What does winning a national championship do for a head football coach? It gives him respect.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is seeing that from the national media. On Friday, The Sporting News’ Bill Bender ranked Swinney as the No. 3 best head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
As Bender explains, with Bob Stoops’ sudden retirement at Oklahoma, it means only four active head coaches in major college football have won a national championship, and of course Swinney is one of them. To get to No. 3, Swinney had to jump Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, who won the Seminoles a national title in 2013.
Alabama’s Nick Saban is No. 1 on the list, followed by Ohio State Urban Meyer, Swinney and then Fisher. Coincidently, Swinney beat all three of the other top four coaches to win last year’s national championship. His Tigers beat Florida State in Tallahassee for the first time in 10 years, while they destroyed Ohio State, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl. Of course, they rallied twice from two scores down to beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Swinney was No. 4 on this list a year ago.
“We could have put Swinney at No. 2, but we’re holding off for now,” Bender wrote. “Six straight double-digit win seasons and back-to-back championship appearances, not to mention a pair of head-to-head wins against (Meyer), is a heck of a case. The next two coaches, however, have done it more than once.”
Clemson is 70-13 in the last six seasons under Swinney, second only to Alabama and Saban during that time. Only Alabama and Clemson have won at least 10 games every year during that six-year stretch, and both have faced each other for the national championship the last two years.
Jim Harbaugh at Michigan is ranked No. 5 on the list. The ACC has four other coaches in the top 30 as well, with Miami’s Mark Richt coming in at No. 9, Louisville’s Bobby Petrino at No. 13, Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente at No. 23 and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora at No. 27.
In case you might be wondering, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp is No. 50 on the list. He moved up 12 spots from No. 62 a year ago.