Auburn Football: Power Ranking the Greatest Coaches in Tigers History
Auburn has been home to many great coaches.
Ralph "Shug" Jordan. Pat Dye. John Heisman. Tommy Tuberville. Gene Chizik. Mike Donahue.
But only one of them can be No. 1 on this list.
Here is a list ranking every football coach in Auburn Tigers history.
10. Willis Keinholz (1907)
Willis was the coach for just one season, but he did a great job.
He went 6-2-1 on the Plains and then left for the job at Washington State (yes, back then Washington State was one of the most attractive jobs).
Best season: 1907. All I have to say is...duh. His best season would obviously have to be his only season, but then again, his only season is the reason he's on the list.
Auburn went 6-2-1. In the six victories, the opponents scored a combined six points. The only losses were to Georgia and Sewanee, and the 6-6 tie with Alabama would be the last game played between the two before a 40-year hiatus.
9. Jack Meagher (1934-1942)
Jack Meagher had a nice eight-year run, compiling a 48-37-10 record.
However, his great run was unfortunately cut short by World War II. He was let go seeing as there was no college football played in 1943 due to the massive war.
Most Auburn fans have likely never heard of this man, but he was a consistent winner with the Tigers.
Best season: 1937. The Tigers went 6-2-3 and defeated Michigan State in the fourth edition of the Orange Bowl.
8. Terry Bowden (1993-1998)
It's probably controversial to put him this high.
He did have a 47-17-1 record at Auburn and led an undefeated season, but all signs might show he rode Pat Dye's players the first few seasons, and when he got his own players the team failed. He quit halfway through his sixth season.
The only reason he was hired was because Pat Dye was let go due to NCAA violations. Terry Bowden did a great job his first few years, going 20-0 in his first 20 games, which you would think seeing the family he comes from. But when the going got tough, he just quit.
Alabama graduate Bill Oliver stepped in as interim coach during the 1998 season and did a good job considering the circumstances.
Best season: 1993. The Tigers were on probation so they couldn't win the national title, play in a bowl or have any games televised. This was only motivation. Terry Bowden's first team went 11-0. The Tigers didn't just wow you with their skill, but they were obviously the best team in America in 1993.
7. Chet Wynne (1930-1933)
As head coach at Auburn, Chet Wynne went 22-15-2.
His teams were known for significant improvement every year. In 1930, Auburn went 3-7. 1931? 5-3-1. 1932? 9-0-1.
In 1933, the first year of the SEC, his team struggled to a 5-5 record and he left for Kentucky.
Best year: 1932. The Tigers went 9-0-1, the only tie a 20-20 game to end the season against South Carolina. Auburn could beat you in a close game, like the 14-7 win over Georgia or the 6-0 win over Georgia Tech. The Tigers could also beat you in a blowout, like the 71-0 win over Birmingham-Southern, the 77-0 win over Erskine or the 21-6 win over Florida. It was truly a special year.
6. Tommy Tuberville (1999-2008)
Tommy Tuberville had a great career with Auburn, but it never seemed like the match made in heaven.
Auburn went 85-40 under his watch, but there always seemed to be a controversy. Whether it was Jetgate in 2003 or the 5-7 season in 2008, where his poor recruiting efforts finally showed up on the field, there was always controversy.
But more often than not, Auburn won football games. He had a winning record against top 10 teams, went 7-3 against Alabama and won six straight against the Crimson Tide from 2002-2007.
Best season: 2004. The Tigers went 13-0 but were denied a chance to play for the BCS title. Still, Auburn won every game, outside of the LSU game, in blowout fashion. Also, this team was loaded with NFL talent like Karlos Dansby, Jason Campbell, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Carlos Rogers, Jay Ratliff, Travis Williams, Patrick Lee, Kenny Irons, Pat Sims, Ben Obomanu and Marcus McNeill.
5. Gene Chizik (2009-Present)
Chizik took over at Auburn in 2009 with a 5-19 career record and a bad reputation nationally.
Auburn fans gave the guy a fair chance, and then karma kicked in.
Two years into his career, Chizik has a 22-5 record as the Tigers' head man. He has coached a Heisman winner and a Lombardi winner.
It might be controversial that I put a guy in his third year this high on the list, but seeing as he brought the Tigers a national title in 2010, I would say he deserves this place.
Don't be surprised if he's at least in the top three by the time he leaves.
Best season: 2010. Starting the season ranked No. 22 in the polls, Auburn became a powerhouse team offensively and a pretty good team defensively. Auburn went 14-0 and won the BCS National Championship Game over Oregon.
Also, Chizik's team had the best team performance in SEC Championship Game history, beating South Carolina, 56-17, and also posted the largest comeback in school history by rallying from a 24-0 deficit at Alabama to steal a 28-27 win in Tuscaloosa.
Cam Newton won the Heisman, Nick Fairley won the Lombardi and could be the top pick in April's NFL Draft, OC Gus Malzahn won the award for assistant coach of the year, etc. Auburn hauled in the bling in 2010.
4. John Heisman (1895-1899)
That's right..."THE" John Heisman.
The same Heisman whose name is on the most prestigious individual award in American sports.
John Heisman went 12-4-2 in five seasons at Auburn.
Years later, in 1971, Auburn QB Pat Sullivan became the first player to ever win the Heisman Trophy at a school where the legend coached.
Best season: 1897. Auburn went 2-0-1, the only unbeaten season it had while Heisman coached. Sure, the only three teams they played were Mercer, Nashville and Sewanee. But who can argue with being unbeaten?
3. Mike Donahue (1904-1906, 1908-1922)
If you've ever been to Auburn for a game day, chances are you've walked down Donahue Drive.
The campus street is named after Mike Donahue, who coached for 18 seasons at Auburn and won 105 games.
Donahue had a 105-35-5 record as the head man and also coached three unbeaten teams (1904, 1913 and 1914).
He was the first coach to make Auburn appear as one of college football's top programs.
Best season: 1913. Auburn went 8-0 and could retroactively claim this year as a national championship if it so chooses. Auburn went through a rough schedule, beating Mercer, Florida, Mississippi State, Clemson, LSU, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and Georgia. But the Tigers rolled to an unbeaten season for Donahue.
2. Ralph "Shug" Jordan (1951-1975)
Prior to 2010, the Tigers had just one claimed national championship.
That championship was in 1957. Who was the coach? None other than Shug Jordan.
He led Auburn for 25 seasons, bringing in a national title, a Heisman winner in Pat Sullivan (1971) and two unbeaten seasons (1957 and 1958).
He is the all-time winningest coach, as well, with a 176-83-7 record under his belt.
Best season: 1957. The Tigers rolled to a 10-0 record and was awarded the national championship by the AP. This would be the Tigers' only national title for 53 years. This was a team known for defense, as it pitched six shutouts in 10 games, including a 40-0 win over Alabama.
1. Pat Dye (1981-1992)
Coming in as the top Tiger coach ever is Pat Dye.
The Tigers were always winners under his 12-year tenure, winning at least eight games nine times.
The Tigers had a Heisman winner in 1985 in Bo Jackson and won the SEC in 1983, 1987, 1988 and 1989. Auburn also came close to a national title in 1983.
His 99-39-4 record speaks for itself: All he did was win. It was unfortunate that he was fired after the NCAA punished Auburn, but he has still been a powerful figure in the program since then.
Best season: 1983. If not for a 20-7 loss to the Texas Longhorns, the Tigers would have been national champions. They went 11-1 and beat Michigan in the Sugar Bowl on what is now Auburn's SECOND-most famous field goal. 1983 was the best year of Pat Dye's career.