College Football's 50 All-Time Winningest Coaches and What Made Each a Legend

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2011

College Football's 50 All-Time Winningest Coaches and What Made Each a Legend

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    In 141 seasons of college football, at all NCAA levels, only 40 head coaches have reached the 200-win mark, only 11 have achieved the 300-win mark and a mere three have reached 400 wins.

    These are remarkable achievements that took entire careers to accomplish.

    These careers began with the struggle to even become a head coach and consisted of years of turning programs around, retooling teams and constantly living under the pressure of producing winning squads while fanbases, university administrations and the media picked apart their performance and expected more. 

    The following slideshow lists the top 50 coaches in NCAA college football history by total wins and then attempts to pick one or two accomplishments from each coach’s multi-decade career that makes them truly legendary.

    Some of the gridiron leaders are names we’re familiar with, some are still coaching today and others might be a complete mystery.

    Regardless, each of these extraordinary individuals deserve mention and further study as they are greatest coaches in the history of the greatest game in team sport.

50. George Welsh

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    Head Coach at: Navy and Virginia

    Coaching Years: 1973-2000

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 189-132-4

    Winning Percentage: 58.8 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.75

    George Welsh hails from Coaldale, Pennsylvania where he left to play quarterback at Navy from 1953-55.

    Welsh worked as an assistant at Penn State under Joe Paterno before becoming the head coach of his alma mater at Navy in 1973.

    George Welsh holds the distinct honor of being the winningest head coach in history at both the schools he served as a head coach: Navy (55-46-1) and Virginia (134-86-3).

49. John H. Vaught

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    Head Coach at: Ole Miss

    Coaching Years: 1947-1973

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 190-61-12

    Winning Percentage: 74.5 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.6

    Johnny Vaught was born in Olney, Texas in 1909 and played guard at TCU from 1930-32.  After serving as an assistant at North Carolina and Ole Miss, Vaught became the Rebels head coach in 1947.

    Vaught is the only coach in Ole Miss history to have won a SEC championship, which he did six times during his tenure (1947, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962 and 1963). 

    He also led the Rebels to their only two national championships, which came in 1960 and 1962.

48. Fielding H. “Hurry Up” Yost

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    Head Coach at: Ohio Wesleyan, Nebraska, Kansas, Stanford, San Jose State and Michigan

    Coaching Years: 1898-1926

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 190-34-12

    Winning Percentage: 83.5 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.8

    Fielding Yost was born in Fairview, West Virginia and played tackle for both West Virginia and Lafayette before entering the coaching ranks at Ohio Wesleyan in 1897.

    Yost was so successful during his 25-year tenure at Michigan that it is impossible to pinpoint a single defining legendary statistic (six national championships, 10 Big Ten titles, 165-29-10 record).

    Interestingly though, Yost coached Michigan when they faced Stanford in the first-ever college bowl game in 1902.  The game was originally dubbed the “Tournament East-West football game” but would go on to be called the “Rose Bowl.”

    The Wolverines trounced the Cardinal 49-0 and the score was so one sided that the Tournament of Roses didn’t bring the football game back until 1916. In its place were sponsored events such as chariot and ostrich races.

    Yost’s 1901 Michigan squad was nicknamed “the point-a-minute team” and outscored its 1901 opponents 550-0.

47. Ron Harms

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    Head Coach at: Adams State (Colorado) and Texas A&I (now called Texas A&M at Kingsville)

    Coaching Years: 1970-1999

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 191-88-2

    Winning Percentage: 68.3 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.64

    A native of Houston, Texas Ron Harms was a three-year lettermen in football at Valparaiso University, where he also earned letters in swimming and track and field.

    Harms was the head coach at Texas A&I for 22 years during which he led the Javelinas to 10 Lone Star Conference titles and one NAIA National Championship (1979, when A&I beat Central Oklahoma 20-14 in the “Palm Bowl,” as the championship game was referred to).

46. John Cooper

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    Head Coach at: Tulsa, Arizona State and Ohio State

    Coaching Years: 1977-2000

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 192-84-6

    Winning Percentage: 69.1 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6

    John Cooper was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1937 and played running back and defensive back at Iowa State from 1959-61 before starting his coaching career as an assistant at Iowa State in 1962.

