Ranking all 130 college football head coaches is an impossible task. However, as Athlon Sports has done for each of the last seven seasons leading up to the start of the upcoming year, we set out to sort out every FBS head coach from No. 1 to the bottom.
And as expected, for the seventh straight year, Alabama's Nick Saban takes the top spot. Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Clemson's Dabo Swinney are next, followed by Washington's Chris Petersen and TCU's Gary Patterson to round out the top five.
When evaluating and ranking all 130 coaches, we established a simple criteria: Everything is considered. This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.
Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn't have the resources of the nation's elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.
Every team has different built-in resources available, and hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. Those factors, along with career biography/resume, success in developing talent and landing prospects on the recruiting trail factored into the ranking. Additionally, how well programs value staff (is the head coach better as a CEO or hands-on approach) and the facilities or program resources matter into forming an outlook of how coaches have performed at different stops throughout their career.
Again, wins and the overall body of work to this point are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they have accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants -- only the head coach. And head-to-head wins or last year's position in the 130 coach list do not matter for this ranking.
Athlon's editorial staff has voted on a ranking of coaches for all 10 conferences and the six FBS Independent programs. Here are the results for 130 coaches for 2018:
2018 Coach Rankings
Ranking All 130 College Football Head Coaches for 2018
130. Sean Lewis, Kent State
At 31 years old, Lewis will be the youngest coach at the FBS level in 2018. While the Illinois native is short on experience, this is the right hire for a Kent State program that has just two winning seasons since 1988. Lewis began his coaching career in the collegiate ranks at Nebraska-Omaha in 2010 and spent one year at Akron as a graduate assistant (2011). He landed on Dino Babers’ staff at Eastern Illinois for two seasons (2012-13) and followed Babers to jobs at Bowling Green (2014-15) and Syracuse (2016-17). Lewis held the co-offensive coordinator title with the Orange for each of the last two years. Even though Lewis will need time to get acclimated as a head coach, the style of play and experience working under Babers should allow the Illinois native to help Kent State improve over the next few years.
129. Brent Brennan, San Jose State
Brennan inherited a program in need of major repair, so it was no surprise his debut resulted in a 2-11 season. Conference play wasn’t kind to San Jose State, as the Spartans lost five games by 20 or more points and notched their only Mountain West victory against Wyoming with quarterback Josh Allen injured and unable to play. Brennan was regarded as a good recruiter prior to his arr