Graphic by Keytron Jordan

The first college football game ever played took place on Nov. 6, 1869, between New Jersey (to become Princeton) and Rutgers on a field in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers won 6-4. It was a thriller, but it wasn't as thrilling as what was happening across the Atlantic Ocean in Europe. That's where Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher made a startling discovery that would change what we knew about life on Earth.

Miescher discovered something within the nuclei of white blood cells in humans that he called "nuclein." The term would change over the years until it became what we now refer to as DNA: the building block of all life. While Miescher couldn't view DNA down to its blockchain at the time, if he were able to look at the DNA of that first college football game between New Jersey and Rutgers, he'd have discovered something else.

Inherent in college football's DNA are rankings. Yes, Rutgers won the game 6-4, but who cares? Which team would we have ranked higher afterward? That's the question. Sure, Rutgers won, but maybe it didn't deserve to? Maybe if the coach hadn't wasted that timeout in the second quarter, New Jersey would have held on, so New Jersey should be ranked ahead of Rutgers. If we're ranking the coaches, though, Rutgers' coach should be ranked ahead of the one who led New Jersey.

College football has changed a lot since that first game, but the same DNA remains today. The powers change, the names change,  the conferences change, but the rankings remain.

As we've done annually, CBS Sports is back ranking the college football coaches of the Power Five conferences (and Notre Dame) ahead of the upcoming season. A panel of our experts turn in their ballots with a simple mission: rank the 65 Power Five coaches from best to worst. There are no parameters for how they should be ranked. One could rank strictly on records or accomplishments. Another could rank on what they think these coaches will accomplish or how they have lived up to expectations. There are no rules, only rankings.

Let's begin our latest presentation of these rankings by examining the 40 coaches who finished outside the top 25. These rankings are final and irrefutable ... until the season begins. (Also, if you don't like where a particular coach is ranked, remember this: I agree with you. It's all my fellow voters who are wrong.)

