The Sporting News' Matt Hayes posted his annual college football coach rankings today, with Notre Dame's Brian Kelly checking in at No. 5 on the list.
That's the good news. The not-so-good news is an awful lot of coaches Kelly will face this coming fall rank highly, too. Here's how they stack up:
David Shaw (Stanford): 7
Jimbo Fisher (Florida State): 10
Bobby Petrino (Louisville): 21
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern): 22
Larry Fedora (North Carolina): 31
Todd Graham (Arizona State): 33
Steve Sarkisian (USC): 36
Ken Niumatololo (Navy): 38
Brady Hoke (Michigan): 46
Scott Shafer (Syracuse): 83
David Bailiff (Rice): 84
Darrell Hazell (Purdue): 113
Eight of Notre Dame's 12 opponents have a top-40 coach by these rankings, which sounds about right. Kelly, though, rarely has been out-coached at Notre Dame, save maybe for the BCS Championship -- although he's certainly not the first coach to get beat by Nick Saban. But many of Notre Dame's losses over the last few years have come because the Irish just didn't have good enough players.
If Notre Dame gets into the College Football Playoff discussion this fall, Kelly will certainly have earned it. The schedule sets up nicely in the first half of the season, with Notre Dame drawing Michigan, Stanford and North Carolina at home while not playing a true away game in those six games. But the second half -- yikes. It begins with a trip to Florida State, includes games at Arizona State and USC and home contests against Northwestern and Louisville. And there's a neutral-site game against Navy thrown in there, a team that's off and on given Notre Dame fits in Kelly's tenure.
So needless to say, Kelly and his staff are going to have to be on their respective A-games to navigate this tough of a schedule this fall.