Power Ranking College Football's Top 50 Coaches
Coming into the 2011 season the teams who combine to make up the FBS are led by 120 head coaches, 21 are new to their job while 99 have been on board at their current position for at least one year.
All reached the top level of college coaching via different roads; some spent long periods as a college assistant, some spent time in the NFL while others have already enjoyed a highly successful run as the head guy at an FCS program.
So, who’s the best of the best among the current crop of FBS college coaches?
The following slideshow slams down the gavel on this provocative question and power ranks the Top 50 coaches currently at the helm of a top tier college football program.
The gridiron mentors are graded by total power points, a rating scheme that includes a wide array of objective categories including overall career winning percentage, winning percentage at current position, conference titles, national championships, bowl appearances, bowl winning percentage, BCS winning percentage, Top 25 finishes in ratio to total year’s coached, etc.
It is important to note that the rankings are limited to coaches’ who have been in the FBS ranks for a minimum of four full seasons (which means you won’t see Chip Kelly, Mike Sherman, Will Muschamp or Lane Kiffin) and the stats compiled are exclusively those earned as a coach at the FBS level (in attempt to get closer to the ultimate aim of comparing apples to apples).
The highly thorough and exclusive “power points” grading system is by no means faultless but it does provide a highly impartial scale for ranking the elite 50 list of coaches currently guiding FBS football programs.
50. Bob Toledo, Tulane
Power Points: 118
Coach Toledo made the list by virtue of besting Rick Stockstill of Middle Tennessee by a mere three precious power points.
Though Bob Toledo (a QB at San Francisco State in the late 60’s) is going into his fifth campaign as the head guy at Tulane (13-35 overall) don’t forget that he is the same guy who led UCLA to back-to-back Pac-10 titles in 1997-98.
The conference titles (which netted him a 20-4 record over two seasons) were enough to boost Toledo to the bottom of our power rankings.
49. Mario Cristobal, FIU
Power Points: 119
I realize that you could argue that putting Mario Cristobal on this list makes the “power points” scheme look as faulty as Texas Tech’s 2010 on-side kick execution, but following are a few points to consider before you label Coach Cristobal as unworthy.
First, Cristobal (who played tackle at Miami FL from 1989-92) led the Golden Panthers to a share of the Sun Belt conference title in 2010 (and remember, FIU has only been fielding a football team since 2002 and only joined the FBS in 2005) which is something a slew of current coaches haven’t yet achieved.
Secondly, Cristobal is the guy that led the fledgling Golden Panthers to their (and his) first ever bowl win last season when they narrowly beat Toledo 34-32 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
In fact, Cristobal is the only coach in FIU history to post a winning record.
48. Butch Jones, Cincinnati
Power Points: 136
Butch Jones went a very disappointing 4-8 in his first season as the head guy at Cincinnati but don’t forget his three year run (2007-09) at Central Michigan produced a 27-13 record and two MAC crowns.
47. Greg Schiano, Rutgers
Power Points: 142
Greg Schiano’s ten years at Rutgers have produced a 59-63 overall record but he makes the power rankings by virtue of being a magnificent 4-1 all-time in bowl games.
Schiano’s Scarlet Knights won four consecutive post season games from 2006-09 and finished the 2006 campaign ranked No. 12 in both postseason polls.
46. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Power Points: 145
David Cutcliffe has spent three years coaching Duke’s football Blue Devils and though his 12-24 mark in Durham is well below .500 his overall record in the FBS ranks is 56-53.
Cutcliffe spent six highly successful seasons at Ole Miss (1999-2004) where he led the Rebels to a 44-29 record and an SEC-West title in 2003 (a not so easy task).
Cutcliffe is 4-1 all time in bowl appearances and two of his Ole Miss squads (1999 and 2003) finished the season ranked among the best 25 teams in the land.
45. Ron Zook, Illinois
Power Points: 148
Zook is technically tied with Todd Graham who is the new head man at Pitt but we’ll give Graham the slight edge in these rankings due his substantial advantage in career winning percentage which is 65 percent versus Zook’s 46 percent.
Ron Zook (who played DB at Miami OH in the mid 1970’s) posted a winning record at Florida (23-14) in three forgettable seasons and though he’s only 28-45 in six seasons at Illinois he led the Illini to a BCS Rose Bowl appearance in 2007 (their first trip to Pasadena since 1984).
