2019 College football coach rankings: Power Five coaches ranked 65-26
Before we rank the top 25 Power Five coaches in college football, let's take a look at the rest
College football is a sport of rankings. For decades, the national champion was decided by how voters ranked teams in a myriad of different polls, and while the last 20 years have seen the advent of the BCS and now the College Football Playoff, both of those systems have been based on rankings as well.
So it only makes sense that we rank the coaches in the sport every spring, and now that it's May, it's time to unveil our 2019 rankings of the 65 coaches in the Power Five conferences (plus Notre Dame). There are plenty of changes to the rankings this year as some big-name coaches retired, others were fired, and we even had one leave for a job in a Group of Five. But the rankings remain.
As for how these rankings are decided, our crew of CBS Sports college football writers voted on them. There are no strict guidelines on which we based our rankings. Some could just be voting based on what the coach has accomplished in their careers. Others might be voting strictly on which coach they would hire right now. More than likely, most are a blend of several different factors. I know that's how i compiled mine.
So let's get to the first set of rankings. While the top 25 will come out Wednesday, we've got the coaches who finished between 65th and 26th right here.
|Chris Ash: If you're discussing who is most likely to be the first Power Five coach fired in 2019, it doesn't take long before Ash's name comes up. He just finished his third season at Rutgers, going 1-11, and he's now 7-29 overall and only 3-24 in the Big Ten. 2018 rank: 60 (-5)|
|Mel Tucker has been a head coach for five games with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. He was an interim coach and went 2-3 in those games. Tucker is a career assistant getting his first crack at a full-time head coaching gig, so there's no much to base his ranking on yet. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Jonathan Smith debuted in our rankings at No. 63 last season, and after going 2-10 in his first season with the Beavers, he remains there heading into 2019. 2018 rank: 63 (E)|
|Mike Locksley: Apparently a Nick Saban School for Coaching and Process Management degree only does so much for you. While Locksley has prior head coaching experience, it didn't go well, as he went 2-26 in roughly 2.5 seasons at New Mexico and was 1-5 as an interim coach at Maryland in 2015. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Tom Allen may be the most anonymous coach in Power Five football. Allen's sbeen at Indiana for two seasons now, and while he's gone a respectable 10-14 overall, he's only 4-14 in the Big Ten. As a result, his ranking remains static. 2018 rank: 61 (E)|
|Lovie Smith has done a lot to improve the talent level with the Illini, but at the end of the day, he's gone 9-27 overall and 4-23 in the Big Ten. Until the work put into revamping the roster results in more wins, he's not going to climb much higher in our rankings. 2018 rank: 59 (-1)|
|Chad Morris received a rude welcoming to the SEC last year as the Razorbacks went 2-10 and 0-8 in the SEC, losing by an average of 22.6 points per game. That's going to knock you down a rung or two in these rankings. 2018 rank: 52 (-7)|
|Matt Luke: After going 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC during his first season in Oxford, the Rebels took a step backward last season, going 5-7 and 1-7 in the SEC. Yet Luke moves up four spots? That's from a combination of other coaches dropping, as well as a tip of the cap for the circumstances Luke's dealing with at Ole Miss. 2018 rank: 62 (+4)|
|Manny Diaz: This is one of those times where I disagree with my fellow voters. Diaz has never been a head coach, so for me, I can't rank him higher than coaches who have won games. I had him at 64 on my ballot, so if he's at 57, at least one of my fellow voters thinks very highly of him. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Chris Klieman may be new to the Power Five and FBS as a head coach, but his track record at North Dakota State was enough to earn him a decent starting position in our rankings. Klieman won four FCS national titles in five years after taking over the program from Craig Bohl in 2014. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Geoff Collins was only in charge at Temple for two seasons, but he did an excellent job maintaining what Matt Rhule started. The Owls went 15-10 under Collins, and that included an 11-5 record in the AAC. He inherits a tough gig, however, as Georgia Tech transitions from an option team. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Herm Edwards: I don't know if it was the actual results or the expectations of myself and my fellow voters, but after going 7-6 in his first season at Arizona State, Herm climbs from No. 64 to No. 54 in our rankings. 2018 rank: 64 (+10)|
|Derek Mason: After going 5-7 (1-7 SEC) during the 2017 season, Mason climbed from No. 53 to No. 50 in our rankings. Now, after going 6-7 (3-5 SEC) and reaching a bowl game, Mason drops three spots back to No. 53. It just goes to show how volatile these rankings can be once you get out of the top 25 and there's so little separating the coaches. 2018 rank: 50 (-3)|