Power Five Coach Rankings: 65-26
Brent Pry: I have a simple rule for filling out my ballot: If you've never been a head coach before, you're starting at the bottom of my rankings. Many of my fellow voters feel the same. So, Pry shouldn't take this personally as the new head man at Virginia Tech prepares to begin his first season as a head coach at any level. 2021 rank: n/a
Mike Elko: Elko has been seen as a rising star in coaching circles for a while. He first garnered national attention following a year as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator before spending the last four seasons with Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M. Duke hopes Elko's ability to put together a solid defense will give the program a solid foundation to build upon. 2021 rank: n/a
Jake Dickert: I had Dickert ranked ahead of the other first-time head coaches on my ballot because he has a track record. He coached the Cougars for six games last season after Nick Rolovich was let go and went 3-3, including a 3-1 mark in the Pac-12. Considering the difficult situation he inherited, that's a promising start. 2021 rank: n/a
Joey McGuire: Texas Tech fans are excited about the hire of McGuire, as they're hoping his connections in the Texas high school football sphere will help lure more talent to Lubbock. Spending the last five seasons under Matt Rhule and Dave Aranda at Baylor won't hurt, either. 2021 rank: n/a
Jedd Fisch: The second-year coach inherited an Arizona program that was a shambles last season, and it showed in the team's record. The Wildcats went 1-11 in Fisch's debut, and even though he moves up three spots in the rankings, it's only because he has experience now. Even so, he's still ranked behind other coaches yet to coach a game. 2021 rank: 64 (+3)
Tony Elliott: The long-time Clemson offensive coordinator finally gets the chance to run the show on his own. Elliott has coached some great players during his time with the Tigers, and now he thinks Virginia is the perfect place for him to take command. He inherits an offense that scored a lot of points last season. 2021 rank: n/a
Karl Dorrell: After finishing 4-2 as one of the bigger surprises of a strange 2020 season altered by COVID-19, Dorrell's Buffaloes fell to 4-8 in 2021, placing fifth in the Pac-12 South ahead of only Arizona. It's no surprise to see Dorrell fall a bit in the ranking because of it. 2021 rank: 54 (-5)
Geoff Collins: Collins enters the 2022 season on the hot seat at Georgia Tech. He's won three games in each of his first three seasons, and the early excitement of some big-time recruiting wins has faded. One of those big recruits, running back Jahmyr Gibbs, transferred to Alabama. You get the sense if Collins and the Yellow Jackets don't reach a bowl game this year, he won't be in next year's rankings. 2021 rank: 55 (-3)
Clark Lea: Vanderbilt went 2-10 in Lea's first season and didn't win an SEC game, but our voters saw reasons to be optimistic about the future as he climbed six spots in the rankings. A recruiting class ranked 32nd nationally undoubtedly plays a big role in that optimism. 2021 rank: 63 (+6)
Dino Babers: It's been interesting to follow the perception of Babers among our panel over the years. He was ranked highly following the 10-3 record in 2018, but the Orange have not come close to matching that mark in any of his other five seasons. Still, Cuse rebounded from a 1-10 record in 2020 to go 5-7 last season, which helped bump Dino up a few spots here. 2021 rank: 59 (+3)
Herm Edwards: No coach fell further in the rankings this year than Edwards. Herm was ranked in the top 25 last season following a shortened 2020 season that saw the Sun Devils go 2-2. While ASU went 8-5 in 2021, this ranking has far more to do with what's happening off the field. The program is dealing with NCAA problems, and multiple players hit the transfer portal, including starting QB Jayden Daniels. There's an impending sense of doom surrounding the program, and it has affected how Herm was viewed by our panel. 2021 rank: 21 (-34)
Dan Lanning: Clearly, some of our voters hold Lanning in high esteem, as he's ranked highly for a coach yet to be in charge of a program. It certainly isn't indefensible. After all, Lanning just played a part in Georgia's national title win, coordinating what might've been the best college football defense we've ever seen. He also brings the same kind of recruiting acumen that Mario Cristobal possessed. Lanning seems ready to hit the ground running in Eugene. 2021 rank: n/a
Scott Frost: When Frost came to Nebraska fresh off a 13-0 mark at UCF, he was ranked highly because of it. He's fallen every season since. After going 3-9 last year, Frost has been at Nebraska four seasons and hasn't reached a bowl game. He's only 15-29 overall and 10-25 in the Big Ten. He took a pay cut to get another season in Lincoln, but this fairytale won't have a happy ending if things don't turn around soon. 2021 rank: 47 (-6)
Neal Brown: His three seasons at West Virginia have been consistent. The problem is the consistency isn't enough, as the Mountaineers have never won more than six games in a season nor had a winning record in the Big 12. The 25.2 points per game WVU scored last season didn't do Brown any favors considering his offensive background. Perhaps the arrival of JT Daniels is what Brown and the Mountaineers need to make noise in the Big 12. 2021 rank: 41 (-11)
Kalen DeBoer: While DeBoer doesn't have head-coaching experience at the Power Five level, he went 12-6 in two seasons at Fresno State and won three NAIA national titles at Sioux Falls, where he went 67-3 (!!!) in five seasons. There's plenty of optimism among the Washington faithful that he'll bring some life to a program that offered little excitement under Jimmy Lake. 2021 rank: n/a
Mike Locksley: Locksley is coming off the first winning record of his career as Maryland went 7-6 in 2021 and won the Pinstripe Bowl. It was the kind of season Terps fans had been waiting to enjoy as prized recruiting classes finally led to wins on the field. It will be interesting to see if Locksley and the Terps can build upon it in one of the toughest divisions in the country. 2021 rank: 61 (+11)
