What is a "Great Coaching Rivalry", in your opinion? Is it a rivalry between great coaches, like the one between Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles?
Or is it a great rivalry with close, exciting games, such as between Joe Paterno and John Cooper?
I was pondering this, because this is the 12th year of the Mack Brown/Bob Stoops rivalry, and I was wondering how historically significant it is. I love lists (who doesn’t?), and decided to list the greatest coaching rivalries. I was looking for rivalries that:
1. Lasted at least 10 games. This is a tough criteria, because only the best coaches last 10 years at a school, and we’re looking for guys that were both at their school for the same 10 years, minimum. This also eliminated two rivalries that lasted over a decade, but due to scheduling didn’t accumulate 10 games- Bryant/Dooley (18 years, only 6 games), and Leahy/Blaik (13 years, 7 games).
2. Involve great coaches. How do you measure this? Isn’t this something you know when you see? Generally, winning a MNC is a good measure, but not every MNC winner is recognized as a great coach (is Bobby Ross one?), and Bo Schembechler is a coach I consider “great” who never won a MNC. This one will have to be somewhat subjective.
3. Are competitive. I eliminated Broyles/Royal, Osborne/Switzer, and Paterno/Carr because they were just too one-sided. These rivalries may have had great games, but ended up as more dreaded than anticipated for one of the teams.
Here are the best rivalries I could find in history-
John McKay (USC)/Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame), 1964 – 1974. McKay got the better of this one, going 6 – 3 – 2, but Parseghian did OK, nearly winning 5. In this period, USC won three MNCs, and Notre Dame won two. These teams made their wins count. During this span, USC went 87 – 19 – 5 against all non-ND teams (80.6%), and Notre Dame went 92-11-2 when not playing USC (88.6%).
Bo Schembechler (Michigan)/Woody Hayes (tOSU), 1969 – 1978. Bo got this one, going 5 – 4 – 1 in this series. Neither team won a MNC (Woody had some from before, and Bo never won one), as this series was known for spoiling MNC chances more than supporting them. When not playing the Buckeyes in these 10 years, the Wolverines went 94 – 11 – 2 (88.8%). The Buckeyes went 84 – 15 – 2 in non-Michigan games.
Bobby Bowden (FSU)/Steve Spurrier (Florida), 1990 – 2001. This series had 14 games in 12 years, due to two bowl meetings. Bowden had the upper hand, 8 – 5 – 1. FSU won two MNCs in this period, and Florida won one (ironically, beating FSU in a bowl to get it). When not playing the Gators, FSU went 120 – 14 (89.6%), and Florida went 114 – 19 (85.7%) in non-Seminole games.
How does the Brown/Stoops rivalry match up? Pretty well, I think, but judge for yourself. From 1999 – 2009, Stoops is 6 – 5 over Mack. Each coach has won one MNC, although Stoops has played for three more, and Brown for one more (ironically, Stoops played for one in 2008 despite losing to Brown that year). When not playing Texas, Stoops has a record of 111 – 24 (82.2%). Brown’s record in non-Sooner games is 114 – 18 (86.4%).
I think this makes a good argument for the Brown/Stoops rivalry being one for the ages. Another interesting thing about the series noted above is that they weren’t really known for a lot of mutual love. Maybe that only happens in rivalries where one coach definitely dominates the other, or there aren’t high stakes in play. It's funny that the RRS is known for its great coaches (Wilkinson, Royal, etc.) but only has this as a great rivalry because when one coach gets the upper hand for a period, it tends to shorten the tenure of the losing coach.
Comments? Did I miss any rivalries of note?