Head Coach Rankings: How Good Were All 76 This Bowl Season?

Head Coach Rankings: How Good Were All 76 This Bowl Season?

Which head coaches did the best jobs this bowl season, and which ones struggled? Here are all 76 head coaches this 2021-2022 bowl season ranked from who rocked and who didn’t.

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season

Which head coaches and their staffs did the best jobs this bowl season, and which ones had a rough run?

Very, very loosely based on what the expectations were for each team, talent level, betting lines – at least a little bit – and which teams played above their heads and which ones sputtered, here’s our ranking of the jobs done by all 76 head coaches in the post-season.

Two key notes. 1) There isn’t any extra love or punishment for one bad decision – like a fourth down try that didn’t work, and 2) the interim head coaches were randomly thrown in here, but they all deserve a break from the scrutiny.

CFN Final Rankings | National Championship 5 Thoughts
Ranking Every Bowl | National Championship Game Notes
Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

76. Mack Brown, North Carolina

Duke’s Mayo Bowl
South Carolina 38, North Carolina 21
Brown’s double-digit favorite team didn’t have it …18-0. That was the score after the first quarter, and the Tar Heels couldn’t adjust to stop the run and get off the field. This was a good South Carolina team, but it wasn’t 543 yards of total offense good.

75. Deion Sanders, Jackson State

Cricket Celebration Bowl
South Carolina State 31, Jackson State 10
With all the momentum in the world after a big recruiting coup, and with all the national buzz and attention, Sanders’ Tiger team was a total dud. Amazing all year long, the Tigers weren’t even close, finishing with fewer than 200 yards of total offense, eight penalties, and three turnovers in an ugly loss.

74. Eliah Drinkwitz, Missouri

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Army 24, Missouri 22
Of course Missouri would’ve been a whole lot better had star RB Tyler Badie played, but the call of Brady Cook at quarterback almost worked. It was a great game against a well-coached team, but this is an SEC team with SEC talent that lost to a service academy. That’s not okay.

73. Jake Dickert, Washington State

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
Central Michigan 24, Washington State 21
Washington State got to play a random MAC team to fill in after Miami tapped out. Maybe the Cougars weren’t focused, maybe they let their guard down, maybe a few missing parts made a difference as the team didn’t wake up until it was too late. Central Michigan turned it over twice, got flagged 11 times, and it still won after getting up 21-0 in the first half.

72. Mike Leach, Mississippi State

AutoZone Liberty Bowl,
Texas Tech 34, Mississippi State 7
Yeah, there were a whole lot of key opt-out losses – to be fair, the offensive tackle situation was a problem – but you’re an SEC team, Mississippi State. You don’t lose to Texas Tech 34-7 with the offense sputtering that poorly. You can’t have a brand that’s all about offense, and then struggle that much will plenty of time to prepare.

71. Scott Satterfield, Louisville

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Air Force 31, Louisville 28
The Cardinals had the offensive explosion, it had the Power Five/ACC talent, and it couldn’t hold up to the Air Force passing game? The offense worked well and it still wasn’t enough because the Air Force coaching staff’s game plan got the job done. Satterfield really needed this win, and he didn’t get it.

Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

NEXT: Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 70

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 70

70. Jonathan Smith, Oregon State

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl
Utah State 24, Oregon State 13
It wasn’t just that the Pac-12 team lost to the Mountain West team – even if it was the Mountain West champion. It’s that the Pac-12 team with the good offensive-minded coaching staff managed just two field goals after taking a 7-0 first quarter lead. The 13 penalties and two turnovers didn’t help.

69. Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Baylor 21, Ole Miss 7
Really? There was NO backup plan in case Matt Corral got hurt or decided at the last second he didn’t want to play? The game was there for the taking in the fourth quarter, and the Rebel O couldn’t do anything.

68. Vai Taua, Nevada

Quick Lane Bowl,
Western Michigan 52, Nevada 24
It was a tough beat for the interim head coach. He didn’t have his star QB Carson Strong, the coaching staff was changing up, and … it was a MAC team. Western Michigan wasn’t Michigan. It should’ve been a more competitive game.

67. JC Price, Virginia Tech

New Era Pinstripe Bowl,
Maryland 54, Virginia Tech 10
That wasn’t fair. Price didn’t have a whole lot to work with, the entire focus of the program was to move on to 2022 and the Brent Pry era, and the team on the field just went through the motions. Even so, it’s not like Maryland was Georgia – the Hokies should’ve had something to rely in offensively.