    Cooper (despite his record 2-10-1 record against Michigan) is the second-winningest coach in Ohio State history; his 111-43-4 record is second only to Woody Hayes (205-61-10). Jim Tressel is currently only five victories behind Cooper at 106 wins.

45. Howard H. Jones

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    Head Coach at: Syracuse, Yale, Ohio State, Iowa, Duke, USC

    Coaching Years: 1908-1940

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 194-64-21

    Winning Percentage: 73.3 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.7

    Howard Jones hailed from Excello, Ohio where he was born in 1885; Jones played at Yale from 1905 to 1907 and then went into coaching beginning with taking over at Syracuse in 1908.

    As a player Howard Jones at won three national championships at Yale (1905, 1906 and 1907) and as a coach he captured five additional national titles (1909 at Yale and 1928, 1931, 1932 and 1939 at USC).

44. William “Bill” Hayes

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    Head Coach at: Winston-Salem St. (NC) and North Carolina A&T

    Coaching Years: 1976-2002 

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 195-104-2

    Winning Percentage: 65.1 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.22

    Bill Hayes (born in Durham North Carolina) played from 1961-65 at North Carolina Central University before becoming the running backs coach at Wake Forest.

    Hayes has the honor of being the winningest coach in the history of both schools that he served as head coach; Winston-Salem State (1976-87) and North Carolina A&T (1998-2002).

43. Frank Cignetti, Sr.

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    Head Coach at: West Virginia and Indiana State (PA)

    Coaching Years: 1976-2005

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 197-77-1

    Winning Percentage: 72 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.21

    Frank Cignetti, Sr. played end at Indiana State (PA) from 1957-59 before taking his first coaching job at Leechburg High School (PA) in 1960.

    After numerous coaching stops Cignetti landed the head job at West Virginia where he went 17-27 from 1976-79 and then moved back to his alma mater Indiana (PA) in 1986.

    Cignetti amassed a 199-77-1 record at Indiana (PA) where he led the Indians to 28 Division II post season games, a D-II coaching record.

    Frank Cignetti’s son, Frank Jr. is currently the OC at Rutgers while another son, Curt was just named the head coach at Indiana (PA) in January of 2011.

42. Dan McGugin

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    Head Coach at: Vanderbilt

    Coaching Years: 1904-1934

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 198-55-19

    Winning Percentage: 76.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.6

    Dan McGugin (from Tingley, Iowa) played guard at Michigan from 1901-02 and was a member of Fielding Yost’s point-a-minute team (Yost was McGugin’s brother-in-law).

     Following in this point scoring tradition McGugin is the only coach in NCAA history to win his first three games as a head coach by 60 points (61-0 over Mississippi State, 66-0 over Georgetown KY and 69-0 over Ole Miss).

    The three landslide victories came in 1904 when, in total, the Commodores outscored their opponents 474-4.

41. Chuck Broyles

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    Head Coach at: Pittsburg State (Kansas)  

    Coaching Years: 1990-2009

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 198-47-2

    Winning Percentage: 81 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 10

    Chuck Broyles was a lineman at Pittsburgh State and graduated in 1971, after several coaching stops he returned to his alma mater in 1988 as an assistant coach and finally took over the head job in 1990.

    Broyles led the Gorillas to the 1991 NCAA D-II National Championship which they won by beating Jacksonville State (AL) 23-6.

    Chuck Broyles is ranked No. 6 in winning percentage and No. 3 in wins per year among the top 50 winningest coaches of all-time.

40. William “Billy” Joe

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    Head Coach at: Central State (Ohio) and Florida A&M

    Coaching Years: 1981-2004

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 200-74-2

    Winning Percentage: 73 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.69

    Billy Joe (from Aynor, South Carolina) played running back at Villanova and went on to a successful career in the AFL from 1963-69 with the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and NY Jets.

    Joe went 114-28-2 from 1981-92 as the head coach at Central State in Wilberforce, OH including capturing two NAIA National Championships (1990 and 1992) and five consecutive Black National College National Championships (1986-90).

    Additionally, Billy Joe led the Florida A&M Rattlers to the 1998 Black National College National Championship.

39. Walt Hameline

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    Head Coach at: Wagner (NY)

    Coaching Years: 1981-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 200-116-2

    Winning Percentage: 63.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.66

    Walt Hameline played linebacker at SUNY Brockport from 1972-75 and eventually became the head coach at Wagner College in Staten Island in New York in 1981.

