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Where does Kyle Whittingham rank among best college football coaches?

Head coach Kyle Whittingham scans the field as the University of Utah football team opens spring camp in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 2, 2020.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham scans the field as the University of Utah football team opens spring camp in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 2, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Utah Utes head football coach Kyle Whittingham has built a reputation during his time leading the program as one of the better coaches in the country, but how does he stack up against others?

On Tuesday, The Athletic published two lists — one by Bruce Feldman and one by Stewart Mandel — with each ranking their top 25 coaches, and Whittingham appeared in the top 15 on both.

Whittingham came in at No. 12 on Feldman’s list and No. 15 on Mandel’s.

Wrote Feldman, who had Whittingham at No. 9 in 2020: “The former standout linebacker is a lot like (Northwestern’s Pat) Fitzgerald (whom Feldman ranked No. 11) in how tough and well-coached his teams are and how much respect he’s brought that program in his long tenure. Whittingham’s had two top-five poll finishes and seven top-25 finishes with the Utes. They’d only had two top-25 finishes in the school’s entire history before he took over.”

Wrote Mandel, who had Whittingham at No. 11 in 2020: “Here’s another coach whose 2020 season deteriorated into a glorified exhibition slate. (The Utes went 3-2.) Before that, Whittingham led Utah to five nine-plus-win seasons in six years, including back-to-back Pac-12 South title teams in 2018 and ’19. The program has also produced an impressive 21 draft picks over the past four years, the most in the Pac-12.”

Both writers had the same top four of Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley. Penn State’s James Franklin is fifth on Feldman’s list, while Ohio State’s Ryan Day appears there on Mandel’s list.