College football is a uniquely American sport. At the FBS level, 133 teams will compete during the 2023 season, up from 131 last year. It feels as if the number grows every season even though, at the end of the year, only one of those 133 teams will claim a national title -- and only four receive an invite to the College Football Playoff for a chance to claim it.
Perhaps that's why rankings are so important in this sport. When roughly 75% of the schools competing know they have no shot at winning it all before the season begins, you look for other landmarks to cling to.
"Sure, we didn't win the conference, but did you see the AP Top 25?"
"Yeah, no big deal, but a group of people who might've seen us play twice this year consider us the 21st-best team in the country. Jealous?"
Some will be! People need to know where they stand. It's a natural reaction related to our insecurity. Sure, your neighbor might make more money than you, and their kids are more intelligent than yours, but his college football team sucks. Yours is ranked in the top-15. Your neighbor wishes he was you.
We know you need rankings, so we've been ranking Power Five coaches at CBS Sports since the 2016 season. Every year our voters submit ballots ranking the coaches of the Power Five. There are no rules. You vote how you feel, from the best to the worst. No right answers; no wrong answers. In the end, we count the ballots, and we learn where each coach stands.
This year, these are the Power Five coaches who finished outside the top 25. The "Also Receiving Votes" coaches, if you will. While these are the rankings created by our team, I was tasked with explaining the positioning. In other words: Don't blame the messenger.
|Troy Taylor: I can't speak for every voter, but I know I have a simple method for the bottom of my ballot. You're going at the bottom if it's your season as a head coach. It works because it makes sense and keeps me from having to actually rank somebody as the worst coach. Taylor has head coaching experience, so he wasn't 69th on my ballot, but I guess my colleagues aren't as impressed by three straight conference titles at Sacramento State. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Zach Arnett: Arnett steps into an awful situation. It'd be one thing to replace a coaching legend if that coach had retired, but to try to fill Mike Leach's shoes after his unexpected death is an enormous task. He did get a win in Mississippi State's bowl game, though. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Brent Pry: It's never a great sign when you have a year under your belt, and you're ranked behind other newcomers. Pry drops a couple of spots in our rankings after a 3-8 debut at Virginia Tech. 2022 rank: 65 (-2)|
|Tony Elliott: Another first-year coach in Virginia falling, but Elliott's Cavaliers team ended its year with heartbreak. Three members of Virginia's team (D'Sean Perry, Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr.) were shot and killed in a mass shooting on campus in November. It led to the cancellation of Virginia's final two games after a 3-7 start. 2022 rank: 60 (-6)|
|Kenny Dillingham: Capping a successful career as an offensive coordinator, Dillingham helped Bo Nix take a significant step forward with the Oregon Ducks last season. Now, he gets to lead his alma mater as the 33-year-old replaces Herm Edwards at Arizona State. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Ryan Walters: As Illinois' defensive coordinator, Walters helped turn around the Illini under Bret Bielema, coordinating a unit that was matched only by Georgia and Alabama last season. He moves about 90 minutes east of Champaign but stays in the Big Ten, replacing Jeff Brohm (who left for Louisville) at Purdue. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Brent Key: After stepping in for the fired Geoff Collins last season, Key, a former Yellow Jackets right guard, earned enough support after going 4-4 as an interim coach to remove the tag and make him the permanent coach. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Tom Allen: It's been a long fall for Allen. He rocketed up the charts after Indiana went 14-7 over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, reaching as high as No. 20 in our 2021 rankings. Now, he's down to No. 62 after going 6-18 the last two years. 2022 rank: 40 (-22)|
|Jedd Fisch: I'm a little surprised Fisch didn't get a boost. He took over an Arizona team that had gone 1-16 over two seasons and immediately went 5-7 in his debut campaign. I guess our voting panel didn't stay up late enough on Saturdays to see it. 2022 rank: 61 (+0)|