Lots of guys have achieved lots of different things on this list, but only 28 have led a school to even a single BCS appearance.
44. Todd Graham, Pittsburgh
Power Points: 148
The new head man at Pitt comes to the Three Rivers area straight off a sizzling 36-17 run at Tulsa that included three C-USA West division crowns, three 10 plus win seasons and three bowl victories.
How far did Graham go in reviving the fortunes of Golden Hurricane football?
Well, Tulsa finished the 2010 season ranked at No. 24 in the AP poll marking their first inclusion in a postseason poll since 1991.
43. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Power Points: 150
Calhoun (who played QB at Air Force from 1985-88) edged Todd Graham and Ron Zook in the power rankings by virtue of his impressive 65 percent winning percentage in four great seasons at Air Force.
Calhoun is 2-2 in bowl play and if things go as planned he is one of the guys who should move up the power grid after the 2011 campaign.
42. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Power Points: 172
Larry Blakeney played QB at Auburn from 1966-69 and served there as an assistant from 1977-90 before moving to Troy, Alabama in 1991 to take over as the head coach of the Trojans.
After a decade of successful play at the FCS level Blakeney successfully led Troy through its transition to the FBS in 2001 and since that time has compiled a 69-53 record and five straight Sun Belt conference titles (2006-10).
Blackeney is 2-3 in bowl games and most recently bested Ohio in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl.
41. Skip Holtz, USF
Power Points: 175
Holtz the Younger led the USF Bulls to an 8-5 mark in his inaugural campaign in Tampa Bay but what puts him into the power rankings are his two C-USA crowns at East Carolina (2008-09).
Holtz has an overall winning ratio of 59 percent and is 2-3 in bowl play thus far.
40. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Power Points: 183
Mark Dantonio played DB for South Carolina from 1976-78 and has enjoyed head coaching stints at Cincinnati (2004-06) and now Michigan State where he has been the big cheese since 2007.
Dantonio earns his spot on the power rankings by virtue of a 63 percent winning percentage at Michigan State, the shared Big Ten title in 2010 and five bowl appearances.
What hurt Dantonio in power points were his 1-4 record in bowl games and the fact that his teams have only finished ranked in the Top 25 two out of his seven FBS campaigns.
39. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Power Points: 184
Mike Riley played CB at Alabama in the early 70’s and has spent his entire college head coaching career at Oregon State (though he served as the head man for the San Diego Chargers for three seasons).
Riley’s high points statistically speaking are a 56 percent winning percentage as a college head coach and his sparkling 5-1 bowl record.
Mike Riley’s 83 percent winning mark in postseason play puts him among the top seven active coaches in terms of bowl play.
38. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss
Power Points: 186
Houston Nutt’s power ranking is enhanced by his 59 percent career winning percentage (earned via stops at Arkansas and Ole Miss), three SEC west titles, nine bowl appearances (4-5) and the fact that almost half of his FBS teams finished their season among the Top 25 teams in the land.
Nutt is a former collegiate QB who threw the pill at both Arkansas and Oklahoma State in the late 1970’s and he has yet to capture a conference title or guide a squad to the BCS.
37. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Power Points: 187
Besting Houston Nutt by only one precious power point Randy Edsall enters the 2011 season as the new head coach at Maryland.
Edsall, who played QB at Syracuse in the late 70’s, earns his power points by virtue of guiding previous employer UConn to shares of two Big East titles (2007 and 2010), holding a 3-2 record in bowl play and most notably leading the Huskies to a BCS bowl bid in 2010.
36. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Power Points: 197
Other than brief coaching stops at Baylor and Maryland, Mike Gundy has spent his entire collegiate playing and coaching career at Oklahoma State University.
The quarterback (1986-89) turned coach took over as the head honcho in Stillwater in 2005 and since then has a 62 percent winning percentage (in what was one of college football’s toughest divisions), is 3-2 in bowl games and half of his Cowboy teams have finished the season in the Top 25.
35. Pat Hill, Fresno State
Power Points: 202
There are only seven active coaches that have led their teams to more bowl bids than has Pat Hill who has guided his Bulldogs to 11 postseason appearances in 14 seasons.
The number is made even more impressive when you consider that Fresno State plays in the WAC where bowl bids are more difficult to find.
