(Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/3d/d9/josh-heupel-010918-getty-ftr_16eoytxpafkbgzkidc4j7tk4l.jpg?t=861150592&w=500&quality=80 MORE: Preseason rankings, bowl projections, All-Americans and moreHow does SN rank those coaches? How did we rank the entire 130-coach field? We look at career accomplishments, taking into account what they’ve achieved in recent years. When it got tight, we picked the coach we’d take in a head-to-head matchup. It’s not a perfect science, but it’s our science and we’re sticking to it.The Big Ten led the way with seven coaches in our top 25, followed by the SEC with six. The Big 12 has five top-25 coaches. The Pac-12 had four, and the ACC has two.Here are Sporting News’ top coach rankings ahead of 2019 (last year’s rankings in parentheses):130. Walt Bell, Massachusetts (NR)129. Will Healy, Charlotte (NR)128. Brent Brennan, San Jose State (126)127. Mike Houston, East Carolina (NR)126. Tom Arth, Akron (NR)125. Scot Loeffler, Bowling Green (NR)124. Dana Dimel, UTEP (128)123. Mike Bloomgren, Rice (127)122. Sean Lewis, Kent State, (129)121. Steve Campbell, South Alabama (130)120. Mike Neu, Ball State, (122)119. Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois (NR)118. Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky (NR) 117. Tony Sanchez, UNLV (112)116. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina (107)115. Randy Edsall, Connecticut (97)114. Shawn Elliott, Georgia State (98)113. Doug Martin, New Mexico State (104)112. Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State (NR)111. Matt Viator, Louisiana-Monroe (115)110. Jake Spavital, Texas State (NR)109. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa (95)108. Frank Wilson, UTSA (103)107. Tim Lester, Western Michigan (102) Getty Images https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/bd/eb/tim-lester-060202-getty-ftrjpg_18eoyxaskmybu1pr4wyfkrl58i.jpg?t=758247915&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/4b/4f/jim-harbaugh-112418-getty-ftr_rkshqlo6lhby11910fr8k9kzi.jpg?t=1213692455&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/d6/6/dabo-swinney-010819-getty-ftr_e5ai1ledib641l9go037d21qc.jpg?t=773136720&w=500&quality=80 Getty Images https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/cb/af/mike-leach-091111-getty-ftrjpg_2erlaizpjlqe1ohew1zneg7e5.jpg?t=755487275&w=500&quality=80 Record: 12-13Lowdown: Despite a late-season slide, Lester led the Broncos to a 7-6 record and a bowl appearance, and WMU will be a trendy pick to take the next step in the MAC this season. Lester is on the right track at his alma mater.MORE: Top 25 quarterback for 2019106. Bob Davie, New Mexico (102)105. Mike Bobo, Colorado State (88)104. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio) (105)103. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion (94)102. Chip Lindsey, Troy (NR)101. Gary Andersen, Utah State (NR)100. Sonny Dykes, SMU (101)99. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan (106)98. Jay Hopson, Southern Miss (91)97. Nick Rolovich, Hawaii (113)96. Billy Napier, Louisiana (124)95. Willie Fritz, Tulane (108)94. Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern (125)93. Jay Norvell, Nevada (121)92. Troy Calhoun, Air Force (76)91. Craig Bohl, Wyoming (80)90. Chris Ash, Rutgers (83)89. Rod Carey, Temple (92)88. Lovie Smith, Illinois (84)87. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State (75)86. Lance Leipold, Buffalo (109)85. Kalani Sitake, BYU (85)84. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech (78)83. Doc Holliday, Marshall (74)82. Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic (43)81. Jim McElwain, Central Michigan (89)80. Hugh Freeze, Liberty (NR) (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/9f/42/gus-malzahn-112417-getty-ftrjpg_m0v4xkvirjwd1pckheyyv35hm.jpg?t=-259315841&w=500&quality=80 Last year: 29 (+12)Record: 133-83 (49-40 at Washington State)Lowdown: Leach has it trending in the right direction in Pullman with 20 wins over the last two seasons. He’s the most quotable coach in college football, and the system continues to produce prolific results. A 1-6 record in the Apple Cup, however, is a blemish on this resume.No. 16: Paul Chryst, WisconsinLast year: 14 (-2)Record: 61-31 (42-12 at Wisconsin)Lowdown: The Badgers had an off year, but they are 32-9 under Chryst the last three seasons. That’s the fifth-best record among Power 5 coaches. He has stuck with the values that have made Wisconsin a Big Ten power for a quarter-century. If the Badgers