|Jeremy Pruitt went 5-7 (2-6 SEC) in his first season at Tennessee, and that was enough to move him up five spots in our rankings, ahead of Mason, who's Vandy team had a better season and beat Pruitt's Vols (for what it's worth, I had Mason at 47 and Pruitt at 54). You're welcome, Tennessee sports radio stations. 2018 rank: 57 (+5)|
|Clay Helton: Honestly, I think most of us were surprised we were even still ranking Helton this spring. We didn't expect him to make it after USC went 5-7 last year and missed out on a bowl game without the NCAA's help for the first time since 2000. Helton drops 20 spots in our rankings and enters 2019 on one of the hottest seats in the country. 2018 rank: 31 (-20)|
|Justin Wilcox: My colleagues did not give Wilcox as much respect as I did, and that's fine. Different strokes for different folks. I had Wilcox at 39 on my ballot, but he comes in at No. 50 overall, which is still a bump up of three spots after going 7-6 and getting Cal to a bowl for the first time since 2015. 2018 rank: 53 (+3)|
|Barry Odom: Missouri has improved every year under Odom. After starting 4-8 in 2016, the Tigers went 7-6 in 2017 and finished 8-5 last season. That's certainly a good sign, but it's hard to warrant ranking him any higher than this after considering his 10-14 mark in the SEC. If he wins more conference games, he'll likely climb higher. 2018 rank: 55 (+6)|
|Joe Moorhead: While I can't speak for my fellow voters, Moorhead was one of the more difficult coaches for me to rank. It was a nice enough start for him at Mississippi State, but he inherited a strong roster from Dan Mullen and had a veteran quarterback; albeit one who isn't a perfect fit for his offense. I think this year will give us all a much better idea of what to make of him. 2018 rank: 58 (+10)|
|Willie Taggart's introductory season at FSU didn't go smoothly. Some have already placed him on the hot seat after one season, and that's typically what happens when your program's streak of bowl appearances for 36 consecutive seasons comes to an end your first year. Now, a lot of the problems with last year's team were out of Taggart's control, but I'd still recommend he turn things around as quickly as possible. 2018 rank: 34 (-13)|
|Pat Narduzzi: The Panthers were only 7-7 overall last year, but they did go 6-2 in the ACC and win the Coastal. That's got to be worth something, and to our voters, it was worth about five spots in the rankings. 2018 rank: 51 (+5)|
|Ryan Day: Well, it seems Day's 3-0 record as a head coach proved more to some of my fellow voters than others. Personally, I had Day at No. 62, solely due to the lack of a lengthy resume. He is undoubtedly stepping into a great spot, and -- spoiler alert! -- if other spots in our rankings are any indication, it could do wonders for his ranking in a hurry. 2018 rank: n/a|
|P.J. Fleck's boat is mostly treading water in our rankings. The Gophers were a young team in 2018 but still managed to go 7-6 and get to a bowl game. That said, Fleck is only 5-13 in conference games through two seasons. 2018 rank: 41 (-3)|
|Matt Wells enters our Power Five rankings for the first time, coming from Utah State to replace Kliff Kingsbury. Wells went 44-34 at Utah State and had two 10-win seasons with the Aggies, giving him a boost over some other first-year Power Five coaches here. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Steve Addazio: Did you know that if you replace Joe DiMaggio's name with Steve Addazio in Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson and it fits seamlessly? That has nothing to do with Addazio's ranking, but maybe it should. After going 7-5 at Boston College last year, Addazio is now 38-38 in his tenure with the Eagles and 51-49 in his head coaching career. We appreciate consistency. 2018 rank: 47 (+5)|
|Mario Cristobal: Another case where my fellow voters and I disagree. I had Cristobal at No. 52 on my ballot, but he finishes 11 spots higher at No. 41. The Ducks went 9-4 in his first season, and it wasn't the easiest situation as Cristobal was the program's third coach in three years, but they were only 5-4 in the Pac-12, and he's only 36-52 as a head coach in his career. There are quite a few names on this list below him whom I don't believe should be. Not yet, anyway. 2018 rank: 54 (+13)|
|Kevin Sumlin's first season at Arizona felt a little weird. It was clearly an adjustment period as he brings a different style of play than what Arizona had under Rich Rodriguez, and it showed on the field as the Wildcats went 5-7 overall and 4-5 in conference play. 2018 rank: 36 (-4)|
|Mark Stoops: I was fully expecting Stoops to take a significant step forward in these rankings after winning 10 games at Kentucky last season. It was the first time the Wildcats won at least 10 games in a single season since 1977. I had him at No. 34 on my ballot, but I guess my fellow voters weren't as impressed as I. Still, climbing seven spots isn't insignificant. 2018 rank: 46 (+7)|
