Is Mike Norvell a top 10 head coach in college football?

2023 ACC Championship - Louisville v Florida State
2023 ACC Championship - Louisville v Florida State / Isaiah Vazquez/GettyImages

People make lists all the time, and they are subjective. However, the amount of thought or lack thereof that goes into some lists is baffling. How do they come up with their criteria, or do they have a criteria is a question that normally comes to mind. That thought happened earlier when I saw a list ranking the top 15 head coaches in college football. FSU football head coach Mike Norvell checked in at No. 12 on the list. I am an FSU football fan, so it's natural I would have some bias towards Norvell and where he has brought FSU from since arriving in December 2019. I was glad to see him at No. 12 when lots of pundits had him in the bottom half of the ACC a couple of years ago. However, anyone who doesn't think Mike Norvell is a top 10 head coach in college football shouldn't be making lists. Here's the list I'm speaking of:

I have no problem with those listed in the top five. Folks can argue the order, but they belong. It's the other five spots that I question. Brian Kelly, Lincoln Riley, Steve Sarkisian, and Dan Lanning ahead of Mike Norvell? No Sir. Brian Kelly consistently chokes in big games, and Mike Norvell has outcoached him in all three head-to-head matchups with lesser talented teams(2-1, 3-0 ATS). Lincoln Riley was gifted a program in a great spot at Oklahoma when Bob Stoops retired, but lost big games, and his teams at USC play absolutely no defense as they've regressed as a program with an NFL first-round talent at QB. Steve Sarkisian is 71-49 as a head coach. Mike Norvell is 69-32. Dan Lanning has been a head coach for two seasons and doesn't even have a conference title under his belt yet. I mean, what are we doing here? Here's how I'd rank them:

  1. Kirby Smart
  2. Jim Harbaugh
  3. Dabo Swinney
  4. Kalen Deboer
  5. Ryan Day  
  6. Lane Kiffin
  7. Mike Norvell
  8. Brian Kelly
  9. Steve Sarkisian
  10. Lincoln Riley


Smart, Harbaugh, and Swinney have national titles. Deboer earned the shot to play for one and has an outstanding head coaching record. Ryan Day can never win the big games, but wins a tons of games nonetheless. Mike Norvell is well on his way of climbing this list and could surpass Lane Kiffin this year. Kiffin has won a ton of games and done it at several different places. I weighted championships(national and conference) and more successes that happened more recently than overall. However, overall record was taken into consideration as well.

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