Ranking every coach in the Group of Five heading into the 2024 college football

66 Tony Sanchez: New Mexico State promoted Sanchez from wide receivers coach following Jerry Kill’s resignation. The former Aggies coach posted just a 20-40 record with no bowl appearances during a stint as UNLV’s coach from 2015-19. 65 Trent Dilfer: Going from the high school coaching ranks to the AAC proved challenging in 2023 as Dilfer posted a 4-8 mark in his first season as a college coach in any capacity. The former Super Bowl-winning quarterback has some work to do in order to prove the skeptics wrong. 64 Sonny Cumbie: Cumbie’s arrival after years as an offensive assistant at Texas Tech and TCU hasn’t provided the jolt for which Louisiana Tech had hoped. He’s 6-18 through two seasons, and the Bulldogs dropped six straight to close 2023. 63 Stan Drayton: Temple is 6-18 (2-14 AAC) through Drayton’s first two seasons. He emerged as one of the most well-respected running backs coaches in the profession, but he has some work to do prove himself in the head coaching ranks. 62 Kenni Burns: Burns went 1-11 in his first season after six years under P.J. Fleck at Minnesota. Kent State has historically been one of the weaker MAC programs, and it was hammered by the transfer portal amid the coaching transition from Sean Lewis. If he can get the Golden Flashes to a bowl by Year 3, he’ll be doing great work. 61 Timmy Chang: The beloved former Hawaii quarterback is 8-18 through two seasons. Considering that his most significant prior coaching employment was as a position coach for Nevada, it’s no surprise Chang hasn’t been an immediate success. 60 Jay Sawvel: After serving as Wyoming’s defensive coordinator under Craig Bohl for the past four seasons, Sawvel is getting his crack at the head job. He previously served as defensive coordinator at Minnesota and Wake Forest. 59 Will Hall: Hall is 13-24 and coming off a 3-9 season as he enters Year 4 at Southern Miss. He was 31-9 as the head coach of Division II West Georgia from 2011-16 but needs a big 2024 season to salvage his FBS head coaching career. 58 Lance Taylor: A well-traveled NFL and college assistant, Taylor is entering Year 2 of his first head coaching stint after posting a 4-8 mark in his first season. 57 Don Brown: After going 3-37 over a four-year stretch, UMass won three games in 2023 alone during Brown’s second season. Once upon a time, he guided the Minutemen to a spot in the 2006 FCS title game. 56 Biff Poggi: A hedge fund manager and successful high school coach in a past life, Poggi spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons as the associate head coach for Michigan. After a 3-9 debut with Charlotte in 2023, the jury remains out on Poggi as a head coach. 55 Trent Bray: Oregon State promoted Bray from defensive coordinator following Jonathan Smith’s departure for Michigan State. The former Beavers linebacker will be tasked with leading his alma mater through a challenging time following the splintering of the Pac-12, which has left Oregon State in a de facto no-man’s land. 54 Dell McGee: After spending eight seasons assisting Georgia’s rise to dominance under Kirby Smart, McGee has moved to Atlanta to take over a Georgia State program that has reached bowls in four of the last five seasons. 53 Gerad Parker: The 43-year-old has worked at Kentucky, Marshall, Purdue, Duke, Penn State, West Virginia and Notre Dame, just to name some of the stops. The well-traveled offensive mind has big shoes to fill following Jon Sumrall’s 23-4 run over two seasons. 52 Bryant Vincent: Vincent guided UAB to a 7-6 record as interim coach during the 2022 season. Now, the longtime Group of Five offensive coordinator gets a shot to run his own program. 51 Pete Lembo: Lembo is back in the MAC after guiding Ball State to a 33-29 mark from 2011-15. He’s made four assistant coaching stops since then, most recently as associate head coach at South Carolina. 50 Michael Desormeaux: Louisiana has posted identical 6-7 records with New Orleans Bowl losses in Desormeaux’s two seasons since replacing Billy Napier. The former Cajuns quarterback and assistant could use a good 2024 campaign. 49 Brian Newberry: Navy elevated Newberry to head coach for the 2023 season after he spent four years as defensive coordinator for the Midshipmen. The former Baylor defensive back went 5-7 in his first year. 48 Brian Bohannon: Bohannon is the first and only coach in Kennesaw State history, overseeing the program since before it began FCS play in 2015. Now, after posting a 71-30 record, he is tasked with leading the Owls into Conference USA. 47 Jeff Choate: Choate led Montana State to an appearance in the 2019 FCS semifinals to cap his four-year tenure. After spending the last three seasons as Texas’ co-defensive coordinator, he’s getting his first crack at an FBS head coaching job. 46 K.C. Keeler: Sam Houston won three of its final four games to salvage a 3-9 record after an abysmal start to its first FBS season. Keeler previously had the Bearkats near the top of the FCS ranks, so he can clearly coach. But doing it at the FBS level is proving tough. 45 Scot Loeffler: Bowling Green is coming off back-to-back Quick Lane Bowl appearances and has gone 5-3 in MAC play the past two seasons. That marks progress after a slow beginning to Loeffler’s tenure. 