College Football: The Worst Coach in the History of Every BCS Program
There's an old saying when it comes to coaching that I'd like you to keep in mind as you read this article. "You're never as good as they say you are, and you're never as bad as they say you are."
We'll focus on the second part of that quote as we go through this list. Sure, there are the times that the coaching decisions of our favorite teams make us yell at the TV, throw the remote, call our friends and family and try to fathom what in God's name they were thinking, and otherwise make us downright nauseous...but it's Thanksgiving—show a little levity.
Keep in mind that this is just a record of how the coach performed while he was at the given school. As you'll see, nine times out of 10, the coach in question would go on to do great things at another job. Other times, the coach had already accomplished great things, which is what got him the job in the first place.
Do you have your most maligned coach in mind? Read on to see if he made the list.
Happy Thanksgiving. Don't choke on your food yelling at the coaches.
The Coach: Jennings B. Whitworth
Years Coached: 1955-1957
It's rare for an Alabama head coach to have a losing record. Of the 20 coaches to have coached more than five games, only three have losing records. None have a worse record than Whitworth.
Whitworth was an Alabama alum and actually coached the Crimson Tide baseball team in 1933-34. He coached the first half of the 1950s at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) and was hired away despite tallying a 22-27-2 record in Stillwater.
The team was winless in 1955. Additionally, Whitworth decided to bench all of his seniors, including future NFL Hall of Famer Bart Starr.
Whitworth had the unfortunate position of being sandwiched between two good coaches. Before him was Harold Drew, who compiled a 54-28-7 record while at Alabama.
Replacing Whitworth? The legendary Bear Bryant.
The Coach: Ed Doherty
Years Coached: 1957-1958
Doherty was once considered one of the greater minds in mid-20th century football. As a player at Boston College, he was nicknamed "The Brain" and was rumored to be the next coach at BC while he was still playing.
Instead, Doherty was drafted, and he subsequently joined the Navy.
Doherty coached at Arizona State from 1947-1950, compiling a 25-17 record. Doherty then coached one year at Rhode Island before jumping around as a high school coach.
He returned to D-I football in 1957 as coach of the Wildcats. There, he compiled a 4-15-1 record over two years. Fearing termination in year three, he left for Xavier.
Today, Doherty's legacy lives on. The active 20-30 clubs of Arizona have named their high school player of the year trophy the Ed Doherty Award.
The Coach: Larry Marmie
Years Coached: 1988-1991
There haven't been many ASU coaches with abysmal records. In fact, we'd have to go back to the 1930s to find a coach that coached more than one season and had a losing record.
Instead, we'll focus on a more modern coach. Marmie represented the Sun Devils during a sort of forgotten era. His predecessor was John Cooper, who compiled a 25-9 record and made a bowl game every single season.
Marmie's successor was Bruce Snyder, who eventually led the Sun Devils to a Rose Bowl berth. (Cooper led the Sun Devils to a Rose Bowl as well, a 1987 win over his future rival Michigan.)
In between was Marmie, who compiled a 22-21-1 record in four seasons. He never made a bowl and never finished above fifth in the Pac-10. He finished with a 12-16-1 record in conference play.
The Coach: Jack Crowe
Years Coached: 1990-1992
Crowe oversaw the Hogs' transition from the SWC to the SEC. Well, almost. Crowe coached the first game of the Hogs' 1992 season, their first in the SEC. After losing to D-II The Citadel, he resigned. Therefore, he never coached an SEC game as Hogs coach.
Joe Kines took over the Hogs for the rest of the 1992 season, compiling a 3-6-1 record.
Crowe was previously an offensive coordinator under Pat Dye at both Wyoming and Auburn. He currently coaches I-AA Jacksonville State. In 2010, the Jaguars upset Ole Miss in the first game of the season.
The Coach: Earl Brown
Years Coached: 1948-1950
Mike Donahue had some success with Auburn in the early 20th century, but for the most part, Auburn struggled through the middle of the century. No coach typified such a fight more than Earl Brown.
Brown managed just three wins over three seasons with Auburn. Twice it finished in dead last in the SEC. The 1950 team went 0-10 and was outscored 285-31 over the course of the season. (Yes, it averaged three points a game.)
Despite winning only three games, Brown managed one huge upset over rival Alabama. Entering the 1949 contest with a 1-4-3 record, Auburn stunned heavily-favored Alabama 14-13.
Brown was replaced by Ralph Jordan. Jordan coached the Tigers for 24 years, compiling a 176-83-6 record. He's the all-time winningest coach in Auburn history, and as a result, has the stadium named after him (along with Cliff Hare). He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
The Coach: Kevin Steele
Years Coached: 1999-2002
Unfortunately, there have been more than a few recent Baylor coaches with less-than-spectacular records. Steele edges them out, however, due to his Big 12 record and a terrible coaching decision in a game against UNLV.
Baylor went 1-10 in Steele's first season. It went a combined 0-24 in the Big 12 in his first three seasons and ultimately went 1-31 overall (a win against KSU in 2001 the only bright spot).
In 1999, Baylor led against UNLV in the waning moments. With only 12 seconds left and UNLV out of timeouts, a knee would have sealed a win for the Bears. Instead, it elected to run the ball. It was fumbled and returned for a touchdown, giving the Rebels the win as time expired.
Steele has had tremendous success post-Baylor. He served as defensive coordinator for Nick Saban's first season at Alabama and was also a defensive coordinator at Clemson.
The Coach: Ed Chlebek
Years Coached: 1978-1980
Chlebek's claim to fame came from his time as an assistant at Notre Dame. Under Dan Devine, Chlebek coached Joe Montana for the 1975 season (one would think they could have somehow sneaked a Montana mention or appearance in the film Rudy, which culminates in the 1975 season). Regardless, impressed by Chlebek's contributions, Eastern Michigan decided to hire him as their head coach.
Despite going 10-12 in two season at EMU, Boston College hired him to take over in the 1978 season. That season, the Eagles went 0-11.
Chlebek would coach two more seasons in full, going 12-10. The Eagles didn't make a bowl in three seasons under Chlebek.
Chlebek would then coach Kent State for two seasons, compiling a 4-18 record. In 1983, he was offensive coordinator for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. The Argonauts would win the Grey Cup.
The Coach: Tom Holmoe
Years Coached: 1997-2001
Holmoe came from an impressive pedigree. A graduate of BYU, Holmoe played for seven seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, winning three Super Bowl rings. He retired after an injury but joined Bill Walsh as defensive backs coach for the Stanford Cardinal.
Holmoe then went on to coach defensive backs for George Seifert's 49ers, where he won another Super Bowl ring in 1995. He then joined Steve Mariucci at Cal. When Mariucci left for the NFL, Holmoe stepped in as Bears' coach.
Holmoe couldn't find the same success as a head coach at Cal that he had as an assistant. He compiled a 12-43 record over five seasons. That includes an 0-5 record against rival Stanford and a 1-10 season in 2001.
After being fired by Cal, it was revealed that Holmoe and other athletic department officials knew of ineligible players during the 1999 season, but did not report it. As a result, the four wins from the 1999 season were taken away, and Cal was hit with five years of probation.
Holmoe has been the athletic director for his alma mater, BYU, since 2005.
The Coach: Tim Murphy
Years Coached: 1989-1993
Murphy showed great promise as coach of Maine. In two short seasons, he went 15-8 and won a Big Sky championship. His early success, combined with his youth (he was 33 upon taking the Cincinnati job) made him an attractive candidate to take over.
