The Most Famous College Football Coaches of All Time
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Knute Rockne: One of the more famous names from the old era of college football, Rockne was one of the great winners, with a record of 105-12-5 as Notre Dame’s coach from 1918 to 1930. A deadly plane crash brought an end to his career, but not before Rockne won 4 National Championships and imprinted his name as one of the sport’s great winners and inspirational forces. His .881 winning percentage is tops among all Division I coaches. Among his groundbreaking coaching was his furtherance of the forward pass and use of the shift on offense.
Woody Hayes: A fiery and volatile coach, Hayes was also an educator and mentor. It’s a shame for those who mostly know Hayes as the guy who got fired for hitting an opposing player. There was a lot more to the man than that one inglorious moment. He coached Ohio State for 28 years after brief stints at Denison and Miami--going 238-72-10. He led the Buckeyes to 5 national titles and it was under his stewardship that Ohio State became a perennial contender-- a status that has lasted until long after his tenure. Hayes won an incredible 13 Big Ten Conference Titles.
Bear Bryant: A name that still rings over 30 years since he last coached, Bryant coached from 1945 to 1982. He served tenures at Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas A&M for a combined 13 seasons, but is best known for his 25-year run as the coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Bryant won 325 games, including 15 bowl games. From 1961 to 1979, he won an incredible 6 national championships and put Alabama on the map as a top program--a status they still enjoy to this day. Bryant led the Crimson Tide to 13 conference titles.
Joe Paterno: Sure, it ended badly for Paterno. The above-reproach godfather of college football was dismissed midseason amidst scandal and passed away shortly after. As a result, he has been stripped of many of his wins. Prior to that, however, Paterno was closing in on 400 career wins, with 24 wins in bowl games. When dismissed, he was in his 46th season. While scandal will always be a part of his bio, looking at Paterno along those lines doesn’t paint a very accurate picture. He was a master coach and a man where everyone who worked with him has good things to say.
Bobby Bowden: Following a 6-year run as the head coach for West Virginia, Bowden became the Florida State Seminoles coach, where he would remain for the next 34 years. No one won more games at this level than Bowden, who won 411 total games. His first season at Florida State would be his only losing season. For an incredible 14 straight seasons, Bowden’s team won at least 10 games and never finished out of the top five. He won a pair of national titles and 12 ACC titles, including 9 in a row from 1992-2000.
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Urban Meyer: It may seem early to include Meyer among this illustrious bunch, until you take a look at the cold hard facts. His winning percentage is among the highest of all-time and every team he coaches seems to move right into the national championship picture. Meyer won a pair of national championships with Florida, following successful tenures at Bowling Green and Utah. In his first season with Ohio State, he led them to an unbeaten season, but sanctions from the previous era prevented him from going to the title game. A thoughtful and quietly-intense presence on the sidelines, Meyer’s results speak for themselves and make him perhaps the finest coach of the contemporary era.
Nick Saban: Another coach where the book has not been fully written. As of this writing, he has won the national title in 3 of the past 4 seasons as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Throw in another title with LSU and Saban is beginning to get into rarified air in the college coaching fraternity. Though he has only coached a fraction of the seasons some on this list have coached, Saban’s level of excellence is hard to dispute. His Crimson Tide have become one of the more dominant teams in recent teams--as close to a dynasty as you can have in today’s age of college football. Whatever happens from here is up in the air, but as it now stands, Saban is one of the best.