Athlon Sports Ranked the Head Coaches for Each G5 Conference

Would you be surprised to learn that the screwed up all five lists? I understand that pre-season lists are dicey at best, but at least make accurate choices on the information you’ve got to date. Though I guess that involves bothering to find such information.

American Athletic Conference

O.K., we get to kick this one off with a bang: I can fully understand, especially in a conference this successful and competitive, that you rank all of the new hires for 2017 in a cluster at the bottom. However, as much as I dislike Scottie Montgomery at ECU, there’s no way he deserves to be ranked all the way at the bottom below every single new hire.

He hasn’t been that bad, and I figure him simply surviving year one should give him a leg up on all of the new guys, who have no head coaching experience outside of Randy Edsall. Speaking of which, I would have Edsall dead last. I think all of the new guys go at the bottom, and Edsall is most certainly the most underwhelming of the new hires. Major Applewhite, Luke Fickell, and Geoff Collins are all very successful coordinators finally getting their shot. Edsall has a history as an “o.k.” head coach who just spent a year completely away from coaching.

While we’re discussing accomplishments, anyone who says Chad Morris is only the 6th best coach in the AAC fails to comprehend where SMU was before he arrived. He single-handedly pulled that plane out of the mountain it was nose-diving into and is now cruising at “flirting with a bowl game” plus more potential up ahead.

My ranking: Niumatalolo, Montgomery, Morris, Strong, Frost, Fritz, Norvell, Montgomery, Fickell, Applewhite, Collins, Edsall

Conference USA

I love Bill Clark as much as the next guy, but ranking him fourth on a single season of production and looking like he might succeed at not having lost momentum in the downtime is just a couple spots too high for me. That said, it’s nothing compared to ranking Lane Kiffin, Mike Sanford, and Butch Davis all above both Seth Littrell and Frank Wilson.

Did you actually watch any UTSA football last season? This team was a nightmare to face even when they were shooting themselves in the foot! Wilson should be no lower than 6th. Littrell is not quite on that level, but he made big improvements last year that should continue.

Sanford is an unproven commodity, and there’s no way that a head coach with no prior HC experience (the only such coach in the entire conference, by the way) is better than half of his peers. Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin are about as interchangeable as FAU and FIU themselves at this point in their respective existences with their respective schools. For that, I think FA/IU and their head coach Butane Davfin should rank around 9th.

My ranking: Holtz, Stockstill, Wilder, Holliday, Wilson, Clark, Littrell, Bailiff, Kiffin, Davis, Hopson, Sanford, Kugler, Lambert

Mid-American Conference

This conference only has one new coach this season, but in general, the newer guys are too high up. Lance Leipold had ridiculous success at the D3 level for eight years before coming to Buffalo, which has helped him all the way to seven wins in two years. You’ve got issues when you’re pining for the glory days of Joe Licata and Drew Willy.

Yet his experience and success are both far greater and more recent than Tim Lester, who somehow winds up 9th on this list. Lester is five years removed from five years at a mediocre D3 program, and Mike Jinks simply having survived his first season and ended it with a three-game win streak deserves a slot above the bottom, I think.

Not only that but how about Terry Bowden there at number four? I’m not sure that “dragging Akron football from the depths of despair back to being mostly good each year” is really deserving of being fourth best in the conference.

Chuck Martin is doing big things at Miami, and it’s about to turn into a big year, and the same could be said for Creighton at EMU (minus the potential for a big year this year. We shall see). Frank Solich, on the other hand, is the reason Ohio is relevant in the present day. Thanks, Nebraska!

My ranking: Solich, Martin, Candle, Creighton, Bonamego, Carey, Bowden, Neu, Jinks, Leipold, Haynes, Lester

Mountain West Conference

Welcome to the list they screwed up the least. I personally think that Jeff Tedford, the Randy Edsall of the Mountain West, is too high at #9 and that everyone in the top seven except Troy Calhoun and Mike Bobo is a slot too low, but it could certainly be argued as just fine the way it is.

Calhoun is probably a bit more of an underachiever relative to talent than some other coaches in the top half of the conference, but his consistency is not one to be denied.

My ranking: Long, Bohl, Harsin, Davie, Calhoun, Rolovich, Bobo, Wells, Sanchez, Tedford, Brennan, Norvell

Sun Belt Conference

Aiy dios mio, Athlon! You clearly need to watch more Sun Belt football. You definitely nailed the top three, and I understand that ranking a conference with so many new coaches can be difficult, but use some common sense.

There is no way on god’s green earth that Joey Jones is the fourth best coach in the conference. You can point to his 48-42 record if you like, but that conveniently includes South Alabama’s first two seasons of existence when they went 17-0 against a big pile of random NAIA teams. Jones is only 25-38 as a coach at the FBS level, and I’m not sure how long his bosses will wait before they realize the Jaguars will literally never win more than six games without a coaching change.

Joe Moglia and Matt Viator are both known names for FCS folks, but they haven’t done a damn thing at the FBS level yet, so placing them above Paul Petrino is just plain wrong. Mark Hudspeth is probably getting a little too much burn for his most recent lack of success, as ugly is it may be at times. On the flip side, we’re not giving enough flack here to Tyson Summers for screwing up a good thing over in Statesboro.

My rankings: Satterfield, Anderson, Brown, Hudspeth, Petrino, Viator, Moglia, Jones, Martin, Withers, Summers

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