Affiliate Disclosure This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may earn a commission.

Ranking the SuperWest College Football Coaches for 2024

Our Stephen Vilardo gives us his assessment of how the head men stack up in preseason

Posted on May 28, 2024


  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

This upcoming college football season brings plenty of change with conference realignment kicking in and some new coaches in place this fall.

Among the 25 SuperWest programs in our coverage footprint, 10 will open the 2024 campaign with a different head coach at the helm.

Ranking them is always a subjective endeavor, and some probably deserve to be ranked higher, but this is how I see them stacking up heading into the preseason.

In fairness to the three first-time head coaches who have yet to coach a game, we have placed them in a separate category with comments at the bottom, designated simply as not ranked (NR).

Rob Gray/USA TODAY Sports
Rob Gray/USA TODAY Sports

1. Kyle Whittingham, Utah (Big 12)

Career Record: 162–79
2023 Record: 8-5

Whittingham is currently tied for the second longest-tenured head coach in FBS having led the Utes since 2005.

A master of evaluation and development, he always seems to get the most from the talent on his roster.

His career winning percentage of .672 entering the 2024 season stands as the second-best among active Big 12 head coaches, and his 162 career wins are sixth-best in the nation among active FBS coaches.

Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard
Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard

2. Dan Lanning, Oregon (Big Ten)

Career Record: 22-5
2023 Record: 12-2

Lanning has posted a 22-5 mark since taking over the Ducks in 2022, establishing himself as one of the nation’s top recruiters.

Having served as the defensive coordinator for Kirby Smart at Georgia before coming to Eugene, he appears to be on his way to making UO the UGA of the West.

While he sometimes gets too aggressive with his in-game decisions during big games, at just 38 years old, he’ll have plenty of time to make those risks pay off big.

Troy Babbitt/USA TODAY Sports
Troy Babbitt/USA TODAY Sports

3. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State (Mountain West)

Career Record: 126-79
2023 Record: 9-4

In his 16 seasons as a head coach at the FBS level, Tedford has taken his teams to 12 bowl games.

Known as an offensive mastermind during his two stints with the Bulldogs, he has amassed an impressive record, producing numerous winning seasons, even in what appeared to be rebuilding campaigns.

His .617 career win percentage is among the best in the nation and his 127 wins are the ninth most among active FBS coaches.

Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times
Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

4. Jedd Fisch, Washington (Big Ten)

Career Record: 17-22
2023 Record: 10-3

Jedd Fisch took Arizona from one of the nation’s longest losing streaks to an Alamo Bowl victory and a No. 11 national ranking in just three seasons.

His career record suffers from having taken over a winless team, but he is an impressive 12-4 in his last 16 games.

At Washington, he is tasked with keeping the national runners-up from a season ago among the nation’s best.

An interesting staff side note: His coordinators this season are both sons of future NFL Hall of Famers: Brennan Carroll and Stephen Belichick.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

5. Barry Odom, UNLV (Mountain West)

Career Record: 34-30
2023 Record: 9-5

Odom had moderate success at Missouri during his first head coaching job.

But in his first season with the Rebels, he took them to the Mountain West title game and their first bowl game in a decade.

His tenure in Las Vegas began with UNLV’s best start in almost 40 years.

Now the question is, Can he sustain the success?

Steven King/Icon Sportswire
Steven King/Icon Sportswire

6. Troy Calhoun, Air Force (Mountain West)

Career Record: 130–82
2023 Record: 9-4

You know what you’re going to get when you play The Air Force Academy: they’ll run the ball…see if you can stop it—and most can’t.

Calhoun’s teams don’t turn the ball over and they don’t beat themselves.

He has been consistently winning in a good league for 17 years, leading the Falcons to 13 bowl games in that time.

No easy feat, especially at a service academy.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

7. Lincoln Riley, USC (Big Ten)

Career Record: 74–18
2023 Record: 8-5

The knock-on Lincoln Riley recently has been his inability to win the big ones, going 0-3 in CFP games and just 2-4 in bowl games.

The fact is he has won over 80% of the games he has coached at Oklahoma and USC. In his seven years as a head coach, his teams have played in five NY6 bowl games.

