guy named Darren McFadden.
Mac McWhorter, Texas: There are two Mac(k) daddies at Texas. In 2005, McWhorter's offensive line was the foundation for the unit that produced the most points in a season (652) and a Texas-record 6,657 yards. In 2006, the line consisted of an All-American Justin Blalock and three All-Big 12 performers (Blalock, Lyle Sendlein, Kasey Studdard). Tackle Adam Ulatoski was a freshman All-American. Last season, three freshmen had to play significant minutes but Texas still finished in the top 20 in total offense, rushing and scoring.
Hugh Nall, Auburn: A revered name in the SEC and around the nation. Nall has coached 10 NFL offensive linemen. His legacy includes two-time All-American Marcus McNeill, who in 2006 became the first rookie offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl in 16 years. Tommy Tuberville wouldn't have completely changed his offense (to the spread) in 2008 if he didn't trust Nall. The pair go back to 1995 at Ole Miss.
Todd Spencer, Georgia Tech There's a reason Navy won all those rushing titles -- and games. Spencer followed coach Paul Johnson to Georgia Tech after Navy was the nation's top rushing team in three of the past five seasons. All the other guys you see here get to coach All-American talent. Spencer's guys at Navy were undersized and not about to head to the NFL. That all changes at Tech, where Spencer is teaching ACC talent how to block for the triple option.
Rick Trickett, Florida State: The former Marine corporal in the Vietnam War at times seems like he's still in battle. Language: Salty. Mercy? None. At West Virginia, his guys were up 6 a.m. in the offseason, just because. Before 2007, 21 of his players had gone to the NFL. While at West Virginia, he helped raise the Mountaineers to national power status with quick, agile offensive linemen. The next challenge is to get the Florida State offense moving in his second year in Tallahassee.