football Edit

Three-point stance: Top five coaches, cooler seats, quick-hitters

Today’s edition ranks the top five coaches in college football, looks at coaches on the hot seat and includes some quick-hitters.

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Nick Saban (USA Today Sports)

Following Florida State’s win over Ole Miss, I tweeted that the Seminoles' comeback was a great example of why Jimbo Fisher is one of the top five head coaches in college football. Of course, that led to questions about who the other four are and what my order is. So here you go:

1. Nick Saban, Alabama – Not much to say here. Saban has won four national titles in seven seasons and has built a program that just reloads year after year. When Alabama isn’t playing for a national title, it’s considered a failure season.

2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State – After two national titles at Florida he came up north and won one at Ohio State. Meyer has compiled an array of talent over the last three seasonS unseen in the Big Ten in decades, if ever. I said when he was hired that Meyer was the only coach from the Big Ten who could break the string of Southeast programs winning it all and he did just that.

3. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – A national title is very nice and he has one, but how about the comebacks this guy leads? Since 2013 his teams are 6-1 when trailing by more than a touchdown at halftime. The rest of the mortal world? A combined .110 winning percentage in the same time frame. Few coaches make better in-game adjustments and get their kids to play harder from start to finish.

4. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State – Dantonio did the unthinkable at Michigan State: He made the Spartans the prominent program in the state of Michigan. Five of his last six seasons have seen 11 wins or more, including a run to the College Football Playoff last year. Perhaps the most impressive thing about his success is that Dantonio is not recruiting to a traditional power like his in-state foe or the guys above him on this list. He’s done an amazing job.

5. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan – Michigan fans might freak having their head coach fifth on this list and third in his own division, but the talent in the Big Ten coaching-wise is off the hook. Dantonio is 88-33 in his career while Harbaugh is 40-24 (San Diego doesn’t count), but what he did at Stanford with a program in ruins was amazing and the improvement Michigan showed last season and so far this season from what was left from Brady Hoke just shows what a great coach this guy is. He could be shooting up this list if he brings a natty to Ann Arbor as many think he will.


Charlie Strong (Getty Images)

Okay, so Les Miles' seat got a lot hotter after LSU's loss to Wisconsin on Saturday, but what about some of the other guys near the top of the list?

Kevin Sumlin’s Texas A&M team almost blew a late lead to UCLA but held on for an overtime win. The Aggies look like they have a talented quarterback leading the way after a run of recent quarterback departures and Sumlin starts the season beating a top 25 team.

Gus Malzahn may have tried to juggle three quarterbacks too much and got criticized for it, but his Auburn Tigers came within a touchdown of beating the No. 2 team in the country and that defense is awesome. If he can settle on a quarterback and get that offense rolling even a little bit, the Tigers could surprise some teams.

And, of course, Charlie Strong entered this season with many wondering if this was a make or break year for him. Now he’s downed a top 10 team and looks like he has a roster that believes, a quarterback who can throw the ball and a team that will compete in a Big 12 that isn’t as strong (no pun intended) as it was last season.

Sure, other coaches like Steve Addazio, Mark Stoops, Gary Anderson and Derek Mason didn’t help their causes with losses, but the two big wins for the coaches in Texas and even the loss at Auburn helped all three.


Josh Rosen (USA Today Sports)

I was remiss in Tuesday’s column by not mentioning how happy I was to see James Conner return from cancer treatment and get into the end zone. Time will tell whether he can be the same player he was in 2014 when he rushed for 1,765 yards, but regardless his return is an inspiration to millions. #ConnerStrong

Is it me or is the supporting cast around Josh Rosen at UCLA lacking? He struggled throughout the game and made some bad, bad decisions, but his offensive line looks awful, his receivers don’t seem to get separation and I was expecting more of an immediate impact from SoSo Jamabo who averaged just 4.0 yards-per-carry. Rosen will have his big games and put up some big-time stats, but the rest of the team doesn’t seem to match his talent level.

Dan Mullen kept Jeffery Simmons on his squad after the former five-star was caught on tape hitting a woman, and suspended Simmons for one insignificant game to start the season. Well it turns out that game wasn’t so insignificant as his team fell to South Alabama, a four-touchdown underdog from the Sun Belt given about a 2 percent chance to win according to ESPN. Butch Jones almost lost to a Sun Belt team and would have been immediately on the hot seat had that happened, so is it safe to say Mullen’s seat is not hot especially after the media outcry after keeping Simmons? Expectations in Starkville are different than Knoxville, so I don’t think he’s on a hot seat, but it could be a rough year for the Bulldogs based on this past weekend.

Does the SEC stink this year? Nope, but the quarterbacks sure appear to. The quarterback issue was a big question mark for me as I ranked the top signal-callers in the league and had trouble after the top two of Chad Kelly and Josh Dobbs. Kelly was very up-and-down for Ole Miss in the opener and Dobbs was simply awful. I liked what I saw from Trevor Knight and everyone was impressed with true freshman Jalen Hurts, but after that? Yuck.