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Predicting The Next 5 College Football Coaches Who Will Win Their First National Title

Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh leads the team onto the field.

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 22: Head coach Jim Harbaugh leads the team onto the field while playing the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 22, 2016 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 41-8. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Each year, only a handful of college football teams realistically have a chance to win the national title. That number of teams changes each season, but it never seems to get larger than 8-10.

That's why the group of coaches who have won national titles is so small. There are only four current head coaches with the ultimate prize on their resume: Alabama's Nick Saban, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher and Clemson's Dabo Swinney, who is the most recent first-time winner.

The title-winning fraternity is small, but as you can see with Swinney's entrance in 2016, there is room for new members.

So who will be the next coaches to win their first national title? We have an idea.

Here is who we think are the five coaches with the best odds of joining elite company.

5. Jim Harbaugh - Michigan

Jim Harbaugh head coach of the Michigan Wolverines runs onto the field prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

(Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)

Make this list a couple of years ago, and Harbaugh is a couple of spots higher. Now, you could realistically leave him off and insert someone like Florida State's Willie Taggart or Penn State's James Franklin.

So why are we leaving Harbaugh on the list? Well, the Wolverines reeled in top-10 recruiting classes in 2016 and 2017 and they have one right now for 2019. Even 2018's haul, while below that level, ranked 21st. There's a lot of talent at Harbaugh's disposal, and if he can ever get the quarterback position settled, the potential is there for the Wolverines to take off. They already have found their defensive groove under coordinator Don Brown, but need to be more dynamic to finally win the Big Ten and compete for a national title.

4. Tom Herman - Texas

Tom Herman walking down the Texas Longhorns sideline.

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Texas football has fallen off considerably since the 2009 season, when it went 13-1 with the only loss coming in the BCS Championship Game. Herman has been entrusted with turning things around in Austin, and he's showing signs of progress.

Last year's Texas Bowl was the Longhorns' first bowl win in five seasons, and Herman followed that up by inking the No. 3 recruiting class in the country. The next step is finding a quarterback and beating Oklahoma. After that, the Longhorns can set their sights on bigger prizes, like the Big-12 and national titles.

3. Dan Mullen - Florida

Dan Mullen speaking to the media at a Florida Gators press conference.

(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Mullen helped Florida win a pair of national championships as an assistant under Urban Meyer. He was successful at Mississippi State, reaching eight bowl games in nine seasons and even leading the Bulldogs to the No. 1 ranking in the country for a brief time in 2014.

There is the belief that if Mullen can do all that in Starkville, he can do even more in Gainesville. Florida has better resources, more tradition, a more fertile recruiting base, you name it. Expect Mullen to tap into all of that, and assuming he works his magic on the Gators' floundering offense, he should be a national champion sooner rather than later.

2. Lincoln Riley - Oklahoma

A closeup of Lincoln Riley wearing a grey Oklahoma sweater before a game.

(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Riley came pretty close to winning it all in his first season as Oklahoma's head coach. He inherited a great situation from Bob Stoops, and used his offensive innovation to help the Sooners reach the College Football Playoff.

Now the hard part is here. Riley must replace Baker Mayfield and not only keep Oklahoma performing at a high level, but also get the Sooners over the national championship hump for the first time since 2000. He looks like he will be up for the task, and maybe he'll get some revenge on the man who eliminated him from last season's playoff, who happens to be No. 1 on our list.

1. Kirby Smart - Georgia

A closeup of Kirby Smart in Georgia Bulldogs apparel.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The obvious choice here. Smart came oh so painfully close to kicking the door down and breaking Georgia's championship drought in his second season at his alma mater. There will now be added pressure to take the next step and win it all.

We think Smart will do just that. It might be this season, it might be 2019 or it could be after that. The fact is, Georgia is recruiting at an elite level and those players are producing when they get to campus. In recent years we've seen the Cubs, the Cavaliers and the Eagles snap long professional championship droughts. Why can't Georgia do it in college?