|Jeff Hafley: The last two seasons at Boston College, Hafley received a lot of credit from our voters for punching above his weight, but his first season without a bowl appearance sent him plummeting. All I'll say at this point (I'll say more as we go on!) is that there seems to be an awful lot of bias toward coaches in certain conferences. 2022 rank: 34 (-26)|
|Neal Brown: I'm somewhat surprised Brown is still in our rankings. After the Mountaineers went 5-7 last season, there was some speculation Brown could lose his job as the program hasn't been able to break through in his four years. He drops seven spots in our rankings, but he'll get one more crack at it. 2022 rank: 52 (-7)|
|Justin Wilcox: There may not be a harder place to coach in the Power Five right now than Cal. Not only are you trying to recruit to a school with higher academic standards in the transfer portal era, but you're doing so at a place with members of the administration who believe the program shouldn't even exist! That can't be fun. Wilcox had gone 20-18 in his first three seasons at Cal but is only 10-18 since the COVID-19 season of 2020. I don't think that's a coincidence. 2022 rank: 44 (-14)|
|Jake Dickert: After going 3-3 as the interim coach in 2021, Dickert seemed like a logical hire for Washington State and his first full season supported that idea. The Cougars went 7-6 last year and reached a bowl game, enough to bump Dickert up a few spots here. 2022 rank: 63 (+6)|
|Clark Lea: After going 2-10 (0-8 SEC) in his debut season at Vanderbilt, Lea led the Commodores to a 5-7 record and two SEC wins last season. That's the kind of progress you want to see, but it was only worth a one-spot bump in our rankings. This is shocking to me because SEC coaches move up in these rankings after having worse seasons than the one they had the year before. 2022 rank: 57 (+1)|
|Deion Sanders: I figured Deion's name recognition would give him a boost, and I was right. I had him in the bottom five of my ballot due to his lack of Power Five and FBS coaching experience, but I also think he has a much higher ceiling than the other first-year coaches in the class. Whatever happens in Boulder, it'll be interesting to follow. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Scott Satterfield: Perhaps the fact that Satterfield fell 11 spots in these rankings is why he seemed so eager to leave Louisville for the opening at Cincinnati. Satterfield has had plenty of success in his career, but he didn't have nearly enough of it with the Cardinals. 2022 rank: 43 (-11)|
|Dino Babers: When Syracuse went 1-10 during the 2020 season, we wondered if Babers' time at Syracuse had run its course. The 10-3 season of 2018 seemed like an outlier. However, while the Orange haven't reached those heights, they've rebounded nicely in the last couple of years. They went 7-6 last season and got back to a bowl for the first time since that 2018 season. Babers gets a little boost because of it. 2022 rank: (+3)|
|Brent Venables: After Lincoln Riley shocked the world with his move to USC, Venables said all the right things when he returned to Norman, Oklahoma, but not much went right afterward. Not only did Riley take a lot of key players with him to USC, but the Sooners dealt with injuries to key players all year. Hopefully, Venables' second season will provide fewer challenges. 2022 rank: 45 (-7)|
|Eli Drinkwitz: The good news for Drinkwitz is the Tigers have reached a bowl game in all three of his seasons at the school. The bad news is they haven't won more than six games in any of those seasons. He drops five spots after a second consecutive 6-7 season saw him fall to 17-19 overall at Mizzou. 2022 rank: 46 (-5)|
|Greg Schiano: It feels like our voters were giving Schiano the benefit of the doubt for a while because we understood the challenges of Rutgers and known he'd had success there before. Unfortunately, we haven't seen significant promise in his three seasons. The Scarlet Knights are only 6-20 against Big Ten opponents the last three years, and half of those wins came in Schiano's first season back. 2022 rank: 36 (-14)|
|Mike Locksley: I don't think Locksley is getting enough credit from our panel. He's improved Maryland's win total in each season (not including the shortened COVID-19 campaign) and is doing so in one of the toughest divisions in the sport. Maryland's eight wins last year were the most it's had in a season since 2010 when Ralph Friedgen was in charge. That's only worth only a one-spot jump? 2022 rank: 50 (+1)|