can throw the ball more effectively, then that long-awaited Playoff appearances could follow.No. 15: Ed Orgeron, LSULast year: 36 (+21)Record: 41-36 (25-9 at LSU)Lowdown: What a difference a year makes for Coach O. He went from the hot seat to a New Year’s Day Six victory. There are good vibes around Baton Rouge now, but the Alabama challenge still stands. The Tigers won five games against ranked teams last season, and Orgeron isn’t one to back away from more challenges.No. 14: James Franklin, Penn StateLast year: 12 (-2)Record: 69-36 (45-21)Lowdown: Franklin has upgraded the talent at Penn State, but the Nittany Lions’ seasons have turned the last two years after tough losses to Ohio State. Franklin does have a Big Ten championship and the Nittany Lions have flirted with the Playoff, but a 3-12 record against Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State the last five years cannot be ignored.No. 13: Mark Dantonio, Michigan StateLast year: 9 (-4)Record: 125-68 (107-51 at Michigan State)Lowdown: Dantonio has maintained stability in East Lansing, and the Spartans return a strong defense in 2019 that should be able to compete for another Big Ten championship. That said, Michigan State is 20-18 since making the College Football Playoff, and that includes a 1-5 record against Michigan and Ohio State.No. 12: Gary Patterson, TCULast year: 8 (-4)Record: 167-63Lowdown: Patterson has built the TCU program through every step, and the Horned Frogs remain Big 12 contenders and bowl regulars. That might not be enough with Texas and Oklahoma on the rise under young coaches. TCU is 24-16 the last three seasons, a winning percentage of .600. That knocks Patterson out of the top 10.No. 11: David Shaw, StanfordLast year: 10 (-1)Record: 82-26Lowdown: Shaw has maintained high-level success at Stanford, but the Cardinal slipped behind Washington and Washington State last year and are coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons. To stay in the top 10, you have to win at least 10 games. That is the challenge for Stanford in 2019.No. 10: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Kansas Athletics https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/71/58/les-miles-111108-ku-ftrjpg_1ewazdjpbgqgk1ldnhx1o5jwa4.jpg?t=762627211&w=500&quality=80 Record: 22-28 (0-0)Lowdown: Despite the forfeits and the scandal that ended his tenure at Ole Miss, Freeze is back at the FBS level and should make the Flames interesting in the FBS. Will success lead Power 5 programs to buy back in?79. Mike Locksley, Maryland (NR)78. Mel Tucker, Colorado (NR)77. Seth Littrell, North Texas (73)76. Matt Wells, Texas Tech (99)75. Jason Candle, Toledo (61)74. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State (93)73. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy (45)72. Jonathan Smith, Oregon State (86)71. Charlie Strong, South Florida (33)70. Chris Klieman, Kansas State (NR)69. Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech (92)68. Manny Diaz, Miami (NR)67. Tom Allen, Indiana (71)66. Rocky Long, San Diego State (70)65. Chad Morris, Arkansas (62)64. Justin Wilcox, Cal (68)63. Mike Norvell, Memphis (56)62. Matt Luke, Ole Miss (66)61. Steve Addazio, Boston College (52)60. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona (38)59. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati (100)58. Butch Davis, Florida International (67)57. Frank Solich, Ohio (48)56. Dana Holgorsen, Houston (31)55. Josh Heupel, UCF (96) Getty Images https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/28/70/hugh-freeze-081818-getty-ftrjpg_1rcrfuvmfoxe311ss0rhyj5ywk.jpg?t=760218323&w=500&quality=80 Last year: 13 (-6)Record: 62-30 (53-27)Lowdown: What are we supposed to do with Malzahn? Auburn could win the SEC West or lose six games any given season, and the year-to-year unpredictability makes this offensive-minded coach tough to rank. There’s more on the line with LSU and Texas A&M improving, so Malzahn — the No. 6 SEC coach on this list — better prove it in 2019.No. 18: Pat Fitzgerald, NorthwesternLast year: 23 (+5)Record: 96-70Lowdown: The Wildcats have improved facilities and are coming off their first appearance in the Big Ten championship game. It’s a dream come true every day for the former Northwestern linebacker, and he continues to win with class. Those values won’t change with more success in Evanston.No. 17: Mike Leach, Washington State Record: 142-55 (0-0)Lowdown: Miles is back in the college game — one of five active coaches with a national championship. He’s