    Hameline led the Wagner Seahawks (now a Division I-AA team) to a NCAA Division III National Championship with a 19-3 win over the University of Dayton in the 1987 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (the D-III title game).

    Hameline is still the head football coach at Wagner where he also serves as the AD; Walt Hameline scored his 200th career win on November 6 2010 with a 31-20 win over Monmouth (NJ).

38. Darrell “Dan” Mudra

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    Head Coach at: Adams (CO), North Dakota State, Arizona, Western Illinois, Florida State, Eastern Illinois, Northern Iowa

    Coaching Years: 1959-87

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 200-81-4

    Winning Percentage: 71 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.69

    Mudra hails from Omaha, Nebraska and earned the nickname “Dr. Victory” over his 26 years as a head coach at seven different institutions.

    Mudra won two national titles during his career; the first a College Division National Championship at North Dakota State in 1965 (20-7 win over Grambling State) and the second in 1978 when he led Eastern Illinois to a NCAA D-II National Championship (10-9 win over Delaware).

37. Jim Sweeney

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    Head Coach at: Montana State, Washington State and Fresno State

    Coaching Years: 1963-96

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 201-153-4

    Winning Percentage: 56.7 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.28

    Jim Sweeney was born in Butte Montana in 1929 and graduated from the University of Portland before becoming the head coach at Montana State in 1963.

    Sweeney captured 11 conference crowns in his 32 seasons as a head coach and coached QB Dennis Erickson while at Montana State.

36. Vince Dooley

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    Head Coach at: Georgia

    Coaching Years: 1964-1988

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 201-77-10

    Winning Percentage: 72 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.04

    Vince Dooley was born in 1932 in Mobile Alabama and played quarterback at Auburn from 1951-53; Dooley was an assistant at Auburn before taking the head job at Georgia in 1964.

    Vince Dooley captured six SEC crowns and the 1980 National Championship during his 25 seasons as the head coach at Georgia.

    Dooley’s brother Bill was the head coach at North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest and his son, Derek is currently the head coach at Tennessee.

35. Don Nehlen

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    Head Coach at: Bowling Green (OH) and West Virginia

    Coaching Years: 1968-2000

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 202-128-8

    Winning Percentage: 61 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.73

    Don Nehlen (from Mansfield Ohio) played quarterback at Bowling Green from 1955-57, he began his college coaching career as an assistant at Cincinnati in 1963.

    Nehlen is the winningest coach in West Virginia history where he won 149 games in 20 seasons.

34. Cleveland L. “Cleve” Abbott

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    Head Coach at: Tuskegee (AL)

    Coaching Years: 1923-54

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 202-97-27

    Winning Percentage: 66.1 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.31

    Cleveland Abbott was born in South Dakota and was a multi-sport athlete at South Dakota State University.

    Abbott took over as the head coach at Tuskegee in 1923 and spent 32 years there compiling his 202-97-27 record including 12 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships and six Black College National Championships.

33. Alonzo S. “Jake” Gaither

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    Head Coach at: Florida A&M

    Coaching Years: 1945-1969

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 204-36-4

    Winning Percentage: 84.4 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.16

    Jake Gaither grew up in Dayton, Tennessee as the son of preacher and went on to play football for Knoxville College.  Gaither’s father died near the time of his graduation from Knoxville and he took a job as a high school football coach to help support his family.

    The job stuck and Gaither went on to be an assistant at Florida A&M and after a break to serve in the military he was hired as the Rattlers head coach in 1945.

    Gaither is the winningest coach in Florida A&M history and racked up 22 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and six Black College National Championships in his 25 year tenure.

    Jake Gaither is credited with first using the Spilt T formation in 1963.

32. James “Jim” Butterfield

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    Head Coach at: Ithaca (NY)

    Coaching Years: 1967-93

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 206-71-1

    Winning Percentage: 74.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.62

    Jim Butterfield was born in Tampa Florida in 1927 and played guard at Maine from 1950-52.

    After serving as an assistant at Arms Academy, Maine and Colgate Butterfield took over as the head coach at Ithaca in 1967.