|Dana Holgorsen: With Houston moving to the Big 12, Holgorsen is our first coach from the four new schools to join the Power Five this season. Of course, this will not be Holgo's first foray into the big-time as he went 61-41 at West Virginia. Aside from the 12-2 season in 2021, his tenure at Houston has been mostly underwhelming. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Mel Tucker: Tuck fallin'. Tucker finished last season at No. 24 in our rankings as the Spartans were coming off an 11-2 season that saw them reach the Peach Bowl. Last year, Sparty didn't have nearly the same level of success in the transfer portal and didn't reach a bowl at all, finishing 5-7. As a result, Tuck dropped significantly. 2022 rank: 24 (-23)|
|Joey McGuire: I was skeptical of the McGuire hire at Texas Tech, but I've quickly come around after one season. My fellow voters seem even higher as he climbed 16 spots up to No. 46 after an 8-5 record last season. More importantly, Tech's 5-4 mark in the Big 12 was the first time it finished a season with a winning record in the league since Leach's final season in 2009. Three coaches have tried and failed to do so, and McGuire did it in his first year. 2022 rank: 62 (+16)|
|Pat Fitzgerald: In 2020, Northwestern went 7-2, won the Big Ten West and played in the Big Ten Championship Game. It was the school's second division title in three years, and Fitzgerald was ranked No. 8 in our coach rankings. A 3-9 mark saw him drop to No. 21 last season. A 1-11 record sees him plummet 24 spots to No. 45. That's the largest drop of any coach in this year's poll. It seems excessive to me, but defending a 4-20 record over two seasons is hard. 2022 rank: 21 (-24)|
|Mike Elko: Speaking of coaches at smaller private schools, Elko is heading in a different direction than Fitzgerald. I can't imagine many people were predicting a 9-4 record in Elko's first year in charge of the Blue Devils, but that's what happened, and it led to a quick 20-spot jump. 2022 rank: 64 (+20)|
|Billy Napier: If you knew Florida would have a QB that would be drafted No. 4 in the NFL Draft before last season began, you probably would've predicted a season better than the one the Gators had in Napier's debut. Florida went 6-7, winning only three SEC games and finishing the year with an embarrassing 30-3 loss to Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl with most of its star players (including that QB) sidelined. It's no surprise Napier's stock took a hit here. 2022 rank: 32 (-11)|
|Sam Pittman: The Head Hog stays on the rollercoaster ride here. Pittman was ranked No. 50 after going 3-7 in 2020 and climbed 30 spots to No. 20 after going 9-4 last year. Now, after finishing 7-6 in 2022, he falls 20 spots. It seems extreme, but I'd argue he climbed too high last year and this is simply things normalizing. 2022 rank: 22 (-20)|
|Kalani Sitake: The 2023 season will be BYU's first in the Big 12, but the Cougars have played schedules featuring plenty of Power Five opponents under Sitake. They've gone 56-34 in Sitake's seven seasons. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Shane Beamer: The Gamecocks improved by one victory in Beamer's second season, and he climbs a spot in our rankings. Seems fair to me. While I believe this assessment is fine, I'm a little surprised he didn't receive a bigger bump. 2022 rank: 41 (+1)|
|Mario Cristobal: It shouldn't surprise anybody that after a season that saw Miami lose at home to Middle Tennessee and suffer four losses of 24+ points, Cristobal's stock took a hit. Did he forget how to do everything that helped him win 35 games in four seasons at Oregon and put him at No. 19 last year? I doubt it, but there's no denying he's off to a rough start in Coral Gables. 2022 rank: 19 (-20)|
|Marcus Freeman: As I said, I start first-year coaches at the bottom of my ballot. That's what I did with Freeman last year. My fellow voters disagreed, and he began at No. 49. Losses to Marshall and Cal are great examples of why I take a wait-and-see approach, but the Fighting Irish won six of their last seven while dealing with QB injuries, so Freeman finished his first season on a high note. 2022 rank: 49 (+11)|
|Steve Sarkisian: What happens if Quinn Ewers doesn't get hurt against Alabama? Where does Texas finish, and where is Sark ranked in this alternate universe? We'll never know. Instead, the Longhorns went 8-5 but were never serious contenders in the Big 12, so Sark moves up two spots and nothing more. 2022 rank: 39 (+2)|