also taking on the toughest Power 5 job in Kansas. Miles renovated Oklahoma State in the Big 12 before taking the LSU job. The Jayhawks will be more interesting, but will victories follow?29. Chip Kelly, UCLA (18)28. Scott Frost, Nebraska (28)27. David Cutcliffe, Duke (30)26. Neal Brown, West Virginia (59)MORE: Each conference’s best title contender for 2019No. 25: Kirk Ferentz, IowaLast year: 27 (+2)Record: 164-122Lowdown: Ferentz is entering his 21st season in Iowa City, the longest active continuous run at one school in the FBS. Ferentz has led the Hawkeyes to six straight winning seasons, but the competition within the division is getting better. It will be a challenge to keep up.No. 24: Mack Brown, North CarolinaLast year: NRRecord: 244-122-1 (69-46 at North Carolina)Lowdown: Brown is back in the college game, and he’s one of five FBS coaches with a national championship. The return to Chapel Hill is intriguing, and Brown made some excellent choices for his assistants. He’s the second-highest ACC coach on this list. That’s a bold choice, but Brown seems eager to prove it all over again.No. 23: Matt Campbell, Iowa StateLast year: 34 (+11)Record: 54-34 (19-19 at Iowa State)Lowdown: Campbell is a charismatic young coach who is committed to Iowa State, and he had the Cyclones in the Big 12 championship conversation in November last season. Campbell will always be a candidate to move up the ranks, but he’s in a good place right now.No. 22: Ryan Day, Ohio StateLast year: NRRecord: 3-0Lowdown: Day inherits the top program in the Big Ten from Urban Meyer, and that alone makes it a challenge to rank him. This might be too low considering the innovations Day made as an assistant to the offense, but he’ll have to prove as head coach it in the big games. There are five Big Ten coaches ranked ahead of him, and all of them are on the schedule this season. We’ll make him prove it that way.No. 21: Kyle Whittingham, UtahLast year: 25 (+3)Record: 120-61Lowdown: Steady success is Whittingham’s calling card, and the Utes are the defending Pac-12 South champions. Whittingham has got this far with a no-frills approach on offense and defense and outstanding special teams play, and that’s why he stays in the top 25 on this list.No. 20: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma StateLast year: 15 (-5)Record: 121-59Lowdown: Gundy saw a run of three straight 10-win seasons snapped last year, but the Cowboys have enjoyed 13 consecutive winning seasons on his watch and have remained in the thick of the Big 12 race on a consistent basis. A 2-12 record against Oklahoma is a ding, but Gundy’s track record remains solid.No. 19: Gus Malzahn, Auburn Last year: 2Record: 116-30 Last year: 11 (+1)Record: 67-35 (38-14 at Michigan)Lowdown: Harbaugh is the top-ranked Big Ten coach, and we know you hate it. It’s the truth until the season starts. Harbaugh has the ninth-best record among Power 5 coaches at their current school with at least a full season. He’s 7-4 against Mark Dantonio, James Franklin and Paul Chryst, and he’ll get a first chance at Ryan Day this season. That’s the game Harbaugh must win to live up to top-10 billing. Still mad about it? Well, he’s taking Urban Meyer’s spot for now.No. 9: Tom Herman, TexasLast year: 22 (+13)Record: 39-14 (17-10 at Texas)Lowdown: Too much too soon? We don’t think so. Herman scored a couple big-game victories against Oklahoma and Georgia last season, and the Longhorns look primed to compete for Big 12 championships and Playoff berths again. It’s still an ongoing process, but Texas is almost back — again.No. 8: Dan Mullen, FloridaLast year: 21 (+13)Record: 79-49 (10-3 at Florida)Lowdown: We’ll admit to being skeptical whether Mullen could do more with the resources at Florida so soon, but a 10-win season and Peach Bowl victory against Michigan changed our mind. Now, Mullen must close the gap with Georgia in the SEC East. That should lead to an entertaining battle at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for the foreseeable future.No. 7: Brian Kelly, Notre DameLast year: 20 (+13)Record: 113-56 (60-34 at Notre Dame)Lowdown: What a difference two years makes. The Irish are 22-4 the last two seasons, and Kelly pushed the Irish into the Playoff for the first time last season. There are still lessons to learn on the big stage, but Kelly has reinvented Notre Dame into a program with fewer questions than they had when he was on the hot seat in 2016. He’s earned top-10 billing.No. 6: Chris Petersen, WashingtonLast year: 7 (+1)Record: 