He struggled out of the gate in the Queen City. He went 2-19-1 in his first two seasons but was retained. Regardless of early struggles, he led the Bearcats to an 8-3 season in 1993. Due to their independent status (and the fact that there weren't 37 bowl games back then), the Bearcats did not go to a bowl game despite their impressive record.
Then, Murphy left for Harvard. He has coached there ever since, compiling 119 wins in 18 seasons. He has won six Ivy League championships.
Additionally, he was elected first Vice President of the American Football Coaches Association (Rob Ash of Montana is president). By the by-laws, Murphy will be president in 2012 (Tommy Tuberville is second vice president, meaning he will be president in 2013).
The Coach: Hootie Ingram
Years Coached: 1970-1972
There haven't been many unsuccessful coaches at Clemson, and Ingram may be the victim of "wrong place at the wrong time." Ingram had the difficult task of replacing legend Frank Howard at Clemson. Ingram was only able to muster 12 wins in three seasons before resigning.
Ingram was an incredibly gifted athlete, playing his college ball at Alabama. He came to Tuscaloosa as a football and baseball player and would earn three letters in each during his time there. He intercepted 11 passes in the 1952 season but was nevertheless moved to quarterback in 1953. There, he played for one season alongside Bart Starr. In 1954, he played tailback, with Starr starting at QB.
Ingram would serve as Florida State's athletic director from 1981-1989. He then took on the same role at his alma mater. He installed Gene Stallings as head coach, who would go on to lead the Tide to a national championship in 1992. Ingram would eventually resign in 1995 amidst an NCAA investigation into rule violations.
The Coach: Chuck Fairbanks
Years Coached: 1979-1981
It's hard to believe that Fairbanks didn't have success in Boulder, since he had success nearly everywhere else he went. He coached Oklahoma from 1967-1972, getting the Sooners into the top five annually before handing the keys over to Barry Switzer.
His success earned him a job as New England Patriots head coach. He quickly turned the Patriots around and made them into a perennial playoff team, but contract squabbles involving himself and other players made him unpopular. Fairbanks decided to coach Colorado while he was still coaching the Patriots (and they were in the playoffs too)—an incident for which he was later sued for breach of contract.
Colorado only won seven games in three years, hitting rock bottom in 1980 with a 1-10 record. Perhaps worst of all, Fairbanks decided to switch uniform colors from black to blue. The uniforms were immensely unpopular, and the switch back to black occurred shortly after Fairbanks left.
Fairbanks would coach for the New Jersey Generals of the USFL for the inaugural season. Despite having Herschel Walker, the team went 6-12, and Fairbanks was fired.
The Coach: Rick Forzano
Years Coached: 1964-1965
Connecticut doesn't really qualify as having a "worst coach," as they have only existed in D-I for 12 years, and all the coaches preceding the transition were pretty good.
Randy Edsall coached the Huskies every single season in which they were a part of the FBS. As a result, he could be viewed as the best and worst coach, but dealing with the transition, and leading the Huskies to a Fiesta Bowl berth last season, we'll give him a break. It's too early to grade the Paul Pasqualoni era.
Prior to Edsall, Skip Holtz coached the Huskies. He was 34-27 in five seasons at the helm. Prior to him, Tom Jackson coached the team to a winning record over a 10-year span.
Perhaps, the most notable coach of the Huskies was John Toner (1966-1970). While Toner didn't have great success on the field, he would eventually become the school's AD, and the president of the NCAA from 1983-1985. As AD of UConn, he saw the team enter the Big East and hired both Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma. As president of the NCAA, he implemented Title IX, split the nation into D-I and D-II and allowed Herschel Walker to leave early for the USFL.
Therefore, we unfairly assign this dubious honor to Rick Forzano. Forzano was known as a strict disciplinarian but was unable to get any momentum going in Storrs. He previously coached Roger Staubach at the Naval Academy. Staubach would go on to win the Heisman Trophy.
Following his time at UConn, Forzano would go on to coach one season under Paul Brown with the Cincinnati Bengals. He then returned to the Naval Academy where he compiled a 10-33 record.
He was asked to assist for the Detroit Lions under head coach Don McCafferty. McCafferty suddenly died of a heart attack, thrusting Forzano into the head coaching position. He finished with a 15-17 record at Detroit.
The Coach: Carl Franks
Years Coached: 1999-2003
You may have heard this, but Duke is pretty much a basketball school. The football team hasn't posted a winning season since 1995 and have not been ranked in the final polls since JFK was president.
Therefore, it's harsh picking on one coach, but Duke was at rock bottom near the turn of the century. Under Franks, the Blue Devils went 0-22 over the 2000 and 2001 season. In total, Duke went 7-45 in 4.5 seasons under Franks.
The program has shown signs of life under David Cutcliffe. It's hard to believe that the school can't get good enough players to compete...after all, the basketball team is a perennial top ten team.
Franks would become the running backs coach at South Florida—a position he holds to this day.
The Coach: Ron Zook
Years Coached: 2002-2004
Coach Zook never stood a chance at the University of Florida. Given that every Florida coach since World War II posted an impressive record during their tenure, unfortunately, Coach Zook didn't stand a chance of not making this list either.
The deck was stacked against him since day one in Gainesville. First, he was replacing Steve Spurrier. Second, some idiot decided to create a website called "fireronzook.com" (back when not everyone knew how to make a website) which became national fodder and painted Zook in a negative light before he even coached a game.
Zook would lead the Gators to a winning season all three years he was with the team. In 2002, the Florida Gators were the only team to defeat Georgia. In 2003, they were the only team to defeat eventual champion LSU.
Zook was fired in 2004 but allowed to stay on. Instead, he took the head coaching job at Illinois, and Charlie Strong coached the Peach Bowl (a 27-10 loss to Miami).
Zook has begun to turn around the Illinois program. In 2007, he took the Illini to their first Rose Bowl in 14 seasons. In 2010, he led them to a Texas Bowl berth. This season, he has the Illini bowl-eligible once again. It's the first time in 21 seasons that the Illini are bowl-eligible for consecutive seasons.
The Coach: Darrell Mudra
Years Coached: 1974-1975
There have only been nine coaches in the history of FSU, so there isn't much to consider here. With a 4-18 record, Mudra's tenure at FSU is clearly the most unsuccessful (inaugural coach Ed Williamson went 0-5, but that was the first season of the program).
Mudra only lasted two seasons in Tallahassee. He had an odd habit of coaching from the press box, rather than the field as most head coaches do.
Mudra would go on to coach the Eastern Illinois Panthers. In his first season (1978), the Panthers won the D-II championship. He would coach the Panthers for four more seasons, and then coached Northern Iowa for five seasons before retiring with exactly 200 career wins.
The Coach: Johnny Griffith
Years Coached: 1961-1963
Griffith would only have two head coaching stints in his life. The first, South Georgia, was extremely successful, as Griffith went 32-6 in four seasons.
He was then an assistant at Georgia for four seasons before taking over as head coach in 1961. The Dawgs would win only 10 games in three seasons under Griffith and never finished above seventh in the SEC.
Griffith inadvertently became part of controversy in the mid-1960s. The Saturday Evening Post ran a story that Bear Bryant and former Georgia coach Wally Butts conspired to fix games. The focus of the article surrounded Griffith's comments following a loss to Alabama, stating: "I never had a chance, did I?"
Butts and Bryant would both sue for libel. The case would go all the way to the Supreme Court, where the verdict ruled in favor of Butts. Butts would be awarded $460,000 and Bryant $300,000. Griffith testified during the trial, stating that he did not mean the comments in that context.
Griffith was replaced by legendary Vince Dooley, who would go on to coach the Dawgs for 24 seasons, winning the National Championship in 1980. Griffith would serve as an assistant for rival Georgia Tech for two seasons before retiring.
