The top 10 college football coach rankings heading into Week 6 sees Chris Petersen vaulting after the beatdown his Washington Huskies put on Stanford.
There were three battles involving top 10 teams last weekend, each of which impacted the Coach of the Year rankings. Bobby Petrino and Paul Chryst drifted a few spots lower after settling for moral road victories, but Chris Petersen is soaring like an elevator up the Space Needle following Washington’s demolition of then-No. 7 Stanford.
Through the first five weeks of the 2016 college football season, select head coaches are standing out among their peers in the profession. As such, they’ve angled into the inside lane in the race for Coach of the Year, a contract extension and possibly a high-profile promotion now that job openings have already begun popping up.
Week 6 College Football Coach Rankings
10. Butch Jones, Tennessee (Last Week: NR)
Jones displaces Mike Riley in the No. 10 hole, but that’s no reflection on anything Riley has done wrong. His Huskers remain unbeaten and rising in the polls. It’s just that Jones has had an uncanny ability to keep his kids believing and focused in games they’re on the verge of losing. And, yeah, the staff owns some of the blame for the early holes the Vols dig, but Jones has flourished in the face of pressure and is positioning his team to run away with the SEC East.
9. Nick Saban, Alabama (6)
Saban and his Tide just keep cruising along with almost boring consistency and predictability. Bama is now 5-0, having only been challenged by Ole Miss in an epic road comeback that’s going to keep looking better as the season unfolds. And the Tide has held on to the top spot in the rankings, despite an unsettled backfield that’s employing true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and has yet to establish a bona fide feature back in the aftermath of Derrick Henry’s departure. A victim of his own unmatched success, Saban hasn’t even been named SEC Coach of the Year this decade.
8. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado (9)
The Buffaloes are ranked for the first time in 11 years, a remarkable turn of events for a program pegged in the preseason to finish last in the Pac-12 South. And Colorado has risen to prominence, despite being forced to pull redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Montez off the bench to replace injured starter Sefo Liufau. Recent wins over Oregon and Oregon State have the Buffs believing they’re good enough on both sides of the ball to contend for a divisional title and a spot in the league title game.
7. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan (7)
The Wolverines have outscored opponents by an average margin of 44-12, which includes a pair of teams that are currently ranked, Colorado and Wisconsin. The 14-7 win over the Badgers was the least convincing, but it reflected the toughness that’s been instilled by the staff, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Michigan held Wisconsin to eight first downs and 159 yards, further validation of Harbaugh’s offseason hiring of defensive coordinator Don Brown from Boston College.
6. Tom Herman, Houston (4)
The Cougars moved up two spots to No. 5 in the Coaches Poll after disposing of UConn last Thursday, 42-14. While it’s gotten somewhat lost in the decline in competition, Houston has defeated its last four opponents since the Oklahoma opener by at least 24 points. That’s a level of focus as a heavy favorite that’s a direct reflection of the coaching staff. The Cougs will play what’s likely their toughest game until the Nov. 17 visit from Louisville when they trek to Annapolis to face Navy this Saturday.
5. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin (2)
Chryst has fallen a few rungs after his Badgers lost in Ann Arbor, but he’ll remain in contention for as long as his team contends in the Big Ten West. Wisconsin competed with No. 4 Michigan, but lacked the offensive playmakers to solve one of the country’s premier defenses. Still, the Badgers, unranked when the season began, own wins over LSU and Michigan State, despite making an in-season change at quarterback from senior Bart Houston to redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook.
4. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (5)
The Aggies were unranked when the season started. Today they’re No. 8 in the AP Poll, with a chance this Saturday versus Tennessee to leave no doubt who’s the top challenger to Alabama in the SEC. Sumlin has deftly incorporated a new quarterback, Oklahoma import Trevor Knight, and new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to bag early wins over UCLA, Auburn and Arkansas. With the Vols, a bye week and then the Crimson Tide, these next few weeks will determine the height of A&M’s ceiling in 2016.
3. Bobby Petrino, Louisville (1)
True, Petrino was knocked off his perch by virtue of the Cardinals’ first loss of the season. But even in falling at Clemson, 42-36, Petrino and his kids made a statement about how much they’ve evolved since starting last season 2-4. Whether or not they can somehow claw back in the ACC Atlantic, Louisville is one of the elite teams in college football this season. The schedule also breaks in such a way that the Cards might not even be threatened again until their bowl game, likely one of the majors.
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State (3)
The Buckeyes are hungry again, which was missing with last year’s veteran squad. And it’s showing up in the box scores. In 2015, Ohio State allowed lesser opponents to hang around before eventually getting picked off by Michigan State on Nov. 21. This fall, the team is operating with a take-no-prisoners mentality, clubbing its first four victims, including Oklahoma, by an average score of 57-9. Plus, with first-time starters all over the depth chart, OSU has yet to even approach its full potential in 2016.
1. Chris Petersen, Washington (10)
Five weeks into the campaign, there’s a new lead Dawg in the race for 2016 Coach of the Year. Petersen hung around the periphery in the early going, as observers wondered about U-Dub’s competition level in the opening month. However, Friday night’s 44-6 disposal of Pac-12 champ Stanford ended debates for now which program everyone else in the league will be chasing in October and November. The Huskies are both explosive and nasty, a blend that has Petersen on the lip of the playoff cup in just his third season in Seattle.