66. Kalani Sitake, BYU

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
UAB 31, BYU 28
Yeah, QB Jaren Hall wasn’t available, but Baylor Romney wasn’t awful. The offense got a massive day out of RB Tyler Allgeier, the team woke up to make it a game, and … the defense didn’t do much of anything outside of a takeaway. UAB was good, but BYU won too many good games to end the year like this.

65. Bryan Harsin, Auburn

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
Houston 17, Auburn 13
The team that almost beat Alabama couldn’t hold on late in that, and it couldn’t hang on to get by Houston. Auburn might have missed some parts, but the Power Five SEC team was outgained, did nothing in the first half, and it lost to the Power Five program – even it was a good one.

64. Bryan McClendon, Oregon

Valero Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma 47, Oregon 32
The Ducks got 32 points. They were never in the game, a slew of the key parts were gone, the head coach took his talents to South Beach, and this was going to be a rough ride no matter what. Still, Oklahoma was missing its coach and a slew of its players, too, and it was 30-3 Sooners at halftime.

63. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan

LendingTree Bowl
Liberty 56, Eastern Michigan 20
There weren’t any answers for the onslaught. Eastern Michigan was outmanned and outgunned – future NFL QB Malik Willis got things rolling for Liberty – and this got out of hand fast. The better team won, but the underdog wasn’t even close.

62. Greg Knox, Florida

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl
UCF 29, Florida 17
Florida just doesn’t get to have fun in bowl games. Last year it lost all its players before getting torched by Oklahoma, and this time around it didn’t have head coach Dan Mullen against a pumped up UCF. Knox and the staff couldn’t make magic out of the defense, and the offense stalled out too much in the second half.

61. Seth Littrell, North Texas

Frisco Bowl Classic,
Miami University 27, North Texas 14
Yeah, bowl games have been rough under this regime – Littrell is now 0-5 in these things. The offense failing to do much of anything over the last 40 minutes and the defense having a hard time getting off the field.

Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

NEXT: Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 60

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 60

60. Mike Neu, Ball State

Camellia Bowl
Georgia State 51, Ball State 20
The running game never got gong, the defense went bye-bye after halftime, and the offense pressed and bad things happened. Georgia State went on a 51-6 run and the Cardinals couldn’t adjust and get it back in a disastrous third quarter. Ball State shouldn’t have been rocked this badly.

59. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Capital One Orange Bowl
Georgia 34, Michigan 11
Michigan ran into a buzzsaw. It didn’t play Georgia. It played the team that was playing like it needed to get some work in before dealing with Alabama. Michigan was better than it showed, but no one was beating the ultra-focused, rested eventual national champion that had to sit on the SEC Championship loss for over a month. Still … Michigan was never in it, and it should’ve been.

58. Jason Candle, Toledo

Bahamas Bowl
Middle Tennessee 31, Toledo 24
He doesn’t have a whole lot of luck in bowl games. He won his first one after taking over the gig, and lost four straight ever since. His offense only turned it over once – MIddle Tennessee was a killer at taking the ball away – the ground game was fantastic, and Toledo lost because it couldn’t hold on. Why is Candle so low? The running attack was amazing, and the staff didn’t stick with it.

57. Brad Davis, LSU

Mercari Texas Bowl
Kansas State 42, LSU 20
There was NOTHING he could’ve done. His team fought hard and gave it a go, but he didn’t have any players. Give Davis credit for getting the Tigers who were still around fired up to give it the old college try.

56. Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame

Playstation Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma State 37, Notre Dame 35
The good days are going to come, but this was a rough start for Freeman and the coaching staff in the collapse. The Irish were up 28-7 before giving up 30 straight points in a disastrous third quarter. There were several questionable moments and decisions to try stopping the avalanche, but Oklahoma State was really, really good.

55. Shawn Clark, Appalachian State

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl
WKU 59, Appalachian State 38
This was a strong Mountaineer team that never figured it all out. The offense came up with over 600 yards, the running game was great, the passing attack was terrific, and … the four turnovers were a killer. That was a problem. The bigger issue was the defense that didn’t have a prayer of stopping the WKU attack.

54. Greg Schiano, Rutgers

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Wake Forest 38, Rutgers 10
Rutgers got to play in a bowl game it shouldn’t have been in. Schiano’s team gave it a shot, but this is what happens when a team goes bowling based on academics over on field production. It was a bad situation to be thrown into, but give Schiano credit for getting his team together enough to play.

