Forde-Yard Dash: The Best Power 5 Coaches of 2021 – CalBearsMaven

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (flame-retardant coaching pants sold separately in Ann Arbor): 

MORE DASH: Quick Triggers | Big 12 Karma | Status Quo Upheaval



Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (flame-retardant coaching pants sold separately in Ann Arbor): 

MORE DASH: Quick Triggers | Big 12 Karma Status Quo Upheaval


It’s almost award season, and The Dash has opinions on who has done the best coaching jobs in 2021—with the caveat that things can change in the next two weeks. So here are the Power 5 COY selections, and how they might be altered by big games yet to be played.

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Mel Tucker (31), Michigan State. He’s probably the national COY at this point, too. Tucker has the Spartans in both the Big Ten and national title races in his second season, after being a late hire before last season and taking over a program in decline amid a pandemic. If he beats Ohio State Saturday, hand him all the hardware and a fat new contract—and watch out for LSU and others beating down his door to hire him away.

Potential last-minute alteration: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan. If the Spartans don’t beat Ohio State and the Wolverines do, advancing to the Big Ten championship game for the first time, you can probably flip that conference vote. Give it to the guy who had his contract restructured and staff overhauled, then produced while on the hot seat.

Not COY: James Franklin, Penn State; Tom Allen, Indiana. No happiness in Happy Valley. No L.E.O. in Bloomington.

SEC Coach of the Year: Kirby Smart (32), Georgia. This dominant season hasn’t all been as simple as high-powered recruiting resulting in an overwhelming talent advantage—although that is part of it. Georgia is doing it with defense, but also is doing it with the guy who was supposed to be the quarterback (again) and with a receiving corps that has been radically revamped from was expected when preseason camp opened.

Potential last-minute alteration: none. The ballot box is closed here.

Not COY: Ed Orgeron, LSU; Dan Mullen, Florida. From national champion to fired in 19 games. From toast of Gainesville to needing a second half rally to beat Samford.

Big 12 Coach of the Year: Dave Aranda (33), Baylor. Thumping Oklahoma to run the Bears’ record to 8–2 was strong, especially coming off a 2–7 COVID-19 debut season. There were questions about whether Aranda was suited to be more than a great defensive coordinator, and he’s answering them in the affirmative quite emphatically this season.

Potential last-minute alteration: Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, if the Cowboys win out and crash the playoff. Gundy already has beaten Aranda and Baylor. If he can solve his eternal Oklahoma problem and knock the Sooners out of the Big 12 title game, that would be a huge step forward.

Not COY: Steve Sarkisian, Texas. Can’t lose to Kansas in Austin. Can’t lose five in a row. Can’t have an emotional support monkey sidebar attached to your debut season. It’s been bad.

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