Spring football is just beginning for college programs across the country, and 247Sports took the opportunity to rank the top 35 coaches in the game right now.
Five of the top 35 come from the Pac-12 conference, including Oregon’s Dan Lanning, who will begin his second season in Eugene after a very successful first season that ended in a Holiday Bowl win over North Carolina.
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Not only is Lanning one of five Pac-12 coaches on this list, he’s one of three with experience as a head coach in Oregon — alongside UCLA’s Chip Kelly and Miami’s Mario Cristobal, who ranks No. 20.
Georgia’s Kirby Smart takes the top spot ahead of Nick Saban, a result that seemed unthinkable a few years ago but makes sense after the Bulldogs’ dominance over the past two seasons.
Jim Harbaugh, Dabo Swinney and Brian Kelly round out the top 5. Here’s a look at the five Pac-12 trainers featured on this list:
Lincoln Riley – USC (#7)
“Lincoln Riley’s first season at USC passed the Pac-12 eye test with flying colors as one of the most talented, transfer-heavy rosters in the nation. It was Alex Grinch’s defense that cost the Trojans a shot at a college football playoff berth in the Pac-12 championship game, not the other side of football. Riley’s offense has clicked on all cylinders this season and produced another Heisman winner at quarterback. Riley’s plan worked and he brought USC back to national prominence in a short amount of time. He’s 66-13 as a head coach in two blue-blooded programs.”
Kyle Whittingham – Utah (No. 8)
“After losing to Florida and UCLA before mid-October, Kyle Whittingham and the Utes have had a hot five-win streak in their last six games to clinch another Pac-12 title game. Utah beat then-fourth-placed USC to win another conference championship and potted a return ticket to the Rose Bowl. Utah’s three-point losses to Florida and Oregon this fall were hard to take, but once again Whittingham proved to be one of the nation’s most resilient groups. He’s 154-74 in Utah.”
Kalen DeBoer – Washington (No. 17)
“With the head-to-head win over Lanning and six straight wins to finish the 2022 season, DeBoer was a breath of fresh air for a program in Washington that needs stability. Michael Penix Jr. was an underrated Indiana transfer that DeBoer unlocked in his spread offensive scheme. Both of Washington’s losses last season were caused by a single possession in consecutive weeks, leaving this team just a few games away from being in contention for the national title.
Chip Kelly – UCLA (#26)
“Kelly’s breakout season with the Bruins after an illustrious tenure at Oregon came last season when UCLA was one of the Pac-12’s top finishers thanks to a veteran-heavy lineup.”
Dan Lanning – Oregon (No. 27)
“Lanning was on his way to a straight ace on his Year 1 report card in Oregon before struggling with his November losses to Washington and Oregon State in his Finals. However, 10 wins is a great building block for the top recruiter ahead of the 2023 campaign.”