44 Kevin Wilson: The former Indiana coach and Ohio State offensive coordinator is entering Year 2 at Tulsa after a 4-8 debut campaign. He led the Hoosiers to consecutive bowl bids in 2015 and 2016 but was let go amid allegations that he mistreated players. 43 Mike Houston: Houston is another example of how the transition from FCS coaching stardom to FBS success doesn’t come easy. With a 24-34 mark through six seasons leading the Pirates, Houston hasn’t been the home run some hoped. 42 Scotty Walden: After a solid four-year run at Austin Peay that culminated with an FCS playoffs appearance, Walden is now tasked with breathing life into a UTEP program that hasn’t won a bowl game since 1967. 41 Mike MacIntyre: MacIntyre won multiple national coach of the year awards for leading Colorado to a 10-4 (8-1 Pac-12) record in 2016. He hasn’t been to a bowl or won more than two league games in four seasons as a head coach since. 40 Joe Moorhead: Moorhead worked wonders at Fordham from 2012-15 and wasn’t horrible in two seasons at Mississippi State. But getting Akron off the ground has proven challenging as the Zips are just 4-20 through two seasons under his direction. 39 Ricky Rahne: Considering that Old Dominion went 1-11 in 2019 before Rahne’s arrival and didn’t play in 2020, he’s done a good job. The Monarchs have reached bowls with 6-6 (5-3 Sun Belt) records in two of the past three years. 38 Spencer Danielson: Danielson guided Boise State to a 3-1 finish as the interim coach in 2023 and earned the full-time job. He’s just 35 but has been on the Broncos’ staff since 2017, working with the defense under predecessors Andy Avalos and Bryan Harsin. 37 Mike Neu: Ball State is treading water in the MAC as it enters Year 9 under Neu. The high-water mark came in 2020 when the Cardinals finished 7-1 with a conference title and Arizona Bowl victory. 36 Butch Jones: The former head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee salvaged his third season at Arkansas State by reaching the Camellia Bowl. Still, he’s just 11-26 through three seasons.  35 Eric Morris: North Texas closed with wins over Tulsa and UAB to generate some momentum during a 5-7 debut campaign for Morris. The Mike Leach disciple is trying to replicate the success he enjoyed while leading Incarnate Word to FCS playoff appearances in 2018 and 2021. 34 Derek Mason: After 18 years and 10 bowl games under Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee is turning to someone who knows the region. Mason was Vanderbilt’s head coach from 2014-2020 and has since worked as the defensive coordinator at Auburn and Oklahoma State. 33 Mike Bloomgren: Bloomgren has taken Rice to consecutive bowls. Granted, one of them came because of the Owls’ strong academic scores, but Rice’s 4-4 record during its first season in the AAC was a step forward. 32 Thomas Hammock: Hammock has taken Northern Illinois to bowls in two of the past three seasons. The Huskies recovered nicely from a 1-4 start in 2023 and have a solid amount of production returning. 31 Jim Mora: Mora pulled off a coaching masterpiece in 2022 by leading UConn to its first bowl appearance since 2015. The Huskies regressed to 3-9 in 2023, however. 30 Tim Beck: Beck is a former offensive coordinator or co-OC at places such as Nebraska, Ohio State, Texas and NC State. He finally got the chance to run his own college program last season and guided Coastal Carolina to an 8-5 mark. What he does from here will be the true test as the Chanticleers undergo heavy roster churn. 29 Major Applewhite: The former Texas quarterback led Houston to a pair of bowl bids in his two seasons as coach in 2017 and 2018 before he was jettisoned and replaced by Dana Holgorsen. He was South Alabama’s offensive coordinator the past three seasons during a strong run under Kane Wommack. 28 Bob Chesney: Chesney led Holy Cross to four consecutive FCS Playoffs appearances between 2019 and 2022. He’s never worked at the FBS level but owns a 111-46 mark across three small-college head coaching stops. 27 Charles Huff: Huff is 3 for 3 on reaching bowls at Marshall, but he needs a good 2024 season after the Thundering Herd finished just 6-7 in 2023 following a 4-0 start. 26 Jim McElwain: McElwain is just 9-15 over his last two seasons after going 20-13 over this first three at Central Michigan. The former Colorado State and Florida coach’s resume is quite a mixed bag. 25 Jake Dickert: Dickert did a nice job replacing Nick Rolovich under adverse circumstances and leading Washington State to bowl appearances in 2021 and 2022. But the wind has been taken from the Cougars’ sails after they lost seven of eight to end the 2023 season, which was their last with “power-conference” status. 24 Chris Creighton: Creighton has guided Eastern Michigan to six bowls in the last eight years. Prior to his arrival in 2010, the Eagles had been to just one bowl in program history. 23 Clay Helton: The former USC coach is 12-14 with a pair of bowl losses through two seasons at Georgia Southern. The Eagles ended the 2023 season on a five-game losing streak.  