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College Football’s 15 Best Coordinators of 2024

While head coaches get most of the credit for a program’s success, coordinators are the real masterminds behind all the success on both sides of the ball.

Some of them are on the rise and are using their current positions as stepping stones. While others feel comfortable where they are despite the allure of money. Coordinators play a major role in the outcome of a match, but prefer to play from the sidelines or in the booth.

This fall, these fifteen individuals want to build on last season’s success and add more credibility to their legacy.

15. Chad Scott, OC, West Virginia: He has been on Neal Brown’s staff since 2019 and served as Offensive Coordinator and Running Backs Coach during that time. It’s no mystery that the Mountaineers led the Power Five and finished third in the FBS in rushing yards last season. West Virginia rushed for a breathtaking 228.9 yards per game and posted 32 touchdowns on the ground. Not to mention Scott’s group ranked 27th nationally in total offense. Scott isn’t a one-season wonder either. The Mountaineers averaged 171.5 rushing yards per game in 2022. As West Virginia approaches the expanded Big 12 this fall, Scott will have his guys ready with a punishing ground attack.

14. Joe Klanderman, DC, Kansas State: The Wisconsin native is approaching his fifth season leading the Wildcats’ defense. Klanderman’s unit has remained consistent and was one of the best defenses in the Big 12. His defense was a big reason why Kansas State captured a conference crown in 2022. Klanderman also works closely with the safeties, and four of his defensive backs were selected. in the NFL Draft over the past five years. Last season, the Wildcats allowed just 21 points per game, which ranked second in the Big 12 and 26th nationally. Kansas State was third in the league in team tackles for loss. This fall, he will field another talented group, with playmakers at every level.

13. Jon Heacock, DC, Iowa State: The 63-year-old is currently the longest-tenured assistant coach in the Big 12. Heacock has fielded some of the Big 12’s best defenses over the years and transformed a plethora of diamonds in the rough into high-caliber defenders. Under Heacock’s watch, the Cyclones have drafted four defensemen in the last three years, including TJ Tampa last month and Will McDonald in the 2023 first round. His longevity is rare in today’s game. Heacock also knows the Big 12 like the back of his hand. The Ohio native understands the kind of speed and physicality needed to succeed in competition, which will be critical with four teams from the Pac-12 invading in July.

12. Chip Lindsey, OC, North Carolina: He did a fantastic job replacing Phil Longo last season and kept the Tar Heels’ offense rolling. After all, North Carolina led the ACC and finished seventh in the FBS in total offense. Under Lindsey’s tutelage, quarterback Drake Maye continued to play at a high level, and running back Omarion Hampton led the ACC in rushing yards. The Tar Heels also averaged 34.5 points per game, which ranked second in the conference and 20th nationally. Lindsey also had success as UCF’s offensive coordinator in 2022, when his unit averaged 32.9 points per game. With Maye playing in the NFL, Lindsey will have to find other ways to replicate last year’s numbers.

11. Adam Fuller, DC, Florida State: He is approaching his fifth season leading the Seminoles’ defense and is coming off a solid campaign. Fuller’s unit ranked 15th nationally in total defense in 2022. Although Florida State ranked 28th in the FBS in total defense last year, Fuller’s group was just as tenacious. The Seminoles led the ACC and finished sixth in the FBS with 46 sacks. Fuller’s boys ranked 15th nationally in team tackles for loss per game. Not to mention that Florida State had five defensemen selected in the NFL Draft last month, including a first-rounder. It means Fuller has a big rebuilding job to do, but with the recruitment of Mike Norvell, the Seminoles shouldn’t miss a beat on defense.

10. Will Stein, OC, Oregon: He did a remarkable job last season in his first year co-leading the Ducks’ offense and working exclusively with the quarterbacks. Stein made Bo Nix one of four Heisman finalists. After all, Nix increased his completion percentage from the year before and led all of FBS in that category. Oregon led the Pac-12 and finished second nationally in total offense and points per game. Stein has also had success as a C0 offensive coordinator at UTSA. In 2022, the Roadrunners averaged 36.8 points per game under his leadership, ranking them 14th in the FBS. Now Stein is teaming up with Dillon Gabriel, one of the best marksmen in the country, and they will be ready for the Big Ten.

9. Brennan Carroll, OC, Washington: He spent the past three seasons as Arizona’s offensive coordinator under Jedd Fisch. Carroll had one of the most explosive offenses in the country in 2023. After all, the Wildcats ranked eighth nationally in passing yards, 18th in points per game and 20th in total offense. Noah Fifita became an elite marksman, finishing fifth in the FBS in completion percentage and 10th in passing ability. Carroll followed Fisch to Washington, but doesn’t want Fifita in his arsenal. However, Carroll will have Will Rogers, who has set several school records at Mississippi State. Now Carroll needs Rogers to make an impact in the Big Ten, like Fifita did with the Pac-12.

