2018 Final Ranking Of All 130 Head Coaches: How Good Were Their Seasons?

2018 Final Ranking Of All 130 Head Coaches: How Good Were Their Seasons?

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2018 Final Ranking Of All 130 Head Coaches: How Good Were Their Seasons?

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Wrapping up the 2018 season and moving on to 2019, here’s a final look and ranking of the job all 130 college football head coaches did.


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This might have been the craziest coaching carousel ever, with a whole slew of interesting moves – Kliff Kingsbury goes from fired to the NFL? Dana Holgorsen from West Virginia to Houston? Les Miles? Mack Brown? – but before diving into everything about the 2019 season, here’s one last look at how the coaches in 2018.

This is all very, very loosely based on opinions, expectations, who did the most with the least, and the least with the most.

This is NOT a ranking of how good or how talented each of these coaches are/were. This isn’t about who the best coaches are. This is a ranking on how good a job each coach did this season considering what each one had to work with and where things finished up.

If you were supposed to win your conference title, and didn’t, that’s a problem. If you weren’t supposed to do much and came up with a winning season and a bowl victory, boom.

Of course, as Bill Parcells famously said, you are what your record is. Start with that, throw in the schedules and talent level these guys had to work with, and …

130. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 115
2018 Record: 2-10

What would Louisville have been without Lamar Jackson? We just found out. The Cardinals went 2-10 with one win over Indiana State, and another over a miserable WKU team. Petrino was never able to fix the defensive glitch, and now, instead of the program freaking out about where he was going to go next, it’s welcoming in the Scott Satterfield era.

129. Clay Helton, USC

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 37
2018 Record: 5-7

There’s no such thing as rebuilding at USC. The program is bound by nothing, it’s loaded with talent most schools can’t even imagine getting, and it was coming off a Pac-12 Championship season. Worst of all, it was a miserable year for the Pac-12 South, and the Trojans still weren’t able to at least get to six wins.

Helton and the program are good enough to turn this all around in a big hurry, but if you’re the head coach of the Trojans, and your team was good enough to beat Washington State, you 1) don’t lose to UCLA, no matter what, and 2) you do NOT miss out on a bowl game.

128. Larry Fedora, North Carolina

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 91
2018 Record: 2-9

How bad was Fedora’s 2018 Tar Heel season? Mack Brown became a better option for the future of the program. From the offseason rants, to the 41-19 loss to East Carolina, to the 2-9 season, it was a hard-luck year in a whole lot of ways, but … you don’t lose 41-19 to East Carolina.

127. Randy Edsall, UConn

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 96
2018 Record: 1-11

Round Two of the Edsall era is having a rough time getting going. Being 1-11 is awful – with the one win coming against Rhode Island – but fielding one of the worst defenses in the 150 year history of college football took things down a few levels.

126. Chris Ash, Rutgers

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 87
2018 Record: 1-11

Don’t laugh, but this really was supposed to be a season and a team with bowl possibilities. Instead, the offense scored 17 points or fewer in each of the last 11 games – all losses. Things aren’t going well when you get blown out by Kansas, Buffalo and Illinois.

125. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 79
2018 Record: 5-7

To be fair, Laviska Shenault and seemingly the entire receiving corps got hurt, but all the team had to do was beat Oregon State at home, and it would’ve had six wins and been bowl eligible. Nope. MacIntyre couldn’t pull the team up out of the nosedive, going on a seven-game losing streak after starting 5-0.

124. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 24
2018 Record: 6-7

1) Old Dominion 49, Virginia Tech 35, and 2) the Hokie defense only occasionally showed up. When your entire season hinges on whether or not you can beat Virginia to trigger a game against Marshall to potentially go bowling to keep a 25-year streak alive – and then you lose that bowl to Cincinnati, a Group of Five program – you had a rough run.

123. Brent Brennan, San Jose State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 109
2018 Record: 1-11

The guy has got absolutely nothing to work with as he tries to build the program up. However, to go 1-11 in Year Two of the coaching run with an offense that scored 13 points or fewer six times wasn’t a sign of things improving in a hurry.

122. John Bonamego, Central Michigan

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 60
2018 Record: 1-11

No one loves Central Michigan more than Bonamego, and it was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding season, but the team beat Maine, and that was it. The offense never scored more than 24 points, and it scored 20 or fewer nine times.

121. Shawn Elliott, Georgia State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 40
2018 Record: 2-10

What the heck was that? The Panthers appeared to be rising up in Sun Belt after a terrific 2017, and then fizzled out very, very painfully. He went from winning a bowl to winning two games thanks to a defense that was too easily lit up.

120. Mike Jinks, Bowling Green

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 103
2018 Record: 3-9

Fired after a 1-6 start – the lone win came over Eastern Kentucky from the FCS – the defense was a total disaster. However, the offense was more interesting than Jinks received credit for.

119. Chad Morris, Arkansas

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 66
2018 Record: 2-10

Morris dropped into the job from SMU and forgot to bring the offense with him. The Hogs had a few interesting and competitive losses, but the one decent win was over … Tulsa? It wasn’t an easy schedule in a rebuilding first season, buuuuuut – if you’re going to go 2-10, score more than 260 points.