|Dan Lanning: There's plenty to be optimistic about following Lanning's first season as coach. Not only did the Ducks win 10 games, but they rebounded from a 49-3 beatdown from Georgia to open the season by picking up wins over ranked UCLA and the Utah team that won the conference. They're likely to start 2023 around the top 10, and Lanning begins the season creeping a lot closer to the top 25 himself. 2022 rank: 54 (+18)|
|Matt Campbell: OK, here's how these rankings work. When you win more games than you should at a school nobody expects to win a lot of games, you rocket up the rankings. But if you dare have one subpar season and fail to live up to the expectations you set, you will be punished severely. Campbell is the latest example. So what if he's responsible for the most successful run in program history? He went 4-8 last year. He stinks now. Just in case it isn't clear, I am not criticizing Campbell with these comments. I'm criticizing my colleagues. 2022 rank: 12 (-23)|
|Gus Malzahn: The former Auburn coach returns to our rankings as UCF joins the Big 12, and The Gus Bus still gets plenty of respect for what he accomplished in the SEC. Malzahn is 18-9 in his two seasons with the Knights. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Jeff Brohm: After leading Purdue to its first Big Ten West title last season, Brohm left for his alma mater. Maybe that's why he dropped three spots? Brohm was 36-34 in his six seasons with the Boilermakers but 17-9 the last two seasons with a 12-6 record in the Big Ten. Louisville's hoping for more results like that in the ACC. 2022 rank: 30 (-3)|
|Jonathan Smith: The former Oregon State QB has things headed in the right direction in Corvallis. After going 9-22 in his first three seasons, Smith's Beavers are 17-9 the last two years and just won 10 games for the first time since 2006. I can't wait to see how far he falls if he only wins eight games next year. 2022 rank: 37 (+5)|
|Kalen DeBoer: It was a wonderful introduction for DeBoer at Washington. He was hired away from Fresno State after going 12-6 in two years with the Bulldogs, and he nearly matched that win total in his first year with the Huskies. Washington won 11 games last year. It's the most in a season since Chris Petersen led the program to the College Football Playoff in 2016. 2022 rank: 51 (+20)|
|Kirk Ferentz: Man, somebody out there really hates Ferentz. I had him at No. 12 on my ballot, so he had to be quite low on others to drop to 30. I have no idea what Ferentz did to warrant a drop of 17 places. The Hawkeyes went 8-5 last year, which is basically the same thing they've done the last 20 years. That kind of consistency had Ferentz ranked high in the first place. Another coach in our top 25 went from 10 wins in 2021 to eight in 2022 and climbed four spots. 2022 rank: 13 (-17)|
|Pat Narduzzi: Earning respect from our voters is not easy for Narduzzi. Last year, I remarked that Narduzzi climbed only four spots in our rankings to No. 27 after reaching the ACC Championship and a New Year's Six bowl. Meanwhile, two SEC coaches jumped at least 20 spots for going 7-6. This year, Narduzzi follows an 11-3 season with a 9-4 year despite losing his Heisman Trophy finalist QB and drops two spots! 2022 rank: 27 (-2)|
|Dave Aranda: It's no surprise to see Aranda fall out of the top 25. He probably got too much credit in our rankings last year following a 12-2 season and a Sugar Bowl appearance. However, after going 6-7 in 2022, that season is the only winning year Aranda has had in Waco. I'm still a fan and expect more winning seasons in the future, but this is a pretty fair spot for now. 2022 rank: 11 (-17)|
|Matt Rhule: We've got a run on Baylor coaches! Rhule returns to the college game after not faring well with the Carolina Panthers, but our voters still respect him for what he did in college. He took over programs at Temple and Baylor that were in rough situations and quickly turned things around. If he has Nebraska winning 10 games by his third season the way he did at his previous stops, he will be in the top 15 at a minimum. 2022 rank: n/a|
|Hugh Freeze: Welcome back, Hugh, but you'll have to wait at least a season before you crack the top 25. He's polarizing, sure, but Freeze's dismissal at Ole Miss had nothing to do with the results on the field. Those were just fine. They continued in his four seasons at Liberty, and now he's back in the SEC. 2022 rank: n/a|