Note: A picture of Griffith can be seen here. It was just too small and low-quality to adapt to the headline picture of the slide. As a result, I went with the standard fallback, a picture of UGA eating an alligator.
The Coach: Bill Lewis
Years Coached: 1992-1994
To be fair, whoever followed Bobby Ross and the 1990 National Championship would have a pretty good chance of landing themselves on this list. A coach replacing a coach who won the national title recently is always going to be under a higher level of scrutiny, and Lewis is no different.
Lewis took over in 1992 after Ross left for the San Diego Chargers. Despite the Rambling Wreck winning the championship just two years prior, Lewis was unable to record one winning season in Atlanta. He was fired after his third season when he posted a 1-10 record.
The Coach: Gary Moeller
Years Coached: 1977-1979
Moeller's stint in Champaign-Urbana was so brief, that many will remember Moeller solely for his success at Michigan later on. Nevertheless, he was there and could not help Illinois out of a losing funk they had found themselves in.
Illinois' last bowl game was the 1963 Rose (as the Big Ten only sent one team to a bowl for the longest time). The team started to show improvement through the mid 1970s, finishing around .500 nearly every single year. Under Moeller, the team won six games in three seasons and only three conference games.
Mike White would replace Moeller and had the Illinois in the Liberty Bowl three years later and the Rose Bowl one year after that.
Gary Moeller would immediately go to Michigan to serve as an assistant. Throughout the 1980s, Moeller would work as offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator at different times. Perhaps then, it was a no-brainer to hire him in 1990.
Michigan won three straight Big Ten championships in Moeller's first three seasons. After that, they fizzled slightly, going 16-8 over his next two seasons. Moeller would leave Michigan to become TE coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Moeller would be head coach just once more—for the 2000 Detroit Lions. He took over halfway through the season when Bobby Ross suddenly resigned. The Lions went 4-3 under Moeller, but narrowly missed the playoffs.
The Coach: Gerry DiNardo
Years Coached: 2002-2004
This may be picking on Coach DiNardo. The truth is, no coach has left Indiana with a winning record since Bo McMillin during the depression and World War II. Still, DiNardo's win percentage is the lowest of the lows.
DiNardo would win one Big Ten game in each of his three seasons. He found Bloomington as difficult to coach in as his predecessors did. DiNardo had success at LSU in the late 1990s but was unable to re-capture the glory.
He's been out of coaching since. Most recently, he has worked as an analyst for the Big Ten Network.
The Coach: Frank Lauterbur
Years Coached: 1971-1973
Before Hayden Fry's arrival in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes suffered through a long-time drought. From 1959 to 1982, Iowa did not attend a single bowl game. Things didn't get any worse than the early 1970s.
Lauterbur compiled only four wins in three seasons, and three Big Ten wins in the same timespan. The 1973 Hawkeyes were win-less, the only time they were win-less in a season in which they played more than one game (they went 0-1 in their inaugural season).
Lauterbur deserves an immense amount of credit for at least one thing. After the 0-11 season, Iowa had planned on keeping Lauterbur, despite criticism from the fans and boosters. There was one catch, however. Athletic Director Bump Elliott told Laterbur he had to fire his defensive coordinator Ducky Lewis.
Lauterbur told his A.D. that it was up to him to decide which coaches coached with him. Elliott agreed but reminded Lauterbur it was up to him who would be head coach of the team. In the end, Lauterbur's loyalty to Lewis backfired, as both were fired.
Lauterbur would go on to be a long-time assistant in the NFL.
The Coach: Gene Chizik
Years Coached: 2007-2008
Wouldn't you know it? The coach responsible for the worst winning percentage in Iowa State history also has a national championship ring. Go figure.
Chizik came to Ames in 2007. He upset Iowa in his first season but finished 3-9 overall. The next season, he went 2-10, winning zero games in the Big 12 and ranking near the bottom in nearly every defensive category.
Following the season, he fired two assistant coaches and demoted both coordinators. This ultimately proved to be a bit excessive, as Chizik would leave for Auburn.
At Auburn, Chizik won the national championship in his second season. That would make two rings for Chizik, as he served as defensive coordinator for the 2005 Texas Longhorns.
The Coach: Bob Valesente
Years Coached: 1986-1987
Valesente unfortunately makes this list because of his record at Kansas. That said, he fought through several health problems and made several profound statements during his tenure in Lawrence.
Valesente had to have bypass surgery in 1984 but returned to serve as an assistant for Kansas for the next two years. With a vacancy in 1986, Valesente was hired.
The Jayhawks went just 4-17-1 in two seasons under Valesente, not winning a single conference game. He only won one game in 1987—a one-point win over Southern Illinois.
In The Godfather, a despondent Vito Corleone tells his son, Michael, that he never wanted Michael to suffer through the life of organized crime. He states that everything he did in life was for Michael so that he wouldn't have to resort to crime, but instead could be a "big shot," serving a position such as Senator, where one could "hold the strings." He ends his monologue with "it just wasn't enough time, Michael," (which also end up being his last words.)
Upon being fired in 1987, Valesente was quoted via Wikipedia as saying: "I don't believe two years is enough to build a program. I just don't feel we've been given enough time." He also added that his main goal was to turn around academic issues the program was facing, and he believed they were on their way to doing it.
Perhaps Valesente's words are as profound as Corleone's. Corleone's words encapsulate the early 20th century immigrants' struggles, fears and worries, and Valesente's words encapsulate modern-day coaches' struggles, fears and worries.
To this day, coaches are given a limited period of time to be successful on the football field. Many times (as we see through this list), they will be fired prematurely, which would cause any coach to say "it just wasn't enough time."
Valesente would go on to be a long-time assistant on the defensive side of the ball for, among other teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.
The Coach: Stan Parrish
Years Coached: 1986-1988
Kansas State was an awful program before Bill Snyder took over in 1988. While the struggles are not unique to Stan Parrish, he went through the worst of it.
Parrish won only two games in three seasons at Kansas State, both in his first season. In his final two seasons, he went a combined 0-21-1.
Parrish had had previous success at Wabash and Marshall. Following his sting at Kansas State, Parrish would work as an assistant at Rutgers, Michigan and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While at Michigan, he served as QB coach and offensive coordinator, working with Tom Brady, Drew Henson and Brian Griese.
Parrish would then go on to serve as an offensive coordinator for Brady Hoke at Ball State. In 2007, the Cardinals started 12-0 but ultimately lost their last two games once Hoke elected to leave for San Diego State. Parrish would coach the bowl game (a 45-13 loss to Tulsa in the GMAC bowl) and would then coach the next two seasons for Ball State. He went a combined 6-18.
He is currently the QB coach for Siena Heights University.
The Coach: Hal Mumme
Years Coached: 1997-2000
Things started off great for Mumme at Kentucky. He led the Wildcats to an 18-17 record in his first three seasons, including two bowl berths. Not too shabby when you consider that UK had been 9-24 in the previous three seasons.
His fourth season would not be as successful. The Wildcats finished a disappointing 2-9. Worse yet, a recruiting scandal spread throughout the program, forcing Mumme to resign.
The NCAA found UK guilty of over three dozen recruiting violations. As a result, UK lost scholarships over the years, and were given a one-year bowl ban (a season in which they went 4-8 regardless). Mumme was not handed any personal sanctions.
Mumme would go on to coach Southeast Louisiana and New Mexico State, compiling a combined 23-49 record at the two universities.
He's currently the head coach at McMurry.
