Michigan Football: Power Ranking All the Coaches in School History
The University of Michigan football team has been around since 1879 and have one of the most storied histories in all of college football. The Wolverines are the winningest team in the history of Division 1 football.
A storied history means a storied line of players and coaches that have come through Ann Arbor. A coach is someone who defines a team—someone who leads a team through good and through bad.
Michigan's rich football tradition can be traced all the way back to 1891 when the tradition began.
Here is a listing of Michigan's top football coaches.
17. Rich Rodriguez (2008-2010)
Rich Rodriguez was a coach that Michigan brought in to turn the program around. Lloyd Carr left big shoes to fill after his departure from Ann Arbor but Rodriguez only lasted three seasons after going 15-22.
He only had one season above the .500 mark and that was a 7-6 mark in his last year. It ended with his only Bowl Game, a loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.
Rodriguez certainly got the team back on track and brought on a couple of decent recruits including Denard Robinson.
The Michigan head coaching job may be one of the most scrutinized positions in college football.
Rich Rodriguez brought some key players in, but it didn't translate to wins on the field. In the end, that is all that matters.
16. Mike Murphy and Frank Crawford (1891)
Mike Murphy and Frank Crawford were Michigan's first ever head football coaches. They combined to lead the team for one year to a 4-5 record.
Murphy was considered one of the finest athletic trainers in his day, as he served as coach for the Summer Olympic Track team as well.
Other than Rich Rodriguez, Murphy and Crawford, hold the only losing record in Michigan history.
These coaches however were the leaders and the pioneers that eventually led to what Michigan Wolverine football is today.
15. Elton Wieman (1927-1928)
Elton Wieman coached Michigan for two seasons and went 9-6-1 in those two seasons.
Neither season did he reach a bowl game.
14. Frank Barbour (1892-1893)
Frank Barbour led Michigan to a 14-8 record in two seasons as their Head Coach.
Barbour expanded the football season to 12 games for the Wolverines in 1892, the longest yet.
13. Bump Elliott (1959-1968)
Bump Elliott is the first coach on this list with at least three years at the Michigan helm. Elliott was a former Michigan half back.
He coached for 10 seasons leading the team to a respectable 51-42-2 record. His team won one Rose Bowl and one Big 10 title in his 10 seasons.
He is the only coach, other than Rodriguez, who had a losing record in the Big 10.
12. Langdon Lea (1900)
Langdon Lea coached Michigan to a 7-2-1 record in 1900.
He replaced former standout running back Gustave Ferbert.
11. George Little (1924)
George Little took over for one year at Michigan after legendary coach Fielding Yost stepped down.
He had been an assistant beforehand and was 6-2 in his only season.
10. William Ward (1896)
William Ward, at 9-1, is the all-time leader in win percentage in Michigan history.
Why is he ranked so low then? Because he lost the last game of the season to the University of Chicago and failed to win a Western Conference Title.
9. William McCauley (1894-1895)
McCauley posted a 17-2-1 record in two seasons as coach of the Wolverines.
The 1895 team, which went 8-1, had shutouts is seven of its nine games and outscored their opponents 266 to 14.
McCauley led Michigan to its first ever Western Football Championship.
8. Bennie Oosterbaan (1948-1958)
After being one of the most decorated athletes in Michigan state history, Oosterbaan ran the Wolverines for 11 seasons.
He was 63-33-4 and won the 1951 Rose Bowl and in 1948 the AP national championship.
7. Gustave Ferbert (1897-1899)
Gustave Ferbert coached Michigan to a 24-3-1 record over three seasons with the program. He is tied for second in all time win percentage.
In 1898 he led his team to a perfect 10-0 record and the program's first ever Western Conference championship.
6. Harry Kipke (1929-1937)
The top six start to get a little bit tougher. These are the coaches that have the most hardware in the history of Michigan football.
A team is defined by the hardware and the championships they attain and that is why most of these coaches are at the top of this list.
Klipke was around for nine seasons holding a 46-26-4 record. His team's were not very consistent for the most part during his tenure.
Through 1930-1933, Michigan had four straight conference titles and two national titles. From 1934-1937 the team managed just a 12-22 record.
5. Gary Moeller (1990-1994)
Moeller had huge shoes to fill as well, after taking over for the great Bo Schembechler.
Moeller had a career record of 44-13-3 in five seasons with Michigan.
He won or shared three conference titles and reached a bowl game in all five seasons.
4. Fritz Crisler (1938-1947)
Crisler coached 10 seasons for the Wolverines compiling a 71-16-3 record.
He won two conference titles and one national title with the team.
He is best known however for his "platoon football," using separate players for defense and offense.
He also introduced the "winged" logo on the current Michigan helmet.
3. Lloyd Carr (1995-2007)
Lloyd Carr put the modern Michigan football program on the national map once again.
During his tenure, he went 122-40, including going 81-23 in conference play.
He won five conference titles, appeared in 13 bowl games, and won one national championship.
2. Bo Schembechler (1969-1989)
It was very tough to decide whether Bo should be No. 1 or 2.
I decided to go with No. 2 only because he failed to win any national titles.
Bo had a record of 194-48-5 in Ann Arbor. He is the most winningest coach in the history of the program.
In 21 seasons, he won 13 conference championships and appeared in 17 bowl games.
1. Fielding H. Yost (1901-1923, 1925-1926)
I wish I could have done a 1A and a 1B ranking instead, but if I had to choose between Bo and Coach Yost, I'd have to say Yost just because his dominance over his tenure.
Yost went 165-29-10 in his 25 combined seasons as head coach.
He has the highest win percentage out of any coach who stayed more than three years in the program. He compiled 10 conference titles and a astounding six national championships in Ann Arbor.
He won the first ever Rose Bowl in 1902 and went undefeated in the 1901 season and their defense did not allow a single point all year.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!