Hill also sports a 60 percent winning percentage over his tenure at Fresno State and won a WAC crown in 1999.
34. George O’Leary, UCF
Power Points: 205
You might do a double take when you see Coach O’Leary at No. 34 and wonder if UCF’s 2010 11-3 record and C-USA title provide substantial credentials for such a lofty spot.
But wait, this is the George O’Leary who also led the Golden Knights to a 2007 C-USA title and he’s the same guy who led Georgia Tech to an ACC crown in 1998.
Yep, O’Leary amassed a 52-33 record over seven seasons at Georgia Tech and boasts a career winning ratio of 56 percent.
Other than the three conference titles O’Leary has been to eight bowl games and a whopping six of his 15 squads finished among the best 25 teams in the nation.
33. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Power Points: 222
Jim Grobe played guard and linebacker at Virginia in the early 1970s and was the head coach at Ohio (1995-2000) before taking over at Wake Forest in 2001.
Grobe’s achievements are plentiful but the crown jewel in his gridiron crown comes via his 2006 ACC title and BCS bowl bid at Wake Forest (think about it, “at Wake Forest”).
Grobe’s power point total is further boosted by his 3-1 record in bowl play and his above .500 record in both his present role and for his all-time body of work.
32. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Power Points: 224
Gary Pinkel played TE at Kent State in the early 1970s and was actually teammates with Nick Saban who makes an appearance towards the top of this list.
Pinkel coached for ten seasons at Toledo before beginning a ten year run at Missouri that enters its eleventh campaign in 2011.
Pinkel’s one and only conference title came in 1995 when he led the Rockets to a MAC crown but his power ranking numbers are anchored by a 61 percent winning percentage at Mizzou, a 64 percent career winning mark and eight bowl appearances where he sports an even 4-4 record.
31. Chris Ault, Nevada
Power Points: 228
Though Coach Ault has been the big cheese at Nevada for 26 years only the last 10 seasons have been played in the FBS (or Division I-A if that tickles your fancy).
That said Ault’s FBS record has enough weight to carry him all the way to No. 31 in the power sweepstakes.
In this time Ault has led the Wolf Pack to five conference crowns, has a winning percentage of 64.8 percent and has appeared in eight bowl games (which means that FBS Nevada has only failed to garner a bowl bid twice in a decade).
What hurts Ault is a 2-6 bowl record and the fact only one of his 10 Wolf Pack squads who played at the highest level were ranked at the end of the season (the 2010 team finished the season at No. 11 in the AP).
30. Tom O’Brien, NC State
Power Points: 230
Tom O’Brien began his collegiate gridiron career by playing DE at Navy from 1968-70 and in 2011 enters his fifth season as the head man at NC State.
What sets O’Brien apart are a 58 percent career winning percentage (which includes 10 seasons at Boston College), the 2004 ACC championship (at BC) and a very impressive 7-2 record in bowl play.
Also notable is the fact that five of his 14 teams thus far found a place in the postseason polls and overall his statistical body of work is phenomenal when you consider that his achievements came at Boston College and NC State, programs that are not exactly Florida State and Virginia Tech.
29. Mike Price, UTEP
Power Points: 230
Believe me, you are not the only person who is surprised to see Coach Price at No. 29 in these illustrious power rankings, but don’t forget that this is the same guy who led Washington State to some fairly mind-blowing achievements in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Yes, Mike Price is 40-45 at UTEP but he went 83-78 at Washington State where he captured two Pac-10 titles (1997 and 2002).
What further makes the statistical case for Coach Prices’ No. 29 ranked power point total is eight bowl bids (3-5), five Top 25 finishes and one huge trip to the money rich BCS (he guided Washington State to the “Granddaddy of them All” in 2002).
Three ten win seasons at Washington State and two eight win campaigns at UTEP are nothing to snort at.
28. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Power Points: 236
Bo Pelini barely qualified, in terms of years of experience, for this list but the vein popping Cornhusker coach has wasted no time in racking up some serious power points.
Pelini played free safety at Ohio State from 1987-90 and after a string of mostly defensive coaching stops through college football and the NFL he finally landed the coveted head corn job in 2008.
Pelini has a 71 percent winning percentage at Nebraska and though he hasn’t yet celebrated a conference crown he has three divisional titles, is 3-1 in bowl appearances and three of his first four Husker squads finished among the Top 25 teams in the land.