The Coach: Steve Kragthorpe
Years Coached: 2007-2009
Kragthorpe didn't last long in Louisville, but he wasn't exactly given the longest leash either.
Kragthorpe inherited a team coming off an Orange Bowl victory and a No. 3 finish in the polls. In three years under Kragthorpe, the Cardinals went 15-21 and made zero bowl games. They would win exactly one Big East game in 2008 and 2009 and were upset as 37-point favorites against Syracuse in 2007.
Kragthorpe was hired by LSU as offensive coordinator and QB coach. He would step down from the coordinator duties due to his bout with Parkinson's disease but stated he would remain on as QB coach. He still fills that position to this day.
The Coach: Curley Hallman
Years Coached: 1991-1994
Hallman was a hot coaching prospect when he was hired in 1991. He had coached Southern Miss the previous three years, and with the help of Brett Favre, compiled the school's best winning percentage in his tenure there. He earned national recognition with wins over teams such as Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and with a win in the 1988 Independence Bowl over UTEP.
In his first season, Hallman's players were accused of starting a fight with the LSU basketball team (including Shaq). He was 7-15 in his first two seasons as Tigers coach.
His biggest win came against Alabama in 1993. Despite having just lost to Florida by 55 points, LSU somehow upset Alabama, snapping their 31-game unbeaten streak. Unfortunately, Hallman was unable to build off of this success.
Hallman was fired halfway through his fourth season after refusing to resign. The final blow was, coincidentally, a home loss to Southern Miss.
The Coach: Joe Krivak
Years Coached: 1987-1991
Maryland football fell on hard times after Bobby Ross' departure in 1986 (and as many have argued, the death of Len Bias in 1986). Coach Krivak was the first one to shoulder a rough burden for the Terrapins.
Krivak had long-time been considered for the Maryland position. He was an assistant for the Terps in the mid-70s and served as an assistant for Ross, despite applying for the job in 1982 at the same time as Ross.
Krivak would mentor numerous notable quarterbacks, such as Neil O'Donnell, Frank Reich and Boomer Esiason, but he would finish with just 20 wins in five seasons. Krivak would lead the Terps to one bowl game—a tie against Mississippi State in the 1991 Independence Bowl.
Krivak would go on to be an assistant for Virginia and was rumored to be in consideration for offensive coordinator duties. Ultimately, he would not be hired.
Krivak now runs youth football camps.
The Coach: Randy Shannon
Years Coached: 2007-2010
Shannon posted a winning record at Miami, but it was the lowest winning percentage for a Canes coach since Lou Saban in the late 1970s. Unlike Saban and his predecessors, however, Miami was not a football wasteland when Shannon took over.
Shannon served as a defensive coordinator for the Canes from 2001-2006. Upon Larry Coker's termination in '06, Shannon was picked to replace him.
The Canes were unable to win a division title once in four seasons under Shannon. They would not win double digit games once under Shannon. He took them to three bowls, but they lost all three (Shannon would only coach in two of them).
Shannon will also be the subject of the upcoming investigation into Miami athletics stemming from allegations by booster Nevin Shapiro. While the entire scandal didn't start under Shannon, it continued through his time at The U.
The Coach: Rich Rodriguez
Years Coached: 2008-2010
The first coaches in Michigan history were co-coaches. Mike Murphy and Frank Crawford coached the Wolverines to a 4-5 record in 1891—the only season in which a timeshare occurred. After that, no Michigan coach compiled a losing record...ever.
Rich Rodriguez came in on the heels of a disappointing season for the Wolverines. In 2007, the Wolverines lost to Appalachian State in the opener and were blown out by Oregon in the second week of the season. Still, they were able to rally and finish 9-4, scoring a win over Florida in the Capital One Bowl. Embarrassed by the loss to Appalachian State, it wasn't enough for Lloyd Carr to keep his job.
Rodriguez left West Virginia controversially, on the heels of a loss to Pitt, before the team's game against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. He arrived at Michigan and did nothing to reverse a small downward trend, but instead, continuously cited problems with not having the players he needed to run his system.
Several players transferred from Michigan upon Rodriguez' arrival. Lineman Justin Boren transferred to rival Ohio State, citing a lack of "family values" and harsh treatment of players.
Rodriguez and the program were then accused of five major violations—the first time major violations had ever been levied against Michigan Football. Michigan imposed sanctions against themselves, and the NCAA added a year of probation.
Rodriguez went 15-22 in three seasons at Michigan. He made one bowl game, the Gator Bowl, in his final season. The Wolverines lost to Mississippi State, 52-14.
Rodriguez has signed on to coach the Arizona Wildcats.
The Coach: Bobby Williams
Years Coached: 1999-2002
I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Bobby Williams is a good coach. In fact, there may not be a Nick Saban, without Bobby Williams.
Williams' tenure got off to a tremendous start. Filling in as Saban's interim in the 1999 Citrus Bowl, Williams led the Spartans to an upset victory over Florida. After that, he was named Spartans head coach.
Williams had the unenviable position of following Saban and was never able to match the success. He went 15-17 over the next two-plus seasons before being fired in the middle of his third term. The Spartans were never above .500 in the Big Ten and made only one bowl game under Williams—a win over Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Bowl.
Following his departure from MSU, Williams has found success in several coaching endeavors. First, he went to the Detroit Lions to be a wide receivers coach (where he was reunited with Charlie Rogers). Then, he served as an assistant to Saban at LSU, served as an assistant to Saban for the Miami Dolphins and served as an assistant for Saban at Alabama! You can still find him on the Alabama sidelines, where he serves as a TE coach and special teams coordinator.
The Coach: Jim Wacker
Years Coached: 1992-1996
Minnesota had not made a bowl game in five consecutive seasons upon Wacker taking over in 1992. They turned to the man who was noted for building programs to help them. Unfortunately, he couldn't.
Wacker had already won four national titles by the time he arrived in Minneapolis. Back-to-back NAIA Division-II Championships in 1974 and 1975 with Texas Lutheran and back-to-back NCAA Division II championships in 1981 and 1982 with Southwest Texas State were all Wacker's doing.
Wacker totaled only 16 wins in five seasons at Minnesota. The Gophers never made a bowl game and never finished above .500 overall or in conference play. The last three seasons under Wacker, the Gophers won exactly one Big Ten game each season.
Wacker would go on to serve as athletic director for Southwest Texas State from 1998-2001.
The Coach: Ed Orgeron
Years Coached: 2005-2007
Orgeron didn't inherit the most talent in Oxford, the Rebels having just come off a 4-7 season in 2004 (although they did have Eli Manning and 10 wins in 2003). Still, Orgeron had trouble turning the program around in his limited time at Ole Miss.
Orgeron served as the defensive line coach for Pete Carroll's USC teams, winning the championship in 2004. He was lured away to take the job in 2005. He won only three SEC games in three years and only had two wins over teams with a winning record (2005 and 2007 Memphis).
Orgeron went 0-8 in the SEC in his final season. It was the first winless SEC season since 1982 and included a blown 14-point lead against rival Mississippi State.
He has since returned to USC, where he once again serves as defensive line coach.
The Coach: Rocky Felker
Years Coached: 1986-1990
While he didn't inherit much talent, Felker was never able to get much going at his alma mater. He was a prolific passer during his time at MSU, leading the team to the 1974 Sun Bowl, a 26-24 win over UNC (and he looks oddly similar to Randall Floyd from Dazed and Confused, a character who plays quarterback in the mid-70s).
As a coach, he finished above .500 only once—a 6-5 season in his first season. He never went to a bowl and compiled a 5-28 SEC record over the five years. That is the worst conference winning percentage of any MSU coach that has coached more than two seasons.
