Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops suddenly retired last week, and with his retirement is a shakeup among coaches in college football. Stoops had an impeccable record with the Sooners, and without him in college football, we have to reconsider exactly who are the top coaches in the sport.
We’ll start off with some honorable mentions: Texas’s Tom Herman, Oregon’s Willie Taggart, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio. Y’all are close.
10. Gary Patterson, TCU
With Bob Stoops retired, Gary Patterson is now the second-longest-tenured head coach in college football, only behind Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. That’s my second favorite Gary Patterson fact after this one: he has technically been TCU’s head coach while the team has been in four different conferences. (WAC, C-USA, Mountain West, and now Big 12)
10-win seasons are generally a good measure of a head coach, and few coaches out there have the success that Patterson has had in that category. He’s had 10 of those seasons in his 16 years at TCU, and this is probably the most impressive part: as TCU has moved up the ranks in terms of conferences, Patterson and Co. continue to deliver with 10-win seasons in Fort Worth.
Patterson is 149-54 in his career at TCU, with two Top 5 finishes in the AP Poll.
9. Mark Richt, Miami
I understand why Georgia wanted to move on from Richt as the head of their program, but he still averaged 10 wins a season with the Bulldogs. Some people will say that it’s easy at a school like Georgia, but go back and look at the Ray Goff years and tell me that.
Richt is at Miami now, and he’s off to a good start after a 9-4 year. Miami also has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2018 right now, which is another step forward that Richt and Miami can hang their hats on.
8. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Gundy has gone a bit under the radar, but he has led one of the most consistent programs at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are 104-50 in his 12-year tenure as head coach, which includes five seasons where Oklahoma State won at least 10-games. The height of Gundy’s career was the Pokes winning 12 games and finishing third in the AP Poll back in 2011.
Gundy will likely be around at Oklahoma State for a while, as he and the school just agreed to a new contract that will keep him in Stillwater through 2022.
7. Chris Petersen, Washington
After helping turn Boise State into the most unlikely powerhouse in college football, Petersen has moved on to Washington where he is hoping to have similar fortunes.
Washington was 12-2 in 2016 with a berth in the College Football Playoff, which was by far their most successful season in the past 15 years. Peterson, who only has 26 career losses in 11 season, is likely to continue that kind of success going forward with the Huskies, as he has been able to increase the team’s recruiting profile thanks to Washington’s recent success.
6. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Some people say that it’s too early in Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan to put him this high. Well, that might be true if we hadn’t seen what Harbaugh can do as a college coach back when he was at Stanford. We know Harbaugh can build a program, and he has resources at Michigan that he has never had before in his career.
With two 10-win seasons down and two top recruiting classes under his belt, it’s pretty easy to see that Harbaugh is going to do great things with Michigan in the future.
5. David Shaw, Stanford
While Harbaugh may have built the modern program that Shaw is now running at Stanford, Shaw has done one thing that Harbaugh has yet to: maintain a program. In six seasons at Stanford, Shaw only has one (ONE!) season where he didn’t win 10 games. Shaw has kept Stanford relevant with a great eye for recruiting, which is saying something considering the academic restrictions that come at a school like Stanford.
Shaw is 64-17 in his six years at Stanford, including three appearances (2-1 record) in the Rose Bowl.
4. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Fisher inherited a program that already had a tradition of success, but in a way, he has been able to build upon that success in a new way. Fisher is 78-17 with one national title in his seven seasons as Florida State’s head coach, and the only thing holding him back from more success at this point is Florida State’s annual matchup with Clemson.
And we’ll get to that.
3. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Meyer has had a Top 5 finish in the AP Poll at three separate schools…. that’s just one of the impressive things he’s done over his coaching career.
It’s not like Ohio State really needed transforming, but Meyer has kicked them up a notch over his five years in Columbus. Possibly the only disappointing thing about Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State is that he has only delivered one national title, but that is pretty likely to change so long that Meyer stays at Ohio State for at least a few more seasons.
2. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
I’m really not sure if people give Dabo enough credit for what he has done with the Clemson program.
Let’s put it this way: Clemson’s last 10-win season before Dabo took over as head coach? 1990. Clemson has now had six consecutive 10-win seasons, two straight appearances in the College Football Playoff, and one national championship. The most important part? It doesn’t look like Clemson is going to slow down any time soon.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Alabama is perennially the No. 1 team in the land at this point. With four national titles over the past decades, it’s not hard to put Saban and his Crimson Tide tenure at the top of this list.
Like, do we really need to say more? Saban has made it hard for any other coach to catch up.