    In his 27 years at Ithaca College Butterfield captured 12 Independent College Athletic Conference Championships and three NCAA Division III National Championships (1979 over Wittenberg OH, 1988 over Central IA and 1991 over Dayton OH).

31. Jimmye Laycock

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    Head Coach at: William & Mary (VA)

    Coaching Years: 1980-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 210-145-2

    Winning Percentage: 59.1 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.77

    Jimmye Laycock played quarterback at William & Mary from 1966-69 under then Tribe head coaches Marv Levy (1964-68) and Lou Holtz (1969-71).

    Laycock made numerous stops as an assistant before returning to his alma mater in 1980 to take over as head coach.

    Jimmye Laycock is the winningest coach in William & Mary history and has won four conference titles over a career that has, thus far, lasted 30 years.

30. William “Bill” Manlove

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    Head Coach at: Widener (PA), Delaware Valley (PA) and La Salle (PA)

    Coaching Years: 1969-2001

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 212-110-1

    Winning Percentage: 65.7 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.62

    Bill Manlove was born in Barrington New Jersey in 1933 and took over as the head coach at Widener (PA) where he amassed a 182-53-1 record over 22 seasons.

    From 1970-91 Manlove had 21 consecutive winning seasons, captured 10 conference titles and two Division III National Championships (1977 and 1981).

29. Fred Martinelli

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    Head Coach at: Ashland (OH)

    Coaching Years: 1959-93

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 218-118-12

    Winning Percentage: 64.3 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.23

    Fred Martinelli is the winningest coach in the history of Ashland University and led the Eagles to 12 conference titles in 35 seasons.

28. Wayne “Woody” Hayes

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    Head Coach at: Miami (OH) and Ohio State

    Coaching Years: 1949-78

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 219-66-10

    Winning Percentage: 76 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.3

    Woody Hayes was born in Clifton Ohio on Valentine’s Day 1913 and played tackle at Denison from 1933-35.

    Hayes was 205-61-10 in his 28 seasons at Ohio State and won 13 Big Ten titles and three national championships (1954, 1957 and 1968).

    Though Hayes coaching numbers speak for themselves he may be at least as famous (probably unfairly) for jacking a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

27. Mack Brown

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: Appalachian State, Tulane, North Carolina and Texas

    Coaching Years: 1983-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 219-108-1

    Winning Percentage: 67 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.11

    Mack Brown is a native of Cookeville, Tennessee and played running back at Vanderbilt and Florida State (1969-73) before starting his coaching career at Florida State in 1974.

    Brown’s biggest achievements (other than completely reviving the North Carolina football program) have been at Texas where he is 133-34 thus far and has racked up four Big 12 South titles, two Big 12 conference crowns and one national title (2005).

    Mack Brown is the first coach in Longhorn history to reach the 200 win mark and is currently No. 24 in winning percentage among active FBS coaches.

26. Chris Ault

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: Nevada

    Coaching Years: 1976-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 219-97-1

    Winning Percentage: 69.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.42

    Chris Ault was born in San Bernardino, California in1946 and played quarterback at Nevada from 1965-68.

    Ault’s entire college career, as both a player and coach have been at Nevada; in his three stints as the Wolf Pack’s head coach he has won nine conference titles and posted four one loss seasons.

    Chris Ault is credited with creating the Pistol Offense (in 2005) and is currently listed at No. 21 among winningest active FBS coaches.

25. Peter Yetten

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    Head Coach at: Bentley (MA)

    Coaching Years: 1979-2008

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 225-81-2

    Winning Percentage: 73.3 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.5

    Not only did Peter Yetten play quarterback at Boston University he also spent three years as a defensemen on BU’s hockey team which included being a part of the Terriers first NCAA title team in 1970-71.

    Yetten took over as head football coach at Bentley College in Waltham Massachusetts in 1979 and captured six conference titles during 30 year tenure.

24. Jerry Moore

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    Head Coach at: North Texas, Texas Tech, Appalachian State

    Coaching Years: 1979-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 226-127-2

    Winning Percentage: 64 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.79

    Jerry Moore was born in 1939 in Bonham, Texas and played wide receiver at Baylor from 1958-60 before taking his first coaching job as an assistant at SMU in 1965.

    Moore took over as the head coach at Appalachian State in 1989 and his 199-79-0 mark makes him the winningest coach in Mountaineer history.