Felker would go on to be an offensive coordinator at three schools in the 1990s—Tulsa, Arkansas, and...Tulsa again.
He currently serves as director of player personnel for Mississippi State.
The Coach: Woody Widenhofer
Years Coached: 1985-1988
Widenhofer would have loved to have more success at his alma mater, but unfortunately, he'll have to hang his hat on other accomplishments.
Widenhofer served as linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s. He was promoted to full-fledged defensive coordinator in 1979, and by the time he left in 1983, he had four Super Bowl rings.
After a year in the USFL, Widenhofer landed his dream job. He returned to Columbia but was unable to have much success. He only won eight Big 8 games in four years and never finished above fifth. His struggles with the Tigers were not unique, as Missouri had to wait until 1997 before it made a bowl (previous in 1983).
Widenhofer would go on to coach at several universities and programs. He served as defensive coach in some fashion for the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Vanderbilt, SE Louisiana and New Mexico State.
The Coach: Bill Jennings
Years Coached: 1957-1961
Jennings was the last of the losing coaches in Lincoln. Prior to Jennings, it had been 16 years since a coach compiled a winning record in his tenure. After Jennings, it wouldn't happen again.
Jennings never won more than two Big 8 games in a given season. Despite this, he is noted for pulling a major upset over rival Oklahoma in 1959. Oklahoma had won an astounding 74 straight conference games but fell to the Huskers 17-14 in Lincoln on homecoming. It was the first time Nebraska had beaten OU in 17 years (Nebraska would beat OU again in 1960).
Ultimately, he never compiled a record better than 4-6 and was fired. He was replaced by Bob Devaney, who coached for 11 seasons and won two national titles. Devaney was replaced with Tom Osborne, who coached 25 seasons, winning three national championships.
The Coach: Butch Davis
Years Coached: 2007-2010
Record: 12-23 (with forfeited games)
Other coaches may have had worse records than Davis at UNC, but Davis has to be one of the more disappointing coaches in Tar Heel history.
Hopes were high when Davis took over in 2007. The team was coming off a bowl berth and were now getting a coach who had led Miami to an 11-1 record in 2000 and had coached in the NFL.
The first season didn't go well, with the Heels finishing 4-8. Following that, UNC would lose consecutive Meineke Car Care Bowl games.
Hopes were at an all-time high entering 2010. With several defensive players slotted to be top picks in the NFL draft, many felt that UNC was a sleeper for the National Championship.
Instead, many didn't play a down. Many were found guilty of accepting inappropriate help from a tutor, while others were in contact with agents.
Finally, in July 2011, Chancellor Holden Thorpe fired Davis. In response to the sanctions, UNC forfeited all their wins from 2008 and 2009.
Davis currently works for the NFL Network.
North Carolina State
The Coach: Tom O'Brien
Years Coached: 2007 -
Record: 31-30 (as of 11/24/11)
Just as was the case with Butch Davis, O'Brien doesn't have the worst record in the N.C. State history, but he may be one of the more disappointing coaches.
O'Brien came in as a big name from Boston College—a team in which he compiled an 18-6 record in the ACC the previous two seasons. At N.C. State, O'Brien hasn't been able to duplicate such high success.
The Wolfpack have had only one winning record under O'Brien—a 9-4 season in 2010 (to be fair, they are 6-5 this season). They have only made two bowl games in four seasons. They made bowl games in five of the previous seven years under O'Brien's predecessor Chuck Amato.
O'Brien was faced with a difficult decision this past offseason. QB Russell Wilson had been focusing more on baseball, and O'Brien released the quarterback even though he had one year of eligibility left. Due to an NCAA rule, Wilson effectively became a free agent. He would "sign" with Wisconsin and has been mentioned in the same breath as the Heisman Trophy.
N.C. State needs to win their final game against Maryland to become bowl eligible.
The Coach: Rick Venturi
Years Coached: 1978-1980
Northwestern was known for their futility in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, futility may be putting it lightly. Also unfortunately, Coach Venturi was responsible for a lot of the losses.
Northwestern would lose 34 consecutive games. The streak started with Venturi and continued with his successor, Denny Green. Under Venturi, the team went 0-26-1 in the Big Ten.
The era that begun under Venturi is considered one of the worst college football teams of all time. Green wouldn't do much better than Venturi but would win 10 games in five years.
Venturi went on to have a long career in the NFL. He worked as a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts from 1982-1993, served as a coach for the Browns for two seasons and then the New Orleans Saints for another 10.
The Coach: George O'Leary
Years Coached: N/A
O'Leary earns the dubious distinction of being the only coach on the list to have never coached a game for the team in question.
O'Leary was hired from Georgia Tech in 2001, and several days after his hiring, oddities in his resume surfaced. For one, he claimed to have earned a Master's Degree from NYU - Stony Brook University. Such a place does not exist. This is usually a red flag.
Despite this, the university initially stood by O'Leary. He assured them that the falsified resume was all that was fraudulent. However, further background checks showed that the coach lied about academic records as well. As a result, he was fired in December of 2001, and Tyrone Willingham was brought in.
O'Leary was 52-33 previously at Georgia Tech. He has since returned to the college ranks, and has done well at UCF. After a tumultuous 0-11 inaugural season, O'Leary has improved his record at UCF to 49-51. The team has gone to four bowl games in the last seven seasons, including a Liberty Bowl victory over Georgia last season.
The Coach: John Cooper
Years Coached: 1988-2000
Picking out a bad coach from Ohio State's history is simply an impossible task. Not one coach since the 1900s has compiled a losing record in his tenure. Additionally, the Buckeyes have played in and won a Rose Bowl (or other BCS bowl) in every decade since the 1940s (oddly enough, the Buckeyes would win seven conference titles in the 00's, but never go to the Rose Bowl. They would, however, go to Glendale/Tempe five times.)
Therefore, we assign this title to John Cooper, a man who won 111 games in 13 seasons and won a Rose Bowl in 1996. And, a man who has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
He ultimately lands on this list and still draws the ire of some Buckeye fans, because of his lackluster record against Michigan. Cooper's Buckeyes finished 2-10-1 against the Wolverines. In 1995 and 1996, the Buckeyes were No. 2 in the nation entering the final week but would fall to the Wolverines both times.
Cooper would also finish 3-8 in bowl games. He would win the 1993 Holiday Bowl against BYU, the 1997 Rose Bowl against Arizona State and the 1999 Sugar Bowl against Texas A&M.
The Coach: John Blake
Years Coached: 1996-1998
Oklahoma has a long and storied history. The team has won national championships in the 00s, 80s, 70s and 50s. The time fans would like to forget about is the 1990s.
Oklahoma was still recovering from probation and sanctions stemming from the Barry Switzer era. Still, the Sooners compiled a winning record under Swtizer's successor, Gary Gibbs, and had a 5-5-1 season in 1995 under Howard Schnellenberger—the only season the legend would coach.
Blake stepped in in 1996 and had the worst three-year stretch of any coach in the history of Oklahoma. The teams finished fourth in the Big 12 South every single season and never made a bowl game.
Blake has a long attachment with Butch Davis. He worked with Davis on the Dallas Cowboys staff with Barry Switzer. While with the Cowboys, he accused Troy Aikman of being a homosexual and racist, claims that were quickly denied and disregarded.
Following his time at Oklahoma, Blake rejoined Davis and coached the defensive line at North Carolina. He resigned in 2010 amidst the scandal (see UNC slide). As of now, Blake is suspected of receiving cash benefits from an agent.
Upon his termination from Oklahoma in 1998, Blake destroyed all of the team's recruiting records.
