LSU vs. Alabama: Nick Saban and College Football's 10 Best Coaches

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

LSU vs. Alabama: Nick Saban and College Football's 10 Best Coaches

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    When looking at the game between LSU and Alabama Monday night for the national title, not only was Alabama's 21-0 victory a matchup between two elite defenses, but it also put two of the best coaches in the nation up against each other. Nick Saban came out on top this time.

    From recruiting, to attitude, to player development, to discipline, a lot can determine the worth of a college football coach, but at the end of the day all a program is looking for is wins and national championships.

    With the 2011 season behind us, here is a look at the top 10 coaches in the nation heading into the 2012 season. 

No. 10: Urban Meyer

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    When Ohio State announced that Urban Meyer would be their new head man, he already jumped into the top 10.

    As a head coach, Meyer has posted some incredible numbers. 

    With Utah, Meyer posted a 22-2 record and was 2-0 in bowl games. After moving to Florida, Meyer went 65-15, was 5-1 in bowl games and led the Gators to two national titles. 

    Now with Ohio State, Meyer is going to have an amazing area to recruit from and should help get Ohio State back to contending for conference and national titles. 

No. 9: Mark Dantonio

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    While he got his start with Cincinnati, Mark Dantonio has truly begun to make his mark as the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. 

    When Dantonio took over, Michigan State was a team that would flutter in mediocrity and was struggling to remain competitive with rivals like Michigan and Ohio State.

    Since taking over, Dantonio has led the Spartans to a 44-22 record, five straight bowl games, four wins over Michigan and a share of the conference title and an appearance in the conferences first title game. 

    If Dantonio continues to recruit like he has, the Spartans will be able to stay toward the top of the Big 10 and will compete for a Rose Bowl bid. 

No. 8: Mike Gundy

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    In 2005, Mike Gundy took over at Oklahoma State and has done a nice job of getting the program on a competitive path which culminated in a 12-1 season this year.

    During his first year, Gundy went 4-7 and it was his only below .500 season with the Cowboys. Overall, he has a record of 59-30 and has led the Cowboys to six straight bowl games in which he is 4-2. 

    Now with a BCS bowl win under his belt, Gundy will look to build on this years momentum and continue to keep his program on top of the Big 12. 

No. 7: Gene Chizik

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    After two forgettable seasons at Iowa State, Auburn took a chance on Gene Chizik and it paid off and did so quickly.

    Sandwiched between two 8-5 seasons, Chizik and his Auburn Tigers went 14-0 in 2010 and won the national championship over Oregon 22-19.

    Along with the undefeated season and BCS National Title, Chizik is 3-0 in bowl games and continues to show he is a great recruiter in a conference that is extremely competitive. 

No. 6: Frank Beamer

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    Frank Beamer has been around college football for a long time now and has been the head man at Virginia Tech since 1987. After taking over, Beamer has only had four losing seasons and has led the Hokies to eight straight 10 win seasons and 13 overall. 

    In total, Beamer has gone 208-98-2 at Virginia Tech, won seven conference titles and hasn't missed a bowl games since 1993. 

No. 5: Chris Petersen

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    Despite the argument that Boise State does not play a strong schedule, the fact remains that Chris Petersen routinely has his team prepared and ready to go no matter who is on the schedule. 

    In Petersen's six years at Boise State, his worst season was in 2007 when the Broncos went 10-3. Other than the six straight 10 win seasons, Peterson has led them to two undefeated seasons, four bowl wins, two BCS wins and has kept Boise State in the national title discussion year in and year out. 

No. 4: Bob Stoops

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    Bob Stoops is a coach that experienced success early and often at a traditional power like Oklahoma. Since taking over, Stoops has never had a losing season, won seven conference titles, a national title and is 7-6 in bowl games.

    While getting back and winning another title has eluded Stoops, he is 139-34 overall as Oklahoma's head coach and is one of the games greats. 

No. 3: Chip Kelly

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    Since joining the Ducks as an offensive coordinator, coach Chip Kelly immediately took Oregon from a local team to a national contender. 

    In 2009, Kelly took over as the head coach for Oregon and since then, he has gone 34-6 and has won three straight conference titles. Along with the conference crowns, Kelly has led the Ducks to three straight BCS appearances and a Rose Bowl crown this year.

No. 2: Les Miles

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    Before Mike Gundy took over at Oklahoma State, Les Miles was the main man for the Cowboys but found all of his success with the LSU Tigers.

    While he certainly has the credentials to back up his ranking, Miles is often noted for his interesting play calling and on the field antics like reaching down and turning the grass into a snack. 

    With this season in the books, Miles had won two conference titles, a national championship and had led LSU to five bowl wins in six appearances but ultimately fell short in this years title game. 

No. 1: Nick Saban

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    From recruiting to winning, Nick Saban has done a great job of bringing a winning environment to every program he has coached for. 

    After leaving Michigan State, Saban spent five years coaching LSU where we won two SEC titles and the 2003 National Championship. He would end up leaving with a 48-16 record with the Tigers.

    Now with Alabama, Saban has taken his success to the next level. He has a record of 55-12, one conference title and now two BCS National Championships. 

    When you look at Saban's body of work, you realize that success follows him all around the college football world. 


    Joe Penkala is a B/R National Featured Columnist that covers College Football. You can contact him @joepenkala.