Marcus Freeman: There's plenty of confidence in Marcus Freeman already. The 36-year-old former Ohio State linebacker has been seen as a rising star in coaching circles. He spent four seasons as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, helping build the foundation for a team that reached the College Football Playoff last season before arriving for 2021. That one season as defensive coordinator was all the Irish needed to see as they quickly moved to name him head coach after Brian Kelly left for LSU. While hopes are high, he has big shoes to fill in South Bend. 2021 rank: n/a
Bryan Harsin: Look at what Auburn has done to Harsin! He came to Auburn last year with enough reputation to debut in our rankings at 27, and yet, one 6-7 season later -- not to mention surviving a possible coup -- has him dropping 21 spots in the rankings. The good news is hopes for Auburn aren't high in 2022, so if Harsin exceeds them, he could fly right back up the board. The bad news is hopes aren't high for Auburn in 2022, and Harsin's already on the hot seat. 2021 rank: 27 (-21)
Mike Norvell: This feels like a make-or-break season for Norvell in Tallahassee. Nobody expected him to turn things around immediately, and after a slow start in 2020, the 'Noles improved to 5-7 last year. Still, 5-7 isn't the goal at Florida State. Neither is bowl eligibility. FSU wants to compete for ACC titles, playoff berths and national titles. Norvell doesn't need to accomplish any of those three things in 2022, but a bowl game would benefit all involved while helping Norvell recover from his three-spot drop in our rankings. 2021 rank: 44 (-3)
Eli Drinkwitz: Taking over Missouri in a pandemic is hard, but Drinkwitz's 5-5 record in 2020 provided plenty of reason to be optimistic. Perhaps it set expectations a little too high. The Tigers finished 6-7 last year and reached a bowl game, but it felt like a letdown. I don't think that's fair, but given the cutthroat nature of coaching in the SEC, my opinion doesn't matter much. 2021 rank: 43 (-3)
Brent Venables: While I don't have the complete records, I believe this is the highest a debuting head coach has ever appeared in our coach rankings. It doesn't come as much of a surprise. Venables has been the mastermind behind some of the best defenses in the country at Clemson and won multiple national titles there. Every year, people wondered when he'd finally move on to a head coaching job, and now he's done it at a powerhouse program like Oklahoma. Those accolades, combined with the power of the Oklahoma program, are what pushed him up a lot of our boards. 2021 rank: n/a
Justin Wilcox: I admit this doesn't make sense, but I also firmly attest it makes perfect sense. Wilcox is a perfectly rated coach but always seems slightly underrated. While the 2020 season was tough on coaches across the Pac-12, there's a strong argument that no coach had it worse than Wilcox, and it showed with a 1-3 record. He followed it up with a 5-7 mark last season, meaning the Bears have missed out on bowl games each of the last two seasons after going 15-11 over the 2018 and 2019 seasons. 2021 rank: 38 (-6)
Scott Satterfield: Climbing two spots in our rankings is a fair reflection of how Satterfield is viewed nationally and in Louisville. While most Cardinals fans aren't thrilled with where the program is, it did rebound from a 4-7 season in 2020 to at least get to a bowl game last year. That said, when the school hired Satterfield fresh off three straight Sun Belt titles at Appalachian State, it was hoping for more. Also, PR gaffes like how Satterfield handled his interest in the South Carolina job last year still rankles some. That'll teach you to be honest, I guess. 2021 rank: 45 (+2)
Lance Leipold: I'm surprised that Leipold drops seven spots, but I'm also not surprised. Some of that's likely due to turnover in our voters, but he arrived at Kansas last season ranked No. 35. Then he went 2-10 and won Kansas' first Big 12 game since 2019 when he beat Texas. And his reward is dropping seven spots. I don't know how much more our voters expected him to accomplish in his first year in Lawrence. 2021 rank: 35 (-7)
Shane Beamer: We've got a big-time riser here in Beamer, as he checked in at No. 65 in our rankings last season. Well, when you shock the world by going 7-6 when you were expected to win three or four games and top it all off by having a bucket of mayo dumped on your head, you gain respect in these rankings. I fully admit I was skeptical of the Beamer hire last season, but I'm quickly coming around. 2021 rank: 65 (+24)
Tom Allen: Last season, Allen was one of our biggest risers after leading Indiana to its best season since at least 1993 in 2020. Unfortunately, he's taken a tumble this year. The floor fell out from beneath the Hoosiers in 2021 as they finished 2-10 and went winless in the Big Ten. Hopefully, Allen and company will find a happy medium in 2022. 2021 rank: 20 (-20)
Steve Sarkisian: This is one of the more confusing results of our rankings this season, though aspects having nothing to do with Sarkisian himself -- the influx of new coaches, substantial drops of others -- may have simply resulted in Sark's slight rise. Last year, Sarkisian took the Texas job and showed up at No. 46 in our rankings. Then, after the Longhorns went 5-7, losing six of the last seven games (including to Kansas) and missing a bowl game for the first time since 2016, Sark rises seven spots in our rankings. I suppose landing a QB like Quinn Ewers and other transfers this offseason has some voters feeling more bullish on him than the results dictate. 2021 rank: 46 (+7)
Bret Bielema: This is an interesting spot to me. Bielema climbs four spots this year after going 5-7 in his debut season at Illinois, which is fair. Still, Bielema's ranking is a good indicator of how views differ between our voters regarding past accomplishments and what you can do in the future. I don't know how many coaches ranked ahead of Bielema have won three conference titles, but his last was at Wisconsin in 2012. I have a suspicion that if Bielema wins one Big Ten title at Illinois, let alone three, he'll fly into the top 10 in a hurry. Getting to back-to-back bowls there might catapult him to the top 25. 2021 rank: 42 (+4)
