Ten College Football Coaches Who Once Won Big

BabyTateSenior Writer IJune 25, 2009

1 Jan 1996:  Head coach Bobby Bowden of the Florida State Seminoles is carried triumphantly off the field by nose guard Andre Wadsworth #8 and tackle Orpheus Roy after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida 31-26.  Ma

It seems like only yesterday Bobby Bowden was the ruler of college football.

During the period of 1987 through 2000, his Seminoles won 152 games and lost 19.

Florida State raked in National Championships in 1993 over Nebraska and 1999 over Michael Vick-led Virginia Tech.

And now what? He may have to forfeit some hard-won victories, and his Seminoles seem nowhere near ready to reclaim their place among the nation's elite in the upcoming season.

The thought occurs: Who else has suffered through a reversal like this?

Let's take a look at some of the strange "U-Turns" made by the following coaches in the past 10 years.

10. Bobby Bowden

If Papa Bowden had not been so successful from 1987 to 2000, no one would say anything about his 2001-2008 record of 67-36.

9. Steve Spurrier

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Suffice to say, Spurrier's last four years at Carolina are 28-22. In his last four years at Florida, he went 39-11. Somewhat apples and oranges, but it goes to show what can happen to even the greatest coaches.

8. Larry Coker

Formerly known as "The Invincible Man," Coker went 35-3 in his first three years at Miami and 25-12 in his last three. Plenty good enough to warrant a contract extension almost anywhere else, but not good enough in Coral Gables.

7. Joe Tiller

A gruff but likable odd sort who came to West Lafayette from Wyoming. Tiller's pro-offense approach saw him go 65-34 from 1996 to 2003, but only 32-30 during 2004 to 2008.

6. Lou Holtz

Here is one of the all-time characters. During the 2000 and 2001 seasons at South Carolina, Holtz went 17-7. He fell to 16-19 in his next three seasons. Thankfully for the Gamecocks, those were his last three.

5. Bill Doba

We've got to pick on somebody, so it might as well be poor old Bill Doba. He showed up at Washington State in 2003 to replace Mike Price and immediately went 10-3. In the next four seasons he went 20-26.

And then he was gone.

4. John Robinson

Okay, all my Trojan friends, we are aware Coach Rob was one of the greats in the 1970s and '80s. He even went 37-21 in his second tour of duty in the '90s. However, from '99 to '04, he was at UNLV, and his coaching record fell off to 28-42.

3. Fisher DeBerry

Not trying to kick this good man from Wofford College, but his record at the Air Force from 1997 to 2002 was 51-23. He fell off the next four years to a paltry 20-26.

2. Sonny Lubick

One of the all-time favorite coaches of other coaches. Lubick knows more about defense than almost any man alive. In Fort Collins, he led his Rams to a 79-32 record from 1994 to 2002, but collapsed to 24-36 during his final five seasons at Colorado State.

1. Jackie Sherrill 

Has what it takes the be the winningest coach but also the misfortune of "losing his teams" while in charge. We can't knock his pedigree; he played for the man with the houndstooth hat in Tuscaloosa. But in Starkville, he set a trap for himself.

He led Mississippi State to a 33-15 record from 1997 to 2000 and self-destructed to 8-27 in his final three seasons. Sherrill is the human enigma, and it seems unlikely anyone, except perhaps Bear Bryant, has ever fully understood him. 

So what does it all mean?

A case could be made that even the greatest have their ups and downs, and a school must be careful to know the difference.


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