With Clemson’s second national championship win in the last three years, Dabo Swinney has entered the Nick Saban tier. It is hard to argue against the Alabama and Clemson head coaches being in a league of their own.
Swinney may own the recent upper hand, but Saban hasn’t lost his fastball, and has history to fall back on. Most coach ranking lists seem to still have Saban at the top.
Today, the Sporting News released its 1-130 ranking of the head coaches in Division I. Naturally, the top-line debate comes down to Swinney vs. Saban.
Ultimately, Sporting News is sticking with Nick Saban at No. 1, while acknowledging things are “closer than ever” with Swinney.
From the write-up on the two rival coaches:
No. 2: Dabo Swinney, Clemson:
There’s a case to be made for Swinney at No. 1, considering the Tigers are coming off the first 15-0 season of the CFP era and he’s 2-2 against Nick Saban and Alabama over the last four years. Clemson is recruiting like a superpower now, too. We’ll write it down now: If Swinney and the Tigers go back-to-back (Alabama is the last team to do it), then we’ll put him No. 1 next season.
No. 1: Nick Saban, Alabama:
It’s closer than ever with Swinney now, but the Crimson Tide have one year left in a dominant decade that has produced four of the five national championships during Saban’s tenure. That includes five straight Playoff appearances and four championship game appearances. “The Process” never ends, and Saban has shown no signs of slowing down.
The two are in the same spots as they were the year before in the SN rankings.
Here’s how the rest of the top 15:
3. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
4. Kirby Smart, Georgia
5. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
6. Chris Petersen, Washington
7. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
8. Dan Mullen, Florida
9. Tom Herman, Texas
10. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
11. David Shaw, Stanford
12. Gary Patterson, TCU
13. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
14. James Franklin, Penn State
15. Ed Orgeron, LSU
Ohio State’s Ryan Day enters the ranking at No. 22, a pretty lofty spot for a first year head coach. He’s one spot ahead of one of the names connected to the Ohio State job when it was open, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell. Right behind them is a controversial pick: Mack Brown, who certainly didn’t coach like a top 25 guy at the end of his Texas tenure, though he may be re-energized at North Carolina.
Iowa stalwart Kirk Ferentz sits at No. 25, Scott Frost remains at No. 28, where he debuted as Nebraska coach last year. Syracuse’s Dino Babers jumps from No. 81 up to No. 34, the biggest move up of any coach.