27. Jeff Tedford, California
Power Points: 252
The one time collegiate QB (at Cerritos College and Fresno State) has spent his entire nine year college head coaching career at Cal.
What catapults Jeff Tedford to No. 27 in the power points bonanza is a 63 percent winning percentage, a 2006 Pac-10 crown, a hot 5-2 bowl record and the fact that four of his nine Golden Bear squads finished ranked among the Top 25 (while playing big time BCS ball).
26. June Jones, SMU
Power Points: 257
My first memory of June Jones (because, yes, it does matter when I first noticed him…) was as the QB for the Atlanta Falcons of the late 1970s which eventually led to him being name the QB coach at Hawaii in 1983.
After that first season in the collegiate ranks Jones spent almost two decades in the pros before landing the head Hawaii job in 1999 and then the SMU gig in 2007.
What provides Jones with the No. 26 power ranking is a collegiate career that includes a 59 percent winning ratio (again, we’re talking Hawaii and SMU), two WAC crowns (1999 and 2007), two C-USA west titles (2009-10), a 5-3 record in bowl play and the bust ‘em up BCS appearance his Hawaii team in the 2007 Sugar Bowl (becoming only the second WAC team ever to bust the BCS and the only team to do so other than Boise State who went twice as a WAC member).
25. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Power Points: 258
Paul Johnson’s 65 percent winning percentage at his current job is among the best in the nation and his 2009 ACC crown, his 2008 ACC Coastal title, his seven bowl bids and his 2007 appearance in the BCS Orange bowl all combine to place Johnson in the Top 25 of our scientific power rankings.
Prior to Paul Johnson’s three year stint at Georgia Tech (where he is keeping things real with the option) he spent six successful seasons at the helm of Navy (45-29) where he was 2-2 in bowl play.
If we were to include Johnson’s stellar record at FCS Georgia Southern (1997-2001) where he went 62-10, won five consecutive Southern Conference titles and captured the FCS (Division I-AA title) in 1999 and 2000 Johnson would be among the top coaches on this list.
24. Howard Schnellenberger, FAU
Power Points: 266
Howard Schnellenberger is one of only seven active coaches who lay claim to a national championship and his came in 1983 when he led Miami FL to the Holy Grail of college football.
Schnellenberger played TE at Kentucky in the late 1950s and has enjoyed a 26 year run as a college football head coach (all but five have been in the FBS ranks) including stops at Miami FL, Louisville, Oklahoma and finally FAU.
Schnellenberger holds a 53 percent winning percentage over his long collegiate career and has the best bowl record of anyone on this list; he’s 6-0 in postseason play and that includes wins at Miami FL, Louisville and two big postseason wins at FAU.
23. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Power Points: 292
What? Paul Pasqualoni in the Top 25? Seriously?
You bet, because the numbers just don’t lie.
Pasqualoni (a former linebacker from Penn State) takes over at UConn in 2011 but before his 15 year stint as an NFL assistant he spent 14 very successful seasons (1991-2004) as the head coach at Syracuse.
Pasqualoni led the Orange to four Big East titles (1996-98 and 2004), a 107-59 record, nine bowl appearances (a sizzling 6-3 in postseason) and the 1998 BCS Orange Bowl.
Additionally, half of his 14 Syracuse squads finished the season ranked with three breaking into the Top 15.
22. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Power Points: 296
Bronco Mendenhall’s 73 percent winning percentage in his five seasons at BYU is among the highest marks for coaches who have been on the job for four or more seasons.
Add in two conference crowns (2006-07), a 4-2 record in bowl play (which also means the Cougars have been bowl eligible every year of Mendenhall’s tenure), and four top 25 finishes in six seasons (three in the Top 15) and you have got a guy with a plethora of power points.
21. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Power Points: 305
What puts Coach Kelly just out of the top 20 in our renowned power rankings has very little (if nothing) to do with the fact that he led the Irish to an 8-5 finish in 2010.
No, Kelly’s power points mainly come on the stats he racked up at Central Michigan (2004-06) and Cincinnati (2006-09).
The impressive totals include a 69 percent FBS career winning ratio, three conference titles, a 3-1 record in bowl play and earning two consecutive BCS bowl bids in his final two seasons at Cincinnati (he didn’t coach in the second appearance).
