10 Worst Coaches to Win National Championships
Winning a college football national championship is not easy to do, but over the years some coaches have proven more fortunate in that category than others.
One of those coaches who was very fortunate was former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik.
ESPN personality Paul Finebaum was quick to point that out, calling him the worst head coach to ever win a national championship.
That got us to thinking, is Finebaum right, or does somebody else top the list?
There have been some excellent coaches to never win a national championship, and there have been some not so successful coaches to come away with titles.
Whether it was because of inherited talent, an easy schedule or just plain luck, the 10 names on this list were fortunate to come away with national titles.
Here are the 10 worst coaches in college football history to win a national championship.
*National championships coming before the BCS was introduced are according to the AP National Champion or Coaches Poll
*Selections only date back to 1936 with the inception of the AP Poll
No. 10 Danny Ford
Danny Ford is one of the most accomplished coaches on the list, but struggled toward the end of his career, putting him in the top 10.
Ford won his only national championship in 1981 when his Clemson Tigers finished the season 12-0 and Orange Bowl champions, after defeating Nebraska.
He spent 12 seasons as the head coach of Clemson. During that time he posted a 96-29-4 record, including five conference championships and eight bowl appearances.
Ford then spent five seasons at Arkansas where he combined to post a 26-30-1 record, featuring three losing seasons and only one bowl appearance.
His 122-59-5 record is very impressive, but his struggles at the end of his career allow him to barely crack the list.
No. 9 Ben Schwartzwalder
Former Syracuse head coach Ben Schwartzwalder was a legend during his 25-year coaching career.
During that span he coached some excellent players, including the likes of Jim Brown, Jim Nance, Larry Csonka and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis.
After three years at Mullenberg College where he posted a 25-5 record, Schwartzwalder took over at Syracuse in 1949.
During his 25 years, he did put together 18 winning seasons and took the Orange to seven bowl games.
His team only posted a 2-5 mark in those bowl games, but during the 1959 season his squad won the national championship, finishing 11-0 and knocking off Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Over his 25-year coaching career, he posted a 178-96-3 overall mark, but only winning two bowl games puts him on this list.
No. 8 Larry Coker
No coach on the list has had as much success of former Miami head coach Larry Coker, but no coach on the list has been blessed with as much talent as he has either.
Coker took over a Miami squad in 2001 that featured future NFL stars at nearly every position. During his first season he led the Hurricanes to a 12-0 season and his only national championship.
The next year that same talented group fell in the national championship to Ohio State, finishing 12-1 and second in the country.
It was downhill from there. Miami won 11 games in 2003, followed by nine in both 2004 and 2005. In 2006, during his final year at Miami, the team went 7-6, finishing outside of the AP Top 25 for the first time in his career.
His 60-15 mark in six seasons is not bad. He has recently taken over at new FBS program UTSA, where he has posted a 13-11 record in two plus seasons.
No question that this guy won on the talent that was handed to him when he arrived.
No. 7 Johnny Majors
Johnny Majors won his national championship in 1976 at Pittsburgh. He led the Panthers to a perfect 12-0 campaign.
Before arriving at Pittsburgh, Majors spent five seasons at Iowa State where he posted a 24-30-1 record, including a 9-25-1 record in the Big Eight Conference. He also only put together one winning season in those five years.
After three sub-par years at Pittsburgh, he won his only national championship, led by Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett.
That led him to Tennessee where he put together a 116-62-8 record in 16 seasons.
Majors then finished up his career with more consecutive losing seasons at Pittsburgh that never saw his squad win more than four games.
He finished with a 185-137-10 record in 29 years as a head coach. His team only finished ranked in the final AP Poll eight of those 29 seasons.
No. 6 Dutch Meyer
Former TCU head coach Dutch Meyer spent all 19 of his coaching seasons leading the Horned Frogs.
He won his only national championship in 1938 when the Horned Frogs posted an 11-0 mark and a Sugar Bowl victory.
