Auburn Football: Top Coaches in Tigers History
As one of the more storied college football programs in history, Auburn has seen its share of talented head coaches.
National Championships and Heisman Trophy winners don't just happen by accident. They come about from great coaches and great players, and Auburn has had plenty of both.
This list attempts to take the top tier of that coaching pool and rank them in a definitive order. What names were left off the list? What names shouldn't have been on it? Comments and criticisms are more than welcome. Enjoy!
6. Terry Bowden (1993-1998)
This addition to the list will likely result in a lot of negative comments, but whether you love him or hate him, Terry Bowden belongs on this list.
Bowden took over on the plains after the career of legendary Pat Dye ended with a booster scandal and NCAA probation for the Tigers. He came in and posted the best season of his coaching career immediately with a perfect season, but was ineligible for the conference national title.
By 1998 Bowden was taking heat at Auburn for off-the-field player discipline issues, and was beginning to be thought of as a poor recruiter by the powers that be. Without a guarantee that he'd be able to redeem himself, Bowden left suddenly midseason and is still held in low regard by Auburn faithful.
Six seasons, 47–17–1 overall, 30–14–1 SEC, 2-1 in bowls
SEC West Championship: 1997
SEC Coach of the Year: 1993
Bear Bryant Coach of the Year: 1993
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year: 1993
Sporting New Coach of the Year: 1993
Walter Camp Coach of the Year: 1993
5. Tommy Tuberville (1999-2008)
During his ten years at Auburn, Tommy Tuberville only posted two losing seasons. Those were his first, and his last.
In 2004 Tuberville may have had the best season in the modern era that didn't result in a national championship, even after the title was stripped from Southern California as a result of NCAA sanctions.
Though Coach Tuberville's last season was probably worthy of firing, no one can deny that he did a lot of winning at a time when the SEC had a ton of great teams.
10 seasons, 85–40 overall, 52-30 SEC, 5-3 in bowls
SEC Championship: 2004
SEC West Championship: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005
SEC Coach of the Year: 2004
Bear Bryant Coach of the Year: 2004
AFCA Coach of the Year: 2004
Walter Camp Coach of the Year: 2004
Sporting News Coach of the Year: 2004
4. Mike Donahue (1904-06, 1908-1922)
An Irish-born Yale graduate was probably an unlikely candidate for head football coach at Auburn at the turn of the 20th Century, but by the age of 25, Mike Donahue had the job and held onto it for the better part of eighteen years.
As one of the early users of the forward pass, Donahue did a lot of winning at Auburn at a time when the South was stocked with incredible football teams run by legendary coaches.
The Auburn football program can credit coach Donahue with making its early legitimization, as well as its stability and growth as a regional contender.
18 seasons, 105-35-5 overall, 65-26-3 SIAA/SoCon
SIAA Championships: 1913, 1919
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame: 1969
College Football Hall of Fame: 1951
3. Gene Chizik (2009- Present)
Gene Chizik was hired after Tommy Tuberville was let go after a ten-year run in Auburn. His hiring was a controversial one to say the least, mostly based upon his a less-than-impressive record at Iowa State.
After a decent first season, Chizik solidified his job as head of the Tigers by grabbing college football's biggest free agent and leading him all the way to a national title.
With only the second legitimate national championship in Auburn football history, Gene Chizik has begun his assent up the all-time list.
Three seasons, 30-10 overall, 15-9 SEC, 3-0 in bowls
National Championship: 2010
SEC Championship: 2010
SEC West Championship: 2010
SEC Coach of the Year: 2010
Bear Bryant Coach of the Year: 2010
Home Depot Coach of the Year: 2010
Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year: 2010
2. Pat Dye (1981-1992)
The playing surface in a college football stadium doesn't get named after you by accident. Either you donated a lot of money to pay for it, or you won a ton of football games on it. Pat Dye did the latter.
Though Dye's career ended with NCAA dropping the hammer on the Tigers, his career is unmistakably one of the greatest in Auburn football history.
The only reason he doesn't warrant a higher spot on this particular list is his lack of a national title, but with four 10-win seasons, three SEC titles and a Heisman winner, Dye is one of the best to ever coach on the plains.
12 seasons, 99–39–4 overall, 48-27-3 SEC, 6-2-1 in bowls
SEC Championships: 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989
SEC Coach of the Year: 1983, 1987, 1988
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame: 1990
"Pat Dye Field" dedication: 2005
College Football Hall of Fame: 2005
1. Ralph Jordan (1951-1975)
With a national championship, and his name sharing a spot on the stadium at Auburn, it will hardly be argued that Ralph Jordan is the greatest coach in Auburn football history.
The only contender that even comes close to the top spot is probably Pat Dye, but with almost twice as many wins and a national championship, Ralph Jordan takes the top spot easily.
Let the stats speak for themselves.
25 seasons, 176–83–7 overall, 99-65-4, 5-7 in bowls
National Championship: 1957
SEC Championships: 1957
SEC Coach of the Year: 1953, 1957, 1963, 1972
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame: 1969
"Jordon-Hare Stadium" dedication: 1973
College Football Hall of Fame: 1982