The Coach: Phil Cutchin
Years Coached: 1963-1968
While Oklahoma State wasn't known as the greatest powerhouse prior to the 1970s, Cutchin inherited a team that was headed in the right direction. OSU ultimately found life difficult upon entering the Big 8 in 1960, and Cutchin perpetuated the struggles.
Cutchin went 1-8 in his first season and never had a winning record. Despite this, he did lead OSU to one win over Oklahoma—the Cowboys' first in 20 years.
Prior to his work at OSU, Cutchin was an assistant to Bear Bryant at Texas A&M and Alabama.
The Coach: Don Read
Years Coached: 1974-1976
Despite apparently writing the book on quarterbacking, Read was only able to muster nine wins and three conference wins in three seasons at Oregon. While in Eugene, the Ducks never finished above sixth in the Pac-8.
Rich Brooks replaced Read and was oddly given a much longer leash. In fact, one of the longest I've ever seen. Brooks won only 20 games in his first five seasons (when have you ever seen a coach continue after that?) Ultimately, Oregon's patience was rewarded, as Brooks led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl in 1994.
Read would go on to have a long coaching career. He coached Oregon Tech, Portland State and Montana for the next 18 years. In 1995, he coached Montana to the I-AA championship. He retired after.
Read currently lives in Corvalis, where he helps game plan for the rival Oregon State Beavers.
The Coach: Joe Avezzano
Years Coached: 1980-1984
Picking on one Oregon State coach is unfair. Did you know that prior to Dennis Erickson's first season in Corvalis in 1999, the Beavers didn't have a winning season since 1970?! Only once, however were they winless in a given season, and only once did they serve as ambassadors to another country. Both honors happened under Avezzano.
The Beavers went 0-11 in Avezzano's first season. In the final game, the Beavers traveled to Tokyo for the Mirage Bowl, named after none other than the beautiful Mitsubishi Mirage. There they were decimated by UCLA 34-3.
The Beavers would win only six games and two Pac-10 games in five seasons with Avezzano. The Beavers finished in either last or second to last every single year.
He would serve as the special teams coach for the Dallas Cowboys all throughout the 1990s. There, he would win three Super Bowl rings and be the only coach in the history of the NFL to win Special Teams Coach of the Year three times (1991, 1993, 1998).
Given that no one reading this article probably remembers a time when Joe Paterno wasn't coach at Penn State (maybe there's some Rip Engle fans), and given the current circumstances the once long-time coach is under, it wouldn't be prudent to discuss "worst coach" of Penn State at this time.
The Coach: Paul Hackett
Years Coached: 1989-1992
PItt had rebuilt themselves into a strong franchise. Johnny Majors led the Panthers to a National Championship in 1976 behind the help of Heisman trophy winner Tony Dorsett. Jackie Sherrill picked up the slack, going 50-9 in five seasons with the Panthers! Even Fogie Fazio and Mike Gottfried got in on the fun in the 1980s. The Panthers were rolling.
Gottfried left before the Sun Bowl in 1989, letting Hackett step in. Hackett won the Sun Bowl (31-28 over Texas A&M) and was retained as coach. Following this, things did not go as smoothly.
The Panthers combined to win 12 games the next three seasons and did not go back to another bowl. Hackett was fired before his final game in 1992. He was eventually replaced by...Johnny Majors, who was also unable to get anything going in the Steel City.
Hackett would immediately go on to be the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was reunited with Joe Montana (Hackett was QBs coach in the mid 80s for the 49ers). Later in the 90s, he served as the the head coach of USC. He then served as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, where he was criticized by his own quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, for being too conservative.
By the way, you can buy that picture here. It goes for $22.53, and there are only five left. Remember, the Holidays are right around the corner...
The Coach: Fred Akers
Years Coached: 1987-1990
It is close to baffling as to how Akers wasn't successful in West Lafayette. For the 11 years previous to joining Purdue, Akers was the head man in Austin, where he had tremendous success.
His first season as Longhorns coach he was 11-1 and coached Heisman trophy winner Earl Campbell. He went 11-1 in 1983 again. Unfortunately, in both 1977 and 1983, the Longhorns were undefeated entering the Cotton Bowl and had a chance to win the national title but came up short in both instances. He was only 2-7 in bowl games and left Texas after a losing season in 1986.
Still, hopes had to be high for Akers coming to Purdue. Purdue had fallen on hard times but were just two years removed from a Peach Bowl (27-24 loss to Virginia). Additionally, coach Jim Young was able to win three straight bowl games in the late 1970s and early '80s, so winning was possible in West Lafayette.
Akers was only able to win 12 games in four short years. The Boilers only managed nine conference wins over that same timespan and never finished higher than sixth in the Big Ten. It is the lowest winning percentage and conference-winning percentage at Purdue since the roaring 20s.
Purdue would struggle through the 1990s until Joe Tiller arrived and turned the program around.
Akers was rumored to be the next head coach of Baylor in 1993, but ultimately lost out to Chuck Reedy. Akers has not coached again since.
The Coach: Terry Shea
Years Coached: 1996-2000
Despite being around the game of football for over 40 years, Terry Shea has only had two head-coaching stints in his lifetime. Two short years in the early 90s at San Jose State were successful. A late 90s tenure at Rutgers, wasn't.
The Scarlet Knights managed only 11 wins in five years under Shea, including an 0-11 record in 1997 and a 1-10 record in 1999. Twice they went winless in the Big East. He did win Big East Coach of the Year in 1998, improving the team from zero wins to five, but quickly regressed again in 1999.
Since his time at Rutgers, Shea has bounced around in the NFL. He has been a QB coach for the Chiefs, Dolphins and Rams and additionally served as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2004.
Since he stopped coaching in 2008, Shea began doing consulting work for future QB draft picks. In just a few short years, he has worked with Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman and Blaine Gabbert.
That photo also available, for only $7.55! It's a steal if you're named Harvey, and probably worthless if you aren't.
The Coach: Sparky Woods
Years Coached: 1989-1993
Woods barely managed a winning record in his first two seasons as Gamecocks coach but was unable to build off of that success. In the subsequent three years of his tenure, Woods went 13-18-2.
South Carolina never made a bowl under Woods, but they did make a transition from independent to SEC under Woods (1992).
Woods had success at Appalachian State prior to taking the job in Columbia. He had taken the Mountaineers to the playoffs twice in five years, including a trip to the semifinals in 1987.
Woods bounced around as an assistant in the NFL and in college the next 15 years. He's currently the head coach of VMI.
The Coach: Buddy Teevens
Years Coached: 2002-2004
Teevens is a tremendous athlete, and by all accounts, a great professional. He just didn't win enough at Stanford.
Teevens played quarterback and ice hockey at Dartmouth. He was an All-American quarterback, and the hockey team finished third in the nation his senior year.
Teevens had a chance to Coach Dartmouth in the late 1980s and improved the Big Green greatly, winning the Ivy League in 1990 and 1991. His success was rewarded with a job at Tulane, where he was a bit less successful.
He then jumped around, working as an offensive assistant in some capacity at Illinois and Florida, before being rewarded with the Stanford job.
Teevens had a lot to live up to, as the two previous coaches on the farm were Ty Willingham and Bill Walsh. Teevens was only able to win 10 games in three years, five of those coming against BYU and San Jose State. He never beat USC, Cal or Notre Dame and never recorded a win against a team that finished with a winning record.
Teevens is noted for his "class and loyalty" and showed up to make a statement as the press conference that announced his firing.
Teevens immediately returned to his alma mater, where he has coached the Big Green since 2005.
