1. Josh Heupel UCF
UCF did not miss a beat with their new Head Coach Josh Heupel, as they remained undefeated in the 2018 regular season. Heupel was able to make UCF look like even more of a playoff team, all while losing key starters Mike Hughes, Shaquem Griffen, and others to the NFL.
Record: 12-0 (AAC Champions)
2. Dan Mullen Florida
Mullen took over as the head man of Florida in the 2018 season and saw immediate success. The 2017 Gators went 4-7 and this years team has the chance to get their 10th win against Michigan in the Peach Bowl. However, this is not the first time Mullen has had success in Gainesville. He was the OC and QB coach of Tim Tebow and both the 2006 and 2008 National Champion Gators.
3. Chad Lunsford Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern’s over/under win total coming into the season was only 6.5. Head coach Chad Lunsford led his team soaring past those expectations. They boast a Top 10 rushing attack & a Top 30 defense in pts/game, as they’ll take on Eastern Michigan in the Camellia Bowl.
4. Jimbo Fisher Texas A&M
In Jimbo’s first year as head coach he has managed to get the Aggies best recruiting class that it has ever had. Currently Texas A&M’s 2019 recruiting class is ranked at #3 in the nation, this being only the second time it has reached the top 5.
5. Billy Napier Louisiana
Billy Napier took over a Ragin’ Cajun team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2014. That was the last year that was still affected by ULL’s NCAA violations that resulted in vacated wins. After a 1-3 start, it appeared that it would be more of the same. However, Napier would have none of that, leading the Ragin’ Cajuns to 6 wins in their last 8 regular season games, and a bowl birth in the AutoNation Cure Bowl against the Tulane Green Wave.
6. Herm Edwards Arizona State
In the offseason, everyone was #FirmForHerm. But in reality, most people assumed returning to coaching was going to be a train wreck for Herm Edwards. However, it was anything but. The Sun Devils had a solid season, and the future is bright for ASU.
7. Joe Moorhead Mississippi State
Head coach Joe Moorhead took over Mississippi St and turned them into one of the most stout defenses in the country. The Bulldogs were 4th in the country in yds/game and 1st in the country in pts/game. They’ll face off against Iowa on New Years Day.
8. Mario Cristobal Oregon
Although Cristobal’s first season as the Oregon head man wasn’t all that the Duck’s hoped it would be, there is hope on the horizon. Oregon currently has the #7 recruiting class in the nation, which is the highest ranking they have ever had. If Cristobal is able to secure this class and add a few late surprises Oregon will have some freshman that will be able to contribute as early as next season.
9. Scott Frost Nebraska
The homecoming of Scott Frost was supposed to be magical, but Cornhuskers were left feeling underwhelmed. Frost repeated last year’s 4-8 record as his first year at the helm of his dream job. However, Nebraska fans are still hopeful that they have found their coach of the future.
10. Sonny Dykes SMU
After going to a bowl last year, SMU took a step back under first year head coach Sonny Dykes. The Mustangs were up and down all year. They started out losing their first 3 games, before winning 5 of 7, and then ultimately losing their last 2. They’ll have to more consistent under Dykes, if they want to makes some noise in the AAC.
11. Jeremy Pruitt Tennessee
The Volunteers recorded 1 more win than last year’s record, but were left without a bowl game for the 2nd year in a row. If Pruitt doesn’t continue to show improvement in his team next season Vols fans will start to become restless. Butch Jones is proof that there isn’t much patience in Knoxville.
12. Matt Luke Ole Miss
When Matt Luke took over at Ole Miss, the Rebs took off. They won 5 of their first 7 games. They boasted a Top 10 offense in the country. However, their defense…not so much. They ranked 121st in yds/game. And losing their last 5 games really caused their grade to nosedive. We’ll see how they respond next year.
13. Mike Bloomgren Rice
Mike Bloomgren took over a Rice team that only won one game last year and only three the year before that. And while they double their wins from last year, this Owls squad was atrocious on both offense and defense. They ranked 126th in offense & 106th in offense. Hopefully, for Owls fans, they can get things going in the right direction next year.
14. Jonathan Smith Oregon State
The most wins that Oregon State has seen in a single season since 2014 is 5. Needless to say the Beaver’s are desperate for some wins and we aren’t sure that Jonathan Smith is the answer. The Beaver’s were able to squeak out a tough win against Colorado in OT but Smith will have to prove that he can do more in year 2.
15. Steve Campbell South Alabama
After posting a 100-30 head coaching record at the junior college level, South Alabama was hoping that Steve Campbell would be able to bring some of that magic to the FBS level. It seems that USA fans may need to give Campbell a little more time before they start seeing some success.
16. Sean Lewis Kent State
Kent State continues to find themselves at the bottom of the MAC and this year was no different. Lewis found success as the Syracuse OC before landing the job at Kent State. Golden Flash fans are hoping that Lewis will bring in some players that can make their offense fly just like he had the Orange flying.
17. Chip Kelly UCLA
It took Chip Kelly until his 6th game to get his first win as a Bruin. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it will get any easier for Kelly either. Currently UCLA has the #68 ranked recruiting class in 2019. The Bruins haven’t had a class ranked outside of the top 25 since 2011 when they #45.
18. Dana Dimel UTEP
UTEP only managed to get 1 win in the 2018 season and it was struggle vs. 2-10 Rice. Dana Dimel understands that the Miners will have to be much more competitive next season if he wants to continue to be the Head Coach. Fortunately C-USA doesn’t look to be very strong and UTEP could manage a few more wins next year.
19. Chad Morris Arkansas
Chad Morris had quite a disappointing outing in his first year as the Arkansas head coach. However, help could be on the horizon. The Razorbacks are ranked at #17 in the 2019 recruiting class, which is their first appearance in the top 20 since they were #18 in 2004. As of right now this hire seems like it could be a bust, so Morris will have to do something with that talent as fast as he can.
20. Kevin Sumlin Arizona
Fans expected more from Kevin Sumlin and Arizona this season, as QB Khalil Tate was expected to thrive with him at the helm. Tate himself was disappointed, which is a large part of why he is not expected to return to Arizona in 2019.
21. Willie Taggart FSU
We know that an F- might seem a little too harsh, but this is the 1st time in 36 years that Florida State did not qualify for a bowl game. Taggart inherited a team that averaged around 5th in recruiting rankings the past 5 years, so the talent was definitely there. If Taggart is unable to get the Seminoles back to a bowl game next season, we don’t expect him to be back in Tallahassee in 2020.