    Moore has, thus far, captured nine conference titles and three NCAA Division I-AA Championships (2005, 2006 and 2007) at Appalachian State but may be best remembered for coaching the Mountaineers when they knocked off No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor on September 1 2007.

    The 34-32 upset marked the first time that a team in a “lower subdivision” knocked off a ranked team in the “higher subdivision.”

23. Hayden Fry

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: SMU, North Texas and Iowa

    Coaching Years: 1962-1998

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 232-178-10

    Winning Percentage: 56.4 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.27

    Hayden Fry is yet another native Texan to go into the ranks of coaching.  Fry was born in Eastland Texas in 1929 and played quarterback at Baylor from 1947-50.

    Fry’s first job in coaching was at his alma mater Odessa High School in Odessa Texas and after stints as the head coach at both SMU (1962-72) and North Texas (1973-78) Fry took the job at Iowa in 1979.

    Hayden Fry is the winningest coach in the history of Iowa football with a record of 143-89-6 and led the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten championships (1981, 1985 and 1990).

22. Arnett "Ace" Mumford

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    Southern's football stadium is named in honor of Ace Mumford.
    Southern's football stadium is named in honor of Ace Mumford.USA TODAY Sports

    Head Coach at: Jarvis Christian (Hawkins, Texas), Bishop (Marshall, Texas), Texas College (Tyler, Texas) and Southern

    Coaching Years: 1924-61

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 233-85-23

    Winning Percentage: 71.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.29

    A native of Buckhannon, West Virginia, and a 1924 graduate of Wilberforce (Ohio), Ace Mumford traveled to Texas to start his 37-year career as a college coach, first landing at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins.

    Mumford stayed three season at Jarvis, moving on in 1927 to Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, where he was at the helm for another three campaigns. His move in 1931 to Texas College in Tyler marked the beginning of a championship run that didn't end until a year before his final season in 1961.

    Mumford led the Texas Steers to a Black College National Championship in 1935, an accomplishment he repeated five more times (1948, 1949, 1950, 1954 and 1960) after moving to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1936.

    Overall, Mumford went 169-52-14 at Southern, winning 11 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and engineering a perfect 38-0 run from 1948-1951.   

    Mumford died shortly after the 1961 season, in April 1962, at 64 years old.

    Mumford was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. Southern’s football stadium is named in his honor.

21. Glen “Bo” Schembechler

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    Head Coach at: Michigan

    Coaching Years: 1963-89

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 234-65-8

    Winning Percentage: 77.5 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.66

    Bo Schembechler was born in Barberton Ohio in 1929 and played tackle at Miami (OH) for coach Woody Hayes from 1948-50; Schembechler also had two stints as an assistant coach under Hayes at Ohio State (1952 and 1958-62).

    Schembechler’s first head coaching job was at his alma mater Miami (OH) from 1963-68 before finally taking over at Michigan in 1969.

    Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines won a startling 13 Big Ten titles during his 21 seasons at Michigan and he is the winningest coach in Michigan history.

20. John A. Merritt

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    Head Coach at: Jackson State, Tennessee State

    Coaching Years: 1952-1983

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 236-72-12

    Winning Percentage: 75.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.38

    John Merritt was born in 1926 in Falmouth, Kentucky and played college ball at Kentucky State College.  Merritt started his coaching career Versailles High School and then served as the head coach at both Jackson State and Tennessee State.

    Merritt had 31 consecutive winning seasons as a head coach and led the Tennessee State to seven Black College National Championship titles in his 20 seasons compiling a record of 173-35-7 making him the winningest coach in Tiger history.

    John Merritt died in 1983 at the age of only 57; you have to assume had his health not failed him he could have easily gone on coaching and racking up wins.

19. Frank Beamer

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    CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 24:  Head coach Frank Beamer of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrates after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers 33-21 at Scott Stadium on November 24, 2007 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: Murray State and Virginia Tech

    Coaching Years: 1981-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 240-118-4

    Winning Percentage: 67 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8

    Frank Beamer hails from Mount Airy, North Carolina, grew up in Fancy Gap, Virginia and played cornerback at Virginia Tech from 1966-69.

    After several stints as a assistant coach Beamer landed the head job at Murray State in 1981 where he went 42-23-2 in six seasons.