|Les Miles: The Mad Hatter returns to our rankings as he returns to the sidelines, this time with the Jayhawks. I think there's been an overall tendency to underestimate Miles' ability as a coach, as people had a penchant for ascribing his success at LSU to it being LSU. Still, I think this is probably a little too low for Miles (I only had him at 33 myself) considering he has won a national title. If he can bring success to Kansas, he'll fly up these rankings in a hurry. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Scott Satterfield: The new Louisville coach has a nice starting point in these rankings as he takes over for Bobby Petrino (who was 29th last year, so these rankings provide no job security). In six seasons at Appalachian State, Satterfield went 51-24 and won three consecutive Sun Belt titles before taking this job. It'll be a lot more difficult winning conference titles while playing in the same division as Clemson and Florida State, however. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Neal Brown: I think it's fitting that both Brown and Satterfield are next to one another in these rankings. Like Satterfield, Brown comes to West Virginia after experiencing quite a bit of success at a Sun Belt school. Brown won a conference title himself, and he also picked up wins against LSU and Nebraska the last couple of seasons. Now he'll be trying to knock off Oklahoma and Texas. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Will Muschamp is always a difficult coach for me to rank. I can never quite put my finger on whether he's better than I give him credit for being, or if I'm simply giving him too much credit. I had him at No. 41 on my ballot after the Gamecocks went 7-6 last season, but I don't have any problem with him finishing at No. 35. 2018 rank: 37 (+2)|
|Justin Fuente was on the cusp of cracking our top 25 coaches last season, but a down year saw him tumble down the rankings. The Hokies dealt with plenty of injuries and off-field issues last season, all while finishing only 6-7 in a Coastal Division that was as winnable as ever. 2018 rank: 26 (-8)|
|Mack Brown: I really want to write that it's the return of the Mack to our rankings, but Mack had left Texas before we started doing this here on an annual basis. Mack was another difficult coach to rank. Yes, he won a national title in 2005 and came close to a second in 2009, but he also hasn't coached in six years, so where exactly do you put him? I had him at 32, so to me, this seems about right. 2018 rank: n/a|
|Dave Doeren: Are we underrating Doeren? I feel like we might be. I had him at No. 28, and I think I might have underrated him myself. Over the last two seasons, Doeren has won 18 games and gone 11-5 in the ACC. He's also seen 11 of his players have their names called in the NFL Draft the last two springs. I think we might be sleeping a bit on Doeren, despite his rise. 2018 rank: 39 (+7)|
|Matt Rhule: I've been a big Rhule fan since his time at Temple, and I like what he's doing at Baylor so far. He stepped into an awful situation, but after going 1-11 in his first season, the Bears went 7-6 and won the Texas Bowl last season. That's a hell of a jump from Year 1 to Year 2, and it'll be interesting to see how things go in 2019. 2018 rank: 44 (+13)|
|Ed Orgeron: Earlier, I mentioned how there was a narrative around Miles at LSU that it was the job that was responsible for the success and not the coach. I think Orgeron suffers from that same narrative. He's been at LSU since taking over for Miles in 2016 and is 25-9. If we include his time as USC's interim coach, he's 31-11 in his last four seasons as a head coach. I can't help but think his failures at Ole Miss are having too big an impact on him in our rankings. That said, considering he just climbed 26 spots in our rankings, I think we're all coming around on him. 2018 rank: 56 (+26)|
|Dave Clawson could be the most underappreciated coach in the country. Wake Forest is one of the more challenging jobs in the Power Five as a small, private school, and Clawson's gone 22-17 there the last three seasons. Now, in a vacuum, 22-17 isn't all that impressive, but not all 22-17 runs are equal, and 22 wins in three years at Wake Forest is impressive. 2018 rank: 38 (+9)|
|Jeff Brohm: I'm an unabashed Brohm homer and have been for a few years now. Admitting that, I only had him at No. 25 on my ballot, and I think this is an accurate rating. Purdue is 13-13 in his first two seasons, and while I am optimistic about the program's future under Brohm, he should have to accomplish a bit more before he cracks our top 25. 2018 rank: 33 (+5)|
|Dino Babers is one of our biggest climbers this season, and it shouldn't come as a surprise. I mean, the man just led Syracuse to a 10-3 season, and that doesn't happen very often. In fact, the last time Syracuse had won 10 games in a season was in 2001. The Orange didn't even do it when they had Donovan McNabb for four seasons, and -- no offense to anybody on the team last year --there weren't any McNabbs on the roster last season. So when you mix success with a fun brand of football, you're going to see your stock rise. 2018 rank: 48 (+21)|
|Bronco Mendenhall: While he didn't climb as many spots as Babers, Mendenhall saw a big bump of his own. His third season with the Cavaliers saw the program take a nice step forward, improving from six to eight wins and finishing the season with a win in the Belk Bowl. Bronco's only 16-22 at Virginia, but his success at BYU no doubt plays a role in how my fellow voters and I feel about him. 2018 rank: 40 (+14)|
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