139-33 (47-21 at Washington)Lowdown: Petersen has the highest-winning career percentage among coaches with at least 100 victories, at .808. He has put the Huskies in the New Year’s Day Six each of the last three seasons, and they are the steadiest power in a shaky Pac-12 right now. Expect Petersen to keep winning.No. 5: Lincoln Riley, OklahomaLast year: 16 (+11)Record: 24-4Lowdown: We’ve undervalued Riley the last two seasons, believe it or not, but he has earned his top-five billing with back-to-back Playoff appearances. Oklahoma produced two straight Heisman winners/No. 1 picks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, and now it’s Jalen Hurts’ turn. If this trend continues, then Riley will be pursued even more by the NFL. He’s just fine in the Big 12, thanks.No. 4: Kirby Smart, GeorgiaLast year: 4Record: 32-10Lowdown: Smart has the program that is best-equipped to break up the Alabama-Clemson monopoly right now, and the next step is ending a national championship drought that extends back to 1980. The Bulldogs have dominated the SEC East the last two seasons, and they have created a recruiting run on par with Alabama’s. The next three coaches, however, have won a national championship — and that makes all the difference.No. 3: Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&MLast year: 5 (+2)Record: 92-27 (9-4 at Texas A&M)Lowdown: Fisher is most recent active coach not named Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban to win a national championship, and he’s following the model that led to success at Florida State with Texas A&M. Fisher will get another shot at both Clemson and Alabama this season, too.No. 2: Dabo Swinney, Clemson Record: 12-1Lowdown: Heupel led the Knights to a 12-1 record in his first season, but that run ended with a loss in the Fiesta Bowl to LSU. How does UCF keep the momentum going as the lead New Year’s Day Six buster heading into 2019?MORE: Top 25 running backs for 201954. Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee (44)53. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (60)52. Bryan Harsin, Boise State (42)51. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State (69)50. Jeff Monken, Army (77)49. Scott Satterfield, Louisville (58)48. Willie Taggart, Florida State (35)47. Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia (51)46. Bill Clark, UAB (57)45. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest (46)44. Herm Edwards, Arizona State (87)43. Mario Cristobal, Oregon (72)42. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh (50)41. Matt Rhule, Baylor (64)40. Barry Odom, Missouri (54)39. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota (41)38. Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech (24)37. Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State (65)36. Will Muschamp, South Carolina (32)35. Dave Doeren, North Carolina State (39)34. Dino Babers, Syracuse (81)33. Mark Stoops, Kentucky (53)32. Jeff Brohm, Purdue (37)31. Clay Helton, USC (17)30. Les Miles, Kansas (NR) Sporting News ranks the FBS coaches from 1-130 before every college football season, and for the fourth consecutive year, Nick Saban is at the top.That might stir some debates knowing Clemson coach Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to two national championships in three years — including last year’s 44-16 blowout against Saban and the Crimson Tide. Those two are the only active coaches with a national title at their current school. Jimbo Fisher is the most recent active coach to win a national title other than Saban and Swinney, though Mack Brown and Les Miles’ return to the college game gives college football five active national title-winning coaches in 2019. Lowdown: There’s a case to be made for Swinney at No. 1, considering the Tigers are coming off the first 15-0 season of the CFP era and he’s 2-2 against Nick Saban and Alabama over the last four years. Clemson is recruiting like a superpower now, too. We’ll write it down now: If Swinney and the Tigers go back-to-back (Alabama is the last team to do it), then we’ll put him No. 1 next season.No. 1: Nick Saban, AlabamaLast year: 1Record: 232-64 (141-21 at Alabama)Lowdown: It’s closer than ever with Swinney now, but the Crimson Tide have one year left in a dominant decade that has produced four of the five national championships during Saban’s tenure. That includes five straight Playoff appearances and four championship game appearances. “The Process” never ends, and Saban has shown no signs of slowing down.