The coaching world has been turned upside down with the recent announcements of Pete Carrol, Bill Belichick, and Nick Saban. All three are among the best to do the job, so their departure has led to a rethinking of who the best in the business are. 247 Sports came out with their Top-10 Best Coaches in College Football list this week, leaving USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley completely out of the conversation.
Here is 247 Sports Top 10:
Lincoln Riley’s Top 10 Bonafides
Riley has gone 74-18 over his college coaching career so far. His .804 winning percentage alone puts him ahead of most on this list. Riley has also led his teams to three college football playoff appearances. Which is more than about half of this list combined.
Riley has also produced three Heisman Trophy winners in just seven years of coaching. In this regard, he is head and shoulders above anyone else on the list.
There is the perception of Riley that he can’t win the big game, which may keep him off this list. Brian Kelly has also earned that label and up until this season the same could have been said for Jim Harbaugh.
It isn’t that the coaches on this list don’t belong in the conversation, but it is created with a good amount of recency bias. Kalen DeBoer and Dan Lanning are making their mark, but have yet to rebuild their programs after several successful seasons, replacing and revamping the roster year after year. Their stories of head coaching are still being written.
Conversely, the USC Trojans and Lincoln Riley indeed had a down year in 2023, the worst of Riley’s career, in fact. But does that take away from the impressive legacy he has already built in such a short time? Even in a down year, the Trojans were still the third-highest-scoring offense in college football. They also had the third most yards per play and were 10th in yards per game.
Within the first seven seasons as a head coach, even the Goat Nick Saban had rough years.