Kelly is another guy who if you added in his non FBS numbers, in this case D-II stats (118-35, six conference titles and two national championships at Grand Valley State from 1991-2003) would be at the very top of this list.
20. Frank Solich, Ohio
Power Points: 317
Coming into his seventh season as the head man at Ohio, Frank Solich is 40-36 as the Bobcats leader but what earns him the No. 20 spot on this list is a body of work which includes a six-year stint as the big cheese at Nebraska.
Solich led the Huskers to a 58-19 record from 1998-2003 which included capturing the 1999 Big 12 championship and two BCS bowl appearances (the 1999 Fiesta bowl, a win and then the 2001 Rose Bowl, a loss).
Overall, three of Solich’s Nebraska teams finished in the Top 10 (two more in the Top 20), he’s earned five divisional titles (three in Lincoln and two at Ohio) and what hurts his power ranking is his 2-6 record in bowl play.
19. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Power Points: 319
The former Iowa nose guard has quietly gotten it done in his first five seasons up in Madison that have produced a 75 percent winning percentage, a piece of the Big Ten title in 2010, five bowl appearances (including the BCS Rose Bowl in 2010) and four of five Top 25 finishes.
The only strike against Bielema is his 2-3 bowl record which includes last season’s narrow defeat by TCU in the Rose Bowl.
18. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Power Points: 320
In 19 seasons at K-State Bill Snyder took one of the worst programs in college football and transformed it into one of the most successful teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Snyder’s impressive power point total comes by virtue of a 65 percent overall winning record, the 2003 Big 12 title, four divisional crowns, six 11 win seasons, 12 bowl appearances (6-6), the 2003 BCS Fiesta Bowl bid and the fact that over half of his Wildcat squads finished in the Top 25 (six in the Top 10).
17. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
Power Points: 326
You have to wonder how many points Neuheisel could have grabbed in this contest if his first three seasons at UCLA had been more successful than the 15-22 mark he is currently saddled with.
But, despite this rocky start Neuheisel’s four-year stint at Colorado (1995-98) and four-year run at Washington (1999-2002) earned him enough points for the No. 17 spot on our list.
His achievements include a 61 percent career winning percentage, a Pac-10 title (2000), eight bowl berths including a win in the 2000 BCS Rose Bowl (only 18 guys on this list have won a BCS game) and four Top 20 finishes (two in the top five).
16. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Power Points: 367
The former LB from Connecticut has been the head cheese at Iowa since 1999 where he has earned enough power points to break well into the Top 20.
Ferentz’s statistical highlight reel includes two Big Ten titles (2002 and 2004), two BCS appearances (1-1), a 6-3 record in bowl play and five Top 25 finishes (four in the Top 10).
15. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
Power Points: 376
Bobby Petrino spent nearly two decades jumping around the country in the college and NFL coaching ranks before landing the Louisville job in 2003 where the Montana native wasted little time in bolstering his power position as one of the best coaches in college football.
In four seasons at Louisville (2003-06) and three at Arkansas (2008-present) Petrino has a whopping 73 percent winning percentage, two conference titles (both Big East crowns), six bowl appearances, two BCS showings (1-1) and over half of his seven teams have finished their season ranked.
14. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Power Points: 382
Like Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, Tuberville’s opening 8-5 season at Texas Tech has very little to do with his lofty place in these titillating power rankings.
What sets Tubs apart from the rest of the pack (statistically speaking) are the numbers he put up at Ole Miss (1995-98) and especially Auburn (1999-2008).
In total Tuberville boasts a career winning percentage of 64 percent, the 2004 SEC championship, five SEC west divisional crowns, seven Top 25 finishes, a 7-3 overall record in bowl play and a win (capping off a perfect season) in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
13. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Power Points: 394
Gene Chizik, like Bo Pelini, just barely qualified in terms of experience for this list but Chizik, unlike Pelini, is wearing a brand new shiny national championship ring which catapulted him to the upper echelon of this list.
Chizik spent two seasons at Iowa State before taking over the reins at Auburn in 2009 and has thus far gone 22-5, won the SEC West, won an SEC crown, won a national title and is a perfect 2-0 in bowl play.
The biggest knock against Chizik is his lack of years of experience which dilutes his stats and makes it harder to argue his place among the long term high achievers in college football coaching.
12. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Power Points: 414
Frank Beamer played CB at Virginia Tech in the late '60s and has been the Hokies’ head coach since 1987.
It’s hard to believe that Beamer has won a stunning 68 percent of his games in 24 seasons at Virginia Tech and when you throw in seven conference titles (three Big East and four ACC), 18 bowl appearances (8-10), five BCS games (1-4) and 17 ranked finishes in 24 tries it’s easy to argue that he’s one of the best coaches in the land.
What hurts Beamer in power points are his record in the BCS (1-4) and the fact that he’s one of the elite college football coaches that hasn’t yet won the big enchilada—a tasty morsel that I personally hope he gets to take a big bite out of before it’s all said and done.
11. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Power Points: 418
The former BYU QB has racked up some amazing stats (and power points) in his six seasons as the head guy at Utah.
A top rated 74 percent winning percentage is bolstered by a 2008 MWC crown, a 5-1 record in bowl games and maybe most impressively a 2-0 record in BCS play (and remember the Utes had to bust in to make the BCS and then went on to be crowned Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl champs).
Another impressive stat is that two of Whittingham’s six Utah squads finished their campaigns ranked in the Top 5 (in the nation).
10. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
Power Points: 430
The first member of our top ten power ranked coaches is Dennis Erickson whose gridiron resume is as long and diverse as my sister’s dating history…
College coaching whistle stops for Erickson include Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami FL, Oregon State and Arizona State and don’t forget this is the same guy who made NFL interludes at Seattle and San Francisco.
Erickson’s stats are hard to argue; a 65 percent winning percentage over 23 seasons, four FBS conference titles, 11 bowl appearances (5-6), one successful BCS showing (Oregon State won the 2000 Fiesta Bowl), eight top 25 finishes and two national titles (1989 and 1991 at Miami).
Erickson’s two national championships tie him with Joe Paterno and Nick Saban for the most national crowns among active coaches.
9. Gary Patterson, TCU
Power Points: 433
After spending two years as the Horned Frogs DC Gary Patterson took over as the head coach in Fort Worth in 2000 and literally never looked back.
Patterson is 77 percent in terms of winning percentage, has captured four conference crowns (one C-USA and three MWC) is 6-4 in bowl play and is 1-1 in BCS play which includes capping off 2010’s perfect season with at thrilling win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
Maybe most impressive is the fact that seven out of 10 of Patterson’s Frog squads have finished in the Top 25 (this is not a BCS team) and the last three—well, they finished in the Top 10.
8. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Power Points: 434
Chris Petersen edged Gary Patterson by one mere power point in our rankings and his advantage comes down to winning percentage and a perfect BCS record.
Petersen is a mind-boggling 61-5 (or 92 percent) over his first five seasons in Boise (a number that is tops among active coaches with more than four years under their belt) and is an unblemished 2-0 in bust-out BCS appearances.
Petersen also owns four WAC crowns (in five years), is 3-2 in bowl play and four out of his five Bronco teams have found the Top 15 by season’s end.
Even if you put the “it was only the WAC” spin on things it’s still an impressive array of statistical wizardry.
7. Mark Richt, Georgia
Power Points: 438
At the No. 7 spot we find Georgia’s Mark Richt who has managed to amass a wow-filled 74 percent winning percentage in 10 full tilt SEC seasons.
Richt, a former QB from Miami FL, touts two SEC crowns (2002 and 2005), four SEC east divisional titles, is 7-3 in bowl play, is 2-1 in BCS action and eight of his ten Bulldog teams have been ranked at the end of the season.
Richt’s achievements are made even more impressive given the fact that Georgia continues to play the best teams in the nation, year in and year out.
6. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Power Points: 459
The only Heisman Trophy winner on our list, the former Florida QB has a college coaching career that has spanned over two decades and included whistle stops at Duke, Florida and now South Carolina.
Spurrier’s accomplishments are many but highlights include a 72 percent winning percentage over his college head coaching career, seven conference titles (one ACC, six SEC which ties him with Frank Beamer and Bob Stoops for the most on this list), eight SEC East titles, 17 bowl berths (7-10), 2-1 in BCS play, 13 out of 21 postseason rankings (including every single season at Florida) and the 1996 National Championship.