    Beamer returned to his alma mater Virginia Tech in 1987 and has led the Hokies to three Big East titles (1995, 1996 and 1999) and four ACC crowns (2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010).

    His Hokies have won the ACC four out of the seven years they have been a member.

    Frank Beamer’s 198-95-2 mark at Virginia Tech makes him far away the winningest coach in school history.

18. Jim Tressel

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    CLEVELAND - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on while playing the Toledeo Rockets on September 19, 2009 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Ohio State won the game 38-0.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Ima
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: Youngstown State, Ohio State

    Coaching Years: 1986-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 241-79-2

    Winning Percentage: 75.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 9.64

    Jim Tressel grew up outside of Cleveland Ohio and played quarterback at Baldwin-Wallace from 1971-74. 

    Tressel landed his first job in college coaching at Akron (GA) in 1974 and spent time as an assistant at Miami (OH), Syracuse and Ohio State before landing the head job at Youngstown State in 1986 and then Ohio State in 2001.

    Tressel has won five national titles as a head coach (Division I-AA crowns at Youngstown in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997 and a BCS Championship at Ohio State in 2002).

    Jim Tressel has led the Buckeyes to seven Big Ten titles in his decade at Ohio State and has appeared in eight BCS games since taking over in 2001.

17. Mike Kelly

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    Head Coach at: Dayton (OH)      

    Coaching Years: 1981-2007

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 246-54-1

    Winning Percentage: 82 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 9.11

    Mike Kelly grew up just north of Dayton, Ohio in West Milton and played quarterback for Manchester College.

    Kelly got his first college job as an assistant at Hanover College in 1975 and became the defensive coordinator at the University of Dayton in 1977.

    Mike Kelly was promoted to head coach at Dayton in 1981 kicking off a 27 year career; his 82 percent winning ratio that ranks him No. 5 among this list of winning coaches.

    Kelly led the Flyers to a Division III National Championship in 1989 and also captured nine conference titles during his tenure.

16. Bob Ford

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    Head Coach at: SUNY-Albany (NY)

    Coaching Years: 1970-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 248-163-1

    Winning Percentage: 60.3 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 6.04

    Bob Ford has been the only coach at SUNY-Albany (NY) since the Danes started playing football again (after a 46 year absence) in 1970.

    Ford has, thus far, earned six conference titles and 248 wins in his 30 seasons at Albany.

15. Lou Holtz

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    3 Sep 1994:  Coach Lou Holtz of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish argues with the official during a game against the Northwestern Wildcats.  Notre Dame won the game 42-15. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: William & Mary, NC State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina

    Coaching Years: 1969-2004

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 249-132-7

    Winning Percentage: 65 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.54

    Lou Holtz was born in Follansbee West Virginia in 1937 and played linebacker at Kent State from 1956-57 before landing his first college coaching position as an assistant at Iowa in 1960.

    Though he has served as a head coach for 33 years at six different institutions and won three conference titles and a slew of awards Holtz is probably best known for leading Notre Dame to a 100-30-2 record from 1986-1996 and capturing the 1988 national title with a 12-0 record.

14. Hank Biesiot

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    Head Coach at: Dickinson State (ND)

    Coaching Years: 1976-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 251-97-1

    Winning Percentage: 72.1 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.17

    Hank Biesiot played both football and baseball at Mayville State in North Dakota before taking over as the head coach at Dickinson State in Dickinson, North Dakota.

    Biesiot has coached the Blue Hawks for 35 seasons and has led Dickinson to 17 conference titles.

13. Tom Osborne

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    Earl Richardson/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: Nebraska

    Coaching Years: 1973-1997

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 255-49-3

    Winning Percentage: 83.5 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 10.2

    Tom Osborne was born in Hastings Nebraska in 1937 and played quarterback at Hastings College before playing wide receiver in the NFL for both the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.

    Osborne spent his entire college coaching career at Nebraska; he became an offensive assistant in 1964, took over as the offensive coordinator in 1969 and finally became head coach in 1973.

    During Osborne’s 25 seasons the Cornhuskers never won less than nine games per season, won 13 conference crowns and three national championships (1994, 1995 and 1997).

      Tom Osborne went on to serve as a member of the US Congress for six years and now serves as the AD at Nebraska.

