Which team has the best QB-Head Coach combination?
Elite leadership on the field and elite leadership on the sideline can carry a team to a division or conference championship. Not too many teams have won national championships without high-level talent at both positions.
Here are the best 25 quarterback-head coach combinations in college football in 2015:
1. Ohio State: Urban Meyer-Cardale Jones
Meyer might be the top coach in the land right now and no quarterback is hotter than Jones — be it on social media, in the playoffs or in the 2016 NFL Draft prospect rankings. The defending national champs are a default No. 1 until someone knocks them off. This is the best coach and quarterback in the Big Ten entering the season.
2. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen-Dak Prescott
Mullen has worked minor miracles in Starkville, reaching unprecedented heights at Mississippi State. Prescott is a second-team All-American and the best quarterback in the SEC. He may also be a first-round pick like only a few others on this list.
3. Michigan State: Mark Dantonio-Connor Cook
Few players and coaches mesh better from a personality and schematic fit. Cook embodies all that is Spartans football, is a natural leader and one of the top NFL prospects at his position. Big numbers and an upset of the Buckeyes could cement his legacy in Michigan State lore. This is the No. 3-ranked coach and No. 2-ranked quarterback in the Big Ten this fall.
4. TCU: Gary Patterson-Trevone Boykin
Ranked behind only Art Briles and Bill Snyder in the Big 12, Patterson reinvented himself last year by shaking up the offense and the result was a near Playoff berth and the creation of an All-American quarterback. Boykin accounted for 4,608 yards of total offense, good for fourth nationally last year and the top returning number in college football.
5. Penn State: James Franklin-Christian Hackenberg
The numbers and production won’t match this lofty ranking. However, Hackenberg could easily be the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and Franklin achieved things at Vanderbilt that no coach in school history had ever accomplished. If the O-line and running game come around, these two could soar through the Big Ten this year.
6. USC: Steve Sarkisian-Cody Kessler
Coach Sark is ranked as just the ninth-best coach in the Pac-12 but that is mostly due to the tremendous depth of talent this league has on its sidelines. Kessler is the most underrated player in the nation and the best signal-caller in a league stacked with great QBs. Should this duo win the Pac-12 or land in the Playoff, Sarkisian will move up the Pac-12 rankings.
7. Auburn: Gus Malzahn-Jeremy Johnson
Malzahn is a genius and is ranked ahead of multiple coaches with national championships in the SEC right now. Johnson, meanwhile, is poised for a huge season in an offense that churns out points and yards. In fact, Johnson is ranked behind only Prescott in the SEC entering the fall.
8. Arizona State: Todd Graham-Mike Bercovici
Graham was voted as the best coach in the Pac-12 by a narrow margin. Bercovici proved last season in mop-up duty that he is more than capable running the Sun Devils' offense and is a big-time playmaker of his own. His NFL stock should soar this year because of his cannon right arm and potential run at a Pac-12 title.
9. Clemson: Dabo Swinney-Deshaun Watson
If this was a Chad Morris-Deshaun Watson combination, it might be the best in the nation. Watson is that good when healthy and is clearly the best in the ACC. Swinney was voted as the sixth-best coach in the ACC and needs to prove he can do it again without Morris. Swinney is a great motivator and recruiter but how much game-planning and play-calling is he doing on Saturdays?
10. Arizona: Rich Rodriguez-Anu Solomon
RichRod has proven to be one of the game’s best minds and is a perfect fit in Arizona. He and his quarterbacks — be it Pat White or Denard Robinson or Solomon — have produced some special seasons and Solomon’s first in Tucson last year was no exception. Look for a slight regression this fall while the offense rebuilds, but huge things from this duo in two years.
11. Cal: Sonny Dykes-Jared Goff
This one is sneaky good since Dykes ranked just 11th in the Pac-12 coaches rankings (again, mostly due to the incredible depth of talent out West). But Goff is getting NFL looks and will post monster numbers in his third year under center.
12. BYU: Bronco Mendenhall-Taysom Hill
If healthy, few players in the nation are as talented and productive as Hill. And Mendenhall has proven his worth over the long haul in Provo. He’s never had a losing season.
13. Baylor: Art Briles-Seth Russell
The best coach in the Big 12 churns out great QBs and Russell is just the next great one in a long line of elite Bears quarterbacks. Russell is already considered the third-best signal-caller in the league.
14. Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson-Justin Thomas
Johnson has won a ton of games and handful of division titles in Atlanta with his triple option offense. Thomas proved quickly last year that this team had just been missing a QB and that he might be the best one Johnson's had at Tech.
15. Navy: Ken Niumatalolo-Keenan Reynolds
Niumatalolo has posted just one losing season at Navy and has never lost to Army. Reynolds is already holds the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns (64) by a quarterback and is just 13 behind Montee Ball for the all-time record.
16. Tennessee: Butch Jones-Joshua Dobbs
Jones has yet to win big but all signs are pointing to legit title contention in the very near future. His recruiting and CEO-manship alone make him a rising star. Dobbs, who has very little starting experience, is poised to become one of the SEC’s best in 2015.
17. Missouri: Gary Pinkel-Maty Mauk
Pinkel has the edge over Jones, his SEC East peer, winning both meetings and holding a 3-0 overall record against Tennessee. Pinkel also is one of the most respected minds in the game. Mauk, despite 3,021 yards of total offense and 27 total touchdowns, is still only scratching the surface of his ability.
18. Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin-Kyle Allen
Allen is a future pro and has elite-level upside and a bunch of talented wideouts to throw to this fall. His growth could be extraordinary this fall. Sumlin has made the Big 12 to SEC transition with ease, but isn't the hot commodity he was a few years ago (but still really good).
19. Miami: Al Golden-Brad Kaaya
Many are down on Golden but he got no favors when he took over the scandal-ridden Hurricanes program. Now, he has one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Kaaya “The Messiah” and the pressure is on to win.
20. Cincinnati: Tommy Tuberville-Gunner Kiel
This QB-coach combo is the frontrunner to win the American Athletic Conference. Kiel threw for 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns in his first full season and is starting to deliver on his massive recruiting hype.
21. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly-Malik Zaire
22. Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy-Mason Rudolph
23. Utah State: Matt Wells-Chuckie Keeton
24. Stanford: David Shaw-Kevin Hogan
25. NC State: Dave Doeren-Jacoby Brissett