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Top 10 Best College Football Coaches 2023 Rankings

Ranking the best College Football Coaches of the 2023 NCAA season as Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines leads the way


By admin | January 21, 2024

The success of any great sports team at any level features a wide list of tangibles leading to that success including the head coach as well as the entire coach staff. The same can be said for the best teams in College Football as each are led by some of the best college football coaches in the game including a few that rank among the best to ever perform the job. One of those coaches well deserving of a spot on the Top 10 Best College Football Coaches 2023 Rankings list is the Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh, who has had a history of producing solid football teams including a San Francisco 49ers team that reached the Super Bowl, finally crossed the finish line leading the Wolverines to the NCAA National Championship.

Harbaugh has built a winning tradition with the Wolverines program while turning that into an impressive 15-0 season and the team’s first National Championship since the 1997 NCAA Football National Championship.

Joining Harbaugh among the best coaches in college football include Nick Saban who recently retired from coaching, Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs, Ryan Day of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Steve Sarkisian of the Texas Longhorns, Kalen DeBoer of the Washington Huskies, and Dan Lanning of the Oregon Ducks.

Here is a look at the Top 10 Best College Football Coaches 2023 Rankings list:

Honorable Mention

Jedd Fisch

School: Arizona Wildcats (Currently Washington Huskies)

Just missing the Top 10 Best College Football Coaches 2023 Rankings list is the former Arizona Wildcats head coach and current Washington Huskies coach Jedd Fisch.

Fisch put together and built a strong Wildcats football program since taking over before the 2021 NCAA football season. His biggest coaching success came this season as Fisch guided the Wildcats to an impressive 10-3 overall record while finishing ranked 11th in the AP Top 25 Rankings.

This performance included a key 38-24 win over the Oklahoma Sooners within the Alamo Bowl after finishing the regular season in third place within a talented PAC-12 conference. 

James Franklin

School: Penn State Nittany Lions

Another talented head coach that often goes overlooked is the Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin. Franklin continues to rank among the best coaches within the Big Ten conference year in and year out while helping to lead the Nittany Lions to five different seasons with at least 10 wins.

This includes the 2023 NCAA Football season where the Nittany Lions finished with an 10-3 record and a 13th overall ranking among the AP Top 25 Rankings list.

However, the only thing holding Franklin back from a higher ranking has been the team’s struggles against other top teams within the Big Ten including losing to both the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes during the regular season this season.

Top 10 Best College Football Coaches

10. Brian Kelly

School: LSU Tigers

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 Best College Football Coaches 2023 Rankings list is the LSU Tigers head coach Brian Kelly. Kelly continues to put together winning teams no matter the team he coaches and the latest is the 2023 LSU Tigers football team.

The Tigers were loaded with talented players who all put together strong seasons including Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels. Much of the team’s success has also come with Kelly’s ability to recruit top ranking classes including an incoming class that ranked 6th in the nation heading into the season.

The Tigers went on to finish the season ranked 12th in the nation after finishing with an 10-3 overall record while boosting the top ranked offense in the nation averaging 543.5 yards per game and 45.5 points per game.

9. Eliah Drinkwitz

School: Missouri Tigers

As you start to look around at the top college football teams in the country, one team that often went unnoticed during the 2023 NCAA Football schedule was the Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz.

With the Tigers playing in a loaded SEC conference much of the focus went on other top teams including the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs.

However, Drinkwitz After taking over the Tigers before the start of the 2020 season, the Tigers capped off their first winning season winning 11 of their 13 games this season earning Drinkwitz his first SEC Coach of the Year Award.

Even more impressive was the team never gave up to the finish picking up a 14-3 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes within the 2023 Goodyear Cotton Bowl.

8. Mike Norvell

School: Florida State Seminoles

To post an undefeated season during the NCAA Football regular season and through the Conference Championship is a pretty impressive mark. This is what Mike Norvell did while leading the Florida State Seminoles to 13 straight wins including a 16-6 win over the Louisville Cardinals within the ACC Championship.

In addition to that success Norvell and the team had to bounce back after losing Jordan Travis for the season leading into the ACC Championship.

Ultimately the Seminoles would finish the season 13-1 after losing to the Georgia Bulldogs within the Capital One Orange Bowl after failing to be included within the College Football Playoffs.

7. Ryan Day

School: Ohio State Buckeyes

As any top ranked team in the country the turnover rate is high while losing top tier stars year in and year out. That was the case leading into the 2023 NCAA Football season for Ryan Day and the Ohio State Buckeyes as the team moved on at the quarterback position after losing CJ Stroud to the NFL Draft.

Despite starting over at quarterback, the Buckeyes would go on to post an 11-2 overall record and an 8-1 mark within the Big Ten with their only loss coming at the hands of the eventual National Champions the Michigan Wolverines.

