Personalities and college football experts on SiriusXM College Sports Nation ranked the nation’s top 16 quarterbacks, running backs, coaching staffs, defenses, head coaches, mascots, stadiums, uniforms and fan bases and you can hear in-depth analysis on College Sports Nation, Ch. 84.
Among those taking part are former Alabama national championship quarterback Greg McElroy, former Miami and North Carolina head coach Butch Davis, College Football Hall of Famer Lou Holtz, hosts Chris Childers, Chris Carlin, Mark Packer, myself as well as producers Mike Garvin, Dan Bezilla and Regina Ham, in a collection of expert polls titled #SXMTop16.
Today, we take a look at the game's top coaching staffs. Chime in with your rankings!
It begins with The Don of College Football Nick Saban but it ends with the best support staff in the game today. In between is arguably the best combination of coordinators in college football with Lane Kiffin and Jeremy Pruitt as well as talented recruiters Tosh Lupoi and Mario Cristobal.
2. Ohio State
Urban Meyer is as good as it gets, but he’s also done a fantastic job replacing rising stars Tom Herman and Chris Ash. Greg Schiano and Luke Fickell are studs on the defensive side while Larry Johnson is an ace recruiter and excellent D-Line coach. The offensive staff should benefit from another year together (and J.T. Barrett starting from Week 1).
Swapping Chad Morris for co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott created some doubt for the Tigers last fall. But those two — and a healthy Deshaun Watson — are now running THE best offense in the game today. Brent Venables has resurrected his career at Clemson and will have his hands full with another rebuild this fall. And there’s never a dull moment in any locker room when Robbie Caldwell is there. This group needs to finish what it started last fall to justify its lofty ranking on this poll.
Bob Stoops reinvented himself last fall with the hiring of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. And packaged with DC Mike Stoops, the Sooners boast one of the best coordinator combos in the nation. Toss in experienced position coaches like Tim Kish and Kerry Cooks and Oklahoma boasts one of the best top-to-bottom staffs in the nation.
Jim Harbaugh lost his defensive coordinator to a head coaching job at a Power 5 school and he might have upgraded. That’s how highly revered Don Brown is at running a defense. In fact, the Wolverines might have the best defensive staff in the nation with Brown, Greg Mattison, Michael Zordich and Chris Partridge all on one side of the ball. Jedd Fisch, Jay Harbaugh and Tim Drevno round out a quality offensive staff as well.
Podcast: Ranking the Conferences in 2016
Losing longtime defensive line coach Randy Hart this year hurts this staff, but David Shaw turns to Lance Anderson, Diron Reynolds, Peter Hansen and Duane Akina to continue Stanford’s elite defensive tradition. The offensive staff isn’t as star-studded but Mike Bloomgren, Tavita Pitchard, Lance Taylor and Morgan Turner know how to develop talent – and what to do with No. 5.
7. Michigan State
Replacing Pat Narduzzi wasn’t easy but Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel proved plenty capable in their Big Ten championship debut as co-defensive coordinators. Jim Bollman and Dave Warner don’t overthink things on offense either. Loyalty and stability is big part of what has made Mark Dantonio’s staff so successful.
Reinvention is a difficult thing for old football coaches to do but Gary Patterson did it to perfection when he hired Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham to run his offense two years ago. Jarrett Anderson will earn his money this fall with a rebuilt offensive line this summer, but he has been in Fort Worth for 19 years. On defense, there are no real concerns as long as GP is running the ship. Coordinator Chad Glasgow and D-Line coach Dan Sharp have been at TCU for a combined 40 years in various roles.
9. Notre Dame
Don’t be distracted by the mustache, Brian VanGorder knows how to coach defense. Brian Kelly also has Bob Elliott, Keith Gilmore, Mike Elston and Todd Lyght helping out on the defensive side. Meanwhile, Mike Sanford and Mike Denbrock are more than enough to assist in the offense.