College Football Head Coaches: Ranking All 130 Seasons 2019

College Football Head Coaches: Ranking All 130 Seasons 2019

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College Football Head Coaches: Ranking All 130 Seasons 2019

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Wrapping up the 2019 college football season and moving on to 2020, here’s a final look and ranking of the job all 130 head coaches did.


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2019 Roundup: 5 Things We Learned
Final Grades For Every Team
Biggest Surprises, Disappointments
Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season
Bowl Grades For Ever Team, Conference
– CFN Final Rankings Opinion | Season
2020 First-Guess Top 25

There’s absolutely no patience anymore in the college football coaching world.

This year, Willie Taggart (Florida State), Chad Morris (Arkansas), and Chris Ash (Rutgers) were launched as the regular season went on, several other programs decided to go in interesting new directions, and a whole lot of no-name first-timers are about to get a whole lot of chances to start the 2020 season.

22 programs will have a new head coach this year – Deion Sanders isn’t among them – and yet Clay Helton is still at USC, and several other guys continue to hang on even with no success whatsoever over the last few seasons.

So how do you rank the jobs done by all 130 college football head coaches and their staffs?

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 of how good a job each coach did this season, how he adapted, how his team came through in big games, resumé accomplishments, and all the other parts that go into this weird profession.

If you were supposed to win your conference title, and didn’t, that’s a problem. If you weren’t supposed anything 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 expectations, schedules and talent level these guys had to work with, and …

130. Chad Morris, Arkansas

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 66 (at SMU)
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 119
2019 Record: 2-8

Morris got 22 games to work. His Hogs beat Tulsa last year, Colorado State this year, and that was it for the wins over FBS teams. It wasn’t just the lack of wins that gothic fired with two games to go, but it was inability to get the O going. That was supposed to be his thing.

The team wasn’t going to be great, but the attack had to show signs of life, and it only scored more than 27 points once. Losing to San Jose State was bad, but the 45-19 loss to WKU as part of the team’s nine-game losing streak to close things out was the straw that broke the coach’s tenure.

129. Dana Holgorsen, Houston

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 69
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 51
2019 Record: 4-8

He was the huge, shiny hire going from a solid situation at West Virginia to Houston, he had a team in place that won eight games and had dynamic QB D’Eriq King returning, and it was a total disaster. The 1-3 start led to King taking the rest of the year off – before moving on to Miami – and the team that should’ve pushed for the AAC title suffered gut punch after gut punch several close losses.

128. Tom Arth, Akron

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 0-12

It’s hard to have a worse first year as a head coach. Akron went from winning the MAC West in 2017, to just four wins in 2018, to absolutely nothing happening as the only winless FBS team this season. So why isn’t Arth dead last on the list? He didn’t have anything to work with.

127. Walt Bell, UMass

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 1-11

At least there was a win. The defense that was so miserable last year under Mark Whipple got even worse, giving up 44 points or more in every game but the 37-29 win over Akron. It’s going to be a long, long road to respectability, if that’s possible after failing to be competitive.

126. Dana Dimel, UTEP

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 94
2019 Record: 1-11

This is going to take a lot longer than anyone might like. Dimel took over an impossible situation, and he has now gone 2-22 in two years. His 2019 team beat Houston Baptist to start, and lost 11 straight with only one loss by a touchdown. The team just never got better.

125. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 110
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 112
2019 Record: 1-11

This was supposed to be a decent season for the Monarchs with plenty of promise and a manageable Conference USA schedule. They beat Norfolk State by three to start things out, and they just didn’t have any fortunate breaks. They battled hard and well in several good games, but they simply couldn’t win. Now it’s Ricky Rahne’s program to deal with.

124. Bob Davie, New Mexico

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 113
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 116
2019 Record: 2-10

The Lobos started 2-1, and that was it. They lost to Liberty, San Jose State, and a whole slew of other mediocre teams along the way in the nine-game losing streak.The season went through too many injuries, horrible defensive performances, and obviously worst of all, a tragic death late in the season. Now it’s up to new head coach Danny Gonzalez – and defensive coordinator Rocky Long – to turn this around.