53. Sean Lewis, Kent State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Wyoming 52, Kent State 38
At least the Lewis offense was on-brand. Kent State came up with well over 300 yards passing, well over 300 yards rushing, and the defense wasn’t even close to stopping Wyoming QB Levi Williams. Everything worked offensively, and yet the D couldn’t get that one big stop.

52. Neal Brown, West Virginia

Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Minnesota 18, West Virginia 6
The Mountaineers weren’t as good as the Gophers and were supposed to lose, but there wasn’t anything happening offensively. There were chances there for the taking – the defense did a good job in the second half – but the O was a total dud against a D that was good, but it wasn’t next-level special.

51. Charles Huff, Marshall

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana 36, Marshall 21
That was a strong Ragin’ Cajun team the Herd faced, Huff’s team couldn’t hold on. Marshall just couldn’t get the offense going in the second half to take over. It wasn’t playing all that well offensively, and the defense struggled, but the team was up 21-16 going into the fourth – and then it all fell apart.

Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

NEXT: Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 50

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 50

50. Matt Campbell, Iowa State

Cheez-It Bowl
Clemson 20, Iowa State 13
Everyone knew Clemson’s offense wasn’t going to do much. Everyone knew Clemson’s defense was good. Iowa State, though, couldn’t get into the end zone until the fourth quarter, there wasn’t any ground game, and the disappointing season ended with a thud to a Tiger team undergoing an overhaul.

49. James Franklin, Penn State

Outback Bowl
Arkansas 24, Penn State 10
Where was the offense? Where was the defense against the run? Where were the running backs? Arkansas might have played well, but where was the control over the game? It was there for the taking, and Franklin and the coaching staff couldn’t make anything happen in the second half.

48. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati

Goodyear Cotton Bow1
Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6
Cincinnati was in the College Football Playoff – we’re working on a curve here. No, the Bearcats didn’t have a prayer, and no, the talent overall wasn’t there to deal with a rested Bama team, but just being there is all that matters. There wasn’t anything the coaching staff could’ve done to deal with THAT.

47. Ricky Rahne, Old Dominion

Myrtle Beach Bowl
Tulsa 30, Old Dominion 17
Old Dominion was in a bowl game. Start with that, and everything else is gravy. The team didn’t have the offense or the pop to pull this off, but it stayed in the game until late despite coming up with just 247 yards of total offense.

46. Jeff Traylor, UTSA

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
San Diego State 38, UTSA 24
The Roadrunners couldn’t stop San Diego State from passing? That’s a twist. They were in the game late in a good battle, but the offense couldn’t do anything in the fourth quarter and the Aztecs took over and dominated with their style. UTSA couldn’t play its type of game.

45. Dana Dimel, UTEP

PUBG New Mexico Bowl
Fresno State 31, UTEP 24
Fresno State might have been going through some things, but it was still far more talented and far more explosive than UTEP. Dimel’s Miner team hung around, all three fourth down play calls worked, and it was a good fight after a great season.

44. Josh Heupel, Tennessee

TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Purdue 48, Tennessee 45 OT
There’s no getting down on Heupel for anything about the loss. It was a back-and-forth fight to close out a great first year, and it came down to a matter of inches – and momentum – for this to be slightly different. However, Purdue was missing its top wide receiver and top pass rusher, and it still pulled off the win.

43. Herm Edwards, Arizona State

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 13
Edwards had a bit of a tough hand to play. He was missing his top running backs and just enough to matter against one of the nation’s best defenses. However, his own D shut out the Badgers in the second half and kept the game from getting out of hand.

42. Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois

Tailgreeter Cure Bowl
Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41
There’s no complaining about the loss or the job Hammock and his guys did. The running game rumbled against the Chanticleers, the O rallied back late, and it took a questionable decision by the officials to keep the Huskies from having a shot at winning. This was a “someone had to lose” game.

41. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Wake Forest 38, Rutgers 10
The Demon Deacons might have had the easiest bowl draw of the bunch, but don’t assume it was all that easy to pivot from preparing for Texas A&M, to the letdown of thinking the bowl game wasn’t going to happen, to getting ready for a Big Ten team, even if it was Rutgers. Wake Forest played a clean game against a team that needed a whole lot of mistakes to make it competitive.

Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

NEXT: Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 40

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 40

40. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa

Myrtle Beach Bowl
Tulsa 30, Old Dominion 17
It took a bit too much to put the game away, but it was a more dominant performance than the final score. The Golden Hurricane gave up kick six on the opening boot, and ended up cranking up 529 yards of total offense and allowed one late touchdown the rest of the way.

39. Michael Desormeaux, Louisiana

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana 36, Marshall 21
That was exactly what you want to see out of your new head man. Can he keep things going from the successful former guy? Billy Napier was off to Florida, but Desormeaux had his team ready – even if it took a big fourth quarter to finally take over the game.

38. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina

Tailgreeter Cure Bowl
Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41
No, the coaching staff couldn’t figure out how to stop the avalanche of a Northern Illinois running game, but its offense worked just fine in the second half, held on in the wild back-and-forth game, and after a bit of a disappointing year, Chadwell still managed to get the program its first bowl win along with an 11-win season.

37. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee

Bahamas Bowl
Middle Tennessee 31, Toledo 24
It wasn’t supposed to work like this. Middle Tennessee wasn’t supposed to get the big passing day out of its quarterback – Nick Vattiato threw for 270 yards – and it did. It was supposed to need lots of turnovers to win, and it didn’t get them – just one. The Blue Raiders kept fighting and pushed ahead in the fourth quarter to pull it off.

36. Lee Marks, Fresno State

PUBG New Mexico Bowl,
Fresno State 31, UTEP 24
He landed the plane. Marks had to fill in after Kalen DeBoer left for Washington, and he had to deal with the drama of star QB Jake Haener leaving, and the coming back, and … Fresno State won. It was a game it was supposed to take down, and while it wasn’t pretty, it was a victory.

35. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Kentucky 20, Iowa 17
If anything, the Iowa coaching staff did a good job in the loss. The offense that did nothing all year long actually had a passing game – even if there were too many mistakes – and the defense was solid until late. However, Iowa needed to win the turnover battle – it was -2 – and own the clock, and it was awful in both areas.

34. Chuck Martin, Miami University

Frisco Bowl Classic
Miami University 27, North Texas 14
It’s a bowl win over a North Texas team that had some strong moments this year. The RedHawk O was great in the first half, and the D was the star in the second half. The team controlled the clock and the game, and the adjustments worked – MU went on a 17-0 run after early in the second quarter to close.

33. Pat Narduzzi, Pitt

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Michigan State 31, Pitt 21
There’s nothing to dog in the loss. Narduzzi didn’t have Kenny Pickett, his No. 2 quarterback got knocked out early, and the team still found a way to keep this alive down to the final moments. Narduzzi’s team came up with a gutty performance until the late meltdown.

32. Tim Lester, Western Michigan

Quick Lane Bowl,
Western Michigan 52, Nevada 24
Yeah, Nevada didn’t have star QB Carson Strong, but the running game rolled for 352 yards and four scores in the easy blowout win. And yeah, that was great, but where was THAT all season long for a team that should’ve been in the MAC Championship?

31. Mel Tucker, Michigan State

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Michigan State 31, Pitt 21
A win is a win is a win, and the Spartans got the win without Kenneth Walker, but Pitt was missing its star QB Kenny Pickett, and it was down to its third-string quarterback for most of the game. It still took a late rally in the final moments and a big stop/pick six to survive. It should’ve been a whole lot easier, but 31-21 is 31-21.

Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

NEXT: Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 30

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 30

30. Hugh Freeze, Liberty

LendingTree Bowl
Liberty 56, Eastern Michigan 20
Really, was that so hard? That was supposed to be the Liberty team we expected to see all season long, and it showed up for the bowl game. The offense came out jacked, put up 43 in the first half, was up 49-10, and we even stronger than the final score.

29. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 13
It wasn’t anything amazing, and it was hardly as dominant as it should’ve been, but it was a decent win with Wisconsin going Wisconsin. The defense allowed just 219 yards, the offense had the ball for over 32 minutes, and there was a chance at the end to make the score look worse. It was a business-like W.

28. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Valero Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma 47, Oregon 32
It was a cameo appearance, but Stoops had his Oklahoma team ready to roll early on – helped by having Caleb Williams still around and a slew of players fired up to play for the legend – and it all worked out beautifully. It wasn’t a given that OU would be in this considering all the turmoil, but it put this away fast.

27. Craig Bohl, Wyoming

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Wyoming 52, Kent State 38
Forget about how the Cowboys lost a slew of parts right after the win. The job was to rip through the bad Kent State defense, and the Wyoming offense did just that for a full 60 minutes.

