Five Greatest College Football Coaches. Ever.
[ReviewAZON name=”jopa” id=”49″ display=”inlinepost” asin=”1600786154″ trackingid=”mywebsource1-20″ country=”us” width=”200px” float=”left” imagetop=”10px”]With the passing of Joe Paterno from Penn State this Sunday, college has lost another of its greatest football coaches. Joe Paterno will go down in history as being one of the ten best coaches of all time. His 406-136-3 record (74%) over a 46 year career at Penn State holds the record for the most victories by an NCAA Division coach. ” JoePa”, as he was nicknamed, led five undefeated teams to championships in his career and was one of only three coaches to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He will be sorely missed. While Joe Paterno was certainly a great coach, who were the five Greatest College Football Coaches of all time? This list is merely an opinion and not based on just statistics, but here’s who I would consider “the best”. Who would you add? Am I full of it? I’d love to hear your opinion.
Possibly one of the best known coaches in college football history, Bear Bryant, with his signature houndstooth hat, led “The Crimson Tide” at the University of Alabama for 25 years (1958-1982). During that time, he won six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Bryant earned his nickname from wrestling a captive bear at a theater promotion – when he was 13 years old! An exceptional football player, as well as a coach, Bryant went to the University of Alabama and started training with the team before graduating from high school. He started coaching for various teams after his college graduation in 1936, finally settling back in Alabama, where he remained the rest of his life. When he left the University of Alabama, he was the most winning coach in college football with a 325-85-17 record (76%).
Most people don’t remember Knute Rockne other than the fact he coached for Notre Dame and that he had a movie made about his life which also starred former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. This Norwegian chemistry professor from Notre Dame, who’s first name is pronounced Kah-Noot‘, has been called “America’s most-renowned football coach” by the College Football Hall of Fame. Like Bear Bryant, he both played for Notre Dame and coached there, as well. Rockne coached football there from 1918-1930 and won five national titles in the twelve years. He is credited with popularizing the use of the forward pass in football and the T-formation in the backfield. He coached some of the football world’s most notable coaches, including Frank Leahy and Curly Lambeau (of Green Bay Packer fame). He is also responsible for coaching George “The Gipper” Gipp and the Four Horsemen (Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley and Elmer Layden), who became legendary in college football for losing only 2 games during their three years of play. Rockne’s career was cut short by a plane crash in 1931. His record was 105-12-5 (86%).
Being from Ohio, and an Ohio State Buckeyes fan, I cannot write this list without the name of Woody Hayes being mentioned. He is arguably the greatest Big 10 coach of all-time and his 33 year career was marked with thirteen Big Ten Championships and five National Championships. His record was 238-61-10 (76%), which was marked by “The Ten Year War” between Hayes and Michigan Wolverine coach, Bo Schembechler, who played under Hayes and was an assistant coach to him before taking over the reins at Michigan. Hayes, who was known for his temper, had his career come to an abrupt end after the 1978 Gator Bowl when he punched opposing Clemson player, Charlie Bauman, after Bauman intercepted the Buckeye’s pass. This caused a bench clearing brawl on the field where Hayes went on to threaten a referee and attacked one of his own players who tried to intervene. What’s with Ohio State coaches getting in trouble? Sorry, Coach Tressel!
As much as I hate to put a Michigan coach on this list, Fielding Yost deserves to be on this list. During his 25 seasons as the head football coach in Ann Arbor, Yost led the Wolverines to six National Championships and ten Big Ten Conference titles. Known for his “Point-a-Minute” squads, Yost went 51-1-1 from 1901-1905 outscoring opponents by a margin of 2,821 to 42. One of the interesting things about Fielding Yost is that while he was a player and coach, football was not his only life ambition. Mixed in amongst his sporting endeavors, Yost was also a practicing lawyer, author, and businessman. Yost offered a lot to the game of football, as well. He is credited for inventing the position of Linebacker, co-created the first Bowl game (the 1902 Rose Bowl), invented the field house concept, and supervised the first building of an intramural sports complex on a college campus. He also paved strides in civil rights by allowing Jewish students to play football for the first time. Not too bad for a Michigan coach! His record was 198-35-12 (80%).
The reason Pop Warner makes this list is because he had an interesting and colorful career. He may not have the best record, 319-106-32 (69%), but he was able to take any team that he got his hands on and turn them into a champion. He led six different schools (Georgia, Cornell, Carlisle, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Temple) to victorious years. Even with an illustrious career spanning 44 years, one of his greatest accomplishments was not part of college football. He is also accredited for having helped start the American football organization, Pop Warner Little Scholars which teaches children the benefits of teamwork through football, cheerleading, and dance. To date, the non-profit organization has helped nearly a half a million children which combines competition with academic achievement.