The Coach: Greg Robinson
Years Coached: 2005-2008
Robinson had the unenviable position of replacing Syracuse legend Paul Pasqualoni, who had coached the Orangemen since 1991.
He had an impressive pedigree, serving as a defensive assistant or coordinator in the NFL for the previous 13 seasons (and one season with the Texas Longhorns). Robinson won two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos where he served as defensive coordinator.
Robinson won only 10 games in four seasons at Syracuse and only three Big East games. He never won more than one Big East game in a given season and finished in either last or second to last each season.
Following his time at Syracuse, Robinson served as defensive coordinator at Michigan under Rich Rodriguez. There, his defense was much maligned, and he and Rodriguez were let go at the same time in early 2011.
His 10-loss seasons in 2005 and 2007 remain the only double-digit loss seasons in the history of Syracuse.
The Coach: Lane Kiffin
Years Coached: 2009
Lane Kiffin actually did a good job at Tennessee in his one season but don't tell Vols fans that. His short tenure in Knoxville has led to widespread displeasure towards the young coach.
Kiffin came in to replace legend Phil Fullmer and improved the Vols record by two games from the previous season. The Vols beat UGA, Kentucky and South Carolina but lost to UCLA and were blown out in the Peach Bowl by Virginia Tech.
Following the 2009 season, Kiffin decided to return to USC and coach the Trojans. This upset many Vols fans who began to riot. The mob incited small fires and painted the historic Tennessee Rock to include disparaging remarks about the coach (a picture exists, but it can't be published here).
Kiffin is in the process of rebuilding USC from sanctions levied against them (the ruling came down after Kiffin accepted the job).
The Coach: David McWilliams
Years Coached: 1987-1991
We would have to go all the way back to the Depression Era to find a coach that had a losing record at UT. Therefore we're going to look at a more modern coach who actually had a winning record with the Horns.
McWilliams was just 31-26 in five seasons in Austin. He made two bowl games—the 1987 Bluebonnet Bowl (win over Pitt, also last Bluebonnet Bowl ever) and the 1991 Cotton Bowl. While Texas went 8-0 and won the SWC championship to earn a Cotton Bowl berth, the Horns were embarrassed by Miami, 46-3 (a game made famous thanks in part to ESPN's documentary, The U.
Credit has to be given to McWilliams for the team's success in 1990. They began the season ranked and quickly lost to Colorado. After that, they went on the shock the nation, beating No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 3 Houston to finish 10-1 entering the Cotton Bowl.
After a 5-6 season in 1991, McWilliams was fired, and Illinois coach John Mackovic was brought in. Texas finished the season ranked just once under McWilliams—No. 12 in 1990-91.
The Coach: Harry Stiteler
Years Coached: 1948-1950
The Aggies went 0-9-1 in Stiteler's first season at the helm. The second season, they went 1-8-1. Despite a combined 1-17-2 record over two seasons, he gained a reputation as a good recruiter and was kept on the staff.
The decision to retain Stiteler paid off in the short term. The Aggies went 7-4 in 1950 and beat Georgia in the Presidential Cup Bowl (which was the first and last Presidential Cup Bowl).
Following the bowl, Stiteler reported that he was attacked by a stranger in a Houston hotel. He tried to downplay the incident, but "accidentally" gave differing accounts to the police and media. As questions mounted, he eventually confessed that he had misrepresented the facts of the "attack." He subsequently resigned.
The Coach: Jerry Moore
Years Coached: 1981-1985
Please let this slide serve as an inspiration. Let it remind you that if at first you don't succeed, try again.
Moore never got things going at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders only managed 16 wins in five seasons and never finished above sixth in the SWC.
After being fired from Tech in 1985, Moore took three years off. He resurfaced as an assistant for Arkansas in 1988 before taking the head coaching job at Appalachian State in 1989.
Moore had initial success at App. State, consistently placing the top 25 of D-II schools and annually playing for the championship. The Mountaineers made the playoffs 10 of the first 14 seasons with Moore as coach but never advanced past the semifinals.
Finally, in 2005, Moore broke through. He won his first D-II championship and followed it up with two more in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, he led the Mountaineers to an upset victory over Michigan—one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
Moore barely won 30 percent of his games in Lubbock. When given a second chance at Appalachian State, he built one of the strongest D-II programs, winning three national championships. Appalachian State remains the only program to win three straight national championships.
The Coach: Rick Neuheisel
Years Coached: 2008 -
Record: 15-22 (as of 11/24/11)
Coach Neuheisel has been unable to get anything going in SoCal. He inherited a UCLA team that was just two years removed from making the Sun Bowl and one year removed from beating USC. Under Neuheisel, the Bruins have made one bowl (2009 EagleBank Bowl) and have not beaten USC.
Expectations were unfairly high for Neuheisel. Many thought the former Bruin QB would put the team on a level playing field with USC (who at the time, was the team of the decade). Then, when sanctions were levied against USC, there was even more pressure on Neuheisel to "take over LA." What many people didn't realize is that there isn't a direct correlation between the two schools. Both can be good, and both can be bad.
Still, Neuheisel has suffered through a change of coordinators (five total in four years between the offense and defense) and installed the popular pistol offense despite not having the best personnel to run it. He never settled on a quarterback, and we will find ourselves having the same discussion regarding the QB battle next Summer.
UCLA didn't have to supplant USC as the best team on the West Coast, but one would expect them to be in a bowl game annually. Give credit to Neuheisel this season for getting the Bruins back to a bowl. A win over USC would also give them the inaugural Pac-12 South title. Perhaps then, he can build some momentum and make UCLA relevant again.
The Coach: Paul Hackett
Years Coached: 1998-2000
I don't want it to seem as if I am picking on Paul Hackett, as he is the only two-time member on this slideshow. But, the record and performance is what it is.
Consider that every USC coach since 1960 won a Rose Bowl (John Robinson, Larry Smith, Ted Tollner, Robinson, John McKay in reverse chronological order). Additionally, every coach except one in the history of USC, at one point had a team finish in the top 25 (the lone exception was Sam Barry, who only coached one season in 1941).
Both streaks were broken with Hackett in the late 1990s. He led the Trojans to an 8-5 record in his first season but fell victim to a major upset against TCU in the Sun Bowl. The Trojans did not record another winning season, despite being ranked in the top 25 in 1999 and 2000. In fact, the Trojans were ranked as high as No. 8 early in 2000 but went 2-7 down the stretch.
Hackett was replaced by Pete Carroll.
The Coach: Jim Leavitt & Skip Holtz
Years Coached: 1997-2009, 2010-
Record: 94-57, 13-10 (as of 11/24/11)
USF has only existed for 15 seasons, and as a result, there have only been two coaches. Jim Leavitt coached for the first 13, with Skip Holtz taking over the last two.
It's impossible to say which is worse, so I won't. Leavitt took the program from I-AA to I-A Independent to a member of Conference USA to a member of the Big East in just eight seasons—a major accomplishment.
Leavitt was fired in 2010 after allegedly striking a player in the locker room, and then interfering with the investigation (the latter of which many have speculated was the main reason for his termination).
Skip Holtz came in from ECU and picked up where Leavitt left off, going 8-5 in his first season. The second season has been a bit of a struggle, especially after such a promising start with a win over Notre Dame. It's too early in Holtz' career at USF to say he is better or worse than Leavitt, however.
Leavitt currently serves as linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
The Coach: Tom Lovat
Years Coached: 1974-1976
The Utes have had a great run of head coaches recently, with Kyle Whittingham, Urban Meyer and Ron McBride leading the charge since 1990. This wasn't always the case, however. The team struggled and had low expectations for a long time, considered to be a lesser program than their rival BYU.
