Michigan and Michigan State can safely boast two of the better coaches in college football in Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio, respectively.
But, how good are they? In the eyes of those covering the sport for CBS Sports, apparently not as good as a year ago.
Harbaugh and Dantonio both slid in CBS Sports’ annual rankings of college football’s top coaches posted Wednesday, with Harbaugh plummeting 13 spots to No. 18. Dantonio is ranked No. 16, a drop of five spots from 2017.
The Spartans head coach is coming off a turnaround season in which Michigan State won 10 games, including a victory in the Holiday Bowl, and erased a miserable 2016 season. Despite that, Dantonio fell from his No. 11 ranking in 2017.
“The Spartans bounced back in a big way last season,” Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports writes. “... It was the sixth time Dantonio’s Spartans had won at least 10 games in the last eight years.”
Harbaugh, meanwhile, when 8-5 in his third season in Ann Arbor. His results so far, including his record against the Wolverines’ rivals, have been well-documented: No better than a third-place finish in the Big Ten East, and a 1-5 combined record against Ohio State and Michigan State.
His 13-spot fall was the third-largest among the 65 coaches in CBS Sports' rankings, trailing only Louisville's Bobby Petrino (from 13th to 29th, a drop of 16 spots) and North Carolina's Larry Fedora (from 26th to 43rd, a drop of 17 spots).
“I can’t help but believe that Harbaugh fatigue plays something of a role here,” Fornelli writes, “considering all the attention he receives and the lack of significant results thus far. He’s 28-11 at Michigan, but 0-3 against Ohio State.”
Both teams appear poised for big seasons this fall, with each returning the majority of their starters and each popping into plenty of preseason top 25 rankings. Additionally, Michigan figures to get a boost from the addition of quarterback Shea Patterson, who transferred from Ole Miss.
Alabama’s Nick Saban tops CBS Sports’ rankings, followed by Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Other notables include Norte Dame’s Brian Kelly (No. 27), the former Grand Valley and Central Michigan head coach; Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck (No. 41), the former Western Michigan head coach; Maryland’s D.J. Durkin (No. 45), the former Michigan defensive coordinator; and Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi (No. 51), the former Michigan State defensive coordinator.