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


50. Chris Klieman, Kansas State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 8-5

It would’ve been nice to have closed it out with a Liberty Bowl win over Navy, but the eight-win first season was a terrific first step with a win over Oklahoma and a blowout over Kansas. Kansas State looked like Kansas State again.

49. Sonny Dykes, SMU

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 81
2019 Record: 10-3

Dykes had the the offense working at a level at a ridiculous level over the first ten games of the season, but after all the fun of one of the greatest seasons in school history, there wasn’t a trip to the ACC Championship, and the blowout Boca Raton Bowl loss Florida Atlantic soured the run.

48. Nick Saban, Alabama

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 10
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 21
2019 Record: 11-2

Of course he’s still one of the best coaches in college football, but this was a two-game regular season, and his team lost both of them.

Did Alabama beat anyone who was all that great? Not until the Citrus Bowl against Michigan. The best regular season win was over Texas A&M. The second-best was over Tennessee. Yippee.

Did the team have more talent than anyone else? Get ready for the avalanche in the next two NFL drafts. Did it win at home against LSU? No, but that wasn’t a deathblow if it could’ve finished 11-1.

It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but at this point, either Bama wins the national title, or it doesn’t. It didn’t get the chance because it couldn’t beat Auburn – finished off by a disastrous game-sealing penalty.

47. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 82
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 68
2019 Record: 10-3

The Bulldogs beat absolutely nobody, until it beat somebody big. Holtz wasn’t quite able to navigate the team through a few key games when some main players were suspended, but no one will remember that they didn’t play for the Conference USA title. They’ll remember the 14-0 win over Miami in the Independence Bowl.

46. Tom Allen, Indiana

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 77
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 74
2019 Record: 8-5

Forget about how the season ended in the gut-wrenching Gator Bowl loss to Tennessee. Allen finally got the team past Purdue, he finally got a bowl appearance, and he did it with a strong team that battled most of the big boys hard.

45. Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 93
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 35
2019 Record: 7-6

Lunsford was still able to make it a winning season with a bowl appearance even though the offense didn’t work like it was supposed to. Georgia Southern was the only team able to beat Appalachian State, and it got the job done in a blowout win over rival Georgia State.

44. Craig Bohl, Wyoming

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 44
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 76
2019 Record: 8-5

Who needs an offense? Wyoming did in a few key losses, but the great defense was enough to finish with eight wins, closing out with a dominant performance over Georgia State in the Arizona Bowl. Four of the five losses were by a total of 15 points.

43. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 24
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 124
2019 Record: 8-5

After a disappointing year, Fuente was able to rebuild things a bit, made the right call at quarterback over the finishing kick, and he got back to a winning season. However, as good as the season was at times, the Virginia Tech head man can’t lose to Virginia – even if it was a thriller.

42. Justin Wilcox, Cal

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 56
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 40
2019 Record: 8-5

There were too many problems in the middle of the season, and his offense didn’t get going until the bowl win over Illinois, but it was a bowl win – he got the program to a post-season game. His team got by Washington, and as the Cal coach, beating Stanford is massive.

41. Kirby Smart, Georgia

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 11
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 46
2019 Record: 12-2

It’s sort of harsh to not give more respect to the guy who coached the team that finished fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings for the second year in a row, but the offense never really got going, and his Dawgs might have been No. 4 if his team didn’t blow it at home against a bad South Carolina team.

40. Rocky Long, San Diego State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 43
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 86
2019 Record: 10-3

So he wanted to quit after ten wins, a blowout victory in the New Mexico Bowl, and after coming so, so close to coaching for the Mountain West title? Okay, but he leaves – and takes the New Mexico defensive coordinator job – after pitching a defensive masterpiece. No team scored more than 23 on his Aztecs, and only two teams scores more than 17.

39. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 53
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 22
2019 Record: 10-3

The three losses were to Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin – two of them on the road – but a grand total of 14 points. Without a ton of offensive pop, the Iowa style kept on working right up until the destruction of USC in the Holiday Bowl. A ten-win season is always terrific.

38. Shawn Elliott, Georgia State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 40
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 121
2019 Record: 7-6

Elliott would’ve been in the top 40 on the shocking win at Tennessee alone, but after a miserable 2-10 season in 2018, taking the team to a bowl game cemented the spot. Losing four of the last five games, and getting blown out by Georgia Southern, keeps him from going any higher.

