As we enter the second half of the college football season, many coaches have put their respective teams in a great position to compete for a national championship. Here are five coaches who should be considered for the AP Coach of the Year at the midway point.
College Football Coach of the Year Candidates
5) Kalen DeBoer
The Washington Huskies have gotten off to a roaring start in Kalen DeBoer’s second season. The Huskies are 5-0 and are ranked sixth in the AP rankings. DeBoer has had a very successful career as a head coach, compiling a 95-11 record in nine years as the man in charge for Sioux Falls, Fresno State, and Washington.
In 2022, he was named the PAC 12 Coach of the Year after helping the Huskies to an 11-2 record. DeBoer has bigger goals in mind with his undefeated squad firing on all cylinders and looking to keep pace with powerhouses such as Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State. Washington has a couple of tough tests upcoming against Oregon and USC (ranked 8th and 10th respectively) and if they can manage to win these games, DeBoer is a sleeper pick for AP Coach of the Year.
4) Brent Venable
Just six games into the 2023 season, Oklahoma has matched their win total from a year ago with 6. Fresh off a huge 34-30 win against Texas, the Sooners have proved that they are a force to be reckoned with once again. Brent Venables is in his second stint with the program, after spending 12 years from 1999-2011 with the Sooners as an assistant coach.
During his first tenure, he was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is given to the top assistant coach in the nation. He replaced Lincoln Riley in 2021 and has rejuvenated this program, bringing them back into title contention after a disappointing 2022 season. If Oklahoma’s high-powered offense can continue to impress, Venable has a shot at being named Coach of the Year, but most importantly, the Sooners will have a chance to compete for the College Football Playoff.
3) Lincoln Riley
From one Oklahoma coach to another, Lincoln Riley has USC poised for another successful season. Armed with talent on both sides of the football, most notably Caleb Williams, USC remains unbeaten ahead of a tough test against Notre Dame. Riley is 17-3 since joining the Trojans and has a record of 12-1 against conference opponents.
The second half of the season will be very tough for the Trojans as they take on four ranked conference opponents. Every game is crucial down the stretch, but with Caleb Williams on offense, the USC Trojans have a great chance to sneak into the playoffs and prove that they are back among college football’s elite programs.
2) Nick Saban
No matter how many players they lose, Alabama will always be a highly competitive team. Over the last five seasons, Alabama has lost Jalen Hurts, Bryce Young, Jahmyr Gibbs, Pat Surtain, and Trevon Diggs amongst others, and they always return with a vengeance. Despite a loss earlier in the season, Alabama has cruised to a 5-1 record.
While they haven’t blown out teams, they always find a way to win and silence the critics week in and week out. Head coach Nick Saban has a lengthy resume including seven national titles, two Coach of the Year awards, and 285 wins between Toledo, LSU, Michigan State, and Alabama. Since joining Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide has been arguably the most successful program in all of college football, posting just one losing season (2007).
Compared to Oklahoma, Washington, and USC, the Crimson Tide have a relatively easy schedule coming down the stretch which could propel them to the top of the rankings and give Nick Saban another Coach of the Year award to add to his trophy case.
1) Kirby Smart
To find the last Georgia loss in a regular season game, you would have to go all the way back to November 7th, 2020 when they fell to Florida. Georgia is currently 6-0 and holds the top spot in the AP rankings. Kirby Smart has this team firing on all cylinders once again despite losing several key contributors from last season including Jalen Carter, Stetson Bennett, and Nolan Smith.
The offense has impressed, averaging 41.7 points and over 500 yards per game. With only two ranked games left on the schedule, Georgia is easily the team to beat in college football, which would undoubtedly put Kirby Smart in the mix for the AP Coach of the Year Award.
With six weeks to go in the regular season, a lot can change between now and December and we will find out soon enough who gets the nod as the best coach in college football.