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Sherrone Moore, Dabo Swinney among college football coaches that could move significantly in 2025 rankings

CBS Sports released its 2024 Power Four coach rankings this week, highlighting 68 of the most prominent program leaders in the sport. Coaches such as Texas‘ Steven Sarkisian and Washington’s Jedd Fisch enjoyed a massive jump in their respective rankings, while Baylor’s Dave Aranda and Arkansas‘ Sam Pittman saw their stock drop.

The retirement of former Alabama coach Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh leaving his post at Michigan to take the vacant job with the Los Angeles Chargers led to movement near the top. Oregon’s Dan Lanning (9), Florida State’s Mike Norvell (8), Alabama’s Kalen DeBoer (7), and Sarkisian (5) all jumped into the top 10, while Georgia’s Kirby Smart assumed the top spot. 

DeBoer’s jump comes less than two years after he was ranked No. 51 in the 2022 edition. He jumped 20 spots in 2023 and another 24 this time around after leading Washington to the College Football Playoff title game this past season.

2024 Droppers Dave Aranda, Baylor -26       (28 to 55)  Sam Pittman, Arkansas. -17          (42 to 58)  P.J. Fleck, Minnesota -15        (24 to 39)  Mack Brown, UNC -15           (22 to 37)  Sonny Dykes, TCU -11             (11 to 22) 
2024 Risers Steve Sarkisian, Texas +32       (37 to 5)  Eli Drinkwitz, Missouri +30        (51 to 21)  Jedd Fisch, Washington +30      (61 to 31)  Dan Lanning, Oregon +27     (36 to 9)  Kalen DeBoer, Alabama +24.    (31 to 7) 

The biggest droppers from 2022 to 2023 were Boston College’s Jeff Hafley Baylor’s and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

While it’s impossible to project the ever-changing landscape of the sport, here are six coaches who could see movement in their ranking in 2025.

2024 Power Four coach rankings: 68-26 | 25-1

Riser: Deion Sanders, Colorado

2023 rank: 55 2024 rank: 61

Measuring success at Colorado is different than almost any other Power Four program. The Buffaloes have posted just two seasons with eight or more wins since 2003. While Sanders’ 4-8 mark in 2023 looks bad on paper, it was a drastic increase from a 1-11 showing the year before. Sanders’ roster-building tactics are unconventional because Colorado heavily emphasizes the transfer portal while putting high school recruiting on the back burner. Sanders followed through on the strong statements he made about the offensive line following a loss to UCLA last fall, completely overhauling the group with transfers. The move to the Big 12 and a difficult nonconference schedule will make this a boom-or-bust season for the NFL Hall of Famer. If the former happens, Sanders will catapult up the rankings.

Dropper: Dabo Swinney, Clemson

2023 rank: 3 2024 rank: 3

If Sanders’ transfer-heavy approach to roster building is on one end of the spectrum, Swinney’s team-building strategy is on the other. Outside of the military academies, Clemson was the only program in the country not to take a single transfer. Swinney is one of the best coaches in the sport with a résumé to back it up, but his use (or lack thereof) of the transfer portal will catch up to his program sooner rather than later. Twelve players transferred out of Clemson, including Beaux Collins (receiver) and Andrew Mukuba (defensive back). Meanwhile, 18 different FBS teams took at least 20 transfers during the 2024 offseason. With so many up-and-coming coaches behind him embracing the portal, he could slide down the coaching rankings as his run at the top of the sport gets further in the rearview mirror.

Riser: Sherrone Moore, Michigan 

2023 rank: N/A 2024 rank: 52

Moore is the highest-ranked first-year coach on the list, and for good reason. He served as Michigan’s acting coach while Harbaugh was suspended and guided the Wolverines to a 4-0 record. Moore was always the logical choice to replace Harbaugh if he left for the NFL ranks, and now he gets his chance to run the show in the new-look Big Ten. While Moore is a proven playcaller, he handed those responsibilities to new Michigan offensive coordinator Kirk Campbell as he adapts to more of a CEO role with the program. There’s room for him to climb into the top 25 if the program maintains its recent success. 

Dropper: Ryan Day, Ohio State

2023 rank: 8 2024 rank: 2

If Ohio State doesn’t reach the Big Ten title game and the expanded College Football Playoff, something went seriously wrong in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes went all-in this offseason, and their transfer portal haul reflects that. The headliner from the Buckeyes’ transfer class (ranked No. 10 in the country by 247Sports) is former Alabama safety Caleb Downs — the top-ranked player available. It’s easy to see why it’s a make-or-break season for Day, and while his No. 2 ranking may not reflect that, there might not be a coach under more pressure to win now. Ohio State has lost three consecutive games to arch-rival Michigan and missed the CFP after finishing the 2023 campaign 11-2. Day seems like a logical choice to drop in these rankings next year if Ohio State doesn’t make a deep run in the CFP.

Riser: Troy Taylor, Stanford

2023 rank: 69 2024 rank: 60

Taylor ranked last in these coaching rankings last year and jumped nine spots in the latest installment. While Stanford’s on-field product wasn’t anything to write home about in 2023, it’s easy to see the vision in what Taylor is building as the Cardinal adjust to life post-David Shaw. Stangord finished with the No. 30 recruiting class in the 2024 recruiting cycle, according to 247Sports. The crown jewel of the incoming recruiting class is four-star quarterback Elijah Brown, who could make a run at the starting job as soon as this season. Taylor worked wonders at FCS Sacramento State with his creative offensive schemes, and it’s part of the reason why he made the quick rise from Big Sky offensive coordinator at Eastern Washington in 2016 to the head man of one of the most prominent programs on the West Coast. 

Dropper: Luke Fickell, Wisconsin 

2023 rank: 9 2024 rank: 17

Fickell worked wonders at Cincinnati before leaving his post to take the vacant job at Cincinnati. Year 1 of the Fickell era was a mixed bag, as Wisconsin won less than eight games (in a non-COVID season) for the first time since 2012. The lack of success in his first season is one of the reasons why he dropped out of the top 10. While there’s reason for optimism that former Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke could revive his career in Madison, the schedule is far from a cakewalk. Wisconsin hosts Alabama in a nonconference showdown on Sept. 14 before starting Big Ten play on the road against USC. The Badgers also face Penn State, Iowa, Oregon, and Nebraska to close the season. Wisconsin does have the luxury of avoiding Ohio State and Michigan, but a lackluster season could result in another drop in the rankings.

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