What separates Spurrier from the guys in the top five of this ranking are his current record at South Carolina (though he has a 57 percent winning percentage it is low among the upper crust) and his bowl record which at 41 percent is lower than all five guys ahead of him.
5. Les Miles, LSU
Power Points: 473
Les Miles played OL at Michigan in the mid-1970s and landed his first head coaching job at Oklahoma State in 2001.
In total (four season at OSU and six at LSU) Miles has racked up a 70 percent winning percentage, is 6-3 in bowl play, is a perfect 2-0 in the BCS (the only guy in the Top 10 to be undefeated in BCS play other than Chris Petersen) and held the crystal football aloft in 2007 signaling the capture of his first national title.
What’s most impressive about his time at LSU is the fact that Miles has posted a 78 percent winning percentage and has managed to crank out four 11-plus win squads in six seasons (within the very nasty confines of a SEC west schedule).
4. Mack Brown, Texas
Power Points: 490
Despite Texas’ unthinkable 5-7 finish in 2010 Mack Brown very deservedly falls in among the top five coaches in the land.
Though Brown spent three seasons as the head guy at Tulane (1985-87) and a decade as the big cheese at North Carolina (1988-97) the meat and potatoes of his collegiate career comes via his 13 year run as the big man on campus at Texas (1998-present).
Brown’s resume includes a 79.6 percent winning percentage at Texas (133-34), two Big 12 titles (2005 and 2009), six Big 12 south divisional crowns, an 11-7 all-time record in bowl play, a 3-1 mark in the big leagues of the BCS, 17 of 26 ranked finishes and of course the 2005 national title.
What separates Brown from the top three ranked coaches is his career winning percentage (67.4) and his relatively low number of conference titles (two).
3. Nick Saban, Alabama
Power Points: 492
Nick Saban’s career in collegiate football began in 1970 when he played DB at Kent State and after a slew of defensive coaching stops he landed the head job at Toledo in 1990.
Saban’s college resume also includes work at Michigan State, LSU and now Alabama where he enters his fifth season as the leader of the Tide-lines.
Saban’s top three power point ranking is anchored by his 80 percent winning percentage at ‘Bama (43-11), his 72 percent career mark, four conference crowns (one MAC and three SEC), 13 bowl appearances (7-6), a 3-1 mark in BCS play and two national titles (LSU in 2003 and Alabama in 2009).
Saban, Paterno and Schnellenberger are the only three active coaches with two national titles.
2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Power Points: 507
With all the yapping about Texas ruling the Big 12 it’s easy to forget that on the field it is Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma that has truly dominated the beleaguered league of Longhorn.
Yes, since Stoops took over at Oklahoma in 1999 the Sooners have won eight of 12 possible Big 12 South titles and a whopping seven of 12 possible Big 12 conference crowns.
Stoops, who played DB at Iowa from 1979-82 is 129-31 all-time at Oklahoma (that’s a mind boggling 80.6 percent winning percentage), has seven Big 12 titles (tied for the most with Spurrier and Beamer), has led the Sooners to 12 consecutive bowl games (6-6), has made more BCS appearances than any other active coach with eight (3-5) and has managed to have his team ranked at the close of 10 of 12 possible seasons.
Oh yeah, and then there is the 2000 National Championship, that counts too.
1. Joe Paterno, Penn State
Power Points: 508
The emotionally vested, historically minded and respectfully in-awe college football enthusiast would have liked nothing better than to see Joe Pa at the tip top of her coaches rankings but she knew that letting the numbers speak for themselves was the fairest course of action.
But, wait, look what happened when the calculations where complete and the spreadsheet was settled … Joe Paterno edged Bob Stoops by one precious power point and he is named the deserving champion of our power sweepstakes.
In 45 seasons as the head guy at Penn State Paterno boasts an awe inspiring 74.8 winning percentage, has three Big Ten titles (and remember the Nittany Lions were independent through 1992), two national championships (1982 and 1986), has made a whopping 36 bowl appearances (24-12), is 1-1 in BCS play and has led his Penn State squads to 35 Top 25 finishes in 45 seasons.
Simply put, this guy has gotten it done, consistently, year after year, which puts together a statistical package that no other current college coach can touch.
People have a lot to say about Joe Pa being a legend, but when you let the numbers speak for themselves you start to see how overwhelming his success level truly is.