8. D’Anton Lynn, DC, USC: The 34-year-old has an impressive NFL background, with stints as a defensive assistant with the Los Angeles Chargers, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. Last season was Lynn’s first as defensive coordinator at UCLA, and he took the Pac-12 by storm. The Bruins led the conference and finished 10th in the FBS in total defense. It was a huge improvement from 2022, when UCLA ranked 87th nationally in total defense under Bill McGovern. Lynn helped turn Laiatu Latu into an elite pass rusher and a first-round draft pick. Now Lynn replaces Alex Grinch. USC’s defense has been a problem and needs a spark in the expanded Big Ten.

7. Kyle Flood, OC, Texas: The New York native spent four seasons as head coach at Rutgers and an assistant for the Atlanta Falcons, and Alabama before landing in Austin. So it cannot be denied that Flood has a lot of experience. He is approaching his fourth season as the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator and put together a remarkable campaign in 2023. After all, Texas finished ninth nationally in total offense, 15th in scoring and 17th in passing yards per game. Not to mention the Longhorns had seven offensive players selected in last month’s NFL Draft. Flood has another talented quarterback room with former five-stars Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning ready for the SEC.

6. Al Golden, DC, Notre Dame: The 54-year-old has extensive head coaching experience, with stints at Temple and Miami. Golden also served as a position coach for the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals. He has orchestrated Notre Dame’s defense the past two seasons and put up impressive numbers. The Fighting Irish finished 22nd in the FBS in total defense in 2022. Golden improved Notre Dame from 22nd to fifth nationally in total defense in 2023. Not to mention the Fighting Irish topped the FBS led in passing efficiency defense, and were second in the red zone. Now Golden will have one of the best secondary players in the country with the return of Benjamin Morrison and All-American Xavier Watts.

5. Jim Knowles, DC, Ohio State: The Philadelphia native has been a defensive coordinator in the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten. Knowles orchestrated Oklahoma State’s defense in 2021. His unit led the Big 12 in scoring, rushing and total defense that year. Knowles has led the Buckeyes’ defense the past two years. In 2022, Ohio State finished 14th in the FBS in total defense. Knowles improved the Buckeyes from 14th to third nationally in total defense last season. Ohio State ranked eighth in the FBS in defensive touchdowns. Knowles has an All-Big Ten caliber player at every level of his defense, including Jack Sawyer on the line and Caleb Downs in the secondary, so the Buckeyes are expected to dominate.

4. Andy Kotelnicki, OC, Penn State: He spent the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Kansas, where he fielded some explosive units. Last year, the Jayhawks finished eighth nationally in rushing yards, 17th in points per game and 21st in total offense. Devin Neal became a two-time 1,000-yard rusher under Kotelnicki’s tutelage. Quarterback Jason Bean led the Big 12 and finished fourth in the FBS in efficiency. Now Kotelnicki is working with more talent at Penn State, including former five-star quarterback Drew Allar, who led the Big Ten in passing touchdowns last season. If Kotelnicki is successful in Happy Valley, he will be well on his way to a head coaching job.

3. Tony White, DC, Nebraska: The 45-year-old’s 3-3-5 stack defense worked wonders in Syracuse in 2022. That year, the Orange finished third in the ACC and 21st in the FBS in total defense. White’s success continued last season at Nebraska and he made an immediate impact for the Blackshirts. Not only did the Huskers rank eighth nationally against the run, but they were also 11th in total defense and 13th in points allowed. The Blackshirts finished third in the Big Ten and 23rd in the FBS in sacks per game. White’s first year in Lincoln was so impressive that he received a big raise last December. Now Big Red Nation expects the Blackshirts to be more dominant in season two.

2. Morgan Scalley, DC, Utah: The 44-year-old has been part of Kyle Whittingham’s staff since 2007. Scalley is approaching his ninth season leading the Utes’ defense. His units helped Utah capture two Pac-12 titles. The Utes finished ranked 19th nationally in total defense in 2022. The Scalley boys improved to 13th in the FBS in total defense last year. Utah ranked 19th nationally in scoring defense the past two seasons. Scalley has longevity and he is a natural at developing underrated talent. That’s why Utah has had 16 defensemen drafted under his watch, including two last month. Now the Utes are approaching uncharted territory in the expanded Big 12, and his experience will be crucial.

1. Phil Parker, DC, Iowa: The former Michigan State defensive back is currently the Big Ten’s longest-tenured assistant. Parker became Iowa’s first Frank Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant coach. The hardware is long overdue for Parker, who has fielded some of the best defenses in the country over the years. Last season, the Hawkeyes ranked fourth nationally in points allowed, fifth against the pass and seventh in total defense. Plus, Parker is as loyal as they come. The 61-year-old is comfortable as Kirk Ferentz’s right-hand man and will find himself in an elite group this fall. Numerous Hawkeye defensemen have been drafted under Parker’s watch, including two last month.