Let me start this out by introducing myself briefly. My name is Mike (mdr), I am a graduate of the University of Georgia, and my family has had season tickets for over 30 years. So clearly you can see where my loyalties lie. A couple of weeks ago, a writer for this site named ChrisApplewhite posted his list of top ten college coaches. If anyone who is reading this read the comments and rebuttals to Chris’ list, you probably know who I am. As a result of my ongoing argument with Chris and others in those comments, I was asked to compile a list of my own. So, here it is: a meaningless list of the best coaches in college football compiled by a random guy with no writing experience who is bored at work. Enjoy.
Feel free to agree, disagree, call me retarded, whatever floats your boat.
10. Paul Johnson – Georgia Institute of Technology
You hear the phrase, "he wins everywhere he goes" about a handful of different coaches in college football. Perhaps no one personifies this cliché better than Paul Johnson. In 5 years at Georgia Southern, the worst performance he turned in was a loss in the quarterfinals of the national playoffs. He won back to back national titles while in Statesboro and never lost more than 3 games in a season, and that only happened in his first year.
Johnson moved on to Navy, and after a bumpy first year, went on to go 9-1 in the Commander in Chief Trophy competition over his six years in Annapolis. He posted five seasons with 8 wins or more and led the Midshipmen to five consecutive bowl appearances. Let’s not forget this is the Naval Academy we are talking about here. All of the service academies are at a huge competitive disadvantage in big time college football and for Johnson to pull off five straight bowl trips is pretty remarkable.
The homer in me hopes that he is soon removed from this list after a colossal failure at Georgia Tech. However, the realist in me believes that PJ will continue to build winners wherever he may coach.
09. Bobby Petrino - Arkansas
41 wins in four years at Louisville continuing to build on the modest successes of his predecessor, John L. Smith. Two conference championships and a 2-2 record in bowl games including a BCS victory in the Orange Bowl, a first for the Cardinals. Petrino is widely acknowledged as one of the great offensive minds in the college game. His ethics have been called into question due to some loyalty issues arising from his discussions with Auburn officials behind Tuberville’s back and then his abrupt resignation from the Atlanta Falcons before the end of last season. However, it’s hard to argue with the results. Time will tell what he can do at Arkansas, but the tools for success are certainly there and Petrino should have no problems getting players to run his offense.
08. Tommy Tuberville – Auburn
This one is actually simple, though I expect it to cause some controversy. The fact is, numbers don’t lie.
Since Tubs took over on the plains, Auburn has reached seven consecutive bowl games, including five on New Year’s Day. He also won an SEC championship during that time and posted a perfect 13-0 record in 2004. Tuberville has a winning record against Auburn’s three biggest rivals, including six in a row over Alabama. The Tigers have won 9 of their last 12 games against top ten teams and they are 5-1 against the top five during the same period. Frankly, there may not be a better big game coach in college ball.
07. Mack Brown - Texas
Give all the credit for the 2005 season to Vince Young if you want, Mack was damn good before Vince and he continues to be damn good after Vince. Three 10 win seasons at North Carolina is remarkable enough, but things have only gotten better for Mack since moving to Austin.
Mack Brown’s Texas teams are perennially in the top 10 and he has strung together seven consecutive seasons of 10 wins or more. Mack shook the "Coach February" tag many years ago, but he still hasn’t gotten over the Oklahoma hump enough to satisfy some Longhorn fans. Still, the Rose Bowl victories, the high winning percentage, and the top 10 finishes are plenty to cement him on this list.
06. Urban Meyer - Florida
The guy posted a perfect season at Utah and has never failed to win at least 8 games in a season. Even better than that, there has only been one 8 win season in his career, every other year Meyer’s teams have won at least 9 games. He also took a bunch of guys that Ron Zook signed and led them to a national title in his second year at Florida. Meyer has a great ability to mold his offensive philosophy to best fit the players he has. The offense he ran with Alex Smith in 2004 bore little resemblance to the one that he ran in 2006 with Chris Leak. His motivational skills and his game day planning are top notch as well. The only thing that is keeping him out of the top 5 on my list is the fact that he lost 4 games last year as the defending national champions with the eventual Heisman trophy winner at quarterback. A better year in 2008 will move him up another slot or two in my mind.
05. Mark Richt - UGA
The toughest pick of all for me, being the huge UGA homer that I am. There isn’t a coach in college football that I would rather have leading my guys into battle. If I had a son, I would want him to play for Mark Richt at Georgia.
However, that’s not what this pick is about. Richt has rung up 72 wins in his first seven years as a head coach. During that time, he has led the Bulldogs to three SEC east titles, two SEC championships, and three BCS appearances with a record of 2-1 in those games. UGA has finished in the top 10 five times during his seven years at the helm of the bulldog program.
UGA has many advantages in recruiting, facilities, fanbase, etc…. Many people will tell you that averaging ten wins a year at UGA is not all that impressive. However, you should tell that to Ray Goff and Jim Donnan, neither of whom even approached the level of success that Richt has achieved already. When Richt led UGA to the SEC championship in 2002, it was their first conference title in 20 years. Under his direction, the dawgs are now a perennial threat to win the SEC and play in a BCS game. If Richt manages to live up to the lofty expectations being placed upon the UGA team this season, he will be ranked even higher than this in the future. The only thing his resume is currently missing is that elusive national title.
04. Rich Rodriguez - Michigan
Led West Virginia to back to back 10 win seasons for the first time in school history, including a fairly historic Sugar Bowl win over the SEC champion UGA Bulldogs. He also won or tied for the Big East title four times in his seven years in Morgantown. Led the Mountaineers to their best run in school history from 2005-2007 (32-5, 2 BCS appearances). One of the acknowledged innovators/creators of the spread option offense which is winning the hearts and minds of college football fans nationwide.
03. Bob Stoops – Oklahoma
In the last 8 years, Stoops has failed to win at least 11 games exactly one time. Lately poor performances in bowl games have been slightly tarnishing his reputation as a big game coach. However, the guy is as close to a BCS regular as there is, making 6 appearances in only 9 years on the sidelines in Norman. The Sooners have won five Big 12 titles under his tutelage, including back to back championships the last two years.
Stoops is one of those guys that simply has to be in the top 5, I don’t care who’s making the list. He also pretty much owns UT at this point, which is enough to keep Sooner fans happy most of the time.
02. Jim Tressel – Ohio St
He may be dull, and the Big Ten certainly isn’t as strong as it once was. But Tressel’s teams always win, unless of course they happen to play a team from the SEC.
A ridiculous five national championships, including OSU’s first since the reign of Woody Hayes, give Tressel maybe the strongest resume of any coach in the country. His Ohio St teams are perennial Big Ten champs and until the last two years they had a very impressive record in BCS games.
Tressel teams are always strong in fundamentals and you will very seldom see them lose because of mental errors. That is the mark of a great coach. Plus the man’s record is simply phenomenal.
01. Pete Carroll - USC
Sorry to anyone who disagrees, but not having Carroll at number one is tantamount to blasphemy in today’s college football landscape. In seven years all he’s done is win the Pac Ten six times, win two national championships (one split), make appearances in six BCS games (winning five), and finish in the top four of the AP poll six times. Furthermore, USC is the first team in division 1A (or FBS if you prefer) history to ring up six consecutive eleven win seasons. Quite frankly, the only thing that has kept USC from being perfect in the BCS is a guy by the name of Vince Young.
No one else in the country is even close at this point to Pete’s level of accomplishment. Plus he’s got like 4000 facebook friends, so that has to mean something. Right?
You'd be smiling too.