Where Deion Sanders ranks among Pac-12 head coaches, per CBS Sports

Lost in all the excitement of Colorado hiring Deion Sanders is the fact that Coach Prime will be entering his first season leading not only an FBS school but also one at the Power Five level.

Coach Sanders had success at Jackson State but is starting from scratch at Colorado with a new-look staff, a new conference and most importantly, new players. This will naturally put him behind other head coaches who have had sustained success at the Power Five level and who have been at their schools for more than one season.

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This was the case as CBS Sports took its yearly crack at ranking the Power Five head coaches from 1-69. Read on to see where the Buffaloes’ head coach ranked among his Pac-12 peers:

Troy Taylor, Stanford

Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 ranking: 12

Power Five ranking: 69

2022 ranking: N/A

Thoughts: Just right. Taylor had success at Sacramento State, but like Sanders, is entering his first season in the Pac-12 and at the FBS level. Restoring the Cardinal to a competitive team will take a few years for Taylor.

Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State

Pac-12 ranking: 11

Power Five ranking: 65

2022 ranking: N/A

Thoughts: Also just right. Dillingham had an incredible run as an offensive coordinator, especially looking at his work with Bo Nix. But the 33-year-old will be a first-time head coach in a difficult conference at a school in need of a top-to-bottom rebuild.

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Jedd Fisch, Arizona

Pac-12 ranking: 10

Power Five ranking: 61

2022 ranking: 61

Thoughts: This feels low to me. It doesn’t look like CBS was swayed by Arizona’s turnaround last season. In Fisch’s second year, the Wildcats were able to improve to 5-7 after a disastrous 1-11 2021 campaign. This fall looks as if it will be a make-or-break season for Fisch.

Justin Wilcox, California

Pac-12 ranking: 9

Power Five ranking: 58

2022 ranking: 44

Thoughts: Probably should be lower. Things have been going downhill for a few years in Berkeley as you can see from the drop in rankings for Wilcox. He looked like the right hire after back-to-back winning seasons but since then, the Golden Bears have gone 10-18 in his last three years.

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Jake Dickert, Washington State

Pac-12 ranking: 8

Power Five ranking: 57

2022 ranking: 63

Thoughts: Right for now. Can the rise continue for WSU and Dickert? The Cougars were 7-6 in Dickert’s first full season as head coach. Will the steady climb continue for WSU and Dickert or will the Cougars regress in 2023?

Deion Sanders, Colorado

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Pac-12 ranking: 7

Power Five ranking: 55

2022 ranking: N/A

Thoughts: Right for now. As I explained above, Coach Prime is entering his first season in the Pac-12 and at the FBS level. But, if Colorado can play as well as it has recruited and marketed itself since Sanders’ hire, Coach Prime will fly up these rankings in the coming seasons.

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Dan Lanning, Oregon

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 ranking: 6

Power Five ranking: 36

2022 ranking: 54

Thoughts: Probably should be a bit higher. Lanning’s ranking may be influenced by the 49-3 beatdown that Oregon endured in last season’s opener against Georgia. From then on, Oregon went 10-2, losing those pair of games by a combined seven points.

Jonathan Smith, Oregon State

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith

Pac-12 ranking: 5

Power Five ranking: 32

2022 ranking: 37

Thoughts: Should be a little higher. It’s hard to keep Smith out of the top 30 after a 10-win season in 2022, especially with a few first and second-year coaches being listed right ahead of him. OSU could be in for a big season after adding quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to complement their power run game.

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Kalen DeBoer, Washington

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 ranking: 4

Power Five ranking: 31

2022 ranking: 51

Thoughts: He should be much higher. DeBoer is ranked behind coaches who are in their first years with their teams, and all he has done is win. Two impressive seasons at Fresno State were followed by an 11-2 campaign for a team that could be a dark horse for the College Football Playoff.

Chip Kelly, UCLA

Pac-12 ranking: 3

Power Five ranking: 13

2022 ranking: 28

Thoughts: Too high. Chip Kelly is a good coach and while his last two seasons in Los Angeles have been solid, he’s still only 27-29 with the Bruins. Kelly will have a new starting QB this season, so we’ll see if he continues to rise.

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Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 ranking: 2

Power Five ranking: 7

2022 ranking: 8

Thoughts: Should be the No. 1 head coach in the conference. Whittingham and Utah do nothing but win. Utah has posted back-to-back 10-win seasons as well as back-to-back Pac-12 Conference championships. Whittingham deserves the top spot until someone stops the Utes.

Lincoln Riley, USC

Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 ranking: 1

Power Five ranking: 4

2022 ranking: 4

Thoughts: Should be the No. 2 head coach in the conference. It’s a close race, but Riley should be below Whittingham. Even with that being said, Riley is a great coach — easily top-10 in the Power Five with a team competing for a CFP berth. But first, USC will need to scale Utah.

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Further reading

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Story originally appeared on Buffaloes Wire