College football head coach power rankings following spring ball – fitnessnacks

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    The 2024 college football season will be here before you know it and we are continuing to get you ready for the campaign with our post-spring rankings. This time the focus is on the head coaches, who are all chasing college football’s upper echelon tier. Among them will be Dan Lanning, Steve Sarkisian, and Kyle Whittingham.

    Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart has solidified himself among the elites in college football. Over recent years it was Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney who played second fiddle to the legendary Nick Saban. With the latter retiring over the offseason, there is an opportunity to become the next great head coach in college football.

    Criteria for the top 12 coaches:

    • On field performance
    • High school recruiting
    • Transfer portal recruiting

    Check out our top 12 coaches following spring football:


    Chris Klieman, Kansas State Wildcats

    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Chris Klieman left a dynasty at North Dakota State to try and build a winner with the Kansas State Wildcats. He got them back to the Big 12 title game in 2022, knocking off the TCU Horned Frogs. It seemed to be a continuation of what legendary head coach Bill Snyder started with the Wildcats. This could be a big year for Klieman as he looks to guild KSU to the CFP for the first time with an expanded field.


    Lance Leipold, Kansas Jayhawks

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    The Kansas Jayhawks are enjoying a meteoric rise over the last two seasons thanks for Lance Leipold. A man that won six national championships with his alma mater, Wisconsin-Whitewater. He then moved to Buffalo and won 24 games to just 10 losses over the last three seasons in a tough place to win. Leipold came to a similar situation with KU, winning in a place that hadn’t seen consistent success since the days of Mark Mangino. After going 2-10 in year one, the Jayhawks are 15-11 over the last two. Kansas, much like their Sunflower State rivals, have a shot to be the Big 12’s top team and they can thank Lance Leipold for what he has quickly built.


    Brian Kelly, LSU Tigers

    Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

    Brian Kelly wanted a new challenge and he certainly received that when left Notre Dame for the LSU Tigers. Still, he saw success going 20-7 in his first two seasons in the SEC and won the SEC West in year one over Alabama. History says that Kelly will win a title in the next two seasons with the Bayou Bengals, and being the active wins leaders in FBS shows that he knows a thing or two about coaching. This could be his toughest challenge after losing so much production from last year’s team including the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback.


    Mike Norvell, Florida State Seminoles

    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Three years ago it appeared that Mike Norvell was heading the same route as many other FSU coaches, on the way out. Fast forward to 2024 and Norvell has been one of the better coaches across the CFB landscape and is coming off a season where they secured the ACC title. One of the better coaches in utilizing the transfer portal, he has a chance to take the Noles back to the CFP in the upcoming season.


    Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss Rebels

    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels have been living off loading up the roster through the transfer portal and the 2024 team will be no different. The Rebels won a school-record 11 games last season and the roster is ready to challenge for the SEC title. For that to happen, Kiffin will need to find a way to compete with Georgia, Texas, and Alabama. This year the Rebels only draw Georgia in the regular season but likely have to play one of the three should they make it to Atlanta for conference title game.


    Kalen DeBoer, Alabama Crimson Tide

    Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA TODAY NETWORK

    It is never easy following a legend like Nick Saban but for the Alabama Crimson Tide they could have done much worse than Kalen DeBoer. A man who has won everywhere he has gone. He won three NAIA championships and had an impressive run at Washington with a roster in turmoil before his arrival. He won two Pac-12 titles and led the Huskies to a national championship berth. Now he takes over a Crimson Tide team that was bounced in the CFP Semifinals last season. With plenty of talent around him, this team should ready for another deep run in the expanded playoff.


    Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers


    There has been a bit of a fall from grace for Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers. Swinney was once viewed as the second-best head coach in college football behind Nick Saban. He has since been passed by Smart. Still Swinney is one of two active head coaches with multiple national championships, it is him and Kirby Smart. Quite an impressive list to be a part of. To climb back to the top of this list, Swinney needs to get back to the CFP after missing out each of the last three seasons.


    Ryan Day, Ohio State Buckeyes

    Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

    Even if Ryan Day was “born on third base” as former rival head coach Jim Harbaugh stated in reference to Day, the Ohio State Buckeyes coach has kept the Scarlet and Gray at the top of the college football world. Day has compiled a career record of 56-8 and came within a field goal of playing for a national championship in 2022. With five straight top 10 finishes, all that is missing is beating Michigan (who Day is 1-3 against) and securing another national title.


    Steve Sarkisian, Texas Longhorns

    Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

    Texas is back. And you can thank head coach Steve Sarkisian for that. After going 5-7 in year one and 8-5 in year two, the Texas Longhorns won the Big 12 title and marched to the College Football Playoffs. Despite losing a lot of talent to the NFL draft, Sark has replaced that talent by raiding the transfer portal. With Quinn Ewers returning for another season, UT looks ready to take the SEC by storm. With a matchup against Georgia, we will soon find out how “ready” the Burnt Orange is.


    Dan Lanning, Oregon Ducks

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    In two short years, Dan Lanning has become one of the top coaches with what he has done with the Oregon Ducks. While he has yet to win a conference title, Oregon has become one of the top teams to play for in college football. Lanning continues to load up the talent and it feels like a matter of time before he will hoist the national championship trophy. The Kirby Smart protégé is 22-5 and coming off a 12-win season. He will get the opportunity to prove his worth as part of a loaded Big Ten in 2024.


    Kyle Whittingham, Utah Utes

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    When it comes to consistency, Kyle Whittingham is the perfect example. He joined the Utah Utes in 1996 as an assistant and worked his way up to head coach. He took over in 2005 and is the second-longest tenured head coach. No one seems to do more with less. Whittingham has won two Pac-12 titles over the last three years beating very talented USC Trojans and Oregon Ducks rosters to earn those titles. The Utes should be in good shape to win the Big 12 in the upcoming season.


    Kirby Smart, Georgia Bulldogs

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    If there is one coach that has proven he was ready to take the mantle after Nick Saban’s retirement as the top coach it is Georgia’s Kirby Smart. During his tenure with the Bulldogs, Smart is 94-16 since 2016 and 5-1 in the College Football Playoffs. Even more impressive is his three-year run that Smart is currently on. Under his guidance, UGA is 32-2 with two national titles and a perfect 5-0 record on bowl games. Ironically enough, both of those losses came in the SEC title game against his former mentor, Nick Saban.

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