Day positioned the Buckeyes to win each week while also building the 3rd best defense in the country, a unit that allowed just 11 points per game and 259.9 yards per game.

6. Dan Lanning

School: Oregon Ducks

All great teams have talented players and great coaches that all come together to work as a team to put a winning team together on the football field.

That was the case with Dan Lanning and the Oregon Ducks who ranked among the best offensive teams in the country as well as defensive teams in the country. That success helped lead the Ducks to an impressive 12-2 record with their only two losses coming to the Washington Huskies.

On the defensive side of the football the Ducks allowed just 17.3 points per game while their offensive squad with Bo Nix under center averaged the 2nd most points per game in the country (44.2).

To go along with that success was the team’s ability to recruit the 9th best overall recruiting class leading into the 2023 NCAA season.

5. Steve Sarkisian

School: Texas Longhorns

Rounding out the Top 5 on the Top 10 Best College Football Coaches 2023 Rankings list is the Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian since arriving with the Longhorns in 2021 has looked to turn around the program while ranking among the best teams in college football.

That was simply the case in 2023 as the Longhorns would go on to win the Big 12 Championship earning Sarkisian his first Big 12 Coach of the Year Award. After a losing season in 2021, Sarkisian has helped the Longhorns post back to back winning seasons while also turning in the 3rd best recruiting class leading into this past season.

The success of recruiting has helped the Longhorns make their first College Football Playoffs while landing them among the best teams in the country. The road forward will be difficult with the move from the Big 12 to the SEC however, Sarkisian has the ability to continue to build winning ways for the Longhorns.

4. Kalen DeBoer

School: Washington Huskies (Currently Alabama Crimson Tide)

Entering the 2023 NCAA Football season the Washington Huskies were not on anyone’s radar list of potential National Championship caliber teams. Luckily for the program no one told head coach Kalen DeBoer that as he prepared his team to compete all season.

That is exactly what the Huskies did, including winning 13 straight regular season games including knocking off the top ranked Oregon Ducks twice including to win the PAC 12 Championship. The success would continue for the Huskies during the College Football Playoffs with a key win over the Texas Longhorns.

While the impressive run of the Huskies would come to an end at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines, it is hard to look past the impact DeBoer had on this team and the success they put together this season.

In addition, the Huskies produced the 26th best recruiting class helping to continue to build the future of the program. Unfortunately, the success this past season has now landed DeBoer the head coach gig with the Alabama Crimson Tide after the retirement of Nick Saban.

3. Kirby Smart

School: Georgia Bulldogs

Nearly three straight National Championships was at the fingertips of Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs till falling to the Alabama Crimson Tide within the SEC Championship. Nonetheless it is hard not to love what Smart continues to do with the Bulldogs year in and year out despite losing an extensive list of star power to the NFL each season.

The latest came during the 2023 NCAA Footballs season after losing 10 players to the 2023 NFL Draft, as Smart rebranded the team while leading them to 13-1 record including a blowout win of the undefeated Florida State Seminoles within the Capital One Orange Bowl.

Smart has also continued to retool the team each year including leading into the previous season while recruiting the 2nd best recruiting class within the nation that included five five-star recruits.

2. Nick Saban

School: Alabama Crimson Tide (Retired)

The end of a legacy has taken place as Nick Saban put together one more impressive run leading the Alabama Crimson Tide to another appearance within the College Football Playoffs.

This came after the Crimson Tide put together an incredible performance to hand the Georgia Bulldogs their first loss over two full seasons to win the SEC Championship Game.

The win guided the Crimson Tide to their 3rd straight College Football Playoff appearance and eighth overall with Saban leading the team. Like a few of the other teams, Saban found ways to get the best out of the next player including the top overall recruiting class after losing a lengthy list of stars each season to the NFL Draft.

Ultimately the success came to an end as the Crimson Tide would fall to the Michigan Wolverines during the playoffs. All Saban did year in, and year out was finding ways to produce a winning football team. As Saban heads off into retirement it is hard not to credit him as the greatest college football head coach of All-Time.

1. Jim Harbaugh

School: Michigan Wolverines

In at number one is the Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh who guided the team to their first National Championship since the 1997 season.

The Wolverines were as impressive as any team in the country while posting an incredible 15-0 record picking up key wins over AP Top Ranked opponents including the Alabama Crimson Tide, Washington Huskies, Penn State Nittany Lions and Ohio State Buckeyes.

Leading that charge was the top ranked defense in college football that finished the season ranked 1st in points allowed per game (9.5) and the second fewest number of yards per game (239.7).

The future continues to look promising after Harbaugh landed the 17th best recruiting class leading into the National Championship season after recruiting the 9th best class in 2022 to go along with the 15th best 2024 class. 

How would you rank these College Football Coaches? Rank below to be added in the NCAA Power Rankings.

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