26. Chris Klieman, Kansas State

Mercari Texas Bowl
Kansas State 42, LSU 20
Kansas State caught the break of getting an LSU team missing half of its guys, but give Klieman and the staff credit – there wasn’t even a hint of a letdown or overconfidence. It was a perfectly executed first half on the way to the win.

25. Shawn Elliott, Georgia State

Camellia Bowl
Georgia State 51, Ball State 20
The offense was balanced and sharp, the defense stuffed the run with ease, and it was 48-13 going into the fourth quarter. Yeah, the team was prepared and ready to close out a good season with emphasis.

24. Tyson Helton, WKU

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl
WKU 59, Appalachian State 38
That’s exactly how the offense is supposed to work. Bailey Zappe threw for a bazillion yards – 422 with six touchdowns – the offense put up 52 points in the first three quarters, and it turned into a blowout win over a very, very good Appalachian State team.

23. Brady Hoke, San Diego State

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
San Diego State 38, UTSA 24
That was a fantastic – and dangerous – UTSA team with the right makeup to give San Diego State problems. Instead, the Aztecs went a bit against type, settled in, and got the passing game going all while the defense clamped down. A 14-point win over that bunch is strong.

22. Dana Holgorsen, Houston

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
Houston 17, Auburn 13
Auburn might have had a bit of a rough year and it was missing a few parts, but it was still a Power Five program going against a Group of Five team. It was ugly, but Holgorsen’s defense played great, the offense outgained the Tigers, and the team was cool late to get the win.

21. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Rose Bowl Game
Ohio State 48, Utah 45
Okay, so the defensive gameplan didn’t work against the best offense in college football, but Utah never looked or played it didn’t belong in the big moment. Ohio State might have been missing some guys, but Utah was missing its starting quarterback late and still tied it up. It took a late drive by a team loaded with all that NFL talent to put the Utes away.

Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

NEXT: Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 20

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 20

20. PJ Fleck, Minnesota

Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Minnesota 18, West Virginia 6
It might not have been anything scintillating, but Fleck knew what his team could do, it pitched a terrific game defensively, and his team was well prepared in a somewhat dominant win that was stronger than the final score. Fleck’s team was more than ready for this.

19. Ryan Day, Ohio State

Rose Bowl Game
Ohio State 48, Utah 45
Yeah, Day and the coaching staff had a whole lot more talent to work with than the other side did, but they also had to overcome a few key opt-outs, a wee bit of apathy, and a really, really fired up Utah squad on the other side to win a classic.

18. Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Kentucky 20, Iowa 17
Kentucky couldn’t run the ball, the offense stalled too much until the end, and the team found a way. That’s what Kentucky does under this coaching staff. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and the team wins.

17. Mike Locksley, Maryland

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Maryland 54, Virginia Tech 10
Who cares that it was a shadow of Virginia Tech’s former self? It was a bowl game, Maryland got there, and Locksley’s team played and executed like it really, really wanted to make a statement. Three penalties, no turnovers, 54 points – it was almost a perfectly clean performance.

16. Blake Anderson, Utah State

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl
Utah State 24, Oregon State 13
The team didn’t play all that well. It struggled to keep things moving, it turned it over three times, it couldn’t run, and … the Mountain West champ beat the Pac-12 team by 11. It was a big statement win to close out Anderson’s first season.

15. Gus Malzahn, UCF

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl
UCF 29, Florida 17
Even if it was a full force Florida team, UCF might have had this. It came out jacked to beat the big school up North for the first time ever, and it pulled it off with a strong running game, a great defense, and Malzahn and the staff putting together a terrific plan to get it done.

14. Sam Pittman, Arkansas

Outback Bowl
Arkansas 24, Penn State 10
It was ugly, it was sloppy, it was uneven, and it was a 14-point win over a talented Penn State team that might have been missing some parts, but had enough to pull this off. The Hog defense shut down and shut out the Penn State offense in the second half.

13. Dave Aranda, Baylor

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Baylor 21, Ole Miss 7
The Baylor defense held down the high-powered Rebel attack and closed down hard once Matt Corral went out. Aranda did wonders with a relatively limited – compared to Ole Miss – offensive team.

12. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Cheez-It Bowl
Clemson 20, Iowa State 13
Swinney was seemingly losing all of his coaches, a slew of key players, and it wasn’t a College Football Playoff season, and … the defense held Iowa State to 270 yards and didn’t give up a touchdown until the fourth quarter. A bowl win doesn’t care how it got done.

11. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

Playstation Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma State 37, Notre Dame 35
No, his team didn’t come out hot with the great defense getting torched for the first 29 minutes, but the coaching staff certainly figured out how to adjust at halftime. The Cowboys rolled in the second half, Notre Dame couldn’t stop the slide, and they pulled off a terrific win.
Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76

NEXT: Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 10

Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 10

10. Jeff Brohm, Purdue

TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Purdue 48, Tennessee 45 OT
The Boilermakers were without top receiver David Bell and star NFL-caliber pass rusher George Karlaftis, and they still managed to bomb away, keep up the pace in the second, and get the win in the thriller after getting down 21-7 in the first quarter. There wasn’t any flinching in the fight.

9. Troy Calhoun, Air Force

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Air Force 31, Louisville 28
Air Force won by … throwing the ball? Start with how amazing it always is for a service academy to beat Power Five program, and Air Force did it by going against brand with 252 yards through the air. The O held the ball for way over 35 minutes, the team controlled the game, and it held on for the big win.

8. Nick Saban, Alabama

College Football Playoff National Championship
Georgia 33, Alabama 18
The Crimson Tide staff did just fine in the easy 27-6 win over Cincinnati, and it pitched a gem defensively for three quarters against a jacked up Georgia. Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien might have been ripped apart on social media, but it was a strong game considering the wide receiver situation and lack of running game. It’s going to get lost as time goes on, but Georgia played the game it had to play, and Alabama still had the ball late with a shot at tying it up.

7. Shane Beamer, South Carolina

Duke’s Mayo Bowl
South Carolina 38, North Carolina 21
This wasn’t just a bowl win, it was a massive statement made by Beamer and the program. This was supposed to be a bit of a lost year, and instead this victory made it a winning season with an emphatic, sharp performance on both sides of the ball.

6. Jim McElwain, Central Michigan

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
Central Michigan 24, Washington State 21
Think about what happened here. Central Michigan spent weeks preparing for Boise State, the game got called late in the process, and the coaching staff and team pivoted to deal with a Power Five program. Now only did McElwain have his team ready, but it held Washington State to 250 yards in a brilliant defensive performance.

5. Bill Clark, UAB

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
UAB 31, BYU 28
BYU was a good enough team to deserve New Year’s Six consideration, and outside of an interception, UAB pitched an almost perfect game offensively and held up on D. The Blazers got up fast, held on late, and pulled off a win that made their year against a team that rolled through several big games against brand name teams.

4. Sonny Cumbie, Texas Tech

AutoZone Liberty Bowl,
Texas Tech 34, Mississippi State 7
Cumbie took his far less talented team – and in an interim capacity – to 34 points and a shockingly dominant win over Mike Leach and his team full of SEC talent. Yeah, there were missing parts on Mississippi State, but that shouldn’t have been enough for a blowout like this. The student pantsed the teacher.

3. Oliver Pough, South Carolina State

Cricket Celebration Bowl,
South Carolina State 31, Jackson State 10
The world showed up to watch the flash, dash, and D of the Deion Sanders-led Jackson State team, and South Carolina State had other ideas. You want to see what disrespect-turned-to-motivation looks like? The 6-5 team held the 11-1 double-digit favorite to under 200 yards – just 19 on the ground – and a 31-3 run after the first quarter.

2. Kirby Smart, Georgia

College Football Playoff National Championship
Georgia 33, Alabama 18
You want focus? You want fire? You want the right mindset after the SEC Championship loss to Alabama? Georgia rolled past Michigan like the Orange Bowl was a polite scrimmage, and it got by Alabama for the program’s first national title since 1980 with a great defensive gameplan and just enough patience for Stetson Bennett to get the job done late.

1. Jeff Monken, Army

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Army 24, Missouri 22
Army not only won, it won by beating a Power Five team – that almost never happens. Oh yeah, and it won by mounting a great late comeback to pull off the stunner over the big, bad, SEC squad.

It has to keep being mentioned every time a service academy does something like this – the talent level isn’t even close. Oh sure, there are a few Black Knights who could play for Mizzou, but it’s scheme, scheme, scheme, and brilliant execution.

Give the players credit for getting it done, but it was a whale of a job by the coaching staff to pull this off.

Bowl Season Coaching Rankings
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-76