Let it start right here.
Gene Smith, by virtue of inaction on a self-imposed bowl ban last year, sent Kent State and Coach Darrell Hazell to a BCS game.
Ok, I know that's a bit premature (Kent State still has to win the MAC and find a way to climb one more spot in the BCS rankings over UCLA), but I'm going there anyway. If Ohio State is bowl eligible this year, the complexion of the BCS standings changes by exactly one position, and #18 Kent State is not a potential Orange Bowl contender.
Before going to Kent State in 2011, Coach Hazell spent seven years on staff at Ohio State as a wide receivers coach and a good chunk of that time as assistant head coach. At 46, he was widely seen as one of two potential in-house replacements (along with Luke Fickell) for Coach Tressel when he eventually retired. I'd venture a guess to say that there would have been more debate about who should have been the interim coach in 2011 had he stuck around.
But he didn't. Hazell accepted the job at Kent State, and he took on a monumental task in attempting to get the Golden Flashes over the hill to prominence, a place they had hardly ever been since starting the football program in 1920. In fact, the last coach of significance was Don James in the 1970s. He left to go to Washington, where he eventually won the 1991 national championship with the Huskies.
We're talking about a school who has exactly one conference title in its history (1972, overall record: 6-5). For a second year coach to take over the program and in one year's time have them on the verge of qualifying for a BCS bowl, completely unheard of and nothing short of a miracle.
While there's still work to be done (namely the winning of the second conference title in school history), Coach Hazell has put himself on the map for future top flight program openings. If he sticks around, it's only a matter of time before we add "Hazell" to the annual "guys who are rumored to be in the hunt for Job X" list with Chris Petersen of Boise State and Gary Patterson of TCU.