The 2018 college football season has not quite ended yet, but there's already plenty to look forward to in the 2019 season.
Sports Illustrated did a breakdown of the 2019 season and pointed to two coaches who were likely to change the college football landscape.
The first name to note was Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. Heading into his third year at the helm, Riley has already led the Sooners to back-to-back Big 12 titles and College Football Playoff appearances.
Oklahoma’s coach is, at the end of 2018, both two years and two Heisman winners deep into his tenure as the Sooner’s headman. (Oh, he also has two playoff berths on his resume in that span.) Riley may be the most fascinating coach in the game, both in terms of what he’s achieved in Norman behind Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray and due to questions, which should increase, about if and when he’ll jump to the next level. Just imagine if Murray decides to hold off or give up baseball and instead quarterback in the NFL. Imagine if his career starts going the way Mayfield’s has this fall—that is to say, well. Riley’s system prepares his players for the next level, and he’s proven he can have wild success with two quarterbacks who possess hugely different skill sets. His offenses at Oklahoma have been as productive as they are efficient, the Air Raid scheme that forms the basis of his philosophy has gained traction in the NFL in recent years. Riley’s name will continue to be linked to open pro jobs, and it’ll be fascinating to see how long he stays at Oklahoma (two more decades seems as likely as two more years), as well as what he can do with quarterbacks to come.
The other head coach of note is Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. Following Urban Meyer's retirement after the upcoming Rose Bowl, Day will take over as the full-time head coach.
Day is about to embark on a journey at Ohio State that will look similar to Riley’s at Oklahoma. Once the Buckeyes finish the Rose Bowl, Urban Meyer will retire, and his 39-year-old offensive coordinator will take over. Like Riley, Day has spent a few seasons with the team he's about to inherit, but he’s not entrenched in its history and system—which means he isn’t necessarily tied to its faults. Day will inherit a talented roster (one that’ll be significantly easier to win with should quarterback Dwayne Haskins stick around) with defensive issues that need to be remedied, and he has all the pieces to keep on winning. But he’s also not Meyer, who’s the third-winningest coach in the history of the game; bemoan his unconscionable proclivity toward looking the other way off the field all you want, but this is a coach who can define a program. Ohio State will face and adjustment under Day, and next fall, he’ll be the most fascinating new coach to watch, under one of the sport’s brightest spotlights. How he shapes Ohio State in this new era will have a bigger ripple effect in the Big Ten and among college football’s power structure of contenders—and if he succeeds the way Riley has early, that model of promoting a young hotshot coordinator might catch on even more than it has.
Regardless of whether they can lead their teams to even better records than 2018, the teams to beat are still Alabama and Georgia.