37. Hugh Freeze, Liberty

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 8-5

He started out coaching from his hospital bed, and he ended up with a Cure Bowl win over Georgia Southern. It was a big breakthrough season for a program that’s just getting started – and with a blast of an offense.

36. Chuck Martin, Miami University

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 104
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 73
2019 Record: 8-6

His team won the MAC Championship. It wasn’t pretty, it struggled at times, and there were plenty of wins over bad teams, but that’s what getting through the MAC season is all about. 8-6, a bowl trip, and a championship – he did a great job.

35. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 11
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 76
2019 Record: 11-3

He probably deserves more love than this, but his team didn’t beat anyone who was all that great. It got to the Pac-12 Championship with a shot at the CFP there for the taking, and it got rolled by Oregon. Not showing up against Texas in the Alamo Bowl wasn’t okay, but … two straight trips to the Pac-12 title game.

34. Jim McElwain, Central Michigan

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 112
2018 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2019 Record: 8-6

He took a 1-11 team to 8-6 and into the MAC Championship. CMU lost to Miami University and got rolled by San Diego State in the New Mexico Bowl, but he pulled off the best one-year turnaround by anyone this year.

33. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 9
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 117
2019 Record: 10-4

It’s not his fault the offense kept turning the ball over late in the loss to Illinois and against Oregon in the Rose Bowl. However, Wisconsin got to the Big Ten Championship and got to make the trip to Pasadena. All things considered, that appears to be the hard-ceiling for Wisconsin – that’s as good as the program can do.

32. James Franklin, Penn State

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 41
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 15
2019 Record: 11-3

Franklin’s team lost on the road to Minnesota and Ohio State, and it had chances in the fourth quarter to pull each one out of the fire. There was close win after close win on the way to the Cotton Bowl, and everything clicked offensively against Memphis. 11-2 in the Big Ten East is always outstanding.

31. Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 3
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 107
2019 Record: 11-3

Before taking the Lane Train to Ole Miss, Kiffin came up with a second phenomenal year in the last three, and it all came after getting blown out by Ohio State and UCF to kick things off. The Owls went 11-1 the rest of the way and obliterated UAB in the Conference USA title game. He wasn’t around for the blowout win over SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl, but the wheels of the train were already in motion.

30. Josh Heupel, UCF

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 13
2019 Record: 10-3

You can’t go unbeaten every season. Heupel lost two quarterbacks, ended up starting a freshman, and kept the offensive fun going. Yeah there were three losses – the Tulsa game wasn’t okay – but without the AAC title and New Year’s Six to play for, the team could’ve lost interest. Nope … it dominated USF and blew out Marshall to close out.

29. Bill Clark, UAB

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 8
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 19
2019 Record: 9-5

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Clark was able to get the program up and running again in 2017, but this was something different. This was getting proving there’s staying power, and he did that on the way to the Conference USA Championship game. The season didn’t end all that well with two blowout losses, but UAB still gets graded a bit on a curve.

28. Gus Malzahn, Auburn

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 28
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 82
2019 Record: 9-4

How many coaches had a bigger effect on the national championship chase? With a true freshman at quarterback and an offensive style that goes against his type, Auburn beat Oregon to start the season – that ended up being a massive deal – and … 48-45 over Alabama, 48-45 over Alabama, 48-45 over Alabama, 48-45 over Alabama. You’ve done your job as the AU head man if you’re able to beat Alabama and keep it out of the College Football Playoff.

27. Billy Napier, Louisiana

2017 Final Coach Ranking: Not Ranked
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 48
2019 Record: 11-3

So his team couldn’t beat Appalachian State – that’s nothing to get into a twist over this year. The offense was fantastic, the defense stepped it up, and the Ragin’ Cajuns pulled off an 11-win season with a win over MAC champion Miami University in the Mobile Alabama Bowl.

26. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

2017 Final Coach Ranking: 26
2018 Final Coach Ranking: 59
2019 Record: 8-5

Keep in mind he’s coaching at Wake Forest. He doesn’t have the talent of other ACC teams, but the offense was a blast in a 5-0 start, and the team was able to get to a solid bowl game. It might have been a loss to Michigan State in the Pinstripe, and it was a rough finish with four losses in the last five games, but he made the team a thing in September.

NEXT: 2019 Coach Season Rankings: No. 11-25

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