College Football: The divers and risers in Head Coach Rankings

Kevin Jairaj/CFP Images/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj/CFP Images/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports /
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College football can be a tough business for many coaches. In the elite tier, the payoffs are substantial in compensation and prestige. Below the elite tier of college football head coaches, the profession can have ups and downs, sometimes resulting in rocky career paths.

At least once every season every FBS head coach is ranked by media sources. To an extent, the rankings are similar to report cards. Except for the coaches who received no rating in the prior year, the rankings of most coaches change and often the changes are considerable.

While there are several sources for coach rankings, in this case only Bill Bender’s from The Sporting News is used.

Explaining how the Sporting News rankings are calculated, Bender wrote,

"SN looks at a coach’s overall record, record at the current school and a three-year record to gauge that ranking. Of course, career accomplishments, program expectations and the old “this guy or this guy” arguments come into play, too. It’s not a perfect science, but it’s our science and we’ve been doing it longer than Saban’s reign at the top."

Alabama football fans will quickly note Bender’s explanation includes a reference to Nick Saban being No. 1 again. Just like last year, Saban is No. 1 and Kirby Smart is No. 2. Also in the rankings top 10 are two other SEC coaches. Brian Kelly was also unchanged at No. 6. Tennessee’s Josh Heupel leaped from a previous No. 27 to No. 10.

Heupel’s elevation is impressive, but other coaches advanced more. The big riser is Washington Huskies’ coach, Kalen DeBoer who moved from No. 61 to No. 23. Also jumping up is Duke’s Mike Elko who went from No. 79 to No. 44. Florida State’s Mike Norvell moved from No. 43 to No. 24. Dan Lanning of Oregon moved from No. 48 to No. 25. Gus Malzahn also went up, moving from No. 45 to No. 29.

Auburn fans will be displeased that Gus is ranked higher than Hugh Freeze at No. 38. Freeze did get a bump, moving from Liberty to Auburn took him up from No. 50.

Unsurprisingly, Sonny Dykes received a big boost from No. 42 to No. 11.

College Football Coaching ‘Divers’

It is unfair to call the next group losers, though some of them are called that by fans. Instead, they are coaches whose ranking dove down the list. Any of them could reverse the ranking direction next season.

Michigan State’s Mel Tucker went from No. 22 to No. 49. Former Another former Alabama football assistant, Mario Cristobal went from No. 11 to No. 34. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell went from No. 20 to No. 43.

Other SEC College Football Coaches

  • Jimbo Fisher dropped from No. 8 to No. 14
  • Mark Stoops dropped from No. 14 to No. 16
  • Lane Kiffin dropped from No. 16 to no. 20
  • Sam Pittman held steady at No. 28
  • Shane Beamer moved from No. 33 to No. 32
  • Billy Napier dropped from No. 32 to No. 45
  • Eli Drinkwitz dropped from No. 36 to No. 47
  • Clark Lea went up from No. 76 to No. 64
  • Zach Arnett entered the rankings at No. 71

Next. A 10-game SEC schedule will not happen, but it should. dark

A hat tip to Bill Bender and The Sporting News for good work. I do wish them to be embarrassed this time next year when the rankings for Josh Heupel and Hugh Freeze go down.