Since it’s highly debatable who the five most underrated college football coaches are, here are five more to keep the debate going. As of today, two of the five from the previous article have moved on. On Saturday, head coach Jonathan Smith left Oregon State to become the head man at Michigan State, and Mike Elko left Duke to take over at Texas A&M. There’s no telling if and when the other three may leave. However, there are five more coaches who could be getting calls to lead other programs.
Five More Underrated College Football Coaches
A Man Of Troy But Not In Los Angeles
In just his second season as a head coach, Jon Sumrall has put together a very impressive win-loss record of 22-4. His team tied for the Sun Belt West Division championship last season and they won it outright this year. At just 41 years of age and with a long career as an assistant, Sumrall has quickly made a name for himself amongst the ranks of college coaches nationwide.
His Trojans won the Sun Belt championship and their bowl game last season. They will play for another league championship on December 2nd against Appalachian State and will definitely be going bowling again. What makes his success even more impressive is the fact that he inherited a team that went 5-7 the season before he took over. Yes, he was on the staff but that’s not the same as being the man in charge.
As speculation has begun about the possibility of leaving, Coach Sumrall has said all the right things about how happy he is right where he is. That doesn’t mean he isn’t telling the truth. We have, however, heard the same thing from many other coaches before only to see them leave. If he doesn’t leave now, it will become increasingly more difficult for Sumrall to stay at Troy. One thing is certain, calls aren’t going to stop.
Mark Lindsay Must Be Proud
Okay, so someone just dated themselves, but for those who don’t know, Lindsay was the lead singer for the rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders. In 1970, Lindsay released his own hit single called Arizona. Obviously, next up is Arizona head football coach Jedd Fisch.
Like Sumrall, this is Coach Fisch’s first full-time gig as a head coach. We’re not counting two games as interim head coach at UCLA during the 2017 campaign. He also has had a long career as an assistant in college and in the NFL. His teams have shown the same usual upward trajectory that gets the attention of athletic directors and university presidents. In his first season, the Wildcats went 1-11, followed by 5-7. They are 9-3 this season in spite of playing most of this year without their starting quarterback from last season.
Fisch did sign a contract extension just last season. However, his buyout is a paltry $5 million making him in play if another school decides they have to have him. When asked about his name coming up in other coaches, Fisch redirected the conversation to their next opponent, the Utah Utes. Then his team went out and clobbered the Utes. HMMM.
They Might Still Be Rambling But They’re Not a Wreck
Let’s face it. Georgia Tech has been bad for a while. Bad. In the 2019-2021 seasons, the Yellow Jackets won three games each season. That kind of record gets coaches fired and in this case, it certainly did. Current head coach Brent Key took over on an interim basis during the 2022 season and immediately had his team playing tough, competitive football.
His overall win-loss record of 10-10 might not jump off the charts, but this team is much better than in recent years. This past week, Tech jumped out to an early lead against undefeated and two-time defending national champion Georgia before losing 31-23. Under Key’s stewardship, Georgia Tech has rediscovered the passing game that had been missing under former head coach Paul Johnson.
One thing that differentiates Key from the other coaches on the list is that he is coaching at his alma mater. Time will tell if loyalty prevails over bigger opportunities. Winning a national championship at Georgia Tech is a nearly impossible task.
Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Cash
12-0 is 12-0 anyway you slice it. What separated Liberty head coach Jamey Chadwell from other up-and-comers is that he’s had tremendous success at two college football programs. Who ever heard of Coastal Carolina football before he was their coach? That’s right, nobody. Chadwell did surprise some by making what seemed like a lateral move to Liberty. However, he may be smarter than the rest of us as his team’s 12-0 record surpasses the accomplishments of the much better-known Coach Hugh Freeze who left Liberty to take over a struggling Auburn program. Just this past week, Liberty smoked Chadwell’s former team, 56-14.
Chadwell is clearly at the top of or near the top of the list of coaches that will be in high demand this off-season and next off-season if he stays. It won’t be a good look if he bolts after only one season, but long term, it looks like a foregone conclusion that Chadwell will move on.
UTSA football used to fall into the same category that Coastal Carolina was in. Get scheduled by the big boys for a guaranteed win in exchange for a check. UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor has led the Roadrunners to a 38-14 win-loss record over four seasons. That record has earned Traylor two Coach of the Year awards in Conference USA. His teams also play an exciting brand of football that puts up a lot of points. From a timing standpoint, the University of Houston just dismissed head coach Dana Holgorsen earlier today. To make a dating analogy, Traylor is geographically desirable. It’s essentially a guarantee that the Cougars make that call. Will he answer?
And there you have five more college head football coaches who will be in high demand sooner rather than later. It will be difficult for each of their current schools to keep them long-term.
Did you have another coach in mind who should have been here? Perhaps we’ve already covered them!
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