12. LaVell Edwards

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    24 Oct 1998: Head coach Lavell Edwards of the Brigham Young University Cougars looks on during the game against the San Jose State Spartans at the Cougars Stadium in Provo, Utah. The Cougars defeated the Spartans 46-43.
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Head Coach at: BYU

    Coaching Years: 1972-2000

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 257-101-3

    Winning Percentage: 71.6 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.86

    Rueben “LaVell” Edwards is a native of Orem Utah and played offensive lineman at Utah State from 1949-51.

    Edwards became an assistant coach at BYU in 1962 and took over as the Cougars head coach in 1972.

    During Edwards’ 29 years at BYU he won 18 WAC titles, 1 MWC championship and the 1984 National Championship.

11. Harold R. “Tubby” Raymond

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    Head Coach at: Delaware            

    Coaching Years: 1966-2001

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 300-119-3

    Winning Percentage: 71.4 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.33

    Tubby Raymond was born in Flint, Michigan in 1926 and played both football (linebacker) and baseball at Michigan.

    Raymond played minor league baseball before becoming an assistant football coach at Maine in 1953; he moved to Delaware as an assistant in 1954 and took over as the head coach there in 1966.

    Tubby Raymond also coached baseball at both Maine (1952-53) and Delaware (1956-64) and compiled a 164-62-3 record as a baseball coach.

    During his 36 seasons as the head coach at Delaware Raymond led the Blue Hens to nine conference championships, two College Division National Championships (1971 and 1972) and one NCAA Division II National Title (1979).

    His historic 300th win came during his final season as a head coach (2001) with a 10-6 win over Richmond in the second to last game of the season.

10. Larry Kehres

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    Head Coach at: Mount Union (Alliance, Ohio)

    Coaching Years: 1986-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 303-23-3

    Winning Percentage: 92.5 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 12.12

    Larry Kehres was born in Diamond, Ohio in 1949 and played quarterback at Mount Union before taking his first college football coaching position at Bowling Green (GA)  in 1971.

    Kehres took over as the head coach at his alma mater Mount Union in 1986 and has racked up some stunning stats in a career that has already spanned 25 years.

    Kehres has led the Purple Raiders to 10 NCAA Division III National Championships and his winning percentage of 92.5 is the highest mark in college football history.

    Larry Kehres holds a remarkable 66-11 record in the NCAA D-III playoffs and holds a 3-1 advantage against John Gagliardi who has the most wins of any coach in the history of college football.

9. Forrest “Frosty” Westering

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    Head Coach at: Parsons (IA), Albert Lea (MN) and Pacific Lutheran (WA)              

    Coaching Years: 1962-2003

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 303-96-7

    Winning Percentage: 75.4 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.57

    Frosty Westering was born in Council Bluffs Iowa in 1927 and became the head coach of Parson (IA) in 1962.

    After taking over as the head coach at Albert Lea (MN) in 1966, Westering finally settled at Pacific Lutheran in Tacoma Washington in 1972 where he spent 32 seasons coaching the Lutes.

    Westering led the Lutes to three NAIA Division II National titles (1980, 1987 and 1993) and one NCAA Division III National Championship (1999).

8. Roy Kidd

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    Head Coach at: Eastern Kentucky            

    Coaching Years: 1962-2002

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 314-124-8

    Winning Percentage: 71.3 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.05

    Roy Kidd is another guy who was a player and a legendary coach all at the same institution. 

    Kidd was born in Corbin Kentucky in 1931 and played quarterback at Eastern Kentucky from 1950-53; afterwards h stuck around at EKU and served for one season as a graduate assistant coach.

    After a stopover at Morehead State Kidd returned to Eastern Kentucky as an assistant in 1963 and then finally became the head coach in 1964.

    Kidd led the Colonels to 17 conference titles and two NCAA Division I-AA Championships (1979 and 1982) in his 39 seasons as head coach.

7. Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner

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    Head Coach at: Iowa State, Georgia, Cornell (NY), Carlisle Indian School (PA), Pittsburgh, Stanford, Temple

    Coaching Years: 1895-1938

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 318-107-32

    Winning Percentage: 73.1 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.23

    Pop Warner was born in 1871 (10 years after the start of the Civil War) in Springville NY and played guard for both Cornell and Syracuse before delving into the world of coaching in 1895.

