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Josh Heupel moves up in CBS Sports head coach rankings for 2022

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

CBS Sports is back with an offseason tradition — ranking every power five head coach from 1 to 65. Their panel of analysts vote and rank each coach, spitting out an average ranking that we can all argue about to fill some dead air.

Following a successful year one in Knoxville, Heupel made a huge move in this year’s rankings. CBS had him 52nd last year, and Heupel now sits 33rd this year. That’s a jump of 19 spots.

Here’s CBS on the move.

Josh Heupel: This has nothing to do with Heupel specifically, but I smell some SEC bias here. Yes, Heupel exceeded expectations at Tennessee in his first year, putting together a fun offense and leading the team to a 7-6 mark and the Music City Bowl. However, if he’d done the same thing at a program in another Power Five conference, would it warrant a 19-spot climb? I’m skeptical. All that aside, he’s the first Tennessee coach to finish his first season in Knoxville with a winning record since Lane Kiffin. Simply sticking around for a second season puts him ahead of schedule from that perspective! 2021 rank: 52 (+19)

The writer seems to be discounting just how bad of a spot Tennessee was in when Heupel arrived, but we won’t get too bent out of shape. The number is fair for Heupel, and he’s going to have a huge opportunity to move higher next year with Hendon Hooker returning this fall.

Heupel checks in just behind new Florida head coach Billy Napier, as both guys try to reestablish their programs as SEC East powers. They’re both chasing Kirby Smart, who landed at No. 2 this year behind Nick Saban at No. 1.

Full SEC Rankings

1. Nick Saban

2. Kirby Smart

5. Jimbo Fisher

7. Brian Kelly

16. Mark Stoops

18. Lane Kiffin

22. Sam Pittman

26. Mike Leach

32. Billy Napier

33. Josh Heupel

41. Shane Beamer

46. Eli Drinkwitz

48. Bryan Harsin

57. Clark Lea

Any gripes here?