22 Tyson Helton: Helton is 40-26 (28-11 Conference USA) through five seasons on the job. He’s 4-1 in bowl games and routinely produces effective, high-octane passing attacks. 21 Jay Norvell: Norvell is seeking to gain traction entering Year 3 at Colorado State after a nice five-year stint at Nevada highlighted by four straight bowl appearances. 20 Tim Albin: A longtime assistant under Frank Solich, Albin took over the program in 2021 and has elevated it to consecutive 10-win seasons after a 3-9 debut. The Bobcats are 13-3 in the MAC over the past two seasons but don’t have much returning from their 2023 roster. 19 Tom Herman: The former Texas and Houston coach posted a disappointing 4-8 record in his first season at FAU. The glory of his 22-4 run at Houston in 2015 and 2016 feels quite distant. 18 Ken Niumatalolo: After posting a 109-83 record in 16 seasons at Navy, Niumatalolo spent 2023 in a support role at UCLA. Now, he’s back on the sidelines for a San Jose State program that lost Brent Brennan to Arizona. 17 Blake Anderson: After leading Arkansas State to six bowls in seven seasons, Anderson is treading water entering Year 4 at Utah State. He went 11-3 in 2021 but posted back-to-back 6-7 campaigns in 2022 and 2023. 16 Shawn Clark: Clark got Appalachian State back to the Sun Belt Championship Game after a down season in 2022. The Mountaineers haven’t quite been on the Scott Satterfield/Eli Drinkwitz trajectory during his four seasons, but they are still a fairly consistent winner. 15 Alex Golesh: South Florida went 4-29 over the three seasons before Golesh arrived. He immediately led the Bulls to a 7-6 record with a Boca Raton Bowl victory. The 39-year old is a protege of Matt Campbell and Josh Heupel. 14 Rich Rodriguez: Rodriguez’s renaissance is taking shape as he led Jacksonville State to a 9-4 record during its first FBS season. A failed stint at Michigan aside, he’s proven to be a winner. 13 Ryan Silverfield: Memphis promoted Silverfield following a Cotton Bowl appearance in 2019 during Mike Norvell’s final season. Silverfield hasn’t maintained that lofty standard, but the Tigers have remained competitive and cycled up in 2023 with a 10-3 campaign. 12 Barry Odom: UNLV went nine straight seasons without a bowl appearance before Odom’s arrival. The former Missouri coach led the Rebels to a 9-5 record and appearance in the Mountain West title game during his first season. 11 Chuck Martin: Martin is coming off the best of his 11 seasons at Miami as the Redhawks finished 11-3 with a MAC Championship Game victory over Toledo. The former Notre Dame assistant has reached five bowls, including three straight. 10 G.J. Kinne: Kinne guided Texas State to an 8-5 record in his first season. That mark included a victory in the program’s first-ever bowl appearance. After leading Incarnate Word to an appearance in the FCS semifinals in 2022, Kinne’s reputation is rising fast. 9 Sean Lewis: Lewis posted just a 24-31 record at Kent State from 2018-22, which is respectable given the program’s historical standard. After participating in the Deion Sanders experiment during one season on Colorado’s staff, he’s now in command of a San Diego State program with the chops to be a factor in the Mountain West. 8 Jeff Monken: Monken is 6-4 against Navy and has led the Black Knights to five bowl appearances in his 10 years. He faces a new challenge this season as Army joins the AAC. 7 Bronco Mendenhall: The former BYU and and Virginia coach is returning to the sidelines at New Mexico after two seasons away from the game. With a 135-81 record across 17 FBS seasons, Mendenhall is equipped to breathe life into a program that hasn’t made a bowl since 2016. 6 Jason Candle: Candle is the class of the MAC with two conference titles and two league coach of the year awards under his belt during an eight-year run. The Rockets have never finished worst than .500 in his tenure and have won 11 games twice. 5 Troy Calhoun: Calhoun has been a model of consistency over his 17 seasons at Air Force, leading the Falcons to a 130-82 mark. He’s maintained a positive trajectory even amid the the NIL and transfer portal era, which are particularly glaring challenges for service academies. 4 Jeff Tedford: Tedford Is 19-8 during his second stint as Fresno State’s coach after going 26-14 during his first stint from 2017-19. The former longtime Cal coach routinely produces great offenses. 3 Jeff Traylor: UTSA made one bowl appearance in nine years as an FBS program before Traylor’s arrival for the 2020 season. He’s posted a 39-14 record highlighted by two Conference USA titles, and he led the Roadrunners to a 7-1 mark in league play during their first season in the AAC. 2 Jon Sumrall: Sumrall is off to lead another strong Group of Five program after guiding Troy to consecutive Sun Belt titles. The former Kentucky linebacker and UK assistant under Mark Stoops is a bright defensive mind with a promising trajectory. 1 Jamey Chadwell: Chadwell breathed life into Coastal Carolina before landing the Liberty job and guiding the Flames to the Fiesta Bowl in his first season. With successful stints at Division II North Greenville and FCS Charleston Southern also on his resume, Chadwell has proven himself to be a premier non-power conference coach.

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