The Top Five Greatest Michigan State Football Coaches of All Time
Michigan State football has had its ups and downs since it began in 1896. They have had some great coaches and some awful ones.
This list contains who I consider the five greatest coaches the green and white has seen in its long, rich history.
After you read this and don't find George Perles on the list, understand why. Yes, Perles may have been more successful than others I put on the list, but it's not fair to the other coaches that ran cleaner programs.
Perles was fired in 1994, and MSU was forced to make self-imposed sanctions that included the loss of scholarships. State also forfeited all five wins of the 1994 season.
This list is filled with five great coaches, and I can't consider Perles a great coach because of the NCAA sanctions.
**When reading this you'll notice I refer to what we now call Michigan State University (MSU) as Michigan Agriculture College (MAC) and Michigan State College (MSC.) At one point in time each of these names was used.
Charlie Bachman (1933-1946)
Bachman played football at Notre Dame, along with Knute Rockne, and brought the Notre Dame style to Michigan State, putting together 10 of 13 winning seasons.
In 1934, MSC beat Michigan 16-0 for the first time since 1915 and finished the year 8-1.
Then in 1937, State went 8-1 in the regular season and received a bid to their first postseason bowl. They ended up losing in the Orange Bowl to Auburn 0-6.
Bachman was also known for the many great Spartans he coached, such as Sid Wagner, John Pingel, and Jack Breslin.
Bachman's career at MSC ended with a 70-34-10 record, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1978.
Chester Brewer (1903-1910, 1917, 1919)
Brewer coached MAC football to new heights and was known as a defensive genius. He coached the Aggies to a 58-23-7 record in three separate time periods.
His defenses were good enough to have 49 shutouts in 88 games.
Brewer was remembered for a 0-0 tie in 1908 against Michigan, under the helm of legendary coach Fielding Yost, and a 17-0 victory over Notre Dame in 1910. He posted four different one-loss seasons and one undefeated season.
John Macklin (1911-915)
Macklin kept the winning up just like his predecessor, Chester Brewer. Macklin posted a 29-5 record in just five seasons at MAC.
Despite three of his losses coming to Michigan, he finally beat them in 1913, which was the first win over the Wolverines in school history. They also posted a perfect 7-0 record that season.
Macklin also helped MAC beat its first Big Ten team in 1912 in Ohio State. Despite only coaching five seasons, he dominated the opposition both offensively and defensively. In the 34 games Macklin coached, his teams posted 14 shutouts.
Macklin had three seasons with one loss, one season with two losses, and one perfect season.
Macklin also coached basketball and baseball and had winning records in each. While coaching three different sports teams, he also served as the Athletic Director.
MAC renamed their football stadium to Macklin Field in honor of John Macklin for all he did. Macklin Field was eventually changed to what we now know as Spartan Stadium.
Clarence "Biggie" Munn (1947-1953)
Clarence "Biggie" Munn is the coach that put MSC on the national stage in 1950, beating third-ranked Michigan and Notre Dame for an 8-1 record and finishing in the Top 10 in for the first time in the school's history.
In 1950, Munn began a 28-game win streak that lasted halfway through 1953. In the win streak, MSC won two national championships in 1951 and 1952 with identical 9-0 records.
In 1953, MSC joined the Big Ten in athletics and became Co-Conference Champions in their first season with a 9-1 record and a Rose Bowl win.
After the 1953 season, Munn retired to become MSC's Athletic Director. He would be the AD for the next 18 years and continue to build the Spartans to a powerhouse football program through the 1960s.
In his seven seasons as head coach, Biggie had a 54-9-2 record, the highest winning percentage in the school's history (.857), 18 All-Americans, a winning record against Michigan, and was the 1952 National Coach of the Year.
Munn was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959.
Hugh Duffy Daugherty (1954-1972)
Duffy is arguably one of the most well-known coaches in both Spartan and college football history.
He took over as head coach after Biggie Munn retired to become the Athletic Director. Duffy took what Munn started and continued to dominate college football through the 1950s and '60s.
After struggling in his first season, he restored the green and white to glory, winning national championships in 1955 and 1957. He later captured two more national championships back-to-back in 1965 and 1966.
Duffy coached many great players and games, including the 1966 matchup against Notre Dame in the "Game of the Century." Spartan legends like Brad Van Pelt, Bubba Smith, George Webster, and Joe DeLamielleure all played under Duffy. Daugherty was also known for being one the first college football coaches to have a racially diverse team.
Duffy has gone down as one of the greatest in Spartan history with a 109-69-5 record. When retiring in 1972, his career finished with four national championships, two outright Big Ten titles, Big Ten runner-up four times, seven Top-10 finishes, 33 first team All-Americans, and 51 All-Big Ten players.
In addition to these accolades, he had a 10-7-1 record against Michigan and the same record against Notre Dame.