Lincoln Riley named best coach in Pac-12, top-five among Power Five coaches
On Wednesday, CBS Sports revealed the top 25 in its annual ranking of every Power Five head football coach heading into the new season. A group of voters made up of writers from both CBS Sports and 247Sports went through and ranked each of the 65 coaches with “any criteria we choose to follow.”
And that group ranked Lincoln Riley first among Pac-12 coaches and fourth among all Power Five head coaches.
The first-year USC coach was ahead of Ohio State’s Ryan Day (sixth) and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher (fifth) and only behind a trio of coaches who need no identifiers—Dabo Swinney, Kirby Smart, and Nick Saban.
Here’s what they said about Riley:
“Ever since Riley left Oklahoma for USC, Sooners fans have been talking about how they’re fine with it because the program had been slipping recently anyway. While I think that’s mostly the shock talking, it’s proven true in our rankings! Riley drops a spot from No. 3 to No. 4, but even that drop has more to do with Kirby Smart than Riley. After five seasons at Oklahoma, 2021 was the first time Riley failed to win the Big 12. He’s gone 55-10 and reached the College Football Playoff three times. Few coaches in the sport can claim the same accomplishments, so there are few coaches ranked ahead of him here.”
Smart jumped from No. 7 to No. 2 after helping Georgia to a national title last season.
At USC, that’s exactly what Riley hopes to do. The Trojans brought in the former Oklahoma man to course-correct after a disastrous 4-8 season. In the months since, Riley has secured the top-ranked transfer class in college football, one headlined by Heisman hopeful quarterback Caleb Williams.
Riley has been in the Top 10 of this particular CBS Sports ranking each year since 2018. As a first-time head coach, he debuted at No. 15 in 2017.
CBS Sports ranked the rest of the Pac-12 coaches as follows, with their overall rank in parenthesis:
- Lincoln Riley, USC (4)
- Kyle Whittingham, Utah (8)
- Chip Kelly, UCLA (28)
- David Shaw, Stanford (29)
- Jonathan Smith, Oregon State (37)
- Justin Wilcox, California (44)
- Kalen DeBoer, Washington (51)
- Dan Lanning, Oregon (54)
- Herm Edwards, Arizona State (55)
- Karl Dorrell, Colorado (59)
- Jedd Fisch, Arizona (61)
- Jake Dickert, Washington State (63)