This feels like a trolling exercise from afar, even if there's seemingly no built-in bias against the SEC. 

Or the state of Georgia.

What else could it be though?

On Tuesday, esteemed college football reporter Bruce Feldman offered an intriguing, yet equally baffling piece to The Athletic, providing his personal countdown of the college game's 25 best active head coaches.

To no surprise, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney claimed the top two spots, which makes sense since Alabama and Clemson collectively share the last four College Football Playoff national titles.

After that, however, Feldman's list (which can be viewed behind a pay wall) became ripe for criticism ... or at least numerous head turns with a "Huh?" response.

The most curious selection: Despite consecutive SEC East titles, an epic Rose Bowl victory (2017 playoff), two painfully close losses to vaunted Alabama and back-to-back-to-back top-3 recruiting classes nationally (source: Rivals.com), UGA's Kirby Smart merely ranks No. 12 in the head coaches' survey.

Twelfth ... as in 11 other coaches throughout the country are killing it better than Smart. 

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The remaining top 11 went like this:

3. Chris Petersen, Washington
SKINNY:
Petersen has done amazing work at Washington and formerly Boise State. That said, the Huskies have just one College Football Playoff berth and zero CFP victories during the Petersen era.

4. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
SKINNY: 
The just-desserts reward for producing back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray) ... and back-to-back Playoff semifinal berths.

5. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
SKINNY:
Fisher's two-year dominance from 2013-14 (one national championship, two title contenders) apparently carries more weight than the two-year run of mediocrity for 2017-18 (14-10 with Florida State, Texas A&M).

6. James Franklin, Penn State
SKINNY: 
A solid coach and prolific recruiter ... but only 1-3 in Penn State's last four bowls.

7. Chip Kelly, UCLA
SKINNY:
Kelly enjoyed a juggernaut run at Oregon (before opposing defenses got wise to stopping the spread offense). However, of his last three seasons with the NFL's Eagles (2015-16) and UCLA (2018), Kelly has a combined mark of 11-32. Yikes.

8. Gary Patterson, TCU
SKINNY: 
Solid ranking for a solid coach ... even though UGA knocked off the Horned Frogs in the 2016 Liberty Bowl.

9. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
SKINNY: 
It's hard to dispute a top-10 ranking for a three-time winner of National Coach of the Year. Can't wait for UGA vs. Notre Dame in late September.

10. Mike Leach, Washington State
SKINNY:
A golden sound bite and fearless play-caller who exceeds national expectations nearly every year.

11. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
SKINNY:
Three 10-win campaigns since 2015 ... but also just a 5-8 record against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Notre Dame during this span.

It's worth noting: Smart has only been the man at Georgia for three seasons (2016-18); but within that span, he has a 2-0 bowl record against coaches listed in the top eight.

OTHER NOTABLE RANKINGS
13. David Shaw, Stanford
17. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
18. Tom Herman, Texas
21. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
24. Dan Mullen, Florida