118. Tony Sanchez, UNLV

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 101
2018 Record: 4-8

Yeah, he lost his star QB Armani Rodgers midway through the season for a long stretch, but backup Max Gilliam turned out to be more than fine. This was finally supposed to be the big season under Sanchez when the program broke through, but it lost to San Jose State and got whacked by New Mexico 50-14.

117. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 9
2018 Record: 8-5

Everything was in place to be special. Best offensive line in the country? If it wasn’t, it was close. Doak Walker-winning running back? Yup. Decent enough defense to get by? It was more than that. Veteran quarterback, kicker, and coaching staff? Yeah, yeah, and uh-huh. Light and breezy non-conference schedule? Yeah, but … the Badger team that should’ve walked into another West title didn’t show up against BYU. Or in the loss to Northwestern. Or in a brutal streak-busting loss to Minnesota.

116. Bob Davie, New Mexico

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 113
2018 Record: 3-9

Quarterback injuries were a problem after a promising first half of the season, but after a really, really, really rough offseason, the school needed better than 3-9 with seven straight losses – including at home to Liberty – to close things out.

115. Everett Withers, Texas State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 117
2018 Record: 3-9

He just couldn’t ever get this thing going. The Bobcats only came up with three wins – all against the weak and the sad – and closed out second just seven points in each of the last three games. And now he won’t be head coaching the program for the rest of his life as the Jake Spavital era starts up.

114. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 106
2018 Record: 3-9

If you’re good enough to beat North Carolina 41-19 on the way to a 2-2 start … be better than 3-9. And now Montgomery is gone after dropping seven of his last eight games at a program that’s expected to be to be an American Athletic powerhouse.

113. Lovie Smith, Illinois

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 92
2018 Record: 4-8

You know how 2017 was supposed to be a stepping-stone to 2018 after undergoing all the growing pains from a big youth movement. Yeah, there were signs, but … no. It didn’t work, with a lame offense and a defense that gave up 46 points or more in six of the last nine games.

112. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 110
2018 Record: 4-8

While he was able to help the team improve late in the year, it was a horrendous season full of awful losses. Any Conference USA team good enough to whack around Virginia Tech and beat North Texas can’t lose to Liberty – 52-10 – Charlotte, East Carolina and Rice.

111. Mike Sanford, WKU

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 84
2018 Record: 3-9

It’s not fair, but he got only two seasons to work before getting the boot. Four of the nine losses came by three points or fewer, and he won his last two games, but that wasn’t good enough at a program used to dominating the Conference USA world.

110. Steve Campbell, South Alabama

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Record: 3-9

USA went a new direction after a 4-8 2017 season with little offense and without a whole lot of fun. In his first season, Campbell went 3-9 with an offense that scored 17 points or fewer six times.

109. Mike Bobo, Colorado State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 99
2018 Record: 3-9

The Rams lost four of their last five games in 2017, and lost their last five of 2018. Bobo had health issues before the season, and his team just never got going in a rebuilding campaign. The O scored 160 fewer points.

108. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 57
2018 Record: 3-10

What was that? The offense did next to nothing, there was a run of seven straight losses, and there was another loss to Army. Niumatalolo is way too amazing a head coach to win just three games.

107. Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 3
2018 Record: 5-7

The expectations might have been Conference USA Title or Bust, but at the very least, the Owls were supposed to go bowling. It was a struggle all season long, and with bowl eligibility on the line, losing at home to Charlotte was inexcusable.

106. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 68
2018 Record: 5-7

Getting rolled by BYU and Houston right out of the gate set the tone for a wildly disappointing year. Just when it seemed like things were about to kick in – like with a blowout over Oregon … nope. In a bad year for the Pac-12 South, everything was there to take the division, and Arizona didn’t.

105. Major Applewhite, Houston

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 81
2018 Record: 8-5

The Applewhite run finished with a resounding thud, getting into a strange argument with his superstar defensive tackle, Ed Oliver, and losing four of his last five games. Yeah, starting quarterback D’Eriq King got hurt, but that’s not why the Cougars lost to Army 70-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl.

104. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 46
2018 Record: 5-7

One of the all-time greatest coaches in the history of the sport should’ve gone out on a grander stage. His team was at least good enough to go bowling, and it should’ve been a whole lot more of a player in the Big 12 race.

103. Chip Kelly, UCLA

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Record: 3-9

He should probably be lower than this – he’s Chip freaking Kelly – considering the program wasn’t in shambles when he took over. So why isn’t he near the bottom? The Bruins got a whole lot better as the season went on, the offense started to click, and … he beat USC.

102. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 72
2018 Record: 5-7

1) He lost all his quarterbacks late in the season, 2) he’s now the Arizona Cardinals head coach, and 3) he’s Kliff Kingsbury, and you’re not, so (stick tongue out) … nyah. However, a coach worth that NFL gig should’ve been able to figure out a way to come up with one more win after a 5-2 start.

101. Willie Taggart, Florida State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 88
2018 Record: 5-7

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he should be lower, but other than the loss in the opener to Virginia Tech, the losses were to better teams, and the win over Louisville was the only game against an FBS team that didn’t go bowling. However, no matter what, if you’re the head coach at Florida State when the program doesn’t go bowling for the first time since 1981, you didn’t get the job done.

NEXT: 2018 Coach Season Rankings: No. 76-100

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