Rock bottom came in the mid-1970s under Tom Lovat. The Utes posted back-to-back 1-10 seasons in 1974 and 1975 and increased their win total to three in 1976. To his credit, all five wins under Lovat were conference wins (as a member of the WAC).
Lovat went on to coach with Bill Walsh at Stanford in the late 1970s. He jumped around as an assistant in the NFL all throughout the 1980s before finally finding a solid home with the Green Bay Packers under Mike Holmgren. He served as offensive line coach for the 1997 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl team.
The Coach: Watson Brown
Years Coached: 1986-1990
As a player, Watson Brown is one of the best athletes to ever attend Vanderbilt. He was one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the nation coming out of high school and was also considered a good basketball player and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates to play shortstop. He decided to play QB at Vanderbilt and is noted for leading the Commodores to an upset win over Alabama in 1969.
Brown served as Vandy's offensive coordinator in the early 1980s before coaching Cincinnati and Rice. Brown would return to the Dores in mid-80s, and like so many other Vanderbilt coaches, had very little success.
Brown would win only 10 games in five seasons. Three of the seasons the team went 1-10, and two of the seasons they were winless in the SEC. It remains the lowest winning percentage of any Vanderbilt coach who coached more than one season (tied with Rod Dowhower, 1995-96) and is one of the lowest conference winning percentages in the history of the program.
Brown would go on to be offensive coordinator for Oklahoma and Mississippi State in the 1990s. He was then given control of UAB, a team which was making its transition from I-AA to I-A. He oversaw the change, and led the Blazers to their only bowl game in 2004. He was then fired following the 2006 season (talk about 'what have you done for me lately?')
He is currently the coach of Tennessee Tech. He is the older brother of Texas coach Mack Brown.
The Coach: Richard Voris
Years Coached: 1958-1960
Voris struggled at Virginia. The team lost 28 games in a row, including 0-10 records in both 1959 and 1960. The 1959 team lost by an average of 31 points. Voris and the team didn't know it at the time, but a lone win over Duke in the 1958 season would save them from going 0-30 during Voris' tenure.
Voris would immediately go on to be an assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. There, he won world championships in 1961 and 1962.
He would later serve as defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Colts in 1973 and hold the same position with the Jets in 1974 and 1975.
The Coach: Robert McNeish
Years Coached: 1948-1950
Virginia has had a great string of head coaches, starting with Jerry Claiborne, continuing with Bill Dooley and culminating with Frank Beamer. That means we have to go way back to find a coach who didn't have as much success as those listed above.
McNeish had trouble building off the small success the school had in previous years. VT did not play in 1943 or 1944 due to World War II. When they returned, they quickly made the Sun Bowl in 1946 and were able to win seven games in the two years previous to McNeish taking over. McNeish managed only the one win—a victory over Richmond in the 1949 season.
McNeished played his college ball at USC in the 1930s. There, he was starting tailback for Howard Jones' extremely successful teams. While at USC, the Trojans went 30-2-1 and won consecutive Rose Bowls and National Championships in 1931 and 1932.
McNeish would later coach the USC and Naval Academy backfields before taking the job at Virginia Tech.
The Coach: Jim Caldwell
Years Coached: 1993-2000
Wake Forest isn't know for its prowess on the football field, having made only nine bowl games in it's history (four of those in the last nine years). Ironically, that isn't to say that some really good coaches haven't tried to win there.
John Mackovic, Al Groh, Bill Dooley, Jim Caldwell and Jim Grobe have all tried their hand at resurrecting the Wake Forest program and bringing it to prominence. No coach since 1950 has left Winston-Salem with a winning record (although current head coach Jim Grobe is a few games over .500).
The lowest win percentage came from Caldwell in the 1990s. He inherited a team that was showing marginal but steady progress under Bill Dooley but was unable to build off of that momentum.
Caldwell became the first African-American head coach in the history of the ACC and quickly installed a pass-friendly offense. The rushing game suffered, and Caldwell was only able to get to one bowl—a win over Arizona State in the 1999 Aloha Bowl.
Following his time at Wake Forest, he served as QB coach under Tony Dungy for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He followed Dungy to Indianapolis where he served the same role until Dungy retired. Upon Dungy's retirement, Caldwell was rewarded with the Colts head coaching job.
He led the Colts to a berth in Super Bowl XLIV, where they lost to the New Orleans Saints.
The Coach: Tyrone Willingham
Years Coached: 2005-2008
The hiring of Willingham made perfect sense. He already had great success within the conference, leading Stanford to the Rose Bowl in 1999, and he had just served out three seasons in South Bend. He wasn't entirely successful at Notre Dame, but he did get them to the Gator Bowl in his inaugural season, winning Coach of the Year honors in the process.
Willingham found life very difficult back in the Pac-10. He managed only 11 wins in four seasons, capped off with an 0-12 season in 2008. The Huskies finished in last place in the Pac-10 three of the four seasons and finished in second-to-last in the other.
His final loss came against equally inept rival Washington State. The Huskies fell to the Cougars in the Apple Cup in double overtime. Willingham finished 1-3 against Washington State.
The Coach: Jim Sweeney
Years Coached: 1968-1975
Wazzu had only one winning season out of eight under Sweeney (they went 7-4 in 1972). They never made a bowl game and went winless in the Pac-8 three times.
The Cougars weren't exactly a storied program prior to Sweeney's tenure, as they had not made a bowl game since the 1931 Rose Bowl. Still, Sweeney's .308 win percentage was the lowest of any coach who served for more than one season, other than current head coach Paul Wulff.
Sweeney would end up doing just fine for himself. The year after his dismissal from Wazzu he took over at Fresno State. There he coached for 19 seasons, compiling a 144-74-3 record and built the Bulldogs into the recognizable program they are today. He would go 5-2 in bowl games while at Fresno State.
Sweeney would finish with 201 career wins with his time at Fresno State, Washington State and Montana State.
The Coach: Bill Stewart
Years Coached: 2008-2010
WVU has had an impressive run of coaches lately. Rich Rodriguez had the Mountaineers within one game of playing for the national title. Don Nehlen had the team finish in the top five twice during his tenure with the team. Before that, Bobby Bowden roamed the sidelines.
Stewart stayed in line with those impressive coaches in terms of his winning record, but his inclusion on this list is for off-the-field incidents.
Following the hiring of Dana Holgorsen as offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting (which never works), Stewart allegedly asked two reporters to dig up dirt on Holgorsen and run a smear campaign on him in their newspapers. When light of this got out, Stewart was allegedly fired but allowed to publicly resigned.
It wasn't the first incident with Stewart. While coaching VMI, he used a racially-insensitive word to describe an African-American's touchdown celebration. Despite claiming it as an isolated incident, Stewart was forced to resign.
Stewart won his first game as WVU coach—an upset over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. He was unable to get the Mountaineers back to the BCS in three full seasons and went 1-2 in bowl games.
The Coach: John Coatta
Years Coached: 1967-1969
As rumor has it, the Wisconsin athletic department was faced with a decision during the offseason in 1967. They needed a new coach. The choice came down between Coatta, an alum of the university who set several Big Ten passing records as a quarterback and was currently on staff or a Miami-Ohio coach named Bo Schembechler. They chose the former.
Coatta failed to win a game in his first two seasons, going 0-19-1. They showed marked improvement in year three, finishing 3-7 (all conference wins), but it wasn't enough for the Badgers to retain him.
Coatta would go on to coach Mankato State where he compiled a 35-24-2 record in six seasons.
He would serve as offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the late 1970s.