Jonathan Smith: CBS Sports voters have always been big fans of Smith, and that certainly wasn't going to change after he led the Beavers to their first bowl game since 2013. It's been a slow and steady climb for Smith, and his program recovered well from a step back during 2020 to get to a bowl and finish with a winning record in the Pac-12. It's the first time the Beavers have done that since 2012. 2021 rank: 56 (+19)
Greg Schiano: Schiano still gets plenty of respect from our voters for what he accomplished during his first stint at Rutgers, so it's funny to see him drop a couple of spots after leading Rutgers to a bowl game. Sure, Rutgers went 5-7 in the regular season and made the bowl game because Texas A&M had COVID-19 issues, but having Rutgers in the position to benefit from it was a major accomplishment. The 2022 season was the first time the Scarlet Knights won five games since going 8-5 during their first Big Ten season in 2014. 2021 rank: 34 (-2)
Sonny Dykes: I was interested in seeing where Dykes would debut, and I'm slightly surprised he starts this high. Dykes did well at SMU, going 30-18, but his time at Cal wasn't nearly as successful. During his four seasons there, the Bears went 19-30 and 10-26 in Pac-12 play. Of course, TCU is a much better fit for Dykes, as he's in an area he's very familiar with and is set up for more success in a rapidly changing Big 12. 2021 rank: n/a
Jeff Hafley: Hafley is establishing himself as the college football coach most casual fans of the sport probably don't know but the hipsters are all high on. He's gone 12-11 in his first two seasons at Boston College, and even though the Eagles fell from 5-5 in the ACC in 2020 to 2-6 last year, they did so while missing their starting QB for a large chunk of the season. He's got Boston College positioned to be an ACC dark horse this season. 2021 rank: 40 (+6)
Josh Heupel: This has nothing to do with Heupel specifically, but I smell some SEC bias here. Yes, Heupel exceeded expectations at Tennessee in his first year, putting together a fun offense and leading the team to a 7-6 mark and the Music City Bowl. However, if he'd done the same thing at a program in another Power Five conference, would it warrant a 19-spot climb? I'm skeptical. All that aside, he's the first Tennessee coach to finish his first season in Knoxville with a winning record since Lane Kiffin. Simply sticking around for a second season puts him ahead of schedule from that perspective! 2021 rank: 52 (+19)
Billy Napier: Napier is the highest-ranked new hire without previous Power Five experience (that's a mouthful), and it's not surprising. He comes to Gainesville having won two straight Sun Belt titles, and he claimed at least a share of the Sun Belt West title in all four seasons at Louisiana. That success, combined with prior stops at Alabama and Clemson respectively under Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, are just some of the reasons to have optimism for how things will go with the Gators. 2021 rank: n/a
Chris Klieman: As a Klieman hype man, I'm pleased to see my fellow voters coming on board. Klieman has been at Kansas State for three seasons, and his worst campaign was the pandemic year in 2020. In two "normal" seasons, he's gone 16-10, which keeps the program on pace from where it was under Bill Snyder. Now the question is whether Klieman can improve on it. 2021 rank: 37 (+6)
Jeff Brohm: Brohm's ranking has been a wild ride since he came to Purdue from Western Kentucky before the 2017 season. At the start, I was the high man on Brohm because I loved his offenses with the Hilltoppers, and my fellow voters began climbing onboard after two solid seasons to start at Purdue. We all backed off a bit following a 6-12 record over the next two seasons, but Purdue's 9-4 mark last season was the best of Brohm's tenure. It was also the first time Purdue had won nine games since 2003 when Joe Tiller was still on the sideline and Kyle Orton was throwing the ball all over the field. 2021 rank: 53 (+23)
David Shaw: Shaw has seen a steady decline in our rankings over the last few years. A coach once planted inside the top 10 has fallen out of the top 25. Shaw was still at No. 15 as recently as our 2020 rankings, but the Cardinal are only 11-19 since the start of the 2019 season. The good news is the Cardinal just put together a top-20 recruiting class after falling outside the top 40 last season. Hopefully, that's the start of a recovery in Palo Alto. 2021 rank: 24 (-5)
Chip Kelly: It took longer than most expected or hoped, but Kelly is coming off his best season at UCLA since returning in 2018. Last year, the Bruins went 8-4 and contended with Utah for a division title. They've since followed that up with one of the strongest transfer hauls in the country, but we'll see how expectations change now that Lincoln Riley is at USC. 2021 rank: 39 (+11)
Pat Narduzzi: I don't want to harp on it, but we've seen two SEC coaches climb at least 20 spots in our rankings this year after going 7-6 in 2021. Meanwhile, Narduzzi's Pitt Panthers go 11-3, win the ACC and reach a New Year's Six bowl, and he moves up just four spots? Granted, considering he was at No. 31 last year, Narduzzi doesn't have as much room to climb, but the difference in perception is comical. If the Panthers go 8-4 in 2022, is he going to plummet outside the top 40? 2021 rank: 31 (+4)
Mike Leach: Mike Leach is Mike Leach, and he's going to give you Mike Leach. There's been a familiar trend with him at each of his three coaching stops where things start somewhat slowly but keep building when given time. In his third year at Texas Tech, the Raiders improved to 9-5 and grabbed everyone's attention for the first time. It didn't happen until his fourth season at Washington State. In his second season at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs improved from 4-7 to 7-6. Are we on the verge of a breakthrough season? I don't know, but Leach will be back in the top 25 next year if we are. 2021 rank: 33 (+7)