    Though Warner won four National Titles (1915, 1916 and 1918 at Pitt and 1926 at Stanford) he is probably best known for helping to start the youth American football institution that bears his name, the “Pop Warner Little Scholars” or “Pop Warner Youth Football.”

6. Paul W. “Bear” Bryant

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    Head Coach at: Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Alabama

    Coaching Years: 1945-82

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 323-85-17

    Winning Percentage: 78 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.5

    Bear Bryant was born in 1913 in Fordyce Arkansas and played end at Alabama from 1933-35.  After serving as an assistant at Union (TN), Alabama and Vanderbilt Bryant took his first head coaching job at Maryland in 1945.

    Despite a long resume of accomplishments Bryan is probably best known for leading the Crimson Tide from 1958-82 where he amassed a 232-46-9 record, won 13 SEC titles and six National Championships (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978 and 1979).

5. Amos Alonzo Stagg, Sr.

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    Head Coach at: Chicago (IL) and Pacific (CA)

    Coaching Years: 1892-1946

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 329-190-36

    Winning Percentage: 62.5 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 5.98

    Stagg was born in 1862 (one year after the Civil War began) in West Orange, New Jersey and played end at Yale from 1885-89.

    Though Stagg accumulated 329 wins in his 55 seasons as a college football coach and captured two national titles (University of Chicago 1905 and 1913) he also coached the Chicago baseball team for 19 years and the basketball team for one year.

    What makes Stagg legendary are the fundamental innovations he made to the game of football which include the man in motion, the lateral, the huddle and having numbers on football uniforms.

4. Bobby Bowden

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    Head Coach at: Florida State

    Coaching Years: 1959-2009

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 377-129-4

    Winning Percentage: 74.3 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.57

    Bobby Bowden was born in 1929 in Birmingham Alabama and played as a quarterback on the freshman team at the University of Alabama before playing both quarterback and running back at Howard (AL).

    Bowden’s first coaching job was at his alma mater Howard where he served as the OC from 1954-55 and head coach from 1959-62.

    Bobby Bowden became the head coach at West Virginia in 1970 and after compiling a record of 42-26 he took over as the head coach at Florida State in 1976.

    The Seminoles were independent from 1976-91 during which time Bowden racked up 143 wins and went 10-2-1 in bowl games.

    When FSU became a member of the ACC in 1992 the Seminoles immediately won their first ever ACC title and went on to capture the conference championship all but six seasons under Bowden’s leadership.

    Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles to a National Championship in both 1993 and 1999.

3. Joe Paterno

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    Head Coach at:  Penn State

    Coaching Years: 1966-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 401-135-3

    Winning Percentage: 74.6 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 8.91

    Joe Paterno was born in Brooklyn NY in 1926 and played quarterback and cornerback at Brown from 1946-50 before becoming an assistant at Penn State in 1966.

    Paterno’s 61 total seasons at Penn State sets the record for the most seasons as a member of one coaching staff.

    “JoePa” has the most wins in FBS history as well as the most bowl wins (24); he has led the Nittany Lions to three Big Ten titles (1994, 2005 and 2008) and two National Championships (1982 and 1986).

2. Eddie G. Robinson

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    Head Coach at: Grambling State

    Coaching Years: 1941-1997

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 408-167-16

    Winning Percentage: 70.4 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.42

    Eddie Robinson (born in 1919) started coaching the Grambling State Tigers before World War II (1941) and finally retired, after 55 seasons, in 1997.

    While at Grambling, Robinson captured 18 conference titles and nine Black National Championships (1955, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983 and 1992).

1. Joe Gagliardi

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    Head Coach at: Carroll and Saint John’s

    Coaching Years: 1949-2010

    Wins/Losses/Ties: 478-129-11

    Winning Percentage: 78.2 percent

    Average Wins per Year: 7.71

    Joe Gagliardi was born in 1926 in Trinidad, Colorado and started his head coaching career at Carroll (MT) in 1949.

    Gagliardi took the head job at St. John’s (in Collegeville, Minnesota) in 1953 and has served as the head coach there for 62 years.

    The Johnnies have won four national titles during Gagliardi’s tenure; the NAIA National Football Championship in 1963 and 1965 and the NCAA Division III National Championship in 1976 and 2003.