Few sports elicit the level of nostalgia and camaraderie college football does each fall across America, from the lowlands of the southeast to the banks of the Pacific.
A total of 131 teams call the Football Bowl Subdivision home. Of those schools, 21 remain unbeaten through Week 4 of the season.
Perhaps no team has made more waves through the first third of the year than Kansas, which is 4-0 for the first time in 13 years.
Second-year Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold has leaned on Jalon Daniels at quarterback to power his offense to otherworldly levels this season, with the junior tossing 11 touchdowns (to one interception) and amassing 890 passing yards.
As a result, Daniels currently finds himself ranked sixth on the Kansas BetMGM Heisman Trophy odds board at +3000 — Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (+150) and Alabama’s Bryce Young (+400) are one-two on the list.
BetKansas.com evaluated teams across college football’s top division to get a sense of who the frontrunners are to bring home the Coach of the Year award in 2022.
Based on the particular school’s recent success (or lack thereof) and the team’s early season results, it seems Leipold is a current favorite to take home the award this year.
College Football Coach of the Year Award Odds
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Why Lance Leipold Leads the Way
It’s hard to argue Kansas has been the cellar-dwellers of the FBS the past decade.
Since 2008 (the Jayhawks' last winning season), KU has lost 130 games, compared to just 32 wins.
KU last won four games in a single season in 2009, when they finished 5-7, and have posted two winless campaigns in the interim.
Now, the Jayhawks find themselves as a potential darkhorse candidate to win the Big 12 for the first time since 1968 (when it was still the Big 8), with Kansas online betting giving Leipold’s team +4000 odds.
Kansas looks to knock off Iowa State at Kansas Memorial Stadium this Saturday, in a game that kicks off on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m.
Despite the Jayhawks' impressive start, Kansas mobile betting apps still have the Cyclones as 3-point road favorites
If the Jayhawks can go 4-4 down the stretch, they’ll finish with eight wins, which would be the most since they went 8-5 under Mark Mangino in 2008.
That’s why we see Leipold as the frontrunner to win the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award in 2022, giving the Jayhawks their second winner of the award — Mangino won in 2007.
Other Names to Keep an Eye On
Other names atop our list to win coach of the year in 2022 lead resurgent programs, such as Kalen DeBoer (Washington), Mike Norvell (Florida State), and Dino Babers (Syracuse).
Of those, only DeBoer is in his first year at his current program, coming over from Fresno State.
Norvell has the Seminoles at 4-0 after going 3-6 in 2020 and 5-7 in 2021.
Second-year Tennessee coach Josh Heupel has the best shot at scaling the board. The Volunteers are off to a 4-0 start, with wins over ranked Pittsburgh and Florida teams. If Tennessee can score upset wins over Alabama (at home on Oct. 15), Kentucky (at home on Oct. 29), or Georgia (in Athens on Nov. 5), then Heupel could be the coach to beat for the award.
Aside from those two, we’ll keep our eyes on N.C. State coach Dave Doeren, who has the Wolfpack at No. 10 in the latest Associated Press Poll and in position for the program’s first 10-win season in 20 years.
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman pulled off his third upset of Oklahoma on Saturday and has the Wildcats in the No. 2 spot on BetMGM’s Big 12 odds board at +375 (after being +1200 in the preseason).
First-year FBS darling James Madison and its coach Curt Cignetti have wins over Middle Tennessee State and Appalachian State so far this year. If the Dukes can finish near the top of the Sun Belt Conference, then Cignetti could emerge as a real COY contender.
Rounding out the list is Minnesota coach PJ Fleck, who has overseen a program overhaul in Minneapolis — leading the Golden Gophers to a 4-0 start and a shot at winning the Big Ten West for the first time since 2019 (they shared the division title with Wisconsin that year but the Badgers went to the conference championship game).
Other names that just missed our current list are USC coach Lincoln Riley, who is 4-0 in his first season in L.A., as well as Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, who has the Wildcats in the AP top 10 this week.