While there will always be a segment of Notre Dame fans unhappy with Coach Brian Kelly’s performance, it’s getting harder to argue against his inclusion in the list of top, active FBS coaches.
Kelly was ranked in the top 10 of all 128 FBS coaches in two separate publications Tuesday. Athlon Sports, which boasts an online readership in excess of 1 million readers annually, chose Kelly as the 10th best coach. The Sporting News, which has covered college football since before the second World War, put Kelly at #9.
Here’s what Athlon said:
The Fighting Irish just missed out an appearance in the College Football Playoff last season, but Kelly has the program on stable ground and poised for another run at the top four in 2016. Since taking over in South Bend in 2010, Kelly is 55-23 at Notre Dame, including an appearance in the BCS National Championship game in 2012. The Fighting Irish have won at least eight games in each of Kelly’s seasons at the helm and finished No. 11 in the Associated Press poll last year. Winning at a high level at different programs is nothing new for Kelly.From 1991-03, Kelly went 118-35-2 at Grand Valley State, including back-to-back Division II titles (2002-03). Additionally, he went 19-16 in three years at Central Michigan (2004-06) and 34-6 at Cincinnati from 2004-06. Kelly is a proven winner at four different jobs and clearly has a place among the top 15 coaches in the nation.
Here’s what the Sporting News said:
Last Year: 11
Record: 55-23 (108-45)
Lowdown: Give Kelly credit. He’s the steadiest presence the Irish have had on the sideline since Lou Holtz, and he’s coming off his second double-digit win season. He’s still just 11-12 against ranked teams. He’ll test that against the same tough schedule in 2016.
Athlon and The Sporting News both considered Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, TCU’s Gary Patterson, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban to be better than Kelly. Athlon also ranked David Shaw ahead of Kelly, while the Sporting News had Stanford’s head coach at #11 – behind LSU’s Les Miles. (Miles was #25 at Athlon, so there’s quite a discrepancy there.)
Here are the coaches Kelly will face in 2016 and their respective rankings:
|Michigan St.||Mark Dantonio||#4||#5|
|NC State||Dave Doeren||#63||#56|
|Miami (Fla.)||Mark Richt||#16||#13|
|Virginia Tech||Justin Fuente||#33||#39|