He recruits a ton of talent and gets them to win at a high rate. They just need to win at the end of the year now.

Utah State Athletics
Utah State Athletics

8. Blake Anderson, Utah State (Mountain West)

Career Record: 74–54
2023 Record: 6-7

Anderson has led his teams to bowl games in nine of the 10 seasons as a head coach with the lone exception coming in 2020, at Arkansas State.

Since arriving in Logan, he has led the Aggies to a conference title in 2021 and a 15-9 mark in Mountain West play.

His record in bowl games is not quite as stellar, at 3-6 for his career.

But you can always count on his clubs to be competitive and win throughout the season.

Arizona Athletics
Arizona Athletics

9. Brent Brennan, Arizona (Big 12)

Career Record: 34–48
2023 Record: 7-6

Brennan’s tenure at San Jose State started slowly but he got things going in the last five seasons with the Spartans winning 54% of his games and finishing in the top two in the conference three of those seasons.

There will be a jump up in competition in the Big 12, but he should be able to recruit the players he needs.

Jedd Fisch laid down the foundation in Tucson, and we’ll see if Brennan can build on it.

Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP
Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP

10. Spencer Danielson, Boise State (Mountain West)

Career Record: 3-1
2023 Record: 3-1

Admittedly, there is not a lot to go off as Danielson was only in charge of the Broncos for the final four games of the 2023 season.

I think he proved a lot in that stretch, righting the ship and bringing home a conference championship while earning the job he currently has.

Bringing back proven play-caller and quarterback whisperer Dirk Koetter back as OC was a savvy move that should help Danielson get the most out of his talented offense.


11. Bronco Mendenhall, New Mexico (Mountain West)

Career Record: 135–81
2023 Record: Did not coach

Mendenhall
Mendenhall has produced at his two prior head coaching stops, winning nearly 70% of his contests at BYU and taking Virginia to an ACC Championship game and Orange Bowl.

His work will be cut out for him at New Mexico, but if he can get the Lobos winning at a high rate, he’ll certainly have proved his worth.


12. Ken Niumatalolo, San Jose State (Mountain West)

Career Record: 109–83
2023 Record: Assistant at UCLA

Niumatalolo
It will be interesting to see what the Spartans look like, especially on offense in the first season under Niumatalolo.

The head coach maximized what he had at Navy with 11 bowl trips in his first 13 seasons with the Midshipmen.

Things got a little rough in the last three seasons in Annapolis, but Niumatalolo was able to win at Navy, we should see results in San Jose.


13. Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State (Big 12)

Career Record: 3-9
2023 Record: 3-9

Dillingham
Dillingham is the youngest head coach in the FBS and his first season in Tempe did not yield a ton of success.

Despite a 3-9 mark, the first Sun Devil alum to be the head coach at ASU showed what he can do.

In Year One, Dillingham got creative with the offense and the personnel he had.

As he adds talent and depth to the roster the Devils should be in a good spot.


14. Sean Lewis, San Diego State (Mountain West)

Career Record: 24–31
2023 Record: Assistant at Colorado

Lewis

Sean Lewis left his head coaching spot with Kent State to become the OC at Colorado last season in hopes it would accelerate his coaching accent.

While the stint as offensive coordinator may not have gone as planned, the initial strategy paid off. SDSU and the MW is a step up from the MAC.

He led the Flashes to the program’s first bowl victory in 2019 and played for the MAC title in 2021. Lewis can develop QBs and gets a lot out of his offenses.

The Aztecs may look a lot different in a few years, but they should stay towards the top of the MW.


15. Troy Taylor, Stanford (ACC)

Career Record: 33–17
2023 Record: 3-9

Taylor
Year One with the Cardinal did not yield the results that Taylor is accustomed to in his career as a head coach.

The nine losses last season were more than he had previously in his entire career. But then, the cupboard was not exactly stocked for him when he arrived at Stanford.

Will the Cardinal have a three-year run in the ACC that sees them go 23-1 in conference play like he had at Sac State? Probably not, but I’d expect his teams to get competitive in the new league sooner rather than later.


16. Kalani Sitake, BYU (Big 12)

Career Record: 61–41
2023 Record: 5-7

Sitake
Sitake has had just two losing seasons in his eight-year run at BYU.