During those 19 seasons, his teams went a combined 109-79-13, including appearances in seven bowl games.
They did however post six losing seasons during that time and only finished ranked in the Top 10 of the final AP Poll one time.
The national championship was excellent, but not enough success in other seasons to get him off the list.
No. 5 Bennie Oosterbaan
Bennie Oosterbaan was a staple at Michigan for over two decades. After coaching the basketball team from 1938 to 1946, he took over the football program from 1948 to 1958.
That was a time when Michigan was dominating the college football landscape. The Wolverines were one of the best programs in the country at that time, and while he had a successful 11-year coaching career, he certainly did not live up to the expectations.
Oosterbaan won his only national championship in 1948, the same year he took over the program. His Wolverines went 9-0.
After that season, he never won more than seven games in a single year, and during his final two years he was only 7-9-2 overall.
His 63-33-4 mark is still very impressive, but it's nowhere near most other coaches' at Michigan during that time.
No. 4 Paul Dietzel
During his 20 years as a head coach Paul Dietzel coached at three marquee programs.
His career began at LSU. This is where he had most of his success and the only stop of the three where he had a winning record.
During his seven seasons, he posted a 46-24-3 record, including an 11-0 mark and a national championship in 1958. He also finished in the Top Five of the AP Poll three times.
While there was success at LSU there were also two losing seasons.
He then spent four years at Army that included a 21-18-1 record with two losing seasons and no bowl appearances.
Dietzel finished up his career by coaching nine seasons at South Carolina. Only three of those seasons featured winning records and none of his teams won more than seven games. Only his 1969 squad even reached a bowl game. His 42-53-1 mark at South Carolina was the worst of his three stops.
Overall, Dietzel finished his coaching career with a 109-95-9 record. Certainly not as good as almost any coach to win a national championship.
No. 3 Murray Warmath
Murray Warmath did spend two seasons as a head coach at Mississippi State, but he made a name for himself during his 18 years at Minnesota.
In two seasons at Mississippi State, Warmath posted a 10-6-3 record. He then took over at Minnesota in 1954 and saw the Golden Gophers post an 87-78-7 record during his 18 years.
Despite an 8-2 record, his 1960 squad won the AP National Championship after losing 17-7 to Washington in the Rose Bowl.
In 20 seasons as a head coach he had a 97-84-10 record and only finished in the AP Top 25 four times. He also had nine losing seasons.
He also barely finished above .500 in Big Ten play at 65-57-4.
While he did have a few excellent seasons, there is little doubt that he is one of the worst coaches to ever win a national championship.
No. 2 Bobby Ross
Bobby Ross is perhaps best known for his days as the Detroit Lions head coach, but he also spent time with four different colleges.
He began his career at The Citadel. During five seasons, he had a 24-31 record. He then took over at Maryland where he was very successful, posting a 39-19-1 record in five seasons.
In 1987 he took over at Georgia Tech and led the Yellow Jackets to a national championship in 1990. Although the team finished second in the AP Poll, they were first in the Coaches Poll.
That team posted an 11-0-1 record, including a victory over Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl.
Still, that was the only season his Georgia Tech team finished in the top 25 and in his five seasons, he posted a 31-26-1 record with three losing seasons.
After Georgia Tech came a stint in the NFL before a 9-25 record in three seasons at Army.
Overall, his 103-101-2 record as a college head coach is one of the worst to win a national championship.
No. 1 Gene Chizik
Without question, the name that tops this list is former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik.
Chizik won a national championship in his second season at Auburn in 2010, led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
That Auburn team posted a 14-0 mark, including a victory over Oregon in the BCS National Championship game.
During his four seasons at Auburn Chizik was 33-19, but only finished in the top 25 only one time.
Before arriving at Auburn, he had two unsuccessful seasons at Iowa State. The team combined for a 5-19 record and 2-14 mark in Big 12 play during those two years.
Overall, Chizik is 38-38 as a head coach with a 17-31 record in league play.
No question he is at the top of this list.
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