123. Mike Locksley, Maryland

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 3-9

The offense certainly worked just fine in a 63-20 win over Syracuse on the way to a 3-2 start after a blowout at Temple. But the team fell off the map from then on, the offense scored 17 points or fewer in eight of the last ten games, and the defense allowed 40 points or more in five of the last nine games. On the plus side, Locksley won more games in his first year in College Park than he did in 2.5 seasons as the head coach at New Mexico.

122. Manny Diaz, Miami

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 6-7

Considering the talent that was in place, the experience on defense, the high-end transfers to help the overall cause, and the excitement from the hiring of Diaz, coming up with a losing season with a shut out Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech was a total disaster. Losing to FIU, Georgia Tech and Duke made it even uglier for a team that should’ve been in the ACC Championship.

121. Doug Martin, New Mexico State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 38
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 85
2019 Record: 2-10

The bowl-winning season of 2017 seems like a million years ago. An 0-9 start this year with no offensive identity was made a wee bit easier with two late wins over two miserable teams. Martin continues to fight the good fight, but this was his sixth season at NMSU with three wins or fewer in the last seven years.

120. Randy Edsall, UConn

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 96
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 127
2019 Record: 2-10

At least the Huskies doubled their win total. Edsall’s second run as the program’s head man isn’t working. Over the last two seasons he beat two FCS teams and only took out UMass. The D was slightly better than the 2018 version, but that’s not saying much.

119. Steve Campbell, South Alabama

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 110
2019 Record: 2-10

The team is getting worse. Campbell took over a 4-8 team, went 3-9 last year, and went 2-10 this season with an offense that didn’t do much of anything. There wasn’t a win over an FBS team until the season finale. Scoring 17 points or fewer seven times made for another painful year.

118. Chip Kelly, UCLA

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 103
2019 Record: 4-8

On the plus side, UCLA was one win better than it was in 2018 – but 4-8 is still horrendous considering this is Chip Freaking Kelly. At least last year’s team beat USC. This year, the Bruins started 1-5 – and needed an epic comeback for that one win over Washington State – began to turn things around with three straight wins, and then it all fell apart in the final few games. There was absolutely no consistency.

117. Dave Doeren, NC State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 70
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 38
2019 Record: 4-8

This was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year, but NC State isn’t supposed to be 4-8-bad at this point under Doeren. Even with all of the problems and concerns, the team was fighting through with a 4-2 start, and then it all came apart. The O was bad, the D was worse, and the Pack lost to mediocre team after mediocre team – and to Clemson 55-10.

116. Tony Sanchez, UNLV

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 101
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 118
2019 Record: 4-8

He just never on a hot streak. It always seemed like the Rebels were one good winning run away from finally making things work, but it never happened this year. The blowout win over Vanderbilt just served as a tease in a 1-8 run that put a nail in the coffin. However, as bad as things were, a rivalry win over Nevada on the road closed things out with a bang.

115. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 8
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 4
2019 Record: 4-8

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but … nothing worked. It battled well in losses to USC and Minnesota to start the season, and there was a win over Hawaii, and then … nothing worked. The defending Mountain West champs lost to Colorado State, Nevada, and San Jose State in a run of five losses in the final six games.

114. Scot Loeffler, Bowling Green

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 3-9

Loeffler gets a free pass in his first season as he tried to get things going in a bad situation. His offense only scored 192 points – he’s supposed to bring a dangerous attack – and there was only one win over the final six games, but the win over Toledo helped a bit. Give him another year.

113. Chris Ash, Rutgers

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 87
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 126
2019 Record: 2-10

He fought the good fight, but it just didn’t work. He tried everything, threw everything against the wall, and nothing happened with one of the nation’s worst offenses and only a little bit of fun early in the opener against UMass before he was fired.

112. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 21
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 4
2019 Record: 3-9

Just when it seemed like Northwestern was going to be a major player again and possibly be even better than its Big Ten West-winning 2018 version, the offense decided not to show up. The Cats were beaten up in the opener against Stanford, and that was it – they scored 15 points or fewer in seven of the first eight games, and that was the season. A win over Illinois was nice, but not enough – Fitzgerald and his staff never fixed the glitch.

111. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 111
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 16
2019 Record: 3-9

Okay, it’s Vanderbilt, so there are going to be years when things just don’t work. That’s fine – it’s the SEC, and sometimes the rest of the league is too good. Mason’s team lost to LSU, Georgia, Florida, UNLV … wait. And there’s the problem this year. Getting blown out by South Carolina and Ole Miss wasn’t okay. The team just wasn’t good, and losing to UNLV wasn’t okay.

110. Matt Wells, Texas Tech

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 74 (at Utah State)
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 18 (at Utah State)
2019 Record: 4-8

It was more of a risky hire than it seemed. Wells’ Utah State team rocked in 2018, but it didn’t beat anyone. There were quarterback health issues in the first season in Lubbock, the defense wasn’t great, and it was a rough run losing six of the last seven games.

109. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 68 (at Texas A&M)
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 106
2019 Record: 4-8

The first year at Arizona was disappointing with a 5-7 run and a loss to Arizona State. The second year was a disappointing 4-8 run and a loss to Arizona State. The Wildcats were 4-1 and clunked with seven straight losses with no defense, an O that got worse, and a whole lot of question marks going into 2020.

108. Jake Spavital, Texas State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 3-9

Spavital’s first season wasn’t anything special. The defense was a disaster, the offense sputtered, and outside of a 37-34 win over Georgia State, there wasn’t a lot of fun. Winning one of the last six games wasn’t a way to kick things off, but to be fair, it was a rebuilding year.

107. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 49
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 63
2019 Record: 4-8

Middle Tennessee is supposed to be a lock for bowl games now, and it should be in the Conference USA title hunt, Instead, the team came up with half of the wins of the 2018 team, and blew its shot at a bowl with losses to North Texas, Charlotte and Rice.

106. Scott Frost, Nebraska

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 2
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 79
2019 Record: 5-7

The preseason hype was overblown, but in Year Two the Huskers were at least supposed to be a bit of a factor. Instead, they lost five of their last six games, couldn’t win a close game against a good team – at least in the second half of the year – and they suffered another losing season. This isn’t how it was supposed to work.

105. Seth Littrell, North Texas

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 36
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 75
2019 Record: 4-8

QB Mason Fine was returning along with an offense that was supposed to be among the nation’s best. It was okay at times, but the team that should’ve played for the Conference USA title – or at least gone bowling – lost to Charlotte, Rice, and failed to beat anyone who was any good.

104. Gary Patterson, TCU

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 16
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 58
2019 Record: 5-7

What the heck was that? The team had a whole slew of problems in 2018 and still got to a bowl game and finished with a winning season. This team had most of the pieces in place to be among the three or four best teams in the Big 12 … nope. Winning two of the last eight games – and whiffing at home against West Virginia with a bowl on the line – wasn’t okay.

103. Frank Wilson, UTSA

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 52
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 87
2019 Record: 4-8

It just never got going under Wilson. The offense only improved a little bit, the only wins were against the true disasters in the FBS, and there was blowout after blowout after blowout in a year that never had much of a chance. It’ll be Jeff Traylor’s chance to pull off the rebuild.

102. Mike Bobo, Colorado State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 99
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 109
2019 Record: 4-8

It just hadn’t worked for a long, long while. There was a good burst of wins in the second half of the year, but dealing with injuries, a 1-5 start was too much to overcome. The Rams were far more competitive than they were in 2019, but it wasn’t close to being enough. CSU now welcomes in the Steve Addazio era.

101. Dino Babers, Syracuse

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 86
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 10
2019 Record: 5-7

Give Babers a whole lot of credit for his team not giving up in a hugely disappointing season. The offense struggled, the defense was a disaster at times, and double-digit losses to FSU, Boston College and Louisville ruined the season along with the excitement coming of a ten-win 2018.

NEXT: 2019 Coach Season Rankings: No. 76-100

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