From 2020-21, he led the Cougars to 21 wins in 25 games.

However, the transition to the Big 12 last season was a little shaky with a disappointing 2-7 mark in conference play.


17. Jeff Choate, Nevada (Mountain West)

Career Record: 28–22
2023 Record: Assistant at Texas

Choate
Choate turned Montana State into an FCS power in his four seasons in Bozeman.

The last three seasons he led the Texas defense.

Last season the Longhorns ranked 12th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 18.9 points per game in the normally high-scoring Big 12.

There could be some early bumps in the road, but the Wolf Pack could be set for a bright future.


18. Justin Wilcox, Cal (ACC)

Career Record: 36–43
2023 Record: 6-7

Wilcox
The Golden Bears went 3-0 to close out the regular season in 2023 and earn an Independence Bowl berth.

That stretch may have saved Wilcox’s job as the Bears have had four straight losing seasons.

Entering season eight in Berkley, Wilcox may need this one to be a winning campaign to keep it from being his last on the sidelines for the Bears.


19. Jay Norvell, Colorado State (Mountain West)

Career Record: 41–42
2023 Record: 5-7

Norvell
Norvell came to CSU from Nevada as an offensive genius.

The offensive prowess his teams had in Reno has yet to make the trip east to Fort Collins. His first two seasons with CSU have produced an 8-16 mark and 6-10 record in conference play.

The production has not been there yet for the Rams, but they did show some grit last season, though a few bad losses kept them from going bowling.


20. Deion Sanders, Colorado (Big 12)

Career Record: 31–14
2023 Record: 4-8

Sanders
For the second straight season, Colorado has sold out their season tickets. It’s the first time the school has accomplished that since 1996.

Deion Sanders sells tickets and that is a good thing, but the on-the-field results have not yet followed.

Colorado was a bad team last year. There were some glaring holes, but also a ton of talent for a last-place team.

At JSU his teams were great in the regular season and went 0-2 in Celebration Bowls.

He can certainly recruit and get talented players. Now he needs them to produce more wins.


21. Jake Dickert, Washington State (Pac-12)

Career Record: 15–16
2023 Record: 5-7

Dickert
Dickert led the Cougars to a 3-1 finish in Pac-12 play and a Sun Bowl berth in his interim campaign. That success led to him being named permanent head coach.

He followed it up with another bowl in his first full year and started 2023 off 4-0 before tumbling to a 1-7 finish.

The Cougs are now no man’s land with conference realignment and this season could become a make-or-break campaign for both the program and the head coach.


22. Timmy Chang, Hawai’i (Mountain West)

Career Record: 8–18
2023 Record: 5-8

Chang
In his first two years as head coach at Hawai’i, Chang’s teams have struggled.

There was improvement from year one to year two, but the Rainbow Warriors still have a way to go.

Chang needs to get the bodies that can make his offensive scheme click.


Unranked First-Time Head Coaches

NR: Trent Bray, Oregon State (Pac-12)

Bray
Bray was the man in charge of the Beavers’ defense the last two seasons, and it was really good while he was leading them.

As a first-time head coach, he will lead his alma mater through an odd stretch as the Beavers lack an established conference to call home.

The one constant should be the defensive intensity from OSU.

NR:  DeShaun Foster, UCLA (Big Ten)

Foster
Among the three first-time head coaches Foster may be the oddest of the hires to have never even been a coordinator at any level.

But he brings with him a big name that will be recognizable to recruits and some time on the staff of a couple of brilliant offensive coaches in Chip Kelly (UCLA) and Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech).

If that past is any indication, along with the hiring of Eric Bieniemy as OC, the Bruins could shine—and be a lot of fun to watch—on offense.

NR: Jay Sawvel, Wyoming (Mountain West)

Sawvel
Sawvel takes over at Wyoming after serving as Craig Bohl’s defensive coordinator for the last four seasons.

Don’t look for much to change in Laramie. The former linebacker will continue to have the Cowboys playing hard-nosed football with an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball.

The Pokes have been a mainstay in the postseason in the last five seasons but are still in search of their first conference title since 1993.




—More from Stephen Vilardo—